Saw a lousy drummer last night

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Thanks Matt. I just didn't want people to have the impressions that I acted in a condescending way towards another drummer. I won't belabor the point.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
However, there's one thing that's really confused me. So many of these very knowledgable guys talk as if the excellence of the drum itself is going to create this perfect sound that in some way is going to improve their playing.

The answer lies somewhere in your dad's Bellson story, Matt. : )

- - A continuation of the sorry Pork Pie kit story. Very cool Aussie band Aurora Jane ( Pol, you heard of them? ), walks into the same bar one night. Takes over the bandstand after the locals, and its like someone snapped a finger and magically upgraded the PA, switched the beat up old Marshall with a new Mesa Boogie tube, and the Pork Pie got tossed for a new awesome sounding kit.

The difference was shockingly palpable. Quality musicians have magic dust on their hands, I guess.

...
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
The answer lies somewhere in your dad's Bellson story, Matt. : )

- - A continuation of the sorry Pork Pie kit story. Very cool Aussie band Aurora Jane ( Pol, you heard of them? ), walks into the same bar one night. Takes over the bandstand after the locals, and its like someone snapped a finger and magically upgraded the PA, switched the beat up old Marshall with a new Mesa Boogie tube, and the Pork Pie got tossed for a new awesome sounding kit.

The difference was shockingly palpable. Quality musicians have magic dust on their hands, I guess.
Don't know the band, Abe.

A guitarist in one of my old bands was amazing in the way he could come across any instrument and instantly make it sound good. I used to watch what he did and the way he did it closely over a period of years. It was pointless asking him; he didn't see it as an ability. His hands lead the way.

This is what I concluded - dunno if it will sound stupid to more educated players lol. Be interested to know ...

- Part of it was sense of timing IMO - he had "perfect time" in the way people have "perfect pitch". Oddly, I feel (not think) that timing somehow affects sound, maybe it's the regularity of the harmonics between the attack?

- Part of it was aesthetic sensitivity - he seemed to be palpably affected by poor sound. That motivates them to keeping pushing until things are right (current singer is like this). I see this as the driver behind those with "big ears".

- Part of it was fearlessness, to be willing to let loose and go for it ... using the aesthetics above to work out where the sweet spots lie.

All easier said than done, of course, which is why I couldn't get that horrible snare to sound good.

I liked your reply, Larry. From what you've said in the past, I gather that as a newb you made many of the mistakes you described this guy doing. Now that you have worked hard to get past all that you're like a reformed smoker and find those things offensive. Close?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I made a different set of mistakes Pol. I'd like to think that I was never like this guy, even in the beginning. It's the cluelessness that really irritates me. Ability is something I can't really criticize, but attitude, or the mental aspect of it I tend to judge. What a person chooses to play displays their attitude. Is he selfish or giving? Is he isolated or integral? Does he know what to shoot for or is there no real gameplan? Things like that are where I am most Cowell-like.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Okay, I get that, Larry. When I started out I was obsessed with playing fast. I perpetrated many drumming sins in my attempts to sound like Ian Paice.

Later, when I understood that playing simple beats tightly and consistently was harder than it looked, I came to admire the maturity of young drummers with a disciplined and musical approach. It really helps to have your head screwed on right.

Here's what I found in an online dictionary:

Cowell-like a. [kou-el-lahyk]

1. inclined to find fault or to judge with severity, often too readily, esp in the arts: he was Cowell-like in his criticisms.
2. rigid or severe in demands or requirements.
3. incisive; caustic; cutting: trenchant.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
However, there's one thing that's really confused me. So many of these very knowledgable guys talk as if the excellence of the drum itself is going to create this perfect sound that in some way is going to improve their playing. And I don't just don't see how that's possible.
And this is the point whereby I'm going to both agree & disagree with the general feelings of the wize here. Of course Matt, you're completely correct. There's no way that a good drum sound is going to transform a bad player into a good one. A good drum sound isn't even going to mask playing deficiencies, however, to link the desire for a good sound to some form of crutch necessity is wholly incorrect IMO. We can all sight examples of good players making a crap kit sound good. Matt, you posted passionately on the thread about sound guys influencing your sound. You defended your right to have the sound guy faithfully reproduce your sound, & quite rightly too. If that isn't a strong indication of the importance you place on the kit sound, I don't know what is.

