Pro Kit vs. a mere "Gigging" Kit

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I wanted to bring this up in its own thread because it kinda' bugs me. This would be an extension of the poster asking what kit he should get as a second kit to his main kit.

I didn't jump on him intentionally, but I'm wondering where drummers got this idea of the second inferior gigging kit in the first place? It's like we're the only ones who covet our prized high-end gear so much that we must acquire a trashy set to do all the "regular" gigs with.

And no offense, but everyone with a YouTube video of themselves playing their cocktail kit in the street, or using some makeshift drumset at a nice club...you have to know your regular kit sounds much better right? You really think I'd pay to hear someone play a 5x10 snare all night coupled with that weird "I don't know if I'm a floor tom or bass drum" 15" bass drum? Come on! Yamaha's Hip Gig? Little drumsets that require microphones too? No wonder so many of us have turned into audio engineeers. I suppose drummers have been made to look not-as-serious as other musicians. Drums that look like Coca-Cola cans, see-through drums in different colors that look like jellybeans, drums with lights, etc.,....we've been made to look more goofy than some guitarists!

How did this come about and how can we stop it? I work with guitar players and horn players who have the attitude that the reason you have these wonderful instruments is to PLAY them in front of people!. I know a gentleman who brings his Martin HD-28 acoustic guitar to Disneyland everyday to actually play bluegrass music. Sometimes he leaves that $3500 guitar in his costume closet in their green room the entire week he's working. Another guy has a 1966 Selmer Mark VII tenor saxophone that he spent well over $7,000 for used, and he plays it everyday on the job. And these guys own lots of guitars and horns.

But here we are as drummers with the attitude "I must have an intermediate set to do gigs with because my high-end kit is so beautiful I'd hate for something to happen to it".

Why hoard it? What are you saving it for? If you're at the beginning of your drumming learning curve, and you want the high-end gear, but can't afford or justify it, that's fine. But those of us who've been doing this for a while, and have top gear, what's the point of having it if no one ever sees you playing it? Ever see a working band's guitar player whip out a $199 Squire Stratocaster to play at a wedding? Or a keyboardist working with a Casio keyboard he got from Sears for $99?

My point is not to say that the gear matters. My point is that if you have it, then definitely use it to put your best foot forward every time. You are a serious working musician. The impression you give to others is important. Do you want to tell everyone who hires you that you think their gig isn't important enough for you to bring your best stuff? Perhaps this is why drummers aren't taken seriously by people? Because we don't take them seriously by always using the best tools we and they know we have?

I like to think of this as an extension of playing for the music and owning the big picture, as Larry put forth in his thread on his thought for the day. He was talking about grooving for the music, that nobody ever seems to do (except for the guys who work all the time). That's the hard part. The easier part is looking good while you're grooving for the music. A guy in a suit or a tuxedo just looks better than a guy in shorts and a t-shirt. Likewise, your beautiful top-shelf drumset will further your image as well.

You bought that expensive kit. Now do the drums some justice and play them in front of people. Make your next investment a set of cases for them. Anything. Just get those things out of the house and play! It's not fair to the drums if you don't.
 

uniin

Gold Member
i'm only not playing my starclassic at trashy gigs because i havn't insured them yet. i'm not going to risk losing $8,000 worth of gear in kings cross if its not insured. thats my only reason. if i'm playing some where more friendly ill happily take my starclassics.
 

Too Many Songs

Senior Member
Bo I agree with you but with one caveat. At one time I was playing a lot of original music and the standard arrangement for most gigs was that one drum kit would be shared by 4 or 5 players (this topic comes up a lot on this forum). Like you I didn't want to play an intermediate kit - but at the same time I didn't want players I didn't know playing, altering, over-tightening what was a great, but idiosyncratic, kit (1960s Slingerland).

Solution: I bought a cheap second hand Sonor Phonic. Fantastic kit, sounds great, and built like a tank.

Now both get used regularly. Depends on my mood really which one I take out and which one gets left set up at home. I swap now and again.
 

Juniper

Gold Member
That's all well and good Bo Eder, but....

If I'm going to be storing my drums in a venue I know which doesn't have the faclilty to lock them away betweem soundcheck and us playing so no one can steal them I probably won't bring one of my Vintage snares or kits, even if I think it will suit the band I'm playing with or the venue. I'll save them for the recording studio.

Also, I guess some people don't want their prized kit/parts of being stolen or damaged when some little cocksure 18year old with little respect towards other people gear turns up and needs to use it then trashes it, despite you being friendly and welcoming to him and his band. I've seen this happen too many times in my years playing live to my kits and other peoples.

