Helpful ReplyDrummers: need your advice

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bitflipper
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2018/05/13 15:42:21 (permalink)

Drummers: need your advice

I'm lucky enough to have a good drummer in my band. His sense of tempo and timing is very good. He is the conductor and the glue that holds the band together and rarely forgets his cues. He can count to 4 better than any of us.
 
The only problem is that he's too frickin' loud. In a big room or an outdoor venue he projects power and confidence. But when we play a small room we have to choose between driving the audience to the far end of the bar or turning the whole performance into a 4-hour drum solo. To make matters worse, the bass player feels obligated to match the drums' volume, and unfortunately he's no Jack Bruce.
 
Long ago I played with a drummer who'd managed to address this with light sticks, gel heads and a light touch. But I don't remember the details and don't know what to suggest that won't kill Mark's mojo.
 
Electronic drums would be the obvious answer, but he can't afford them. At least not the high-end kits I've looked at, which run upwards of 10 grand, not counting amplification.
 
So I'm appealing to drummers out there who've dealt with this issue to give me some ideas.


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quantumeffect
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/13 17:27:34 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jimfogle 2018/05/21 23:48:51
I too can be a very heavy-handed player.
 
I use bundle sticks (e.g., Pro Mark Hot Rods) when I am playing pop/rock and contemporary Christian stuff in church.  It allows me the ability to NOT focus on my volume ... as it is not a natural thing to do (i.e., keep the volume under control) when playing straight rock stuff.
 
They are twice the price of regular sticks and last half as long, but make a major difference in volume.
post edited by quantumeffect - 2018/05/13 19:19:54

Dave

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jimmyrage music
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/13 21:56:04 (permalink)
Thin heads with moon gel or duct tape applied. Thinner sticks. Thin cymbals. The snare is usually the biggest problem. You  could heavily dampen it and use a trigger which are pretty affordable these days but you would need some sort of sound module. Playing with a lighter touch as well as striking the drum to the side of the head instead of dead center will also make a huge difference. All of these things will change the sound. Not always a bad thing depending on the situation.
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mettelus
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/13 22:35:08 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jimfogle 2018/05/21 23:48:20
Not technique related, but people who cannot adapt to variations in loud often have some variation of hearing loss. Most do not check this regularly, but is a prudent preventative measure (especially for loud musicians). Just a suggestion, and probably won't get received well, but something to consider.

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tlw
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/14 14:24:39 (permalink)
Get a different drummer.

Or use a computer or a drum machine.

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batsbrew
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/14 15:12:24 (permalink)
quantumeffect
 
I use bundle sticks (e.g., Pro Mark Hot Rods) 
They are twice the price of regular sticks and last half as long, but make a major difference in volume.




 
 
THIS.
 
simple concept, 
easy to use,
no excuse.

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cbPerC
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/14 18:30:05 (permalink)
Hey Bitflipper,
 
I'm thinking stick control (power) and stick diameter are the big issues.  You could suggest a smaller diameter stick  and possibly some tone control rings from Remo.  Hot Rods are awesome and could work well too.  
 
Here's a vid from Sweetwater that could help though those drum shields at the end are pretty pricey and in my opinion, not so practical for gigging.
 
edit* ok, the youtube link was stripped.  Lookup "6 ways to overcome drum volume by sweetwater".  
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Voda La Void
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/14 18:57:19 (permalink)
Problem is drums don't sound so good when hit softer.  The attack and punch gets ugly and flimsy, but you still get all the shell ring.  Crashes and splashes don't sound right trying to be light and quiet.  The kit just sounds bizarre when you play like that.  And it totally ruins a drummer's feel and emotional connection to playing.  
 
Try playing your keyboard without hitting the keys so hard, try to make yourself play every note even quieter and lighter than you do when you're in the zone.  Pick your guitar strings, play the same songs, same riffs and solos..but do it softly, don't pluck so hard, and see how that translates.  Then do that all effin night.  
 
I would definitely suggest looking at stick size.  I'm wondering if he's playing with heavy sticks.  That could make a big difference going to a smaller diameter, lighter stick.  Is he playing with the felt or plastic side of the kick beater?  Cymbal striking technique is important, but I'm betting the issue is with the toms and snare.  One thing I did a couple years ago is completely abandon hitting hi-hats with the side of the sticks - keep it all at the tips and you get crisper action that cuts through with not near as much washy volume. 

