"Beater Kits".... do you really need one?

Radio King

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I've always found a beater kit to be pretty essential for some of the gigging I do.
(outdoor events; parties, rodeos, questionable festivals, beerjoints, etc...)

I like to keep a full gigging calendar - which often means playing a few hellish locations every year for the bread.. Get in, do the job and get out, asap.

I've actually had lots of pretty darn nice beater kits that I've never felt compromised my ability or sound as a professional musician. I eventually sold most of them thru the years. I suppose now my Rogers XP-8 is the current "beater" rig.
They sound incredible and the cortex wrap is nearly indestructible. They go with me almost anywhere now and I take good care of them... but I save my pristine lacquer finish kits for the grade-A gigs and I'm fine with that.
Steven, I could not agree more! You nailed it.
 

Targalx

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+1 on Steven & Radio King... a beater kit for a gigging drummer like me is a must:
I, too, play where the audience might get rowdy, outdoor shows where things can get dirty and weather gets inclement. But there's also one other reason: gigging in high-theft neighborhoods. Yes, you think you've placed your kit in a safe spot (stacked up the drums in the back in the corner of the venue or hid them in your car), only to come back a minute later to find them gone.

This is especially the case for DIY tours, where you're in a rental van, trotting around from city to city.

I have a set that I bought for about $250 for this exact reason. It's not a top-of-the-line kit, and it is aesthetically marred with seriously major scratches and dents. But, it sounds quite good with fresh heads, and I won't be crushed if I show up to the van the next morning and there's a pile of broken glass on the ground, with my drums vanished.

And, I also use "beater" cymbals for these types of gigs/tours: My lower-end Sabians, like old, cheap AAs, not the Artisans.
 

dsop

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I snagged a small kit for $60 off Craigslist. I leave it at my keyboard player's house which has a number of roommates. I got some low-line Paiste's for it and put some better heads on it and it works well enough for rehearsals. If it gets stolen, it's not a heartbreaking incident or anything. I only get over there a couple times a month.
 

Eyedrum

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I'm sure we all take care of our stuff. The problem is the other people and/or elements, of which we have no control over. That's the type of situation that warrants a lesser set. Case in point, I just left my band of the last 4 years, largely because the leader loved to book gigs that put my nice equipment at risk. He knew how to garner steady pay for the band, but along with the normal club gigs, there were far too many "at risk" gigs booked through his friends (private party gigs outdoors, cramped living rooms, etc). I finally had enough of it and stepped aside earlier this year, but not without coming way too close to having my gear damaged. Just in the past 4 years alone, I had one woman trip and slam headfirst into my bass drum hoop, and another reel around onstage with a tambourine and trip backwards, sending my mounted tom rolling across the carpet (it was in a snare basket). Another outdoor gig poolside was ruined by kids throwing a wet soccer ball around. I knew it was just a matter of time. Yep, smacked right into my crash cymbal, sending the cymbal down and splashing my beautiful Sonors with water. I was extremely lucky that none of those resulted in any real damage, but early on with the band, I brought a beautiful Walnut SSB Gretsch set to a gig and at the end of the night, a drunk toppled over one of the PA cabinets, which of course dropped right down onto my mounted tom and BD. The impact pushed the tom backwards into my snare - hard. The tom ended up with a terrible divot and rash, and the BD hoop was scuffed badly. I couldn't stand to look at them anymore, and ended up selling them almost immediately afterwards. Oh, how I wish I'd bought a beater set when I joined that band. Live and learn.

