Quieter drums

basset52

Senior Member
We played at a local winery today. Outdoors in nice warm weather. I had not played outdoors before, so after seeking advice from this forum I tuned the toms up a bit and for maximum resonance. We played 4 sets of 30 - 40 mins each. The bass drum was the only drum miced. We are a guitar band ie bass, and two electrics and play classic rock. I play a Gretsch Renown with Remo clear Emporers on top and Evans clear EC Resonants on the bottom of the 13 and 16 toms. 1/2 way though the second last set our sound tech came along side me and said the drums were too loud. I immediately threw a control ring ( an old head cut up) on the snare and tried to play softer. I didn't have a chance to catch up with him after the gig to ask exactly what he meant. We had played 2 and 1/2 sets already before he approached me. We play the same place, same time next week. What else can I do to reduce volume. Cut the resonance from the toms by tuning , dampen toms ? head change? Your advice appreciated.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
In an outdoor venue with only bass drum mic'ed I don't see how the drums can be to loud? Is it in a canyon with echo because that comment makes little sense. Usually drums live are lost in a mix of loud guitars without mics. I use to play at a church that had a pretty big sanctuary-usually 1500 people. Initially they didn't mic the drums and I don't know how many times audience and sound engineers told me they couldn't hear the drums (I was beating the hell out of them-hey it's church) so I wasn't tippy toeing. Sound travels around and does weird things for sure. I played a gig at a home and where I initially set up was like a sound sink-the drums were like nonexistent. I moved it maybe three foot and it was fine.
 

Peter256

Junior Member
Get the lightest sticks you can find with wood tips, reposition the vocal mics to minimize the drums bleeding into them. And why is the bass drum miced? You may be subconsciously playing louder/heavier than you think to balance with the loud bass drum.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
In addition to muffling (rings, tape, gel, or your method of choice), tuning down a tad can help. Lower frequencies are less cutting than higher ones.
 

ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
. I didn't have a chance to catch up with him after the gig to ask exactly what he meant.
I would start there. If he’s capable he should be able to let you know what was too hot. If you are booked again next week it couldn’t have been anything earth shaking. A little gaffa on the cymbals if that’s the problem area, head muffling, or a lighter touch should get you by.
 

dwsabianguy

Senior Member
Man honestly I would take some recordings of your own, and evaluate with your own ears. I had a band director in high school who was only happy with the volume of the kick drum when I wasn't playing it at all, so I don't 100% trust anyone's ears that I don't have a rapport with. The recording will help you see which parts of your kit are too loud without having to worry about things getting lost in translation through speech.
 
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basset52

Senior Member
In an outdoor venue with only bass drum mic'ed I don't see how the drums can be to loud? Is it in a canyon with echo because that comment makes little sense. Usually drums live are lost in a mix of loud guitars without mics. I use to play at a church that had a pretty big sanctuary-usually 1500 people. Initially they didn't mic the drums and I don't know how many times audience and sound engineers told me they couldn't hear the drums (I was beating the hell out of them-hey it's church) so I wasn't tippy toeing. Sound travels around and does weird things for sure. I played a gig at a home and where I initially set up was like a sound sink-the drums were like nonexistent. I moved it maybe three foot and it was fine.
Yeah, I was a bit surprised when he came up to me mid set , given we had played for about 2 hours up to then. I'm also not a heavy hitter.
 

basset52

Senior Member
Man honestly I would take some recordings of your own, and evaluate with your own ears. I had a band director in high school who was only happy with the volume of the kick drum when I wasn't playing it at all, so I don't 100% trust anyone's ears that I don't have a rapport with. The recording with help you see which parts of your kit are too loud without having to worry about things getting lost in translation through speech.
I think my wife took some iphone video. Not perfect - but might give a clue.
 

basset52

Senior Member
Get the lightest sticks you can find with wood tips, reposition the vocal mics to minimize the drums bleeding into them. And why is the bass drum miced? You may be subconsciously playing louder/heavier than you think to balance with the loud bass drum.
Our sound bloke wanted the kick miced only, Our bass guitarist found him a year or so ago. I don't think he's too experienced, but what I know about these things you could write on the back of a postage stamp! I use 5A's , but have some 7A's, might try them.
 

basset52

Senior Member
In addition to muffling (rings, tape, gel, or your method of choice), tuning down a tad can help. Lower frequencies are less cutting than higher ones.
Will do, I have some coated heads that are in reasonable nick. Would putting them on help a bit?
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Will do, I have some coated heads that are in reasonable nick. Would putting them on help a bit?

