The Minimal Setup

Drumolator

Platinum Member
At church the set has hats, ride, two crashes, splash, and China. For my kit I can do that, but I prefer to use hats, crash-ride, and crash. I like the challenge of playing with less and the convenience of less stands to move. Peace and goodwill.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I am not sure why minimalist kits are so popular other than ease of setup! lol
It's a popular choice because it's been around for over 100 years, if anything, the basic 4 piece kit is a standard "that's all you need" type of kit, it's not a fashion or a trend type of kit. It has been and will remain popular as ever for all those past and future years, it's a classic.

There's other benefit in a simple 4 piece kit than ease of setup, it also helps developing creativity, texture, colors, emotions and feelings with less voices than a larger kit, it's by no mean better, just different, and obviously not everyone's cup of tea, but everything can be said and done on a basic 4 piece kit.

I've had all type of config setups over the years, including large kits with double bass drums and a forest of cymbals, but the funny thing is, as I become a better player, voices started to disappear from the kit regularly, up to the point of playing a 4 piece kit with a single kick pedal (I gave double bass patterns almost 3 years ago) and I'm very happy with this config, I use 2 hats, 2 crashes, 1 ride and a china.

I doubt that I will play anything bigger than that in the future, I might add a second floor tom depending on the type of gig/music.

The ergonomics of a setup is also easier to achieve with a minimal setup, where you put each instrument exactly where you want them, with no compromise whatsoever, an important factor for me as a back sufferer and some pain here and there due to old age, the mileage starts to show in all my limbs, you don't want to move or extend your limbs more than necessary.

At the end of the day, we drummers are lucky, we can have our instrument as big or as small as we want it to be and set it up and tune it up how we like :)
 

Deathmetalconga

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...)
This will come as a shock to most people, but most drummers play on mid-sized kits of 5 to 8 pieces. Everything thinks in terms of either monster kit or minimal kit. In reality, those are the exceptions.
 

mandrew

Gold Member
When I did play drum sets, I always had a 4 piece set, 1 ride, a crash, and hats. also a bell and block, but I do count them as a standard part of a set. They are "frills". That basic set up worked fine for me.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
It's a popular choice because it's been around for over 100 years,
Where'd you hear that? The very first sets were more like percussion setups for vaudeville and live entertainment, with marching bass drums and snares adapted to stage use, even well into the 1930s:




Krupa was responsible for developing the modern set as we know it.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
... Everything thinks in terms of either monster kit or minimal kit. In reality, those are the exceptions.
I think if you just look at drum store sales figures, you're probably right. I remember DED citing some stats from his drum retail years where the majority of high-end drum sales go to guys who never gig them. I know a lot of drummers who never play out with others and they all have at least 5-piece kits in their mancaves.

It's the one's who are out gigging with the visibility that are taking fewer pieces with them.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Where'd you hear that? The very first sets were more like percussion setups for vaudeville and live entertainment, with marching bass drums and snares adapted to stage use, even well into the 1930s:




Krupa was responsible for developing the modern set as we know it.
Yes DMC, I was over enthusiastic, but it seems such a long time ago it felt like more than 100 years, so it should read "for almost 100 years"...

...this is from 1937, not the 3 piece kit as we know it, but still...

 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I think if you just look at drum store sales figures, you're probably right. I remember DED citing some stats from his drum retail years where the majority of high-end drum sales go to guys who never gig them. I know a lot of drummers who never play out with others and they all have at least 5-piece kits in their mancaves.

It's the one's who are out gigging with the visibility that are taking fewer pieces with them.
Looking at kits and descriptions here from hundreds of members over the past 7 years, I find your second paragraph dubious. In fact, I'd have to say most unplayed drum sets are four-piecers because their owners don't know any better to get a real drum set!
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Yes DMC, I was over enthusiastic, but it seems such a long time ago it felt like more than 100 years, so it should read "for almost 100 years"...

...this is from 1937, not the 3 piece kit as we know it, but still...