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MBGantt
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/15 02:17:02 (permalink)
Tell him to practice playing at lower volumes. I have known many a drummer who simply loses all of his feel for the kit when asked to play at a lower volume while others (who make it a point to practice at varying dynamics) who can retain the feel and some of the sound. It is difficult but not impossible. 
 
I have also used RTom Black Hole practice heads and Zildjian L80 practice cymbals for my drummer when in really tight spaces where volume is an extreme issue. They are not cheap and you have to tape some cymbal felts in between the pad and the drum head to get any tone out of the drums but the snare sounds like a snare and so on. It takes work and it's not prefect but it does work with time and effort. The practice cymbals sound like crap and will likely be too low in volume so it's a trade off. Lack of tone for less volume. If interested I would just buy a snare head and try it before investing in anything else. 
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Euthymia
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/15 08:30:10 (permalink)
MBGanttTell him to practice playing at lower volumes. I have known many a drummer who simply loses all of his feel for the kit when asked to play at a lower volume while others (who make it a point to practice at varying dynamics) who can retain the feel and some of the sound. It is difficult but not impossible.

 
This is going to be tough if he is older and set in his ways, but it is all true and IMO it makes for a better all-round drummer. It is harder to pull a rich tone out of the instruments at lower volumes, requires more finesse, but it can be done.
 
Also what others have said about using 7A's and "Hot Rods."
 
I recently put on the cans to play drums along with one of my favorite records, Oasis' What's The Story, Morning Glory?, and was surprised to find that at least two of the songs, including the enormous hit "Wonderwall," were recorded using rutes/rods/bundle sticks.
 
The first time I tried playing with the damned things I sounded like someone hitting the bottom of a plastic wastepaper basket with a dead fish, but I kept at it, and discovered that they require their own techniques to get a decent sound. More of a whip, and strike the head with the side of the rute, not so much the tip. Swat the drums with them like you're after a mosquito.
 
You might have him notice that his playing is driving people to the back of the room. If he is interested in having the punters like what he does, it might influence his playing to go easy on them.

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Jeff Evans
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/15 09:39:19 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jimfogle 2018/05/21 23:52:37
I say you can use sticks, play at all volumes from soft, to medium and loud.  You can great tone at all levels especially at the softer levels.  Your sense of time can still have a nice energy and feel confident and push nice at any volume.  That sort of thing is not confined to one volume. 
 
Dave one thing I did years ago when rehearsing bands is to set up like a gig at a rehearsal and make a stereo recording a reasonable distance back.  Playback and listen how loud the drums and all the instruments are. How out of balance everything is.  The drums will leap out.  Sometimes drummers just need too hear how bad it sounds and how ridiculous drummers can play out of balance with everything else.  It is an art playing in balance and requires great skill. It requires the drummer to really listen out to everything that is going on around and how they are fitting into the equation. 
 
Drummers often play the snare too loud as well.  Kicks and toms need a little bit of power but the snare is a very loud drum and can be balanced into the bands music very nicely.  It does not need to be belted all the time.  Crash symbols can be much softer too. Rides as well. Hats even. They will cut right through.
 
I have played 3 feet away from a couple dining in a Jazz trio and in a loud stadium. They require different approaches. There are times louder playing is needed for sure.  Most often than not though it can half what many drummers are playing at now.

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bitflipper
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/19 18:57:20 (permalink)
Thanks for the advice, everyone. Sorry I didn't reply sooner but I've been in the hospital.
 
The drummer is already using Hot Rods, as evidenced by the hundreds of little bits of wood scattered around our rehearsal space. They self-destruct pretty quickly, and are relatively expensive. I think he pays over a hundred bucks for a pack of 6 pairs.
 
I've been thinking about a semi-electronic approach. Dampen the snare down to essentially a practice pad, then trigger a drum module from it. If it's just the snare, the PA should be able to handle it. But I'm thinking it would be awkward for him to hear even the slightest latency. It would really need an amp right beside the drums in order to keep latency to an adaptable level. I have a pair of keyboard amps that I currently only use for practice, each with a 12" woofer. They could handle the whole kit, I think.
 