I'm fastidious about my drum sound, but I refute any suggestion (although I have jokingly mentioned this) that I'm seeking to mask my playing deficiencies. I'm very aware of my limited ability, and have no shame in being transparent about that.

To focuss my reply, I'd say that a good sound does improve your playing. Not your chops, but certainly your interpretation, & absolutely fosters a positive mindset that places an up vibe to your performance. As an example, think of placing a single tom flam fill in a ballard groove. If those toms sound like boxes, it really isn't going to work. If those toms sing beautifully then that specific fill will work perfectly. I'd go as far as to say, in those circumstances, I probably wouldn't go for such a fill if the toms sounded lifeless.

Furthermore, I see no issue with someone being knowledgeable about how their instrument produces a certain sound. I find pleasure in understanding the physics of the thing. This allows me to experiment, & I find great satisfaction in that too. Non of this means that I'm hung up on gear, or that I believe the gear to be the most important thing, of course it isn't. But to suggest that my interest in these areas is to be blind to what really matters, is mildly condescending, presumtious at best, ignorant & elitist at worst. Nothing personal guys.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
Furthermore, I see no issue with someone being knowledgeable about how their instrument produces a certain sound. I find pleasure in understanding the physics of the thing. This allows me to experiment, & I find great satisfaction in that too. Non of this means that I'm hung up on gear, or that I believe the gear to be the most important thing, of course it isn't. But to suggest that my interest in these areas is to be blind to what really matters, is mildly condescending, presumtious at best, ignorant & elitist at worst. Nothing personal guys.
Andy I don't see how in any way my or anyone else's post implied those things about your viewpoint in particular. For all your self proclaimed admissions of being less than full time or even professional, you perform regularly in public venues, get paid and even receive endorsement incentives. Am I right? Those things hardly place you in the category of the gear hound who learns all there is to know about drum kits before considering the issues related to actually playing one. And yes those kinds of people not only exist, but frequent Internet sites by the thousands, seeing a drum set as much within the context of furniture than a proper musical instrument. All one has to do is observe the view count of any forum to discover that gear threads usually outnumber the next popular thread by a very large margin, while many of that number seldom venture into other discussions. Nor is anything especially wrong with that. My only pertinent comment was that I considered that unusual, much as I would consider unusual those people who purchase magnificent and very expensive Steinway pianos to complement their foyers, but never care to play them.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Andy I don't see how in any way my or anyone else's post implied those things about your viewpoint in particular. For all your self proclaimed admissions of being less than full time or even professional, you perform regularly in public venues, get paid and even receive endorsement incentives. Am I right? Those things hardly place you in the category of the gear hound who learns all there is to know about drum kits before considering the issues related to actually playing one. And yes those kinds of people not only exist, but frequent Internet sites by the thousands, seeing a drum set as much within the context of furniture than a proper musical instrument. All one has to do is observe the view count of any forum to discover that gear threads usually outnumber the next popular thread by a very large margin, while many of that number seldom venture into other discussions. Nor is anything especially wrong with that. My only pertinent comment was that I considered that unusual, much as I would consider unusual those people who purchase magnificent and very expensive Steinway pianos to complement their foyers, but never care to play them.
Hi Matt, I took your statement to strongly infer that those who take a detailed interest in their drum gear, do so because they have a deficiency in their playing. As I take such an interest, I took that to include me. As you have now gone on to say, that can apply to some, but certainly not all those with such an interest. If that's a more accurate representation of your thoughts, I apologise for taking a narrow and specific view of your post.

For the most part, I completely agree. Certainly any evaluation of the numbers who visit gear sections almost exclusively, reveals a trend in that direction. I'm guilty of that to some degree too. Although I regularly take part in most areas of this site, I hardly ever take part in technique discussions. This is mostly because I have little to offer. You could flip the coin & say yes Andy, but you have much to learn, & you'd be correct. Once I get into some form of practice/improvement regime, I'll no doubt avail myself of the huge pool of expertise that lives in this forum.

