1

Hi folks, I'll start to play drums next month but my mind is really blurry in some points, especially reading drum notes. I'm wondering if any blind drummers here and what are they doing? Do they have some advices for the starting or some points they think important etc? I'm really confusing should I learn how to read notes or not, can't be sure if it's necessary. If it's necessary to be good at playing drums, so how the hell can I do that? Give me a hand please.

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2

I started plaing drums for the first time on an e drum kit a few months ago. I don't really feel like I'm in a position to offer any useful advice as I'm a beginner too. I haven't tried to read any drum notation. I'm still very much focussed on just trying to play 16th notes evenly with all four limbs, and trying to train my brain to do different things with different limbs at the same time. Playing a basic beat came pretty easily, but playing steady 8th notes with one limb while playing something more intricate with another, especially feet, is proving a tricky thing to get used to.

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3

Having played drums now for over twenty years, I will say that while I think at least being able to talk to other musicians in their language is important, being able to read notation is less so. Drumming is a little more forgiving in this regard provided you steer clear of malleted percussion. It will definitely be something you want to learn eventually, but I have found learning by ear is much more effective, and if you're just playing kit, reading multiple-lined notation is a real pain if you're trying to memorize something. It's easier to actually hear what you want.

thanks,
Michael

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drums61999 wrote:

Having played drums now for over twenty years, I will say that while I think at least being able to talk to other musicians in their language is important, being able to read notation is less so. Drumming is a little more forgiving in this regard provided you steer clear of malleted percussion. It will definitely be something you want to learn eventually, but I have found learning by ear is much more effective, and if you're just playing kit, reading multiple-lined notation is a real pain if you're trying to memorize something. It's easier to actually hear what you want.

[wow], you've playing for over 20 years. So can you read the notation now? Actually I'm wondering if I can play in a band without knowing how to read drum notes. Another thing that confuses my mind is I'm really interested in progressive rock and metal and as you know those genres are more complex than the other stiles. I wanna be sure that one day I will able to play my favourite songs without notation. If it's not possible, then I want to handle reading the notes.

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5

I don’t pretend to be an expert or anything, however I had drumming lessons in school a few years back, and I can tell you from experience that actually hearing someone is a much more effective way of learning. This is a specially true if you’re planning on doing metal, because of the fast pace of the music, trying to learn that via notes would be a freakin nightmare.

The answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42.

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6

This response gave me confidence and motivated me but if I get stuck at a point, how am I going to solve it? A drummer who can see can check the notation and handle how to play a thing. Do we have a way to learn what to do? Or are our ears the only thing to know what's playing?

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7

Use both. My ear is my primary tool, and braille music is something I use to check if I can't figure out exactly what's going on.

I can indeed read braille music, and it's not to terribly complicated to learn. The problem is when you get into situations like the kit. Here's a basic beat in the way Braille music would present it, although this is not braille music notation.

Crash cymbal: beat one has a whole note. Measure of rest, measure of rest, measure of rest, measure of rest.
ride: measure of eighth notes, measure of eighth notes, measure of eighth notes, half measure of eighth notes, halfnote rest.
Highhat: quarter rest, eighth note, eighth note rest,  quarternote rest, eighth note, eighth note rest, quarternote rest. Repeat measure x3.
Snare: quarter rest, quarternote, quarter rest, quarternote, repeat measure, repeat measure, quarter rest, quarter note, eighth note eighth note eighth note eighth note.
bass: quarternote, quarternote rest, eighthnote eighthnote, quarternote rest, repeat measure, repeat measure, quarternote, quarternote rest, quarternote, quarternote.

Simple enough if it's something really simple, but when you've got so much more going on, it adds up like crazy.

thanks,
Michael

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8

Ah, I have some documents about the notation on classic guitar but haven't found any drum notes that written on Braille. How can I access drum notes of any song or should I translate it first?

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9

Go to www.dancingdots.com. they have some tools for learning braille music if that's what you're looking for.

thanks,
Michael

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10

hi, i have been playing droms at a young age, about 7 years old, which is about 10 years ago.
i would say you reely don't need notation to start playing droms, you just have to go with what you here.
good luck!

best regards
never give up on what ever you are doing.