Anybody ever try that? Building a hybrid part-acoustic part-electronic kit?


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Jeff Evans
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/19 20:21:29 (permalink)
Sounds like he is still hitting hard.  I have had several pairs of rods and they are still completely whole!  He is hitting them harder in order to make the same amount of sound a stick would whacking a snare drum.  It is one of the loudest drums that drummers can get wrong so easily.  He would be better off using sticks and playing quieter. Rods sound better played softly.  Then you really hear the sound of individual rods contacting the snare head. Although a very fast flam say this sound is easily picked up if the stroke level is not too loud either.  You can capture this sound and to sounds killer.  Fat. The note is wider. Whacking a rod is more akin to using a single solid tip. 
 
Try this experiment.  Try letting a stick fall under its own weight  from about 6" up.  One end of the stick should swing on your finger about 3" up from the edge of the head.  Listen to how much sound it makes.  Well, the snare drum has something to do with it too.  A Sonor snare (wood or steel) sounds loud doing this!  A drummer only has to add little more energy to snare drum strokes in order to achieve quite a high volume in the whole room.  One can wish.
 
I am in an interesting situation now.  Mixing a tribute show.  They do three sets one for Orbison, a British song collection say around 60's and a 70's American song collection.  I am enjoying pulling a good FOH sound while not to have to sweat the music.  The drummer I am working with has a Pearl electronic kit with nice pads triggering. The snare is electronic too.  He uses real hats though and sometimes a real crash and ride etc.  This sounds very nice and natural as well.  He has the electronic cymbal hitters as well.  (Note the original balance from him was wrong though. Electronic kit Drummers also don't know how to balance the kit pieces leaving a drum brain.  Drums need to be all in balance.  Keep the reverbs to fast and subtle effects. Setting velocities is real important to your playing style and dynamics. Hats and cymbals mixed right down and add some crispness.  Many brains have amazing production processing that is going on inside) It still takes the same amount of time to set up an electronic kit as it does for me to set up my Sonor kit. 
 
Got to say though. Once you get this right the drums can sound amazing.  Out front and on stage too.  I have got full drum brain PA splits in stereo from him of course.  He can fiddle his monitor levels without interference to me.  Drum sounds are very consistent now from venue to venue as well.  Once I get the PA out front sounding nice to the room (a la Steely Dan ref mixes out front tell you everything!) The drum sound tends to slot right in with a minimum of fuss. 
 
Now this sort of thing does allow more control over the overall stage sound.  It takes a surprising amount of amps and speaker power would you believe to achieve anything is remotely close to a loud Sonar kit say.  Our drummer has two monitors next to him.  One on top of the other.  Both powerful active full range boxes.  The drums come out of the lower one for him and he is letting himself mostly hear it too.  So this is good.  It also creates quite a nice amount on stage for the rest of them.  Not too much though.  I have three foldback mixes and the drummer is one of them.  His top speaker does the vocals and the rest of the music.  The others all have nice active wedges and I can slip some drum sounds into any of them as well.  This all does work rather nice and you can control the amount of stage sound.  Still got a reasonably loud guitarist and bass player to contend with which can sometimes over power the PA, but I can usually keep them under control.  They are nice fellas and listen to me.  We are using backing tracks too which the drummer controls.  He wears one headphone in this situation to hear the click.  The backings out front are clear and in stereo too.  I have mixed them.  I blend them into the live channels.  The line between the backing and the band is real blurred there too. 
 
The fabulous thing about this though is his ability to switch entire kits to suit all the songs involved.  You can carefully go through all your set lists and call up a range of kits.  Not major changes all the time either.  Keep some kicks while changing snares etc and toms.  Some of those big Orbison numbers need the fat deep rock 80's snare like She's Got It.  But in the 60's Beatles stuff, that older English rock kit needs to be pulled up, and it can. The 70's American disco songs need some change ups too.  It's all good and the kit changes can add a lot of colour to the show.
 
 

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msmcleod
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/21 22:16:54 (permalink)
bitflipper
Anybody ever try that? Building a hybrid part-acoustic part-electronic kit?



I didn't quite build a hybrid kit, but I did convert an old remo practice kit into an electronic kit back in the early 90's when electronic kits cost a fortune. I still use it today.
 