Anyhow, sorry for my narrow view. Sometimes I pick up the wrong vibe, & this was one of those occasions. Love to all, Andy.
 

Pimento

Senior Member
Thanks.

While I do tend to obsess over my own gear, if I have to play a house kit, I try to take the attitude of whatever, they're drums, just play and don't sweat it.

When I was in my early 20's, I did a lot of blues, classic rock type bar gigs.

Then I moved to LA, and for years I was in loud, aggressive hard rock bands.
You know, this amp goes to 11, so this snare drum goes to 11 type stuff.
My sticks got bigger, the cymbals got thicker.
Then the era of loops and sequencers came in, and it was all about playing loud to a stiff click.

In the last few years I've been trying to ramp that down, and get back into better dynamics, and better touch.

In the last few weeks, I've been really making that more of a priority. So I decided to jump in head first into a bunch of blues jams to force myself into situations where I had to play with a better touch. And recently I got some compliments on how well I was able to playing quietly. So I thought I was getting there.

Until last night.

I probably didn't do as bad I as I feel I did, but as I said, I felt totally taken to school.

So while I might not have been the Dick Larry was talking about, I felt like I might as well of been. But at least this Dick learned he needs to go home and practice some more!
Good learning experience, where you differ from the "dick" previously mentioned is this, and i think several people have missed the point of the origonal post.

Dick is a drummer who has been suckign for YEARS, the OP said he has witnessed the same issues over and over again. This is a drummer who doesnt care, he sucks, and then sucks again for everyone to hear.

In your post, you went in, had a bad night and have the passion about your instrument to realize the other guy had something you didnt....i also bet you went home and thought about it all night. I bet that youre trying to improve your touch on the kit as well.

Dick gets up and sucks, gets the "thanks for playing" trophy of audience attention, doesnt have the passion to go and practice, so he does it again and again. He never gets better, has no desire to improve, just wants the stage time. Thats the issue, there are too many one trick drummers out there that dont care about anything, and guess what im seeing? These guys are getting into local bands, into the local scene (at least in my towns hard rock/metal scene) and it really lowers the bar.

Its sad that me being able to tune a drum kit by myself was a point of amazment.....

I believe Bo's oprigonal point was this: If youre going to be a sloppy player who doesnt care about what they do, doesnt care to improve, then get off the stage. If you play for the public you need to be ready to hear the good AND the bad.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
. All one has to do is observe the view count of any forum to discover that gear threads usually outnumber the next popular thread by a very large margin, while many of that number seldom venture into other discussions. Nor is anything especially wrong with that. My only pertinent comment was that I considered that unusual, much as I would consider unusual those people who purchase magnificent and very expensive Steinway pianos to complement their foyers, but never care to play them.
I like the comparison to the Steinway. That make me chuckle. Because people do do that.

But from having worked in music retail for years and years, I can say it's those people who drive the industry.

Yeah, it looks like drum and cymbal manufactures exist to make gear for the pros and the working drummers, but I'd say 80 to 90% of all drum sets and such are purchased by people who aren't in bands, and aren't going to be doing much, if any gigging.

So while I agree with you, I also know thank god all those people keep DW, Ludwig, Zildjian, Sabian etc, etc, in business. Or else we would have pretty slim pickings when it came to drum equipment.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
A thought about gear hounds and how the gear threads are more popular than the ones about actually playing.

I think at least some of it is as simple as the fact that musical instruments are beautiful - not just for playing, but to simply look at and touch. I sometimes stand at the window of the local pawn shops and looks at the guitars, the brass, woodwinds, djembes etc because I love how they look.

Personally, I'm satified with just looking but I can understand the wish to own them. A friend (who is a hobby musician) has tons of indigenous instruments from his travels. His collection is lovely. Our guitarist is a curator of musical instruments and I can think of worse fates than working with beautiful old instruments every day.