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11

I'm a 36 year old drummer who has been playing since the age of 2.  I have both sighted and non-sighted experience, for I'm on both sides of the table.

When it comes to learning, the best way to play is generally by ear, 'cause sometimes, notation is actually what would be considered freeform.  WHen I was in Jazz band, there were a lot of songs that would notate the general basic pattern, but then the rest of the song is "open" leaving you with the notes to accent the band in specific places.    As a drummer, your ears are your best weapon.    Tablature is also an acceptable form if you want to copy a song note for note, which honestly is not always a great idea because then you will never develop your own style and sound.

Above all else, when it comes to playing, make sure the drum kit is set up to where you're most comfortable with everything.   Nothing sucks worse than being uncomfortable when trying to play or even learn.  If you have any other questions, major or minor, I will be happy to help.

Recording artist @ Bass Mekanik Records.  Albums available Wherever digital albums are sold.
My YouTube Channel
Drum Covers | Video Game Covers

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12 (edited by BlindJedi 2018-04-15 17:52:49)

I play multiple instruments, drums included. I agree learning by ear is the best and most effective method. Another thing i'd like to mention is memorise your kit layout, and always keep to that same layout. If playing on a new kit for the first time like at a festival or something where it is not your own, then make sure you sit down before the show and figure out where everything is if you can. The worst thing is when you go to do an epic fill and either hit a symbol instead of a tom by accident or hit nothing at all and look like an idiot. I have done both.
Is there a standard layout for drumkits? I've heard that there is, but then you have the kits like neel peart uses that have about 10 different toms and you think how the hell is this in any order what so ever?
I personally think learning braille music is a waste of time. Its not like sight reading is possible anyway, so you'll still have to memorise everything beforehand. I also have perfect pitch though and can memorise pretty quickly so i'm a little biest i'd say. Having said that though, my drummer in my band is fully sighted,  and I don't even think he reads drum notation very well if at all, I think he does it mainly by ear as well.

I am the blind jedi, I use the force to see. I am the only blind jedi.

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13

Braille music is a great reference. Playing kit in a band, as I said before, is a lot more forgiving than playing in a symphonic or orchestral setting. I have never used braille music for kit, but as my first degree was in music education, it was a useful thing to learn when there was very little on youtube, or my classmates or professors were too busy to make recordings.

My stance on braille music is the same as my stance on braille in general. One should know how to read it, even if one rarely uses it because it's just another tool in the box.

thanks,
Michael

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14

There's no real right or wrong way to set up a drum kit. 

For me, When I use three rack toms and two floor toms, I generally put my 8" tom on the righthand side of my 12 before my 14" floor tom in the order per se.

Neil Peart's kit is very amusing to say the least.  He has three rack toms above his hi-hat on a stand, then has three above his kick drums, with a gap on the right side where his cymbals are, mainly his  ride, then there is three floor toms.  Two traditionally set up and then a third one behind them, tilted forward .    THe third rack tom on the hi-hat side, is above the first rack tom on the kick drum section.

Now if you want to get  ridiculous, Terry Bozzio's kit has 12 piccolo toms on his left, along with 5 kick drums and about 18 pedals at his feet, along with two rows of floor toms. 

Usually if you play a gig where there's a backline kit, they let you adjust it accordingly.   

For the record, I find sometimes, having my two toms above my snare, where teh snare is between them to be very comfortable for some things, because that lets me put my ride cymbal slightly above m y kick drum and then my floor toms are to my right,  unless I feel raunchy and put one on my left. lol.  there's no limits but comfort is a necessity.

Recording artist @ Bass Mekanik Records.  Albums available Wherever digital albums are sold.
My YouTube Channel
Drum Covers | Video Game Covers

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15

Yep. there is no wrong way to set up a kit so long as you are comfortable. One thing I always insisted on in college was setting up the tom and cymbal angles so I could hit them naturally since others could see them. I don't know how many times I spent a half hour before the performance moving things a quarter inch one way or the other.

In my band now, I keep things pretty static, although sometimes what felt great last week feels wrong this week, so I always take the time to change it if I need to.

thanks,
Michael

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16

Neal peart also has an electric kit behind him also doesn't he?