Basically I used some zinc which I cut into 4" discs, then taped a piezo transducer onto the middle of the disc which was connected to a 3.5mm jack socket. I then sliced the foam inside the practice pad in half horizontally, and put the disc inside so it's basically sandwiched in the middle. I did this on each pad, and connected them to an Alesis DM5. I use a standard piano style sustain pedal as my hihat pedal.
 
There's no reason why you couldn't stick a zinc disc to the underside of a practice pad, but I guess the gain will need to be turned down - those piezo transducers are sensitive. The DM5 is great for tweaking the gain and velocity curve to suit, but you'll always end up with a bit of a hot-spot around where the piezo is.
 
I've not noticed any latency in my setup, but I guess there's no MIDI involved when using the internal sounds of the DM5.
 
BTW - you don't need to use zinc, a coffee tin lid or anything will do. I used zinc as it was easy to cut, and also helped to reduce the hotness of the signal, whilst still spreading the pickup area to the whole of the disc area.
 
M.
 
 
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bitflipper
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/24 14:38:00 (permalink)
Wow, that's some inspiring DIY, Mark. The kind of project I would have gleefully dove into 30 years ago. Age has made me lazy. I was hoping there might be some inexpensive transducer, kind of like Drumagog in hardware form.


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batsbrew
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/24 15:56:03 (permalink)
all the way back in 1984,
our drummer was sticking piezo pickups on his snare, and triggering samples with a roland device...
simple, effective, he could even put a practice pad on his snare head and hit that, muting the physical snare, whilst triggering the sample and amplifying that at any level, for those tricky gigs where they wanted a human jukebox, instead of an actual live band!
 
he could do his entire kit sometimes.

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cbPerC
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/24 17:14:36 (permalink)
Check out pintech.com.  They are an electronic kit manufacturer and started taking on conversions a few years back. They have some simple triggers and mesh head sizes from 8" to 26".  I'm not sure how those mesh heads will hold up though, still sounds like he's hitting hard to me too but may be worth a try.  I also don't know if you can get their drum module (brain) without a kit but there are other brands too.
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glennstanton
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/24 18:15:52 (permalink)
I took an old DD-55 (Yamaha) drum box, and added a set of 1/4" jacks to the back and soldered in connections to each pad. I connect those pads to my TD-3 drum brain. I use my regular bass drum and HH pedals directly into the brain. all of it sits on a snare stand. not great but very portable and the sounds are generally good. simply feed the stereo output of the brain to a bass amp or PA and you're good. I use the bass amp (100w single 15" w/ some treble eq added etc) approach when there is only a small PA so as not to overload it when there are vocals and perhaps keys going through it. the bass amp give some oomph to the kick and low tom.
https://www.bing.com/imag...HDRSC2&adlt=strict
I can also use the internal sounds for hand percussion where i'm not even using sticks... so overall versatile..

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quantumeffect
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/25 15:02:10 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby glennstanton 2018/05/25 18:17:23
If he is slamming that hard and shredding the bundle sticks that fast in an effort to make the bundle sticks as loud as regular hickory sticks, it might be associated with deep-seated issues that go well beyond technique.
 
Try (very gently) suggesting an anger management course.

Dave

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Voda La Void
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/25 18:31:54 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby marled 2018/06/16 16:58:52
quantumeffect
If he is slamming that hard and shredding the bundle sticks that fast in an effort to make the bundle sticks as loud as regular hickory sticks, it might be associated with deep-seated issues that go well beyond technique.
 
Try (very gently) suggesting an anger management course.




Or maybe he's having a great time?  
 
I'm a studio only player, so I can play with a lot of dynamics and yet I break sticks a lot.  Part of it is technique, in that I like to hit the rim and snare head at the same time for that signature crack sound it makes.  I love how that sounds. It's only for the loud passages, of course, but that's enough.  A wide dynamic range still provides for hard hitting, depending on the context.  
 
Yes you can play drums lightly.  And you can pick your guitar strings and your bass lightly too.  But how much fun is that?  If I'm getting paid, and it's worth it, then I'd gladly quiet down.  But if I'm mainly doing this for the fun of it and the money is just a small compensatory gesture, then I'm going to have a good time and get into it.  
 
Drummers chose the instrument that involves hitting and kicking things.  They connect to the music emotionally through hitting and kicking.  It shouldn't be surprising that hitting and kicking will get louder when they get into it.  