Coating will add some warmth and a modest amount of muffling. The effect might be minimal though. You can certainly try it and see if it helps.

@ineedaclutch makes a good recommendation above: Talk to your tech to get a better sense of what he means by "too loud." Knowing whether he's referring to a specific drum or to the whole kit would be helpful.
 

basset52

Senior Member
Coating will add some warmth and a modest amount of muffling. The effect might be minimal though. You can certainly try it and see if it helps.

@ineedaclutch makes a good recommendation above: Talk to your tech to get a better sense of what he means by "too loud." Knowing whether he's referring to a specific drum or to the whole kit would be helpful.
Will do, I'll check with the other blokes in the band as well re their thoughts.
 

basset52

Senior Member
Could it be that someone at the party said it was too loud? Maybe when the party is just beginning people liked it loud but when they wanted to talk with each other, the same music was too loud. In that case, the type of music may need to change depending on the audiences’ style of interaction. Just guessing.
Interesting thought. We hadn't played at the venue before and were uncertain of the mix of songs - so we played some laid back songs and some higher energy ones. At the breaks I went around to a few people and asked for feed back on the type of songs being played. Everyone said there was no issue - all said the mix was OK in relation to tempo. Didn't ask about volume though. Most of the audience was 30 - 40 feet minimum from the band sitting at tables on the grass under trees ,no one moved from their seats when we played and continued to chat and drink. TBH I don't think any of them were there for the music. I reckon when we packed up nobody noticed we had stopped! None of the winery staff serving the meals indicated to us there was a band volume problem. So I'm guessing the band was OK re this issue. But maybe someone mentioned it to the sound tech when he was roaming through the audience
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Our sound bloke wanted the kick miced only, Our bass guitarist found him a year or so ago. I don't think he's too experienced, but what I know about these things you could write on the back of a postage stamp! I use 5A's , but have some 7A's, might try them.
This is troubling ..... being the sound guys job usually involves getting your sound levels "level";) He should be able to hear if your drums are too loud "if they're too loud". Him having to rely on some random in the audience ..... and that he takes that persons assessment over his own ears ..... hmmm.

So I wouldn't let it bother you too much. It would be one thing if the owner or manager said the band or the drummer was too loud. But one person in the audience. Your sound man shouldn't have even mentioned it, unless he agreed, and had better constructive information/feedback to give to you (ie .... your snare's too loud, your crash cymbals, or your ride bell, etc)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I wouldn't worry about it, like Harry said. Not yet. I get the feeling like you would know it if you were playing too loud.

I'm thinking if it was an actual problem, the sound guy would have mentioned something sooner. Why didn't he?

I would disregard for now. Record yourself with the band and then YOU be the judge if you are too loud. If you take this guys advice at face value...don't do that. Not yet. Record yourself first and you decide. Hey maybe he's right and if he is, it's not the drums, it's the players touch. That's possible. I don't get that impression.

A drummer absolutely has to record himself with their bands. It's the only way to actually know where the drums are in the mix.

A lot of times we have THE worst seat in the house, sonically speaking. How the heck are we supposed to know what it sounds like 30 feet away?

Answer: Recorder.

Certain comments merit disregarding. Sound guys are not all created equal. Wait until someone you know and respect says something. Until then, try and self govern the volume so you know it's right. Because you listened to playback. Inappropriate volume is the one thing I get irritated over, no matter who does it. It's inconsiderate is how I see it. Off the lawn lol.

I'd hate to see this worry you, and you go on a mad dash to take steps to fix a problem...that doesn't exist.
 
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KamaK

Platinum Member
Get the lightest sticks you can find with wood tips, reposition the vocal mics to minimize the drums bleeding into them. And why is the bass drum miced? You may be subconsciously playing louder/heavier than you think to balance with the loud bass drum.
I echo this, but would restate it as......

Get a set of sticks that is one caliber lighter with wooden tips. IE: Play 5B nylons? Give 5A wood a try.

There's usually no need for dramatic changes, especially to the extent where you need to recalibrate your technique.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
basset52:

Listen closely to harryconway and larryace. They are correct.

Playing drums live, outdoors to classic rock, along with electric guitars and getting a good sound balance is a tricky thing for a drummer to do. It is the most difficult venue and situation that a drummer can face. The drummer gets only a small amount of sound feedback (acoustic information) from the drums and from the band and from the P.A. while he/she is playing.

Based on what you have said, if I were you, I'd find a new sound tech. He should have addressed and corrected the problem after the second song.

.
 
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