Recently I found a steal of a deal on a new set of Yamaha Tour Customs, and I was thinking they'd be the perfect lightweight kit for those types of gigs if I find myself in another scenario that's out of my control. A set that wouldn't completely break my heart should they get a scuff in the finish...or worse. Lo & behold, they happen to look great and sound even better than I'd hoped. Totally impressed with these. In addition to being as light as my old INDes, I would have no problem playing them anywhere, dodgy surroundings or not. So, I guess you could say that they've become my new beater kit.
Those are some excellent points David! It’s a real win/win when you can find an excellent sounding and well priced Tour Custom kit like yours. I would have freaked if ANY of those things would have happened to one of my Sonor kits - no question.
 

nitro bengal

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I have a beater kit for practice. I have a used $50 Sound Percussion set that I put new heads on that sound great. We practice in a shared practice space with other bands so I have to set up and tear down every practice. My drums will be in my truck during the day with temperatures in my truck getting over 100 degrees in the summer and down to the single digits in the winter. No way I feel comfortable leaving my Starclassic set or my Silverstar set in my truck in those temperature extremes. But the beater is practice ONLY! Shows are what the other 2 sets are for.
 

CAMDRUMS

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Maybe it’s a matter of semantics but is there a difference between a beater kit and a player’s kit? Maybe a beater kit is a cheap kit by definition, while a player’s kit is a more expensive kit that has some road wear?
 

Elvis

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I'm curious about the consensus concerning owning a beater set of drums. You know, either a used or new lower to med level kit. I realize that many members of DFO only have one set of drums and use it for everything (I admire that a lot). I did the same for many years but find that I like variety. Therefore, I currently own 4 really nice sets and don't hesitate to take ANY of them to any gigs I might play. Now, I no longer play frat parties or kegger gigs like back in my college days. And, I'm the only one that transports my gear and it all stays packed up really well.

I've always been of the mind set that; you bought it to play it, right? What am I saving them for... my kids... the next owner... resale? If I were playing a lot of outdoor gigs or dive bars, I might be more hesitant when bringing out the good stuff. I could see the advantage of using a kit you weren't so concerned about getting a few scratches or dings from use.

FWIW, I also play acoustic guitar and I never take out my Taylor 410e on any camping trips or outdoors activities. It's always the 20 year on Washburn for that! ;-)

Thanks!
You make a good argument for me to sell all my kits and pick up something like a Roadshow or a Concept Maple and just live with it.
 

TheBeachBoy

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I take my best kits when gigging, which would probably be considered beaters. I mostly use my Pearl Exports, but also my Gretsch Catalina Clubs and Ludwig Breakbeats depending on venue. The only one not considered a beater is my '69 Rogers kit, but I don't like bringing it to outdoor gigs because I'm worried about the wrap. For those I bring the Exports since I pulled the wrap and stained them. I coated the interior of the Pearl and Gretsch shells with polyurethane, per (the late great) Tommy Wells' advice. It really opened them up and they sound much better, and I'll eventually do that with the Breakbeats.

I do keep everything in nice working order, polished and clean, for the most part. They're my workhorse kits and I don't mind if they get a little dinged up or scratched. Once they're blended in with the other instruments at a typical venue, you probably couldn't tell a beater from a high-end kit, assuming both are tuned well.
 

Eyedrum

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I take my best kits when gigging, which would probably be considered beaters. I mostly use my Pearl Exports, but also my Gretsch Catalina Clubs and Ludwig Breakbeats depending on venue. The only one not considered a beater is my '69 Rogers kit, but I don't like bringing it to outdoor gigs because I'm worried about the wrap. For those I bring the Exports since I pulled the wrap and stained them. I coated the interior of the Pearl and Gretsch shells with polyurethane, per (the late great) Tommy Wells' advice. It really opened them up and they sound much better, and I'll eventually do that with the Breakbeats.

I do keep everything in nice working order, polished and clean, for the most part. They're my workhorse kits and I don't mind if they get a little dinged up or scratched. Once they're blended in with the other instruments at a typical venue, you probably couldn't tell a beater from a high-end kit, assuming both are tuned well.
Excellent points! Thanks!
 

Bri6366

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Years ago I wanted to pick up a beater kit for gigs I didn't want to bring my Pearl Masters MMX kit on. I walked into Sam Ash thinking I'd pick up a Tama Rockstar kit or maybe a Yamaha Stage Custom. The Rockstar kit I was considering was gone. There was a 70s 6 ply Ludwig kit that was refinished 13/16/22 and an acro as well. The chrome needed cleaning, but heads were fairly new. I picked it up and it's just a great kit.