I am the blind jedi, I use the force to see. I am the only blind jedi.

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17

Yes, it's  behind him to his left.    His kit nearly surrounds him in a 360, .  Between the  electronic kit, the auxiliary percussion stuff like the xylophone, and  his main kit, he's basically encircled  but with enough space to walk into the kit.

Recording artist @ Bass Mekanik Records.  Albums available Wherever digital albums are sold.
My YouTube Channel
Drum Covers | Video Game Covers

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18

drums61999 wrote:

Yep. there is no wrong way to set up a kit so long as you are comfortable. One thing I always insisted on in college was setting up the tom and cymbal angles so I could hit them naturally since others could see them. I don't know how many times I spent a half hour before the performance moving things a quarter inch one way or the other.

In my band now, I keep things pretty static, although sometimes what felt great last week feels wrong this week, so I always take the time to change it if I need to.


Overtime, I have trained myself to  adjust to the kit, as opposed to adjusting the kit to me.   This is  very handy in situations where I could not  make any adjustments prior to performance or if I did, I didn't have enough time to make all of them.

The scary thing for me was, back in 2016, ot even 3 months after losing my vision, I performed on a foreign kit at sxsw with my band at the time.  It was a 4 piece Mapex with a single rack and floor tom. I took my own cymbals, snare, and pedals, which is always nice.  My snare is my signature sound.    Problem is, they had this tiny stage to set up on so the kit was all awkward.  Kick was at an angle, and the rack tom was so low to the ground  nearly level with my snare drum, and I  adjusted it first, leaving me not much time to really do anyting else with the kick or floor tom.    Primary adjustments are snare, toms, then cymbals.   in that order.  so snare is always guaranteed to be adjusted if needed.  Because of this, I ended up missing the whole tom head once or twice, and doing a rim shot on the tom, which actually worked out so I improvised to make it seem like I meant to do that. lol.  believe me, that has saved my bacon in many live events.

Recording artist @ Bass Mekanik Records.  Albums available Wherever digital albums are sold.
My YouTube Channel
Drum Covers | Video Game Covers

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19

Oh yeah, there are always times when you can't make the adjustments you need, and you need to be able to play with what you have wherever it is. Playing concert percussion teaches you that all too well.

What I meant was that provided there was time, I made sure to make the changes I needed. I have had my stick catch on the rim of a tom as I go to hit cymbals and fly out of my hand before. that is not fun, but you just keep going play with one stick and one hand, and eventually either the song will end or someone will go hand the stick back to you

thanks,
Michael

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20

G-rad, how do you tune drums? Someone told me once to tune the snare til the head was paper thin then tune it to the pitch I want. Do you have to go that extreme? Also what is a good note to put it to? Right now mine is a c, but listening to music I notice drummers have then tuned differently, like some to b flat or some to c sharp. I have perfect pitch so always think that way even with drums, not sure how you do it though, lol.

I am the blind jedi, I use the force to see. I am the only blind jedi.

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21

Heh, I'm not G-Rad, but tuning your drums is also an art. Each drum is different, each head is different, and each shell is different. finding that sweet spot takes time and practice. the important thing to note is when you are tuning to tune across the head. what I mean by that is once your lugnuts are holding the head under tension, turn one a half turn or less, then go to the one across from it and do the same. If you don't you can warp the rim. While you're doing that, tap along the edge of the head with a stick to make sure it is even. there are lots of youtube videos on tuning drums, you can learn a lot from watching them.

thanks,
Michael

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22

Sorry for getting a nice discussion somewhat off topic, but as there is a strong emotional connection, I decided to chime in.