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Jeff Evans
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/05/25 21:19:09 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby marled 2018/06/16 16:59:06
I think playing loud and powerful can be awesome as well. I did it for a while with a loud Sonor 12ply Rosewood kit and it was great. But the success of this depends on everyone else having a comparable amount of power such as great bass rigs and killer guitar sounds and loud clean powerful keyboard amplification systems. Not to mention an almighty PA of course on top of all this!  Then it's all in balance again and can sound huge and awesome.  It is just that you won't have much of your hearing left after doing it for too long!
 
Excitement in playing does not have to be associated with the amount of power you are using in your strokes though. Some of the best music I have ever heard has been at quieter volumes.  People who say the excitement cannot be created and conveyed at lower volumes just can't do it themselves, that is all. 
 
I mixed the tribute show again last night and things got very loud on stage for sure. The bass player just got a new killer rig and he was testing it full time! It was loud. It made everything else loud that the singer could not hear anything then. Loud on many levels is just so pointless.  It would have been 5 times easier for me if things had just been bit quieter on stage that is all. You can also still create a sense of power and loudness.  The PA should be doing more out front with a little less going on the stage.  That always sounds bigger and better to me.  It only takes one person on stage to be too loud and it is ruined for all.  Many bands try way too hard on stage.  When you watch many great and wonderful performances, the bands are often hardly trying at all and they are usually doing it at a decent and reasonable volume at the same time.  
 
 

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patm300e
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/06/08 15:58:47 (permalink)
Alesis makes a kit for $299.  While not up to the level of Roland V drums, these may be an answer.
 https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/NitroKit--alesis-nitro-electronic-drum-set

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#22
tagruvto
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/06/08 17:15:52 (permalink)
Also might think about an acrylic drum sound shield.  I have seen these used quite 
effectively at casino gigs, where volume is often an issue.
 
https://www.sweetwater.co...g6ZEAQYASABEgJIkvD_BwE

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#23
bitflipper
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/06/09 20:33:00 (permalink)
I looked at the newest Roland kit that goes for ~$1,200. It's got the mesh heads that are supposed to feel more natural. But my drummer's an old dude, almost as old as me, and set in his ways. He thinks drum substitution is a demonic plot. I'm afraid the only electronic kit he'd like would be one of those $10k+ Yamahas. 
 
I thought about the drum shield, too. For $350 I'm tempted to take up a collection and get him a set as a Christmas gift. I don't know which would raise his eyebrows more, giving him a plastic box to sit in, or giving an unironic Christmas present to a Jew.


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#24
Leadfoot
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/06/10 14:21:06 (permalink)
I think the shield would be the best choice. I played regularly on a top of the line Yamaha V-Drum kit a few years back. No matter how far they've come through the years, it still doesn't feel right to me.
#25
bitflipper
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/06/11 13:04:59 (permalink)
Well, I delicately brought up the subject of drum shields at yesterday's rehearsal. To my surprise, he was open to the idea.
 
Unfortunately, his wife (our singer) recently suffered a serious injury and they've incurred a lot of medical bills and money's tight. I offered to buy it and let him reimburse me from gig money, but he's too proud to go along with that.
 
I might just order it anyway for myself, under the pretense that I can use it in the studio. It's a thin cover story, though, since I don't have any drums and don't play drums myself. Anyone ever use a drum shield for other purposes, e.g. speaker isolation?


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#26
Leadfoot
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/06/11 13:33:46 (permalink)
A bay window for your studio???
#27
bitflipper
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/06/11 14:59:36 (permalink)
Hmm, maybe a greenhouse for tomato starts?


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#28
tagruvto
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/06/12 03:49:21 (permalink)
Hey Bit - I just noticed the price listed is for a 3 panel shield.  The photo in the link shows maybe 5 panels.
The # of panels is selectable and the price rises with each additional panel.  Ebay has some posted too.

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#29
MBGantt
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Re: Drummers: need your advice 2018/06/12 14:18:54 (permalink)
I don't find they do much. Maybe a couple of Db's but not much to my ears. The only ones I've heard do much is a complete isolation both. The sound just floats right up over the top, through the glass and so on. Helps but not much in my experience. 
#30
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