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  #1  
Old 06-25-2013, 10:25 PM
bobafettdrumcorp bobafettdrumcorp is offline
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Default How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

I'm a drummer of 20 years, All I've ever really played was loud heavy rock music.
Basically, I've been bashing away for 20 years but have always had very open
tastes in music with jazz, folk, country, blues etc.

NOW, I'm entering the world of folk and cover gigs - I need to tone it down and really
work on my dynamics even more than before for low volume situations. Not every gig
needs me to play on 10.

Is it unheard of to play lighter sticks in these situations? I know you really should use
the right stick for your hand but I'm curious if some drummers do.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:31 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Practice at very low volumes. It takes control to do so. You need to stay relaxed and not have technique suffer. It may sounds easy but it's really not.

Yes, gear can help (lighter sticks, cymbal selection, perhaps even drum head selection) but ultimately none of it will matter if your technique and comfort level isn't there.

I think it's all very obtainable with the time put in.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:37 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

What dmacc said.

And these help:

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Old 06-25-2013, 10:38 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

It's a practice thing, and an "alter-your-technique-a-bit" thing. I also carry brushes and plastic Regal Tip Blasticks, along with soft tympani mallets as well a couple of different sizes of sticks - you just gotta be able to do it. BUt my entire childhood was spent playing alot of jazz and brushes, so carrying a gig on brushes or very softly is not hard - although I can rock with the loudest of them too. You just gotta put the time in playing softly and being able to still burn with intensity while you do it. Six a hours a day should get you going ;)
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:41 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

I use 7A's on my low volume gigs. I have some really low volume rooms I play. I have to adjust my bass drum hits too, bigtime. Another trick I learned is to choke up on the stick if you are still too loud. We do Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally". The leader likes the drums really quiet on this song. He asked me to use rods. I despise rods and won't use them. So I choke way up on the stick, to the point where I'm holding my 7A in the front half of the stick, near the shoulder. It looks stupid, but it gives me just the right volume. I'm happy, he's happy. But yeah, 7A's (or lighter if you can find them) and low low stick heights for the low volume gigs. It's a really great skill. Everyone appreciates it, more than you know, when the band knows how to play rooms so people can talk, and the bartenders can hear their orders. When the place fills up with people, I can play louder. But when the crowd is sparse? Gotta play soft. I get complimented on a regular basis at that room about how appropriate my volume, and the overall band volume, is. They compare me to other drummers that play that room and give me big props. I like that lol.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:56 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

That's cool that you're doing some different gigs, dynamic-wise - it'll really open up your playing. Also good you're realizing that you want to adjust - some players aren't so sensitive to dynamics...

One cool thing about quieter gigs, is you can really hear your drums and cymbals well - really embrace the fact that you can hear a cymbal fully decay - maybe let the beater come off of the bass drum and get into hearing all of the low end sustain - it always gets me into the right mindset, so I don't even want to play loudly!

I think the hardest thing is developing your internal clock with these smaller motions on the kit. When you're used to more arm/body motion - it helps you lock into the groove - so just try and still feel the energy in your limbs so the time feels good...

It's cool to experiment with lighter/different sticks - personally I use the same sticks for all gigs - I just adjust volume-wise...
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:59 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

The absolute best thing you can do at low volume gigs is LISTEN. If you can't hear every instrument's parts clearly, you are playing too loud.

Lighter sticks help, but you can still play too loud with chopsticks. --True story actually: One band I do sit-in work for, their regular drummer has to play with chopsticks during rehearsals and he is still too loud.

Hot Rods don't really do it for me, because they don't sound or feel like sticks to me. They are really an special implement with their own sounds. But they are a popular option.
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Old 06-25-2013, 11:23 PM
bobafettdrumcorp bobafettdrumcorp is offline
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

CORNELIUS, totally. It's definitely been a challenge adjusting my playing, but i'm
enjoying it. I'm at a point in my mid 30's where I just want to play different things
and not play simply rock music all the time.

Thanks for the tips you guys, it helps so much to get your perspective...
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  #9  
Old 06-25-2013, 11:27 PM
bobafettdrumcorp bobafettdrumcorp is offline
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
They compare me to other drummers that play that room and give me big props. I like that lol.
always a nice feeling.
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  #10  
Old 06-25-2013, 11:36 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

In soft-soled shoes.
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  #11  
Old 06-26-2013, 06:59 PM
RIneuron RIneuron is offline
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum View Post
What dmacc said.

