Let's talk about drums

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mbene085
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Let's talk about drums

Post by mbene085 » Fri Dec 25, 2020 1:21 pm

I've always loved drums and have a "passable, boring garage band drummer" level of proficiency on them, but I want to get into them more seriously. I had a shitty electronic kit for a few years but it was more of an impediment to joyful music-making than a tool for it, and when I move into my new place this spring I'll finally have room for a kit. In the last 5 years I more or less ended up playing bass as my main instrument and it really expanded my perspective when playing guitar, so I want to try doing that with the other half of the rhythm section now, too.

I've never really been tuned in to the drum world, so I was hoping some more rhythmically talented OSGers could give me their thoughts on gear, learning and practice resources, really anything would be useful. I'm starting from scratch on the gear front and the skills I do have are rusty since it's been 3 years since I've played on a kit. I've been reading drum forums etc but I probably have more in common musically with OSG folks and I just generally have more fun talking to you guys so I figure I'd start a thread.

So tips, big or small, are highly appreciated.

Also, merry xmas to everyone who celebrated it last night and today.

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Larry Mal
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Dec 25, 2020 1:42 pm

You are looking to buy a kit? What are you looking to spend?
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mbene085
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by mbene085 » Fri Dec 25, 2020 2:29 pm

I basically have money set aside in the form of a "new studio" budget and can choose what I put it into...everything from renos to acoustic treatment, mics, and a drum kit, among other things.

So I don't have a strict drum budget, it's more about deciding where my priorities lie at the moment and figuring out what kind of bang I can get for what kind of bucks. I know nothing about drum price to performance ratios. Like, for electric guitar, you can find unmodified Squier JMJMs in the hands of gigging professionals but I'd never tell a beginner to get an off-the-rack Bullet Mustang or Vintage Modified offset because the ones I've played needed some mods and setup work that make the situation more complicated than it needs to be for someone inexperienced . I definitely don't want to be the equivalent of a guy struggling with a Bullet's bendy neck, rough frets and strings binding at the nut without understanding why the notes sound so awful and out of tune.

I have no idea if there's a JMJM of the drum world. Do all entry-level kits come with garbage skins that need immediate replacing? Is the action on cheap hi hat stands and kick pedals an impediment to developing good timing? Is one high end crashable ride so much better sounding than a set of two cheap crashes and a ride that it's not worth wasting money on the entry level stuff?

I'm hoping to learn that type of thing so I can figure out what I need to be factoring in to my overall budget for drums.

I'm also considering installing triggers on an acoustic kit so I can track directly into Superior Drummer and not worry about how good the kit sounds right now or buying a kit's worth of mics yet (I don't have much of a mic closet and am currently only geared up for tracking vocals and small ensembles of acoustic string instruments). The e-kits I've tried are basically garbage and I'm done with them. You can spend $2000 and Roland gives you a 10" snare, 10" rubber cymbals and a module that sounds like technology never progressed much beyond the TR-808. I definitely want to play on real drums, even if I want to track to MIDI.

My plans for the studio and for the kit are basically set to evolve over the next few years as time, money, and the pandemic allow. For now, it's just for me, for fun, to practice on, and to track with (but only via MIDI). Whenever the pandemic stops being a thing and I can safely have friends and band members in my home, I'm hoping to eventually build a separate drum room where I can mic up a nice kit and leave everything set up, but have enough isolation to record it while the rest of the band is playing in the main live room.

But, that's probably years off due to the pandemic alone, so it's not what I need right now. I just want it to be nice enough that it inspires me to play it instead of acting as an impediment like my old shitty Roland e-kit, and I'm trying to figure out what kind of money it takes to get to that level of kit. More or less the quality equivalent to a MIM Fender - something someone can look forward to practicing on as they improve and never be held back by, even if it's not an experienced pro's dream setup.

I just don't know if drums follow the same price/performance curve as guitars. MIM Fenders are basically the third price tier up from the very bottom and perform extremely similarly to way pricier guitars. We're pretty lucky that way as guitarists.

