The Minimal Setup

MikeM

Platinum Member
I went and saw a band Friday night and they were really great. They have two drummers, a *really* great bass player, and great singer. I like their material a lot, too. Catchy stuff. One of the drummers has a deeper set of drumming skills, but the electronic programming is done by the other guy and he's pretty great in that he's unorthodox in his drumming approach, though he goes deep in other areas. They're compliment each other really well.

Check them out here

Here's the thing I noticed: these guys both rocked four piece kits each with hats and just two cymbals. The opening band's drummer played the exact same setup. It's not hard to start naming off other drummers using this without resorting to most jazz setups or even Ringo. It's a (retro?) contemporary phenomenon.

Now I can definitely see the merits in playing such a stripped down kit, and do so myself with my electronic band, but this setup is so ridiculously common place at this point that no one could possibly think they're being original or edgy with it, could they?

Course the other part of me thinks that we should savor every minute this kit setup is enjoying such popular acceptance among drummers. Clearly, there's been a strong movement away from the excesses of the '80s monster kits, but this seems to have gone beyond that to rejecting anything with splashes, china's, dedicated ride cymbals, and multiple crashes.

I'm not struggling with the two toms so much as I struggle with the just two cymbals. In my last hold out bit from my youth, I still like 3 crashes and a ride. How am I ever gonna get it down to half that?! (Obviously, I know nothing says I have to, but still...)
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
I still like 3 crashes and a ride.
Aside from the variety of sounds, the main reason I like using multiple crashes is to spread the punishment around. A cymbal that’s already vibrating a lot is much more prone to damage from a second hit.
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
I like having a lot of voices around the kit, but also enjoy playing a gig with a 2 pc. Whatever makes you happy, do that.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I've explained this a lot of times, but I just play better and much more creatively with fewer things to hit. It has nothing to do with being edgy or any other worry about perception. If anything, I get harassed why I don't keep adding stuff or why I don't have a "double bass".
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
You give the impression that you think you have to follow trends, which I didn't think you were that way. (and still don't) I don't give a toss about what's popular. Pitch-wise, I need a high, medium and low tom, duration-wise I need a short, medium and a long crash, plus of course a ride and hats. (plus a splash , 2 bovine bells and a tambourine.) I'd sacrifice my toms but not my cymbals...much to expressive. I've had a love affair with quality sounding cymbals my whole life.
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
I’m also a big fan of micro kits. With kick, snare, hi hat and 1 cymbal, you’re forced to come up with more rhythmically-interesting stuff to compensate for the lack of voices.
 

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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I've explained this a lot of times, but I just play better and much more creatively with fewer things to hit. It has nothing to do with being edgy or any other worry about perception. If anything, I get harassed why I don't keep adding stuff or why I don't have a "double bass".
I'm in this boat.

the only things I add are texture sound affect items...like things to put on my cymbals or drum heads to create different affects....hooves, or a net bag of bottle caps, broken cymbals, ......whatever ....stacking cymbals...or even cymbals on drums

I enjoy getting creative with foreign objects placed around a small kit

playing a lot of jazz and hip hop within the same set on any given night it's great to have many sound options and minimal actual drums
 
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Stroman

Platinum Member
I occasionally use that minimal setup you describe, just for convenience. OK, let's call it what it is - laziness! lol

I do use a 4 piece kit these days, but I'm like Larry - I REALLY like variety of voices with cymbals. I prefer two crashes, one or two splashes, and a china sometimes. I've even used two rides - a very light AGOP 20" and a heavy-as-a-tank Paragon 22" - but I never do that anymore. I also use a cowbell and a mounted tambourine (very underrated piece of equipment for pop/country, IMO).

In the past I also used my Roland brain and a pad or two to provide even more voices, but I have since sold the Roland kit.

Truth be told, I sometimes long for more tom voices, but the extra mics, cables, set-up time, etc. make me stick to two toms.

So, after all that rambling - I am not sure why minimalist kits are so popular other than ease of setup! lol
 

drumdevil9

Platinum Member
The minimum that I like to have cymbal-wise is 2 crashes, a ride and hats. I could see myself not using a ride if the music didn't call for it but for me it usually does.
 
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groove1

Silver Member
playing jazz I usually play a 4 piece kit with 2 crashable rides with sometimes a 3rd cymbal.
when I played with B3 Organ bands years ago I used a couple crashes too.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
There seems to be a strong human desire to see the world as "This OR That" as opposed to "(This and/or That) or Neither".

I want timber selection ALONG WITH inovation of what I select in the moment.

Fewer options are purly fewer options...not a replacement for taste.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
You give the impression that you think you have to follow trends, which I didn't think you were that way. (and still don't) ... I've had a love affair with quality sounding cymbals my whole life.
I've had a love affair with cymbals for as long as I've been playing as well and don't see myself thinning them out anytime soon - I use all my cymbals quite a bit and would miss them (literally!) if they weren't there.

I also don't feel like I have to follow trends, but there is a part of me that sees the utility in going minimal, and that feels a little out of place, or dated even, with such a collection of pies up all over the place. It's not that different from the relief I feel when seeing a bass player pulling out a 4-string as opposed to a 5-string. Maybe it's just aesthetics?
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
I'll bet I've played more live and studio gigs with two cymbals / hats and 4 drums than any other set up.

I prefer a couple more cymbals in the practice room but rarely on a gig.

Less cymbals = less hardware. Less hardware = lighter bag and less time to set up and take down.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Less cymbals = less hardware. Less hardware = lighter bag and less time to set up and take down.
No question about that part :) But if someone else were handling that for you and there weren't space limitations, what would you roll with?
 

T-rex

Member
I have always gotten along with 2 crashes, a ride and a set of hi-hats.

If someone has a ton of cymbals and plays them all every gig, great. But personally, I would get overwhelmed with choices for the type of music I am playing. For rock/indie/garage rock type stuff at the clubs I play in the majority of subtle or not so subtle differences in having 4 or 5 different crashes is not going to translate to the audience.

Of course, there is the type of music that calls for wind chimes and then all bets are off! Bring us your splashes, your crotales, your huddled wind chimes yearning to breathe free. . .
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
When I played rock it was a ride with two crashes and a splash, for a while I replaced one crash with a weird bashed up old cymbal that operated like a China.

Now it's just 2 cymbals but, since I'm in a low volume setting it means 8 main sounds - riding on the bells or bows and, with crashing, either a full crash or accents (glancing blows). That's not counting little edge touches, scrapes etc.

Many more sound options with cymbals playing low volume music.
 
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