And these help:

It seems there are differences of opinion, but I love rods now that I am used to them for low volume.
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  #12  
Old 06-26-2013, 11:25 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

It's like anything really. You play loud all the time and don't practise playing quiet you're going to struggle and vice versa.
I've found people can also play at a relaxed 'medium' volume at practise because they can get away with it then, lvie they have to step it up and find themselves cramping up and running out of gas.

The lesson there is to practise everything and prepare for the situations you're going to be in.

I quite like hot rods when the mood takes me. I don't really treat them as a 'quiet stick' rather something a bit different.
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Old 06-26-2013, 11:25 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Sure, lighter sticks can help! I am not telling you to buy another snare, but here is a example of why a lot of drummers have more than one snare. The drum that you wail on and drive heavy and loud back beats may not be the one you need for brush, or soft work. What works for rock may need to be adapted for soft stuff. You may need a different tuning, heads, even snare selection. A very versatile snare may allow you to cover all of this, say maybe a 6.5x14 brass, bronze, or LM402 (read Ludwig for these, I can't help myself) but it is easier to switch a drum at a gig than change all that stuff on the fly. Softer easy play is where technique really shows up.
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Old 06-26-2013, 11:53 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mandrew View Post
Sure, lighter sticks can help! I am not telling you to buy another snare, but here is a example of why a lot of drummers have more than one snare. The drum that you wail on and drive heavy and loud back beats may not be the one you need for brush, or soft work. What works for rock may need to be adapted for soft stuff. You may need a different tuning, heads, even snare selection. A very versatile snare may allow you to cover all of this, say maybe a 6.5x14 brass, bronze, or LM402 (read Ludwig for these, I can't help myself) but it is easier to switch a drum at a gig than change all that stuff on the fly. Softer easy play is where technique really shows up.
Good point, no-one has really mentioned the idea of changing snares and it's an important one. Some snares are like gunshots naturally so, you're just making more work for yourself trying to tame such beast. Definitely select your weapon of choice sensibley
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  #15  
Old 06-27-2013, 12:00 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RIneuron View Post
It seems there are differences of opinion, but I love rods now that I am used to them for low volume.
I'm surprised to read a few people don't like rods.

But to each his own. As long as the drummer sounds right for the gig at hand, what stick or rod is used isn't important.
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  #16  
Old 06-27-2013, 01:34 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Rods are great. What is there not to like about them? Just another tool.

I also like Regal Tip Flares.

The primary goal though, of course, is dynamics. Control of dynamics, being able to crescendo and decrescendo on command. Being able to play so softly that the drums are more felt than heard.
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Old 06-27-2013, 01:48 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

I play at a low volume, I avoid playing rim shots like the plague. I tend to play trad instead of matched cause it It feels easier to control the volume of my back beat with it, and my hands are so trained in matched to play rimshots its more of stuggle not to do them in matched. If the snare is especially liveley as it can be in some rooms, I may put an o-ring on it to help out a bit. I have played with 80db noise limiters with a pair of 5as no problem, feels a bit silly playing ACDC at that kind of volume though lol.

As far as rods go, they are not much quieter than sticks and if the room does fill up you find yourself laying into them a bit, they can get trashed pretty quick. If your going for super quiet, just use brushes.

Above all its all about control, Its not something I ever intentionally practice, i.e playing songs quietly. I do ofcourse practice at different dynamics, but I dont make a point of practising for a gig quietly.
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  #18  
Old 06-27-2013, 02:24 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum View Post
I'm surprised to read a few people don't like rods.

But to each his own. As long as the drummer sounds right for the gig at hand, what stick or rod is used isn't important.
Rods are a specialized stick that make a specific sound. Some people view them as a crutch to be able to play quieter. That's my only beef with them. If you want to play quieter, play quieter then. If you want the sound of rods or brushes or dreadlocks or whatever, only then should you use them. I have only used them a few times (still have my original pair from 12 years ago). Most times, I prefer the sound of my sticks, and if I need to play whisper quiet, I'll play whisper quiet with sticks...
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Old 06-27-2013, 02:37 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobafettdrumcorp View Post
Is it unheard of to play lighter sticks in these situations?
Not at all. A stick is a tool for the job, nothing more nothing less.