Back when I was gigging, both my MMX and Ludwigs would get a fair amount of use, but now I have one kit up and the other stacked in bags. I have to be fairly bored to take the time to switch them out. The Ludwigs have been up for probably a couple years now and I'm really enjoying the 4pc setup, ride, hats and two crashes.
 

drummer5359

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I regularly played bar gigs with my DW Collector's Series kit or Gretsch USA Customs. I used my K Constantinoples everywhere I played. And I didn't have a problem taking my Ludwig Black Beauty, Gretsch Bell Brass, or DW/Craviotto anywhere.

Two years ago we played a gig on an outdoor stage when a large storm came in and water came rolling onto the stage. Happily, it didn't make it to my bass drum. The next time we gigged there I used a 70s Slingerland "players kit". I still used my Black Beauty and K Cons, but I was concerned about water getting to the bass drum.

With that one exception I happily play my best gear everywhere. I see no other reason to own it.
 
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Targalx

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Maybe it’s a matter of semantics but is there a difference between a beater kit and a player’s kit? Maybe a beater kit is a cheap kit by definition, while a player’s kit is a more expensive kit that has some road wear?
Yes. I think that's a fair definition/delineation. Beaters, however, can be more expensive kits (like mine) that are so visually thrashed (like mine) that people are willing to sell them super cheap (like mine) to people who end up using them often (like me) because people (like me) don't care about how they look, they just want them to sound good and get them through the gig!
 

shuffle

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Like a lot of us,a beater kit is neccessary.
I wouldnt be without one!
All my kits are nice but nothing over $450 and theyre not beaters.
The NeuSonics,theyre not gonna see a bar if i can help it!
Gigs yes,bars no! Lol!
 

Frank Godiva

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Lots of great points and I guess what I call my beater is a player to most. It's about putting your best foot forward and sounding your best. My white wrapped Phonic beater 13 16 24 sounds exactly like my Rosewood set that stays home.

A beater should not mean a compromise in your sound just common sense risk reduction to the enviable unforeseen BS
 

dirtysicks

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Lots of great points and I guess what I call my beater is a player to most. It's about putting your best foot forward and sounding your best. My white wrapped Phonic beater 13 16 24 sounds exactly like my Rosewood set that stays home.

A beater should not mean a compromise in your sound just common sense risk reduction to the enviable unforeseen BS
I agree here. I would consider my “beater” more of a player and also would hesitate to take this rig to a “nicer” gig either. The mismatched kit doesn’t bother me since the sound is so nice. My main kit is a Tanaka Granstar II that I fell in love with and even though it’s not the most super high end kit, I don’t like to take it everywhere. I would say that the mismatched kit see more time out.
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crash

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No, I don’t need one. But yes, I appreciate having one. I don’t have to worry about, agonize over, and can leave in the car. Here’s mine.Early 1970s Gretsch orphans with a ‘58
Ludwig bass. Around $150 total in everything.
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shuffle

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Maybe it’s a matter of semantics but is there a difference between a beater kit and a player’s kit? Maybe a beater kit is a cheap kit by definition, while a player’s kit is a more expensive kit that has some road wear?
I think you called it correctly.
Thats how ive looked at it.
Players have a bit more value and road wary.
Beaters are just that but neccessary for all the above reasons weve discussed. Imo
 

MillerMav

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The only reason I have a "beater" kit is due to where my band practices. Everyone in my band except the lead singer and I smoke; so the practice space just reeks like cigarette smoke. I wouldn't want any of the my better drums to have the stink on them forever so I bought an old Mapex Saturn Pro that was pretty beat up cosmetically but sounded great and I park that over there. It also helps knowing that if someone else plays the kit when I'm not there (its the bassists house and he jams with people a lot) I'm not worried about it.
 

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