So yeah, drums, I have quite a story with them as well. As a child I always used to bang on anything with anything and not only those toy drums, that broke all to easy. There was all kind of other interesting stuff: pots, pans, buckets, bowls and spoons, sticks, pencils for hitting. So you probably get the idea - I was a natural banger! I obviously loved synthesizer sounds and electronic music and that became quite a battle to pick the choice. When I was 10 years old, I went to the music school to study drums properly, but it wasn't all flowers and glitter. To most of the people there I was a "poor sick child", also there were no notes for me to read. There were none even in my regular school, which btw was for the blind, but at that time music wasn't of any importance, only sports, all the freakin' time and it annoyed me to death. So yeah, to hell with notation, but what about the drums themselves? As a kid I was too small and my coordination came was not from this planet anyway, so it was quite a task to master the kit. The other thing was, that the teacher gave his students some kind of hard rubber mat to practice several techniques at home, but I took it as some kind of toying/bullying: come on, I want to play real drums with nice sound and not some booring piece of rubber! Fortunately the solfegio teacher noticed my love for the keys, as I played her some small melodies and she put me into a synthesizer class, because actually at that time I also dremt of having a synthesizer and making songs/tracks on it. Unfortunately the teacher of that class became an obstacle, as he actually cared more about piano rather than true synth stuff and again, he simply didn't know what to do with me. So years went by, I finished the music school with drums as my main instrument on paper, but actually by that time being already well into keyboards and writing electronic stuff.

So yeah, I didn't become a drummer, but feel way more happy now on 100% electronics. Some years ago we had a three part electronic/rock/folk band and for some time we used some really cheep electronic kit, which was probably ment to be used by kids for practicing, but we gave it a go and obviously I had to play it. It was the final sign, that I love actually synths more, as sitting behind that kit didn't make me feel like a drummer, but more like synthesist in a completely wrong position. So we decided, that it's way more effective to make our drums on synths, because we gravitated more towards electronic sounding drums anyway.

Another venture, that drums helped me to get into, was human beatboxing, which has been a deep interest of mine for years, but by today is unfortunately mostly put aside, but not really forgotten though. As I had an idea how the drum kit works, it was just a matter of translating it into slightly different modality, but overall I found quite a number of similarities between one and the other.

So what could I suggest to those funky blind dudes wanting to become a drummer? There should really be nothing to hold us back. Use your ears and great memory, but have a good relationship with your whole body, as it is really important to use both hands and feet at once.

Actually I have had also some interest in hand percussions, but fortunately being completely concious about getting the most sattisfaction from synthesizers, decided not to chase it too far. With that band I menchened earlier, we also had an entirely acoustic concept, where I was a percussionist, but again it made me feel completely in a wrong place.

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23 (edited by G-Rad 2018-04-17 14:53:45)

OH yeah, my childhood started out  making street drum kits, as they call it.   If you ever listen to street drummers on YouTUbe, they all tend to do exactly this.   5 gallon buckets, 10 gallon buckets, pots, pans, heck, my kick drum was a box I'd kick literally. lol.

As to answer questions,  Yes,  shell material, rim material, and  head type all play a role in the tone of the drum.  I'll break it all down for you though

This will be a slightly long read, so  keep that in mind please.
Use the heading navigation  shortcut to  switch through parts.

Drum shells

There are commonly two types of drum shells mainly in production,  Maple and Birch.  Although, there is also Mahogany, they don't use this as much anymore unless it's just  a cheap drum kit or poplar wood.

Maple shells tend to have a strong resonance and very vibrant tone with a balance of  attack and resonance.
Birch shells have less resonance and  more attack presence.
Mahogany shells are more warmer and darker toned with  less resonance in general.

The  other uncommon shell type are  Fiberglass and Acrylic, buth have  different properties, and are more for visuals than  performance.  Fiberglass drums are more common in the  70's with Tama, and Acrylic are more along the lines of DIY or  if you do find a  genuine maker, it's  mostly for visual arts.  They don't have much in the way of resonance but   they are  decent with  tonal balance and have less chance of warping than wooden shells,   so, it's kind of a trade off, but not one enough to justify, honestly.

There is also the way the drums are made.  Cheaper kits use wrapped wood, and what I mean by this is, the shell is a piece of  flat wood that they  treated with heat and steam to basically warp it into the shell of the  drum, and there's a meeting point in the shell somewhere.
Higher-end kits have  actual  hollow cut pieces of  wood with no  junction point where the shell meets, since there is no actual wrapping, it's made naturally.  Additionally,  most top model kits are also cut from the same tree or very similar in the same area.

My DW kit uses maple.  It's an older model Collector's series from the mid 90's but still sounds great.