Sure there's preferences as to what works best, but there's certainly nothing wrong with selecting the right too for the task at hand. You don't use a sledge hammer to drive in a thumb tack, nor do you use an upholstery hammer to break rocks......you use what works. Whether that's a 7A or rods or even brushes......so be it.
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Old 06-27-2013, 02:37 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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Originally Posted by caddywumpus View Post
Rods are a specialized stick that make a specific sound. Some people view them as a crutch to be able to play quieter. That's my only beef with them. If you want to play quieter, play quieter then. If you want the sound of rods or brushes or dreadlocks or whatever, only then should you use them. I have only used them a few times (still have my original pair from 12 years ago). Most times, I prefer the sound of my sticks, and if I need to play whisper quiet, I'll play whisper quiet with sticks...
This. This up here.
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Old 06-27-2013, 02:41 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

You need to keep the same size sticks, just made out of a lighter material. If you are using oak or hickory, try maple. If you are already using maple try sticks made of marshmallows.
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Old 06-27-2013, 03:46 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Me? personally on those piano jazz lounge gigs I use marching sticks and use all wrist....
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Old 06-27-2013, 03:59 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Just lower your stick heights and use your wrists. You shouldn't have to change to brushes or rods unless that's the sound you want; using maple sticks rather than hickory is a good idea, though. It also helps to not have to fight your instrument-- smaller, drier drums (possibly tuned slightly on the higher side), and smaller, drier, lighter cymbals will help with that. If you need your drums to make a big rocking sound to feel like you're sounding good, you have to adjust your ears a bit-- you cannot duplicate that sound at a low volume. I blogged some other suggestions about this awhile back.
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:06 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

I've found that instead of using your normal technique, you can almost drop the sticks onto the cymbals and drums instead of the typical whipping motion created by your wrists. Let gravity work for ya.

I really love rods, I dig the sounds they make, a very legato type sound as compared to regular sticks. Try 7A's or other "jazz" sticks. I really dig the Garibaldi sticks, but they are heavier than a 7A.
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:48 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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Originally Posted by toddbishop View Post
Just lower your stick heights and use your wrists. You shouldn't have to change to brushes or rods unless that's the sound you want; using maple sticks rather than hickory is a good idea, though. It also helps to not have to fight your instrument-- smaller, drier drums (possibly tuned slightly on the higher side), and smaller, drier, lighter cymbals will help with that. If you need your drums to make a big rocking sound to feel like you're sounding good, you have to adjust your ears a bit-- you cannot duplicate that sound at a low volume. I blogged some other suggestions about this awhile back.
I don't agree with the idea of using different gear to play softer. Being a musician means being able to control your instrument, no? Meaning being able to play it at a very low volume when it's required.

But now I'm entering a whole new topic, which is making your drumkit into a real musical instrument, and not just something to bash on.

Look, it's true, anyway I think it is. You should be able to play at any volume on the drums you're playing right now.
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Old 06-27-2013, 05:04 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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I don't agree with the idea of using different gear to play softer.
You're not alone either Jay. I've read similar trains of thought here on DW countless times over the years. I can't say I agree though. I'm left wondering why music is about the only vocation where it's not desireable to select a tool that better allows you to get the job done?

I'm not suggesting that a full dynamic range is to be ignored.....quite the opposite. But by the same measure why is it so often considered the point at which we must stop? Why not swap the 3A sticks, 24 inch kick and 20" bright and cutting crashes that help you "stand up and be counted" at your rock gig, for 7A's, smaller drums and cymbals that are better suited to the requirement of quietly tapping away in a coffee shop?

But you're right, now we're entering into a whole new topic......one probably better solved over a few jars whilst propping up a bar somewhere.
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Old 06-27-2013, 05:46 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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You're not alone either Jay. I've read similar trains of thought here on DW countless times over the years. I can't say I agree though. I'm left wondering why music is about the only vocation where it's not desireable to select a tool that better allows you to get the job done?.
I don't think it's like that at all. But let's face it: being a musician does require a good deal of technique. I don't see why a good amount of that technique wouldn't be playing dynamically, meaning controlling your playing volume, being able to play from whisper soft to amazingly loud.

So that's the camp I'm in, that's how I always did it. I acknowledge that there are multiple approaches to the situation.
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:10 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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I'm left wondering why music is about the only vocation where it's not desireable to select a tool that better allows you to get the job done?
Because that "tool" doesn't sound the same. If you want to play a drum set with sticks but at a quieter dynamic, then play softer. Playing with sticks sounds like playing with sticks. Playing with brushes sounds like playing with brushes. Playing with hot rods sounds like playing with hot rods. If you're at a gig, playing with sticks, and the band leader tells you to play quieter, and you're like, "hold on, let me grab my hot rods..." then that's totally lame in my book. You're not just changing the dynamic, you're changing the timbral quality of your instrument, too.