The kit on the right definitely shows the evolution. Fascinating - I'd never seen such a good example of a kit between the old vaudeville trap set and the modern set. I'd say the old vaudeville kids were out of favor by the early 1940s - 70 years ago. Such a young instrument we play!
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Looking at kits and descriptions here from hundreds of members over the past 7 years, I find your second paragraph dubious. In fact, I'd have to say most unplayed drum sets are four-piecers because their owners don't know any better to get a real drum set!
I think Mike's point was of those who play out, a whole lot (and yes maybe not on tours with roadies, drum techs and such), not just in basements.

But back to real evidence, 566 people on here might argue against your point.

http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=45195&highlight=show+us+your+4+piece&page=13

there's a question, what is a "real drum set" (esp. when 80%of drumming is snare, bass, ride and hats)?
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
I'm one of those that doesn't use more than two cymbals. I hardly ever ride the ride. I don't dig the constant ring.

I think my ideal acoustic set would be a single big kick with 2 pedals, snare, 1 rack tom and 1 floor tom but I'm having trouble squeezing my HH in the allotted space so I nixed the second kick pedal..

I really dig the music you posted but IMO they have one to many drummers. I don't get it.
 

sbowman128675

Senior Member
My main kit is 4 crashes, a china, splash, hats, a ride, two toms, two floor toms, snare, and a kick.

I use each in its own characteristically proper way (makes sense??) I use three aaxplosion crashes, a 16, 17 and 18 inch and each has a character to its own that I need for different parts and different sounds. Same with the toms, hats, ride and snare. Sometimes I use two snares even.

BUT!!! Having said all that, when I played with my Dad on his jazz gigs, its the one rack tom, floor tom and two cymbal with hats thing.

It all depends on not only what the music needs, but what you need to bring the best you can to the song.
 

Mikecore

Silver Member
****WARNING! CLICHE ALERT!...CLICHE ALERT!****

It's the drummer, not the drumkit. I once saw Matt Halpern DESTROYING on a 3-pc kit and at that moment I knew a good drummer is as much a magician as a musician. He knows how to set up a sonic illusion of many drums by making your ear forget certain tonal differences and focus on the interplay between drums and cymbals. In a flurry of different patterns, your ear does not miss the fact that there is only a floor tom, snare and bass drum at work.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Bah! I've been going this whole year using only a 20" as my only cymbals plus the hats.

It leaves me room to carry and set-off the appropriate pyro-technics ;)
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I play 12+ gigs a month not counting tours.....and I see more 4 piece kits than any other configuration by far

more drummers with 1 up 1 down a ride and a crash than anything thing else

why ?....... because cats who gig constantly and carry their own gear in and out of clubs, bars, theaters, up and down stairs , in and out of double parked cars, in and out of cabs are smart and don't bring what they don't need.

everything I need to say what I need to say on a drum kit can be carried in and out of the venue in one trip
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
.....and I see more 4 piece kits than any other configuration by far

more drummers with 1 up 1 down a ride and a crash than anything thing else

why ?....... because cats who gig constantly and carry their own gear in and out of clubs, bars, theaters, up and down stairs , in and out of double parked cars, in and out of cabs are smart and don't bring what they don't need.
I agree with this, but I don't think it's the only reason. There were tons of drummers 10, 20, 30 years ago who schlepped around more gear than that every night. Two rack tom setups with at least 2 crashes and a ride and hats used to be the most common kit you'd see. Often you'd see more. Now it's different; now you almost never see that.

Mind you, I'm not complaining about it, but I do think it's interesting how the mindset has shifted. It's almost as if you see someone with a larger kit these days, and the first impression is 'not salty' until proven otherwise. That's not true for all genres of course, but indie rock has definitely fallen into that category.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Hats and 2 cymbals has always been my setup - gigging or not. Guess I just stayed with it long enough that's it's 'fashionable' again after all these years.

The only thing that's changed, and it wasn't until joining this forum, is that I sometimes use 4 drums instead of 5 now. Going even more minimal - ha ha.
 
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