There are  several different types of  metals used to make some snare drums, but  they have different properties as well.  Steel is commonly used, as is Nickel.

DW does make a concrete snare, and have never tried it though.


Drum Heads

There are two main materials when it comes to  actual drum heads.  Mylar, and animal hide, also known as fiber skin.

Mylar heads are  the most common, and that's what you will most likely run into on a drum kit.
Fiber Skin heads are generally used on auxiliary percussion stuff like congas, bongos, and  Djembe drums  There aren't many different types of heads for this category, largely because  they are what they are, but  they have different thickness levels..

Mylar heads come in various forms.  The main three are Clear, Coated and Ebony, with the two main  features being optional: Pinstripe or Dotted.    There are also multiple ply heads,  no thicker than 3 or 4, but generally used is 2-ply for batter and 1-ply for resonance.

Clear drum heads have a brighter sound with more attack and longer resonance.
Coated heads have a warmer sound with dampened resonance, and less attack.
Ebony heads are thicker and therefore have a darker tone and are good for small drums with big sound.
Pinstripe heads  apply to the three above mentioned heads and  tend to  have  less resonance due to their infrastructure.
Dotted heads have a big dot in the middle of the head, which tends to dampen  the overall resonance and gives the drum a flatter sound.
Hydraulic heads only  appear in  heads 2-ply or thicker that are Mylar.   They just tend to keep the layers  working in unison.  Think of it like thermal paste for your CPU, where the paste ensures full contact between the two surfaces.

Drum Rims

There are commonly two types of drum rims, or hoops.  Metal and  Wood.

Metal rims are stronger and more common. 
Wooden hoops are lighter, less durable,  but  bring a unique tone to the drum and   help with resonance.

Tuning

My tuning method is  somewhat  tedious but  has given happy results.

I start with resonant heads on snare and toms, and batter head on kick.  Reason for this is because the kick has a pillow or a muffler in it, and I need to tune the head with the pillow not present, which you cannot do with  the  resonant head on.

Before doing any actual tuning, I seat the heads by putting them on and tightening them extremely tight, and letting them set for about 10 minutes, with the resonant head on the floor of a carpeted surface, and a towel on the batter head.  You will hear the head crackle sometimes, but that's because  it's  "breaking in" and this helps prevent tonal loss   over time.  It also prevents the drums from sounding like paper.  After the 10 minutes is up, I remove the heads.


Tuning the Snare

I have no set way for tuning my snare.  I actually change the tone of it depending on the genre of music I am playing.  My snare is my signature sound.

I put the resonant head on.  Tighten all the tension rods  hand tight, then with a key give them all a quarter turn, or until I am happy, keeping the  tuning  balanced across the drum head.  I do this by holding my finger in the center of the drum, and tapping lightly with a drum stick  about an inch away from the  tension rod locations.  so if there's 8  tension rods, I tap  8 places on the drum.  I listen for a warbling sound or a "chorus like effect"   and tune the head accordingly and tend to  have my resonant head tight on my snare for better snappy response.

IF this is a wooden shell snare, I will not tension the resonant head very tight.

After tuning the resonant head, I will flip the drum over, placing the shell on a carpeted surface, muffling the resonant head, and do the same for the batter head, but for me, I light a firm snare head, so I tend to have the head  a few turns tight, but balanced using the  finger and tap method mentioned above.

My snare wires are pressed against the resonant head with enough tightness to make it very snappy.     


Tuning the toms

I don't have a set tone or pitch for my toms.  I just tune them to where they all have their own characteristic.   However one rule of thumb is, I will not let the drums  pitch be  an octave from each other. in any case. and no more than three toms in an octave range.

For example.  My tom sizes are 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16 inches.  if My 8 inch tom is tuned to a G, then  my 14" tom has to be tuned  lower than a G  an octave lower, but the  10 and 12 must be above that  lower G.  This way the toms are nicely spread out and give the drums a full range of tones.

My most common method for tuning my toms is placing the resonant head on first, and  hand tightening all the tension rods, then giving them a quarter turn, then if it's a smaller tom, I will  adjust the others to the higher pitched  frequency  or the tighetest lug after the  quarter turn,  of course placing my finger in the middle of the drum and tapping an inch away from each tension rod, until the warble is gone.