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Unicorn Warrior
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Fri Dec 25, 2020 2:37 pm

^

Very good points on all accounts. One thing to note about us “guitar guys” is that we notice nuances. Most drummers I know cater to their own perceptions. I guess what I’m trying to say is that drummers are by and large an idiosyncratic unorthodox breed. You probably already know this. And that is why you’re in the right place. A place where guitar guys can help you pick drums haha

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by marqueemoon » Fri Dec 25, 2020 4:01 pm

I’ve played in a few bands and play on my own recordings sometimes these days.

My son has been playing for a little while and we are lucky to have a house and chill neighbors.

I like jazz sizes, darker cymbals, coated heads. The one oddball aspect of my setup is an Axis kick pedal.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by redchapterjubilee » Fri Dec 25, 2020 4:10 pm

There are indeed JMJM’s of the drum world, for drums and cymbals alike. Keep an eye out for ‘80s vintage Tama Superstar/Granstar, Yamaha of all series, the more recent Gretsch Catalina Maple or Birch, 80s Ludwig Rockstars (esp if they are clear maple on the inside), 80s/90s Premier, Ludwig Acrolite snares (bare aluminum or black galaxy finishes), 70s no logo or hollow logo Zildjian cymbals, Sabian AA cymbal series, and Paiste 404/Sound Formula/2000/3000 series.

Buy used when possible. Don’t skimp on cymbals. Drums themselves can be modified by changing heads and tuning. Cymbals are what they are. Head choice can change a lot about a drum’s tone, decay, and response. I like double ply heads for durability and low end focus. When I was on drummer cafe 20 years ago I learned a couple of “universal forum truths”: acrolite snares are generally the best buy in snare drums; 42 strand snares help to bring out low end fullness in snares; grosgrain ribbon works excellent with snare strainers; leather washers for tension rods helps stop the tension rods for retuning during play (so does blue loctite like we’d use on grub screws); drums cheap or expensive are only as good as their shell edges. Probably more stuff I’ve forgotten over the years.

I personally prefer larger drums tuned up. My brother plays as well and he prefers smaller drums tuned down. I like thinner, hand hammered cymbals. He likes thicker Paiste B8 alloy cymbals. No one is right or wrong.
Last edited by redchapterjubilee on Fri Dec 25, 2020 4:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by mbene085 » Fri Dec 25, 2020 4:16 pm

marqueemoon wrote:
Fri Dec 25, 2020 4:01 pm
I like jazz sizes, darker cymbals, coated heads. The one oddball aspect of my setup is an Axis kick pedal.
Thanks for chiming in.

What about the smaller size drums do you like? Is it a tone thing, a portability thing, a volume thing or a feel/response thing?

I used to play with a drummer who grew up a metal head and even though we were playing funk-rock type stuff, he insisted on using absolutely massive shells and cymbals. Playing with him was the first time my 50W tube amp ran out of clean headroom. I didn't think that would ever "be a thing" in my life.

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mbene085
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by mbene085 » Fri Dec 25, 2020 4:23 pm

redchapterjubilee wrote:
Fri Dec 25, 2020 4:10 pm
There are indeed JMJM’s of the drum world, for drums and cymbals alike. Keep an eye out for ‘80s vintage Tama Superstar/Granstar, Yamaha of all series, the more recent Gretsch Catalina Maple or Birch, 80s Ludwig Rockstars (esp if they are clear maple on the inside), 80s/90s Premier, Ludwig Acrolite snares (bare aluminum or black galaxy finishes), 70s no logo or hollow logo Zildjian cymbals, Sabian AA cymbal series, and Paiste 404/Sound Formula/2000/3000 series. Buy used when possible. Don’t skimp on cymbals. Drums themselves can be modified by changing heads and tuning. Cymbals are what they are.
That's what I've heard, regarding cymbals. Makes sense.

Is there a good resource for figuring out which years and brands of drums are the best bang for the buck? Stuff listed locally on Kijiji often doesn't have a ton of backstory associated with it so I have no idea how I'd tell if a Tama kit was 20 years old vs 35.

