Something to keep time on, that isn't a cowbell

FoolInTheRain

Senior Member
Wasn't sure if this fell more under "gear" or "technique" because it kinda has to deal with both, actually. So I put it here, but mods please move to proper forum if this isn't the place.

So in my quest to improve my weak hand coordination in both matched and traditional grip, I want something that I can keep time on with my left hand that isn't just the hats or a cowbell. Not that I have anything against cowbell, but it just doesn't really fit in with the sound that I'm going for. So I'm looking for suggestions on something to put to the left of the hats or above them that I can use to keep time with my left hand to allow it to take the lead role when I'm practicing.

I'm already going to move my ride from the right side of my kit to the left side where my 17" crash is and see how that works out. But, as is the case with many of us, I love new gear so if anybody has any suggestions feel free to throw them out there.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
One word: octobans ;)

....................................................................
 

Arky

Platinum Member
I would also think of the rims (snare or toms) and even the shells - that's something that is done in a Latin context sometimes.
What about an additional pair of (closed/mini) hihats?
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
Perhaps you could provide a bit more detail as to what you have in mind?

What are your specific goals with regards to developing your left hand control and independence? I mean, if you're just looking for, say, the ability to lead with the left for rock and shuffle beats, etc., then there's no real need to invest in more than the hats, ride, and maybe a crash and/or china accessible to your left hand.

If you're looking at doing some Latin independence, for example, have a play around in the percussion section of your store and have a listen to stuff you like the sound of. One of those plastic 'blast' blocks, or whatever they're called these days - the ones that sound like a wood block - might make a good choice, especially if you want to play clave rhythms with your left hand.

For my personal development when it came to expanding the capacity of my left hand, I started playing all the beats in my books leading left-handed as well as right-handed (and swapping feet as well). I also work through Advanced Techniques, leading with the left on the hats and right on the ride.

As far as my musical applications are concerned, I have crashes, a China, a Paiste Swiss Crash, hats, splashes, a tambourine, and now a couple of concert toms available for my left hand to utilise - some of which are unreachable with my right hand. It forces me to be able to lead when necessary on my left hand in a live situation, and this is a very useful skill. Even if it's just plain and simple rock beats, getting used to moving that left hand around - as well as remaining on a static surface - is just as important as working on the coordination side of things.

Other things you could consider (in addition to the things I've mentioned):

- Splash/China stack
- Bell cymbal
- Specialty hihats, eg. riveted or with jingles, or one of those 'triple' sets, and so on
- Mini hats (as previously suggested by Arky)
- An 11" or 12" splash for riding purposes (can be done tastefully with a bit of experimentation :)
- A flat ride, or another ride cymbal with a completely unique characteristic compared to your main one
- A metal garbage bin lid

I hope this helps :)
 

Taye-Dyed

Senior Member
Other things you could consider (in addition to the things I've mentioned):

- Splash/China stack
- Bell cymbal
- Specialty hihats, eg. riveted or with jingles, or one of those 'triple' sets, and so on
- Mini hats (as previously suggested by Arky)
- An 11" or 12" splash for riding purposes (can be done tastefully with a bit of experimentation :)
- A flat ride, or another ride cymbal with a completely unique characteristic compared to your main one
- A metal garbage bin lid

I hope this helps :)
Along the lines of a metal garbage bin lid, I will add one more thing to this list: a music stand. Not the flimsy folding type but a big metal stand. I went to see a local jazz trio a couple of months ago. They have a great drummer who had a music stand to the left of his hihats and he hit it regularly - even incorporated it into one of his solos. It made an interesting china-like sound. It had never occurred to me before to use my music stand that way.
 

FoolInTheRain

Senior Member
I think the splash/china stack is what I'm leaning towards. I like the idea of some quick and kinda trashy sounding, but not too gong sounding. I tried putting my 18" china on the left and just thought it sounded terrible.

What some splash/china combos you guys are using?
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
I'm using a 10" Stagg SH China stacked onto a 10" Stagg SH Splash. It's quite good, actually, and costs less than $100 for the two of them :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Get an electronic device that you can change the sound of according to your whims.

Oh my god did I just say that?

Somebody shoot me, please.

(Not that rat bastard Phil though)
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
On a more serious note, after listening to some Toss Panos fusion stuff, I'm really digging playing around with stacks. You have to mess around and see what fits together right. In my case is was a couple of fairly nice cymbals that I wasn't using regularly. A 14" A Custom fast over a 16" K Dark. It's not good for loud gigs. I may get one of those Ozone things for that. But makes a cool ride alternative. Also going between it and the hat with either hand makes for some nice patterns that you can't quite do on the hat alone.f

Several years ago I had a China in the set up. Then I saw the guitarist next to me wince every time I hit it. Got rid of it and have never had another.
 

brady

Platinum Member
What about something completely different? Maybe use a shaker or maraca on your left hand, or one of those jingle sticks.

That way you can either use it normally or keep time with it on whatever you already have on the kit.

Or you can really get you coordination going by employing a set of agogo bells or a wood block. Playing the agogo bell pattern or clave with your left hand should be challenging enough.

Hmm....now you have me thinking about adding to my kit.
 

FoolInTheRain

Senior Member
I have a stupid question;
What is wrong with using the hats?
Nothing, really. They work great. But I'm trying to think outside the utilitarian box and find something useful, but also musical and fun. Not that hats can't be either of those, but as much as I LOVE my K's, they get kinda boring.
 

porter

Platinum Member
IMO, a stack "layout" that often sounds good is an inverted china under an inverted crash- preferably one or both with holes in it. I have a 14" A Custom EFX and a 13" Oriental China that I often use this way, and I've also used a 10" Saluda splash and a 17" Holy China in the same manner. If I were buying two cymbals specifically for it, I'd probably get a 16" A Custom EFX and maybe a 19" Paragon china or something like that. Dave Weckl uses a 14" HHX Evolution china over a 16" Evolution O-Zone (in a layout upside-down of what i'm describing) and they sound pretty good, so maybe that flipped over would work well.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
-- a wood block or clave
-- a well pressed garbage can lid
-- a hollow coconut (difficult to mount)
-- a small box full of bottle caps
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Horizontally mounted orchestral chimes.

Can make a pitch statement while keeping time...

...i've considered adding something that would give it a bit more white noise...attached to the chimes...a set of stright pieces of metal - one laying on the other...forgot the brand name I last saw...
 
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