Pretty much every show we play is a headline one, which 99.9% of the time means people use your bands backline. I can tell you some stories but I'd rather not be that guy who demand people bring their own kit as when I was a young (but respectful) 18year old I thought that guy was a bit of a dick. Funny now I can kind of see where 'that guy' was coming from, just still not into the execution of it.

I guess this view is also location/venue specific and you're probably less likely to experience this if playing at Disneyland, so I do see where you're coming from there.

Just don't get me started on drummers who 'Forget' to bring their own Cymbals to a gig and then expect you to provide them.........


EDIT: The other guys got here before me
 
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Mark_S

Silver Member
Part of the problem I find is that people don't realise how expensive the high end drum gear is. I took my best kit out recently, and the sound engineer was rushing about and knocked and cymbal stand and the edge of the cymbal fell onto the kit. Luckily it didn't cause any damage, but he didn't even flinch - he just carried on micing up. Now if it had falled onto an expensive looking guitar, you can bet he would of been worried.

Later on during a changeover, one of the drummers had brought his own rack tom so the sound engineer went over and just yanked the tom holder out holding *both* the 10" and 12" inch tom and just handed it too me, rather than let me come up on stage and take both the toms off, go and put them down and then take the tom holder out.

I do always take my best snare, my best cymbals, etc. but most of the time we are kit sharing; either using the house kit or the headlining band's kit.

There does seem to be an attitude of "the drum kit doesn't matter as long as you can hit it", and it does annoy me a lot (I had to tone that down, there isn't just adults here!).

Later today I'm playing at a small festival, and they've said they are providing a "basic drum kit". I have no idea what that means, is it a 4 peice, 5 peice? Does it sound like drums or cardboard boxes? Is it indeed a set of cardboard boxes? Who knows. Everyone is expecting me *not* to take my kit, even though I sort of want to - but I just know I'll get those looks of "why have you done that? we don't want to mess about changing the kit on stage".

I know things would be different if we were a "known" band, a bit higher up the tree, and in that case I'd probably take my best kit wherever I go.

I guess my response is more about the lack of respect for drum gear that some people seem to have, which may explain a few things.
 

Duckenheimer

Senior Member
In fairness I don't think anyone's worried about what happens to their kit at a wedding. I play in a jazz group and a couple of metal/hard rock groups. Exactly zero problems with the former in bringing my own kit; but the latter groups have taught me a few lessons depending on the venue and other bands; hence I'm going to snap up a second gigging kit for use at certain gigs. I simply don't have the money to replace my other one if things go bad.

I'm doing it because it's a good idea.

Ever see a working band's guitar player whip out a $199 Squire Stratocaster to play at a wedding? Or a keyboardist working with a Casio keyboard he got from Sears for $99?
No, and I've never seen a keyboardist's baby with dozens of stealable parts get used by 6 musicians in one night and eventually get cracked and bled all over in multiple places by an overenthusiastic heavy hitter while taking several minutes to transport to and from its case with an obstacle course of drunken revellers spilling beers. I've never seen any such thing happen to any instrument at a wedding either. I guess I've seen some guitar strings breaking, usually if not always by the owner of the guitar. I have seen and been the drummer regretting bringing his kit for such reasons, I've never seen a guitarist do it, despite knowing 20 times as many guitarists. (Except for one guy, who dropped his own guitar on stage).

At the wrong dive, my drum kit is far more vulnerable than my bassist's bass. And that's a consideration.
 
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AtomicFlapjack

Senior Member
I guess because drummers have to share their kits often. If I was playing with 4 other bands I wouldn't want them using a starclassic! Also, drums are much more vulnerable. For example playing a pub gig, after the sound check the drums are left in a corner of the pub while the punters arrive. The guitarists can protect their guitars in cases, whereas I'm not Gunna tear down the whole drum kit and start again haha. Plus, guitarists will never have to share their guitar.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I buy nothing but pro level "gentle used" kits. I don't need a $5K anything ('cept maybe the car, and the house), in my life. But I also have no need for a brand new Mapex Meridian kit... when my Yamaha Recording Customs cost me $995. I don't need a brand new Tama Hyperdrive kit ... when my Luddies cost me $1100. I'll have less than $1000 (probably) into my RMV's, when I finally score a matching kick for those. My most "expensive" kit, my Round Badge Gretsch ... $1500.​
So, that's less than $5000, for 4 pro level kits ....​
Off course, everyone's got the freedom of choice to buy and/or play anything they want ... the world would be a boring place if we all liked the same thing.​
 

kettles

Gold Member
Easy answer, because sometimes the difference that exists between the mid range kit and the high end kit just doesn't matter.