However, if you WANT that sound, then go for it, but for Gadd's sake, don't use other "tools" as a crutch or as a substitute for playing with an appropriate dynamic for the gig...
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:39 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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Originally Posted by caddywumpus View Post
If you're at a gig, playing with sticks, and the band leader tells you to play quieter, and you're like, "hold on, let me grab my hot rods..." then that's totally lame in my book. You're not just changing the dynamic, you're changing the timbral quality of your instrument, too.
Sure, but I also through a caveat of "I'm not suggesting that a full dynamic range is to be ignored.....quite the opposite' in order to cover such a situation.

But the reality is, we're responding to a guy who's used to flailing away with a rock band in full flight that's always cranked to "11" asking if it's appropriate to use a different lighter stick because his playing situation has changed and he needs to be more subdued and mindful of both volume and playing dynamics.

To my way of thinking, why the hell wouldn't you use them? I'm gonna argue that's exactly the type of playing situation that a thinner or lighter stick........or dare I say even a rod.......was designed for. They're there, they're available and they're a perfectly acceptable tool for just such a playing application. In that situation, I don't consider their use bad form or showing an inherent inability to adapt your technique at all........I just consider it grabbing another one of the many available tools to help you get the job done.
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:56 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by caddywumpus View Post
Rods are a specialized stick that make a specific sound. Some people view them as a crutch to be able to play quieter. That's my only beef with them. If you want to play quieter, play quieter then. If you want the sound of rods or brushes or dreadlocks or whatever, only then should you use them. I have only used them a few times (still have my original pair from 12 years ago). Most times, I prefer the sound of my sticks, and if I need to play whisper quiet, I'll play whisper quiet with sticks...
Quote:
Originally Posted by caddywumpus View Post
Because that "tool" doesn't sound the same. If you want to play a drum set with sticks but at a quieter dynamic, then play softer. Playing with sticks sounds like playing with sticks. Playing with brushes sounds like playing with brushes. Playing with hot rods sounds like playing with hot rods. If you're at a gig, playing with sticks, and the band leader tells you to play quieter, and you're like, "hold on, let me grab my hot rods..." then that's totally lame in my book. You're not just changing the dynamic, you're changing the timbral quality of your instrument, too.

However, if you WANT that sound, then go for it, but for Gadd's sake, don't use other "tools" as a crutch or as a substitute for playing with an appropriate dynamic for the gig...
If you're talking studio, orchestral, or light jazz, you are right.

But if it's rock n roll, as inferred by the OP, I can't say the average guitar player or drunk guy at the bar, would notice the timbral difference.

I did specifically say "As long as the drummer sounds right for the gig at hand"
so if the rod doesn't sound right for the gig, it's not right for the gig.

Context of the music is key.
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:08 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post

But the reality is, we're responding to a guy who's used to flailing away with a rock band in full flight that's always cranked to "11" asking if it's appropriate to use a different lighter stick because his playing situation has changed and he needs to be more subdued and mindful of both volume and playing dynamics.

To my way of thinking, why the hell wouldn't you use them? I'm gonna argue that's exactly the type of playing situation that a thinner or lighter stick........or dare I say even a rod.......was designed for. They're there, they're available and they're a perfectly acceptable tool for just such a playing application. In that situation, I don't consider their use bad form or showing an inherent inability to adapt your technique at all........I just consider it grabbing another one of the many available tools to help you get the job done.
I have to say, its a compelling argument.
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:17 AM
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I have to say, its a compelling argument.
Sounds better with a full glass in my hand. :-)
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:20 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum View Post