Maybe I should start a spreadsheet of brand/series/era for every time someone gives me recommendations like the ones you listed above. With the pandemic most people have the kits they're selling sitting disassembled in their garage for pickup so it's not like I can shop with my ears right now, picking a used kit would come down to finding something that's good on paper and then just making sure it's in usable condition on pickup.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by marqueemoon » Fri Dec 25, 2020 4:58 pm

+1 on the Acrolyte and not skimping on cymbals. That goes double for hats.

The nice thing about drums is they are big and loud, so when people sell them they are often ready to deal. :)

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by soggy mittens » Fri Dec 25, 2020 6:08 pm

I feel like the biggest over looked element of drums is the tuning of them, I'd say maybe only half of the drummers I've met really tune their drums and that is just to ear, I've actually never met a drummer that owns an actual tuner and tunes to frequencies/notes. I only drum occasionally when a kit is provided and always carry a drum tuner but I also do recording so it is a part of the process of that, to ensure a consistent tone across multiple sessions or song specific needs. But more drummers really need to do it themselves.
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Dec 25, 2020 7:10 pm

soggy mittens wrote:
Fri Dec 25, 2020 6:08 pm
I feel like the biggest over looked element of drums is the tuning of them, I'd say maybe only half of the drummers I've met really tune their drums and that is just to ear, I've actually never met a drummer that owns an actual tuner and tunes to frequencies/notes. I only drum occasionally when a kit is provided and always carry a drum tuner but I also do recording so it is a part of the process of that, to ensure a consistent tone across multiple sessions or song specific needs. But more drummers really need to do it themselves.
I was a drummer for years and I studied up on tuning, bought devices to help tuning, and took lessons on drums at points and asked about tuning.

I never felt like I was any good at tuning them.
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by mbene085 » Fri Dec 25, 2020 7:19 pm

Oh, yes, I am all ears for pointers and resources regarding tuning. This is exactly the type of stuff I was hoping for people to bring up.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by Domm » Fri Dec 25, 2020 10:09 pm

D-drum makes a lot of high quality kits in the inexpensive range. Definitely one of the best bang for the buck kits! I like 20 inch bass drums and a 13 inch snare but 6-7 inches deep. Lots of tuning range in that size snare.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by soggy mittens » Fri Dec 25, 2020 10:48 pm

mbene085 wrote:
Fri Dec 25, 2020 7:19 pm
Oh, yes, I am all ears for pointers and resources regarding tuning. This is exactly the type of stuff I was hoping for people to bring up.
From my research there are three different sounds you can achieve as far as tuning goes. 1) consonant, which is where you tune the batter and reso heads to the same pitch and the resulting tone is ..well.. constant. 2) rising sustain, is where you have the reso head tuning above the batter, typically a third or a fifth and it reduces the sustain and can can modulate the pitch to rise as it sustains. 3) falling sustain is the opposite of that, the reso is tuned below the batter and produces a falling sustain.

I wish there was a simple system for tuning drums to a pitch or key or chord etc but every drum shell is different, it would be cool if you could just take the shell diameter and apply that to a set mathematical algorithm to achieve a set result but I'm yet to find one. Also the thing about the frequency that you tune each skin to isn't the same frequency that they produce together in any of the three styles, unless you use concert drums that only one head on.
In recent times I prefer the kick to have no reso head as it helps to produce a tone that doesn't modulate, the trade off is less sustain but for certain styles this can be seen as a plus. the modulation is most notable on lower tones like kicks and floor toms, especially when not muffled in any way, snares are not so much of an issue with this as it is typically without much sustain. Also important to note that the sound you tune your drums to will often sound different in the room than when recorded, for example if your drums sound high in the room to your ear they can sound big through the mics and vica versa, tho with the kick I like to get that as low as possible, to establish a good fundamental that can have the harmonics saturated in post.

I'm still learning a lot of this myself so hopefully this will help prod someone with more experience to come and fill in gaps and correct anything I've mistaken. xD
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by s_mcsleazy » Sat Dec 26, 2020 12:47 am

if you're looking to buy a decent quality first kit for little money, a lot of the premier stuff in the uk from the 70's is super cheap. i basically built up my kit for under £150 not including cymbals.

i think the ludwig standards are quite cheap in the US and those are definitely a case of "i've never encountered a bad set. only a badly maintained set" 70's and 80's pearl stuff is also the same.
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