Like most threads on here, the topic needs to be put into context. If you're playing a 4 hour gig where you're the only band, and you're mic'd up and soundchecked, then sure, bring out the nice drums.

But consider the other angle. Most of the shows that I play with my original band involve:
-multiple bands using their own kits/amps
-a rush to get the gear on and off the stage to minimise changeover time
-setting up stands and uncasing the drums in a dark, cramped corner of the bar
-a kick mic if I'm lucky.
-no soundcheck
-a bar with terrible acoustics
-short sets, usually 45 minutes at the most
-playing to a crowd of tipsy/smashed non-musicians

So yeah, for some gigs, it just makes sense. I don't think a working guitarist would even own a Squire, if anything his gigging guitar would at least be a Mexican Strat or equivalent. Likewise, I own a Saturn but am looking at buying a Pro M for the nastier gigs, I wouldn't go any lower than that. I won't bother getting cases because it will make things that much easier. I'll save the Saturn for the shows where I get an hour to set up and play a long set.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
Easy answer, because sometimes the difference that exists between the mid range kit and the high end kit just doesn't matter.
For me it's this.... But with a couple additional items worth mentioning for me...

I use a Sonor Jungle Kit as my bass & toms. I use a "pro" level Gretsch snare drum and "pro" level cymbals (mix of Bosphorus and Zildjian). I have a Recording Custom kit stored at home that I barely play any longer but will absolutely never part with.

Nowadays, the Sonor's are a more appropriate choice for the kind of gigs I play as well and find I can get all the music I need from the Jungle Kit with absolutely zero worries. With the right heads on those 3 drums, they are wonderful and I always receive compliments on how great they sound.

However, I find the "pro" level snare and cymbals matter greatly for my taste.

All of this being said... My opinion is pro level gear sometimes has nothing to do with ultimate sound. I've heard a great many high end kits sound absolutely terrible. So I think it goes a little beyond level of gear sometimes.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
A guy in a suit or a tuxedo just looks better than a guy in shorts and a t-shirt.
Yes, but I don't wear a tux' to mow the lawn.

I completely agree with your general sentiment Bo, but like all generalisations, there are exceptions. Downtown fighting bar, multiple players on your kit, hectic fast changeover stages, are all situations I'd never expose my best gear to.

I fully intend to have my prototype kit set up at home most of the time. Partially because it's a pain to break down & set up, partially because I've been waiting a long time to have a kit at home I can just step onto for 15 minutes if I want to, & partially because some gigs fall into the "too risky" section. After all, it's not as if I can just go out & replace it easily.

All that said, I will be gigging that kit, "when appropriate". My main gigging kit right now, by any measure, is a nice kit. The one that replaces it is likely to be a real instrument of beauty. It/they get gigged hard, & I expect the odd bit of minor damage, no matter how careful I am. I do believe in putting your best foot forward, but leaping off a cliff when there's a set of steps available isn't my style.
 
S

sticks4drums

Guest
I hear you Bo, and I have solved it this way. I have my Monster Saturn that stays at home, poor guy, unless someone wants me to play a huge stadium some day. :)

I have its daughter, a 4 piece Saturn that stays upstairs, and I use to practice, and take to my guitarists place to jam and work out songs with.

His son, the 6 piece gigging kit that is also a Saturn, that I will drag around to wherever.

All three kits have the same sound, same color, same quality. I would not want to play the sound I love at home, and not be able to play and share that out on the road. :)
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I don't see the need to use a high end kit at a standard club gig.

First of all no one can tell the difference between drums by looks.
An intermediate kit looks just as good from 10 feet away as a pro kit.

Second, no one can tell the sound difference in a live setting.
Live sound for the average drummer isn't of the quality that would make a difference if he was playing a pro kit vs intermediate.

I don't play gigs that pay enough to warrant a high end kit.
It's not worth it to bring several thousand dollars worth of drums out for a $100 paycheck.
I do bring high end cymbals. That is enough to worry about.

I have been in several situations where gear has been damaged at club events.
Not intentionally, but damaged just the same.

I am currently thinking about treating myself to an expensive kit.
I am selling off some drums to make room for a used high end kit that is in pristine condition.
If the right deal comes along and I buy the kit,
it probably will never leave my home studio.

I don't see anything wrong with keeping something nice for myself.

I don't have any thoughts about someone who plays their pro kit at gigs.
To each their own.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
No expensive kit yet, but there are multiple reasons why I`d let that kit when it comes stay at home and bring the cheaper kit on most gigs:

1. I`d like to have a set constantly set up for practicing and recording.
2. I usually don`t need that full setup.
3. Damage is one thing and it`s an important consideration, but following that is usually a PA, room and an engineer who`s skills don`t really justify it.