But if it's rock n roll, as inferred by the OP, I can't say the average guitar player or drunk guy at the bar, would notice the timbral difference.
Perhaps not, but if you're smacking the crap out of your drums and cymbals with hot rods, not only will you break about 6 pairs of them in an hour set, you also don't get the articulation that you get from regular sticks. I dunno. A LOT of the stuff we talk about on the forum is from a personal, player's perspective. Joe Shmoe at the bar who doesn't notice the hot rods you're playing with probably won't notice that you're playing a $250 Sound Percussion concert tom drum set with cracked B8 cymbals, either. From the driver's seat, and for the sake of cutting through a mix with articulative frequencies (the volume variable aside), playing with sticks at a quieter volume is more ideal than hot rods at Travis Barker volume. That's just my opinion from my experience. As a drummer, I want to put my best sound forward at all times, and hot rods don't give me a close enough representation of the sound of a drum stick on a drum. Their articulation is so soft and non-precise that they sound closer to brushes than they do sticks. In a rock and roll situation, I don't find that to be remotely close to the target sound of a rock kit. But, hey...they sounded great on all of those MTV Unplugged albums from the 90s! :D
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:23 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post
why the hell wouldn't you use them? I'm gonna argue that's exactly the type of playing situation that a thinner or lighter stick........or dare I say even a rod.......was designed for. They're there, they're available and they're a perfectly acceptable tool for just such a playing application. In that situation, I don't consider their use bad form or showing an inherent inability to adapt your technique at all........I just consider it grabbing another one of the many available tools to help you get the job done.
It sounds as if we view our tools differently. Cheers!
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:43 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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Originally Posted by con struct View Post
I don't agree with the idea of using different gear to play softer. Being a musician means being able to control your instrument, no? Meaning being able to play it at a very low volume when it's required.
Sure, I thought I told him that. But they also make different sizes of drums and sizes/weights of cymbals for a reason, and part of being a professional is owning and bringing to the gig an appropriate instrument for the situation.
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:19 AM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

Speaking as someone who spent years trying to bring my volume down after years of hammering at bars gigs I'm siding with The Golded Pocket on this one.

I now regularly play at low volume while maintaining some level of intensity. It's a good skill to have because it greatly broadens your musical options. The key for me has been to question myself at any given moment ... "Am I making a racket or does it sound like music?".

You can't generally expect a pub thumper to transform immediately. Brushes and rods would be sub-optimal for me in some songs because of the sound, but for a rocker without much experience in quiet playing it's better to change tone than alternating between playing too loudly and playing without energy, which is what tends to happen to players struggling to stay quiet.

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Old 06-27-2013, 02:15 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

I think this has all gotten a bit lost. I don't think anyone mentioned to use hot rods and just continue to hit like you're at a rock concert.
It's just a tool like any other, they sound different but, they can be useful.

Saying anyone is cheating for using them is daft. Are jazz players who use coated strings compentsating for lack of finger technique?

Just the icing on the cake for a lot of people.
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:28 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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Originally Posted by Chunky - Hellraizer View Post
I don't think anyone mentioned to use hot rods and just continue to hit like you're at a rock concert.
I've seen it done. It worked okay too.
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:59 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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Originally Posted by Anon La Ply View Post
I've seen it done. It worked okay too.
You know, when I first started music college they used to force the drummers to use hot-rods to try to protects the skins and the cymbals.
I thought that was ridiculous. Once the guys at the store (you had to sign out equipment' got to know you and what you were like with equipment they let me use sticks. Others though, never got that far....

I can see the logic but, I'm not sure if it's fair...
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:02 PM
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Default Re: How do you approach a Low Volume Gig?

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Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post
Sure, but I also through a caveat of "I'm not suggesting that a full dynamic range is to be ignored.....quite the opposite' in order to cover such a situation.

But the reality is, we're responding to a guy who's used to flailing away with a rock band in full flight that's always cranked to "11" asking if it's appropriate to use a different lighter stick because his playing situation has changed and he needs to be more subdued and mindful of both volume and playing dynamics.

To my way of thinking, why the hell wouldn't you use them? I'm gonna argue that's exactly the type of playing situation that a thinner or lighter stick........or dare I say even a rod.......was designed for. They're there, they're available and they're a perfectly acceptable tool for just such a playing application. In that situation, I don't consider their use bad form or showing an inherent inability to adapt your technique at all........I just consider it grabbing another one of the many available tools to help you get the job done.
At at the end of the day, if the music sounds great and everyone's happy then I guess who cares how you got there...

But I don't think of multi-rods as a replacement for sticks - they're not quiet sticks, they're quiet multi-rods. They're more of an effect and can sound great, but I used to use them years ago because the band I was in wanted the same intensity we had on big stages, when we were in small bars. I listened back to recordings of the gigs and didn't like how it sounded- at all... It was definitely better than being too loud for everyone in the audience and overpowering the band - but it was a short term, quick fix...

Right before my gig last night I found a pair an old pair of Maple 5B's , they were a little easier to control than hickory, so that worked...
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