Switching from brushes to sticks in less than one (decently fast) measure

topgun2021

Gold Member
Any suggestions how to go about this while not having them make losts on noise while hitting the floor? So far, the only thing that works is literally dropping them, or slightly tossing them aside.

Is there any "technique" for this at all?
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Depends on the song, of course. But usually, when I know I will be making the switch to sticks from brushes and it has to happen pretty quick, I'll be holding a stick in my mouth so as soon as I put the brush down, I grab the stick and keep going. My snare hand then makes it's switch and it's all pretty seamless as long as my ride cymbal hand is doing it's thing.
 

topgun2021

Gold Member
The exact scenario is that I have three quarter notes of rest. My main concern is where my brushes will end up after I drop/toss them.

I also don't want to hold a stick in my mouth, because the first time I play this in front of other people a college jazz festival. I could be "that guy who held a drum stick in his mouth when a locally famous jazz musician was critiquing him."

I wonder what he would say. Tee hee.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I have heard more than one recording where the drop of the brushes is audible during a switch.
I leave the sticks on my floor tom and I simply put both brushes in my left hand and drop them when the time comes.
Some drummers sit on the sticks and pull them out from under their butt after they drop.
 
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toddbishop

Platinum Member
You should be able to stretch your switch time out a little longer without anyone noticing by finishing the brush section with your feet (beat 2 of the measure before the break would be a good place to start the switch), and then coming in on the sticks section with a long crash on beat 1 (if you haven't finished putting down your brushes, and are still holding both sticks in one hand), and then come in strong with everything on beat 4 (which could actually be very musically effective, even though you're just doing it to accommodate a stick change). Obviously it depends on what's going on musically, but you get the idea. Do practice the switch.

If I have to make a very fast switch, I just set my brushes on the floor tom- right on the head. Then I either don't play the floor tom until I have a chance to move them, or I just play it with them sitting on it- if it's a strong passage you can get away with that. If a quiet part, maybe you don't need to be playing the floor tom right then.

You can also just drop the brushes on the floor, if you can do it silently, and if you don't have to retrieve them before the end of the tune.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I keep a stick in each armpit, it's a fast switch, and I have a padded basket where I throw my brushes so they don't make noise. I am just kidding about the padded basket. I wouldn't worry about the noise, I'm pretty sure you'll be forgiven. Part of the charm of live people, imperfections. Just don't "slam dunk" them lol.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
The exact scenario is that I have three quarter notes of rest. My main concern is where my brushes will end up after I drop/toss them.

I also don't want to hold a stick in my mouth, because the first time I play this in front of other people a college jazz festival. I could be "that guy who held a drum stick in his mouth when a locally famous jazz musician was critiquing him."

I wonder what he would say. Tee hee.
I had no less than the great jazz bassist, Monty Budwig, tell me he saw Shelly Manne do the same thing once a long time ago (the stick in the mouth thing). He asked if Shelly told me to do that (like what are the chances of TWO jazz luminaries talking to a guy like me?). But he thought it was cool - anything to make playing the music easier, was the phrase he laid on me. Then he told me the reason Buddy Rich had two floor toms was because the second tom became the table. Put a towel on top of it and it can hold drinks too ;)
 

Too Many Songs

Senior Member
I hate replies that start 'I'm not sure if this helps' but I'm going to say it anyway.

I'm not sure that this helps but part of the problem you have is of course time and then needing your hands to switch. So you can (if you've got the technique) use your feet (your left in particular) to give you that time. I remember seeing my old teacher play in a small jazz quartet a couple of years ago and he had a switch to do. He had the sticks on his music stand and simply swapped them with the brushes whilst playing the jazz cymbal pattern with his left foot (so on the hi-hat cymbals). I thought then that that was pretty cool and it produced an almost seemless transition. I've tried it a couple of times - its a technique that needs practice but a useful one to have if you need it.

Good luck with the concert. I hope it goes well and you play how you want to play.
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
If you don't need the brushes later on, just drop 'em -- but make sure you don't make audible noise while doing that. If you do need them, use a table, or better yet, a table on either side of your kit.

In a "traditional" jazz context you usually have more time to transition back and forth. You can make a seamless transition from a bush pattern to a cymbal pattern by keeping one brush on the snare drum while you change your lead hand to a stick.
 

