Are You a Bad Drummer? Nashville Bass Player Exposes Tell Tale Signs

Old Drummer

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I think he means groove and the ability to play behind the beat, ahead of the beat or on top of the beat. It is weird because this all happens in a split second. If it isn't played right the drummer might drop or add a beat. When I think of "pocket" I would listen to "I Got the Feelin" by James Brown.
Thanks.

Despite my curmudgeonly protestations, I do think I vaguely understand what the guy is saying. What's happened is that the language has changed over the years. A bass player I work with asked me the other day what the heck people mean by talking about grooves and pockets. In his favor, his English is weak, and maybe there's other terminology in Spanish, but he is a decent bass player working for hire in multiple bands. I laughed and told him that as far as I can discern, groove is the beat and pocket refers to us playing together.

I also get behind, on, and ahead of the beat to some extent. Playing behind the beat doesn't make much sense to me--that is lagging and sounds bad--but there may be times it's in order, perhaps to create anticipation. Playing ahead of the beat makes more sense to me, and I suspect that I do that sometimes. This I think drives the band. But for the most part I think playing dead center on the beat is the job, and anyone who gets so far off that they're dropping or adding beats is a mess, in my opinion.

I love James Brown and consider some of his stuff some of the most challenging. It can be complicated rhythmically and therefore needs to be delivered precisely. If any member flubbed the rhythm in "I Got the Feelin," the song would no longer be James Brown's but Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces." I mean, really, that song could fall apart in a heartbeat. That it hangs together is a real testimony to the entire rhythm section. However, just me, I'd call this tight rather than a pocket.
 

willythekid

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Hmmm.. volume is subjective. if I was playing punk rock I would not hit the same as with a folk singer. Drums would also be specifically selected and most likely tuned differently. you serve the situation your in and often the space your playing in.

imho, 90% of the time my kick is almost always dead center on click, snare varies depending on style and ride/hats for me add color and movement as needed. The Nola guys say that groove comes from the floor and I agree. It’s all abut the whole kit then working together but not always in perfect lock step. Add some nice dynamics, drums appropriately selected and tuned good and it’s all good. Notice, I did‘nt mention chops....Ymmv..
 

Drum Gear Review

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I understand the pushback to what this guy is saying, but personally, I really appreciate hearing this kind of stuff.

I've been playing for more than 20 years, and for most of that time I thought I was at least a semi-competent player. I knew I wasn't very good, but I didn't think I was truly bad. That was wrong though. I was and remain pretty bad.

While I don't think this is a particularly insightful way of saying it, I think hearing this kind of feedback regularly has helped me become a better listener to my own playing over the last couple years. Now I'm able to see these gigantic holes and flaws in my playing, and it's given me some idea of how to start fixing them.
 

hardbat

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Any single player (not just the drummer) is capable of completely screwing up the band. I played for two years in a weekly gig where the leader (a horn player) kept inverting the beat and it drove the rest of us crazy. So we were never able to get very good, because we were so on edge just trying to hold it together. And we had confirmation that it was him, because a couple of times he was sick and sent a sub, and the group immediately sounded 1000% better.

Now, having said that, nobody can screw up a group to the degree that the drummer can :)

And count me as one of the one of the ones who read the article and doesn't have a clue what a "wide" groove is versus a "deep" groove.
 

GeneZ

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From Premier Guitar magazine. A bass player who is credited with playing with a Nashville Who's Who explains the negative qualities of bad drummers.

There's some risk someone here could recognize himself...


Here's a portion of the article about a session the previous week:


I hired the guitarist and keyboard player, but the lead singer insisted on bringing in his own drummer. When I first saw the drummers name, I didnt recognize it. And when youve been in Nashville as long as I have, not recognizing a name is usually a bad sign. Still, nobody is happier than I am when a new player rolls into town who can scare the pros twice their age by playing circles around them. I love a good shake-up, but lets just say that it doesnt happen that often, and in this particular case, my suspicion was justified.

I knew things were bad within the first 10 seconds of the first rehearsal, as did the other guys. The parts I was playing with these other musicians (who I knew to be world-class players and consider more talented than myself) were all sounding, well, wrong. So, you may be asking, how can the drummer cause this to happen? Lets talk about two of the main reasons.

Its visa versa, as well.... A bad bass player can make a drummer feel like he is running with weights around his ankles. I could usually tell within 10 seconds.

The bass player and drummer are the transmission and trans-axle of a band... The music is the ride quality being revealed.
 

dsop

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Victor Brodn is the host of The Lowdown Society Podcast. Victor has toured and recorded with more than 30 major-label artists, including LeAnn Rimes, Richard Marx, Casting Crowns, and Randy Houser
I was thinking, chances are that I have never been interested in any music this guy has played on, and looks like I was right.
 

Old Drummer

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Any single player (not just the drummer) is capable of completely screwing up the band. I played for two years in a weekly gig where the leader (a horn player) kept inverting the beat and it drove the rest of us crazy. So we were never able to get very good, because we were so on edge just trying to hold it together. And we had confirmation that it was him, because a couple of times he was sick and sent a sub, and the group immediately sounded 1000% better.

Now, having said that, nobody can screw up a group to the degree that the drummer can :)

And count me as one of the one of the ones who read the article and doesn't have a clue what a "wide" groove is versus a "deep" groove.
I dunno about the drummer being able to screw up a group more than others can.

A couple weeks ago, the nucleus of a country band I'm trying to get started tested the waters at a jam. The guitarist, very good but without much experience in country, played a song in 3/4 that's in 4/4. The front man did it in 4/4. The guitarist had written out a cheat sheet to follow, just had the time signature wrong, and the bass player, who also lacks experience in country, was looking over his shoulder trying to follow the incorrect cheat sheet.

What's a poor drummer to do? I think we ended up playing the song in something resembling 7/4, though not even that consistently. It was a mess, and my dreams of getting a country band off the ground with these guys were dashed.

And these guys are professionals (despite sounding like middle school kids at a recital).
 

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