I then flip the drum over, placing the resonant head on a carpet surface to muffle it,  and repeat the process with the batter head, but if I want a slight overtone, I will turn the key a half turn to a three quarter turn instead of just a quarter turn. then proceed with the  evening the drum out.

Tuning  the Kick Drum

My kick drum tuning is rather  the easiest of them all.  I just  put the head on hand tight and tension the  rods until there is no more wrinkling in the head, then find the pitch of the head's tension rods and tune to the lowest as long as the  wrinkling is out of the  head.  I, then put the pillow in, and  put it in place, then  put the resonant head on wit the  batter head  face down on the floor, repeating the process with the resonant head.

My resonant head has six evenly placed holes along the outer edge that are each a half inch in diameter.  This is default by the DW resonant head I use.  It gives me the  benefits of both a ported and non-ported head.  This is especially handy when tuning two kick drums, which is a different beast altogether.    For me though, I tune them both  to the same pitch, unless I  am doing something that requires two different pitches for the kick drums.

My Setup

My kit is a DW collector's series from the mid 90's.  It's a double bass kit, with 5 toms, and a pork pie snare.    It's been loyal to me and I love it.

For my kick drums, I use a  Remo Powerstroke 3 3-ply  Clear Pinstriped head, with no beater pad.   My resonant head is the DW resonant head with the 6  vents that are a half inch in diameter each.  I use DW pillows inside the drums  held in place by velcro. and my beaters are  plastic for the attack.  I may use felt  for some softer stuff though and wooden for the hard hitting  stuff like metal. 

My kick has a very strong overall  punch and low boom that you can feel in your chest, even when not mic'ed up.

My toms all use Remo 2-ply Coated Emperor heads for batter heads, and   1-Ply Emperor heads for resonant.    They are generally thicker and I love the resonance they give with my  shells.  Especially since the coated heads tend to have a bit less than their clear counter parts.  This gives me an overall not too ringing warm tone. with enough attack to cut through, but not so much it's   overwhelming.

My snare uses a Control SOund X head with reversed dot on the batter side, and a Ambassador snare side head on the snare side.  The Control Sound X  is a coated head, with the dot on the underside of the head instead of the top side.  This is handy especially when using brushes or rods.    The head has   some ring, but not so much it's overwhelming,   I love it.

I use wooden tip sticks for the attack.  Nylon feel  very soft to me.


My kit samples

Here's a sample of my drum kit on some cheap microphones when recording an old drum cover.

I am using a single kick, 10, 12, and 16 inch toms, and my steel snare. that is a 14 inch  diameter, 5.5 inch deep Pork Pie.
Ed Sheeran, Cold Coffee drum jam.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDs26Du5DuU

Jason Aldean, She's Country
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3CiMlS03iM

Oasis, Wonderwall.  For this one I am using Rods.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5mH_39YsSA

The Black Crowes, Hard To Handle.

Recording artist @ Bass Mekanik Records.  Albums available Wherever digital albums are sold.
My YouTube Channel
Drum Covers | Video Game Covers

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24 (edited by drums61999 2018-04-17 19:37:05)

Excellent post on tuning. there were a couple methods there that I have not used, and will try next time I get new heads. I am slowly in the process of replacing all the wires for my electric kit that my dog chewed when she was a puppy, then I need to find a new method for holding the kick drum pads in place since the method I use now won't work on the floor I have.

Just as a side comment, I try to avoid my toms from having a specific discernible sustained pitch since it can sometimes clash with the rest of the band. There are a ton of methods for tuning, so what works for me might not for G-Rad, and vice versa. Play around with it until you get the sound you like, just follow the procedures for tuning without warping your rims.

thanks,
Michael

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25

What kind of electronic kit do you use, and what kind of floor?  I have a TD-50 with an A2E kit that uses my DW's  and  house it on a modified MDS-12V drum rack.

Recording artist @ Bass Mekanik Records.  Albums available Wherever digital albums are sold.
My YouTube Channel
Drum Covers | Video Game Covers

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