Zickos

Gold Member
I have a stick holder on my BD rim, coil type. In advance of the switch, I stop the swishing with my left hand and play the beats or what my right hand was playing. I put the brush in the coil holder and exchange it for the stick. I can play time with my right hand on the ride while switching my left hand to a stick in a similar manner to play the back beat. I play mostly big band swing and I haven't had much of a problem with this method. If I miss any beats it's never more than one and is rarely noticeable. Did I make that sound complicated enough?
 

bullfrogger

Junior Member
Depending on the tempo, I'd go with a stick holder off the hihat stand, or you could put a towel on the floor - as long as you're accurate when dropping them there'll be no noise and you can keep your sticks handy so they're convenient to grab.

Check out a video of JoJo Mayer playing "Pleasure Control" - part of the seamlessness there is that he allows space within the composition to make the switch; the dynamics of the song change when moving from one section to another which allows him to make the switch one stick at a time. He also pulls off a really tasty pitch change on his high tom when going back into the main theme :)
 

jazzin'

Silver Member
The best technique I've got for this is to pick up the stick in the right hand, from floor tom, before you finish the brush part while you keep playing the brush sweep with left hand. You then come in strong where you need to without any trouble. Use the floor tom and rim of the snare to place your brushes. No dropping sticks, no rush, seamless and easy.
 

topgun2021

Gold Member
The best technique I've got for this is to pick up the stick in the right hand, from floor tom, before you finish the brush part while you keep playing the brush sweep with left hand. You then come in strong where you need to without any trouble. Use the floor tom and rim of the snare to place your brushes. No dropping sticks, no rush, seamless and easy.
1.) There is a written measure of rest where I switch.

2.) I enter back in the song with a floor tom hit.

I have concluded a (hopefully quiet) brush drop to the floor, while picking up my sticks off the floor tom is the best option.

I am going to be playing a set at another college, it might be a guessing game what the set will be if it changed from last year.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I've run into this problem since I started with my current band because I don't have a floor tom (aka convenient table) any more.

I finish with a crash, leave things floating for two bars (which sounds pleasantly ethereal), while reaching down to the floor and change brushes for sticks. Sometimes I make a noise doing it - I try not to.

I'd gag if I kept a stick in my mouth and it looks even more undignified than my usual state of gaucheness. Ramming sticks in my crotch is not a great look for a woman either. I've tried sitting on the sticks in a less suggestive way but it's uncomfortable. If there's a spare chair around I'll put my various input devices on it for easier reach.
 

Zickos

Gold Member
Or the other solution is grow two more arms and hands. You could moonlight as a Hindu goddess.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
There's some stories of guys holding pillows for Steve Gadd to toss his brushes onto during recordings...

It depends on the situation, but on some gigs/shows where I've got a lot of switches I use a trap table with foam on the top so I can toss and go... If a trap table isn't a possibility, a hard snare drum case with the lid turned upside down on top of the bottom of the case can work. One of my SD cases has 2" thick upholstery foam in it that nicely cushions the landing. A tray style music stand tilted horizontally with a towel on it will also suffice as a trap table and the lip can be helpful in keeping things from going anywhere. The top of the BD is a good place to put stuff, too. If I know I can get away without playing the FT for a stretch -- at least until I get a chance to put the brushes away properly -- I might use that. You can also prop a set of sticks up in between the tension rods and the shell of the BD.

Generally, I try to preset the stuff I'll need to switch from/to in a way that makes it as easy as possible and then just work out the choreography to play what I need to play in mid switch. I'll sometimes practice particularly tough switches a few times just to get the hang of it. It's an art form. I know that percussionists on shows often have mallets/beaters/sticks placed, taped, hung and otherwise strategically located all over their pits so that they can make quick changes. Then they practice the switches until they can get them cold.

As mentioned above, I often end up with sticks/mallets/brushes and even small percussion instruments held in my teeth, etc. I've tucked them in my crotch like Vinnie, too. Armpits work if you don't have to reach out and play the toms or cymbals. One neat trick for cymbal rolls is to hook the mallet heads over top of one another and "hang" them on the cymbal stock/felt - that only works when you don't need that cymbal for anything else, of course.

Honestly, there's no formula, you just have to figure out what works.
 
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Again reviving an old thread for a point:

How about when you have to switch multiple times? Or when you need your floor tom?

When I'm playing jazz, usually the floor tom solution works (I actually put a folded towel on the floor tom to make the drop and pick up silent - my tom-mounted mic didn't even pick it up on my last recording). This gets a bit messy with multiple switches because you're just trying to do it fast, not precisely.

I haven't run into a situation where I needed the floor tom in jazz ... thankfully. But I have both problems with Latin. For example we're playing a Latin tune and I have an eight-bar solo. I'd like to switch in a jingle stick just for the solo. But I have to play all the toms. I have no idea where to hold the jingle stick, and I'd prefer not to drop anything when I'm done.
 
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