Yes, I have been told about people who have tons of great state-of-the-art gear while being very flawed players and seemingly use their great gear as validation for their wishful thinking. I guess there's a range of motivations.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
A thought about gear hounds and how the gear threads are more popular than the ones about actually playing.
Its quite straightforward to me at least, to see why the gear threads beat the playing threads hollow.

The gear stuff is pure voyeurism, whereas the playing threads give us access to something we already have in our lives without needing having to go there; listening to good, bad, or average playing.

- not to speak of the pressure to work out your polite-o-meter levels to leave a comment afterwards.

The game changes when you want to hear people you might have gotten to know here on the forum or want to relate the person's opinions and personality to his actual playing or the kind of music he/she plays.

I can be just as much a voyeur as the next guy and drool over Andy's gorgeous kit and at the same time I understand that that certainly isn't the only reason why he sounds as good as he does when he plays it.
...
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Sure, the drum porn element is there; the instruments are beautiful. Still, it can be pretty pragmatic ... if you have a problem there's almost always someone with encyclopaedic knowledge who can sort you out.

Gear doesn't maketh the player, but what we do is all about sound (notwithstanding Dylan etc). It's a lot easier to improve your sound with an instrument upgrade than to improve your touch ... and if you then improve your touch it sounds even better, if you have the bucks.

The great thing about the Your Playing area is you get to know a lot more of what a person's about - and some of the band postings are fabulous.

Have to agree that the tact side of things can be an issue at times, though :)
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
Yeah, different strokes. It's like the whole allure that many cling to about NAMM. For some you would think it was a pilgrimage to Mecca. You see them by the dozens hanging out by the convention center doors in Anaheim, praying that someone will let them in, whereas past the first half hour or so I'm pretty much done with the gear and want to find some musicians or a live band. It's a whole other subculture I guess. And DED is right, without them the business doesn't run as well.
 

JPW

Silver Member
People like to buy magic pills with money they have earned rather than use another huge portion of their lives (when not at work) for actually practicing something. It's the same way with weight loss and health in general. Why do something you don't enjoy if you can throw some dollars at it and the problem disappears? The problem is that it's (all) an illusion. But like others have pointed out, we can also enjoy many quality products because of all those who spent their money for the illusion.

I guess there's a separate camp of people who have this similar mindset for different playing techniques. They collect them like other people collect instruments. I know I have been in this camp for long. But at some point I started to question why I should even try to master traditional grip when I can spend that same time for practicing something I can't already play with some other technique (matched in this case) and which helps me play the music I'm currently playing.

But I dunno, I still like to see technique as something that has clear limits somewhere... I just can't see anyone playing 16ths @600bpm or playing traditional with both hands. But you can ALWAYS have a slightly bigger kit and more expensive cymbals and a replacement for all of those and then the different kit for the other genre you _maybe_ play some day.

Maybe I'm just young and naive but I have one very small kit and if I can't play even such a simple instrument good enough why should I start changing things and make it even more complicated. The sound is always there I just need to learn how to play it. =/
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
... I have one very small kit and if I can't play even such a simple instrument good enough why should I start changing things and make it even more complicated. The sound is always there I just need to learn how to play it. =/
Amen .................
 

JT1

Silver Member
On Sunday nights, I am part of a 3 piece house band that does an open mic Blues jam. Naturally I get to see the local drummers play, as they use my set.

I just thought I'd share everything that this one guy was doing to give drummers a bad name. Let's call him Dick. Now Dick is not a beginner, I wouldn't cut into a beginner.

First off, when the song was counted off, and Dick fell in, immediately the tempo dragged and stayed dragged. The time felt like it had a 50 kilo weight dragging behind it. The time wasn't bouyant and energizing. This was enough to kill the song right there, but that wasn't enough, Dick was out to really demoralize the tune.
Let's see, his bass drum was barely heard, more than I can say for his backbeat. Talk about your limp handed backbeat. Ugh. You could see the motion, (trad grip) but you couldn't hear his snare hits. His cymbals however were quite present. Not overly, thank someone, but enough to stick out in a bad way. His sonic balance was way off. No concept whatsoever of a popping snare and controlled cymbals with a good solidly played kick.