I`d even like a third kit that`s always packed up and ready in the regular band`s van.

If I was a millionaire, they`d all be pro kits; but I\m not. Very very far from it.

The pro kit is actually the kit that isn`t necessary in my equation. It`s just personal spoiling and pampering. Most drummers I know will ythink me insane when I eventually get it, because working drummers around here simply don`t play that kind of stuff. Only hobby musicians with another main job would really spend that kind of money.
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I have been giging out with my yamaha recording customs since the 80s. Yes they have some nicks and scracthes on them, but they sound great and I have top of the line cymbals as well. Thats one advantage of pro gear, It last forever besides its the only drumset I own. If I got another kit which it will be pro gear. My yamaha R.Cs have served me well for a very long time, and still are. I guess thats why its called pro level Drums. there not furniture they are well crafted instruments designed to last a long time and to sound great.
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
The only times I will play "lesser" drums in public is when I have to play directly in the Louisiana summer sun. I learned the hard way that extreme heat and direct sunlight can damage drums and cymbals.

I agree with the overall idea though. Why buy great drums and never let anyone see or hear them? Peace and goodwill.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
Well coming from someone who plays Guitar, Bass, and Drums I think it's apples and oranges here. As mentioned before people don't share guitars but sometimes they almost expect you to share drums. Taking guitars/bass off stage is a lot easier than taking your drums. Setup time is at a premium at some gigs.

Comparing a "Gigging" kit to a Squier I think is a bit of a stretch. A friend of mine is a Sonor endorser. While he has a nice set of Sonor Designer Series drums he doesn't gig with them, he gigs with Sonor Force 3007s. Why? They still sound good, live you can't really tell the difference... but the Designer Series are discontinued and it's even hard (actually impossible in some cases) for him to get replacement hardware for them. Would a 3007 be the equivalent to a "Squier"?

From a guitar stand point, the feel of a Gibson vs an Epiphone, a Fender vs Squier is completely different. Where if your using the same pedal/sticks/heads you can at least make the feel of a cheaper drumset the same as an expensive one. However, like drums I have a Limited Edition Taylor Acoustic that I'm picky about where I take it because it'd be hard to replace. Similarly I know plenty of people that wouldn't take a 60s strat to a bar gig either.

I think it's just a matter of how much damage might be caused to your kit, and if your willing or not to deal with it.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
And no offense, but everyone with a YouTube video of themselves playing their cocktail kit in the street, or using some makeshift drumset at a nice club...you have to know your regular kit sounds much better right? You really think I'd pay to hear someone play a 5x10 snare all night coupled with that weird "I don't know if I'm a floor tom or bass drum" 15" bass drum? Come on! Yamaha's Hip Gig? Little drumsets that require microphones too? No wonder so many of us have turned into audio engineeers. I suppose drummers have been made to look not-as-serious as other musicians. Drums that look like Coca-Cola cans, see-through drums in different colors that look like jellybeans, drums with lights, etc.,....we've been made to look more goofy than some guitarists!

How did this come about and how can we stop it?
You think your Western trap set is some absolute ideal, but it's not. It's a rank newcomer to the world of music, barely 100 years old. I play drums with histories that go back thousands of years - and just 10 years. Many instruments have changed radically over the past 500 years and trap sets are still in their infancy and evolving. To me, you sound like a whiny, uninformed teenager who understands little except his own interpretations and opinions.

My little cocktail kit doesn't sound worse than your standard trap set, nor better. It just fits with different situations. Your standard, ho-hum, one-size-fits-all-drum set would be very unwelcome and prohibited from a lot of the gigs I take my cocktail set to, because in an intimate setting, the audience would find the sound of the standard kit to be too loud and overbearing.

Actually, many people find the standard drum kit loud and oafish in most settings. You are probably oblivious to that, as you are oblivious to the possibilities of other types of drum types and setups and the general evolution of your instrument.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I think that it really all comes down to this;
If you are comfortable with taking your expensive gear out to a gig then by all means you should.
If you are going to be nervous about taking your pride and joy to a gig then you shouldn't
Why add stress to your life if you don't have to?

I wouldn't take a $400,000 Ferrari to McDonalds or Walmart if I felt uneasy about it.
 
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Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Bo, I usually agree with you 100% on your opinions here but this time I have to disagree with you. I've been to Disney and it's a wonderful, magical environment where people pay a lot of money (and behave). A local pub with blue collar patrons on payday is a completely different environment for a drummer.

I personally wouldn't be bringing my high end drums to a bar gig. But I also understand that the audience deserves to get what they pay for.

Here's an example of Disney audiences vs. pub crowds.
 

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