Way too many fills. Not even good fills, just..."Oh I'll do a (reverse) ascending tom roll in the middle of this verse, because technically, it will fit. No regard to the singer on mic, or the guy trying to build their solo. His fills were limp handed and unconfident to boot. The fills were a little louder than his backbeat, because unfortunately, you could hear them. Stupidly played flat flams (he used these a lot) at the most unexpected (not good sounding) places. Basically, he used 75% of the song so he could play all these stupid noodley fills. Needless to say the concept of groove hadn't yet occurred to this man. I'm thankful he wasn't a hard hitter or it really would have been atrocious.

The man was in his own world. The leader, a tall man who is a total pro concerning stage signaling, (and everything else) turned his entire body fully around to cue the drummer about an upcoming stop, (because he knew the drummer would be out to lunch) but the drummer wasn't mentally with the others, I think he was in Bora Bora or Uzbekistan or someplace. He missed the cues, and missed the stops. So the band takes another lap around the chord progression and they finally get this guys attention, and he did do the stops finally.

At this point, he was being laughed at by the leader, who was shaking his head and smiling as if saying "Ay yi yi" (Oh yeah, it's brutal. you'd better be able to pull your weight with this guy or suffer the embarrassment)

Just to give Dick enough rope to hang himself, the leader decided to give him a drum spot. The whole band stops at the appropriate time.

Nothing. Dead silence.

Dick didn't realize he was getting a spot. Finally after a very pregnant pause, he get's it and goes into this limp, crappy, thing...I don't know what you would call it, but it was as appealing as a fresh pile of steaming doggy poo. I just felt like wearing a dress afterwards lol

Then came the ending of the song, which of course he muffed and there you have it. He covered all the major pitfalls in one song. With 2 more to go! The man was a crash course of what NOT to do. Teachers could use a vid of Dick to illustrate the major pitfalls.

When I got back on my drumkit, my sticks started wailing on me, and my drums cursed me out lol.
This guy totally embarrassed the family.

Just thought I'd share, and remember...

Don't be a Dick.
Oh I love reading these kinds of threads hehe.

Damn you Larry, you just messed up my theory that any drummer using traditional grip is automatically awesome.
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
I can relate to this. My regular Friday night jam is a mix of a group of people of which the guitar player and the drummer have played together on and off for over thirty years.

When this drummer shows up, I usually only get to play the last set of the night. It's an old set of Luddies from the 70's with concert toms, ancient heads and a 402 that is in such poor condition (7 out of 20 snare wires are all that remain), I almost feel like spending my own money to improve the sound of it all. It sounds awful. With Zildjian Rock hats, a Rock Ride and all Rock crashes, it's a terribly balanced sound with cardboard boxy drum sounds and clangy, brash cymbals. I've bitched about this kit before in other threads.

To make matters worse, the regular drummer is a relentless basher and the mix is brutal. Fills every four bars. Merciless double cymbal smashes. Every song gets the same ham-fisted treatment and his playing is so busy that he's plumbed the bottom of his trick bag and gets repetitive one minute into a song.

We've all gently give him criticism to play more quietly and he refuses to play any differently. So much so that it has actually become awkward for everyone. When everyone knows he's not coming to a Friday night jam, I get 7 phone calls to make sure I'm coming.

I'm relating my similar story because I agree with Larry that it is important for others to be aware that people do notice, even on drunken jam nights, and that is so important to be open to criticism.

I love playing live and knowing other drummers are watching and listening. I want the feedback. It's hard to suffer through improvisational music situations that are musically offending your sensibilities.

The biggest lesson learned here is that you can't be in your own bubble when you play with others. Listening and interacting are crucial to improving, on any instrument.

I would never post this kind of thing if I thought he would come here and recognize that I was referring to him and I know Larry wouldn't either.

Nobody wants to hurt anyone's feelings. Sometimes when it's really bad, it's nice to have a forum to come and vent a little.
 
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