Can We Talk About Using Vintage Instead of Modern Drums in Live Settings?

Ox Han

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Got ya. So, for you, the issue with vintage drums can be mitigated by higher tunings. Is that correct?
Yes. The perceived “cut” and volume can be increased by tuning a tad higher. You don’t have to get to bop tuning or crank them. I’d say this is true for any drum, but especially drums that aren’t 100% maple and have rounded bearing edges. I still muffle the the drums some, but they sound so much better and cut more.

I think the fad of tuning drums to lowest pitch for all genres especially punk and rock sounds flabby and boxy. I want to blame Tama and DW but I think it started before them in the recording world. Let the drums sing a bit more and things flow much better but still keep the punch and bang.
 

jb78

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If you love vintage drums, you can and should play them live. One exception may be hardcore touring if you’re dealing with throwing them in the back of a van, small venues, etc.
 

lamartee

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No problem sound wise. A good sounding drum is a good sounding drum, regardless of how old it is. Heads, tuning, how hard you hit, if they're miked/unmiked all play their part. Engineers and other drummers often like the opportunity to work with vintage gear, as they don't see it everyday, and if they complain about it, it's likely more a reflection of their skills than the gear you'be brought along.
In my own experience have been using a 1965-built kit live for the past 20+ years. Maybe 300-400 hundred gigs in that time I'd estimate (which actually isn't that much, 20 or so a year on average). It's been on the road many times, in and out of vehicles and venues (mainly been in bags, not hard cases) and weathered backline abuse by the odd hack drummer on a bill. I sorta cringe now! It's still going strong, and is actually louder than many modern kits (subjective personal opinion, but put it down to thin shells, single ply heads tuned on the medium-to-higher side, nil-to-minimal muffling).
To be fair, the original hardware didn't cut it, so FT legs/brackets and BD spurs are aftermarket, and the rack tom sits on a snare stand. Stands are all modern.

Go on and use them, especially if you're not needing to share it. Always cool to see vintage gear on stage being used. The original hardware is the only potential downside, but if it holds up when rehearsing, it'll hold up live.
Vintage drums being too dark to cut through is bollocks IMO. If they ain't cutting through, just tune them higher and/or hit them harder. Same goes for any kit, old or new :)
Amen to that! Been using my mid-sixties Slingys as my main weekend warrior kit since...well the sixties.
 

TheBeachBoy

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I normally gig with a Pearl Export or Catalina Club, so when I brought out my '69 Rogers my bass player commented that they're louder. I don't think they are, I think they just cut through better because they overall sound better. Hardware wise the tom mount isn't the strongest, but it's workable. The weak link in that is the ball joint, but if I was too worried I'd get a modern Yamaha tom arm. The spurs and the floor tom legs are as solid as modern drums.

I typically gig with the Exports because they're made for the abuse of gigging and I don't worry too much about them getting dinged up. I only take out the Rogers for special gigs or when I know I don't have to drive our singer with the PA taking up space in my car.
 

paul

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20 years ago I put together the set I still use, buying drums one or two at a time and having them refinished and assembled into a kit with modern hardware. I have seven toms and two bass drums, all Gretsch, made from the 60's to the 90's. I dare anyone to listen to my drums in any configuration and identify which is which on sound alone.

Want a different sound? Change heads and tuning.


turq-01.jpg
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I have no problems gigging vintage drums and I love playing them! I gig with (depending on venue and my mood!):

'66 Slingy 12/14/18 sky blue pearl
70's Gretsch tangerine SSB 12/13/16 with matching RB snare (or 20's Black beauty).
'68 Ludwig 13/16/22 WMP
Rogers 12/16/20 silver sparkle w/COB Dyna
DW pre-collectors 12/14/18 ("modern") w/Slingy COB snare, and
Gretsch RB 13/16/20.

I have a vintage 12/15/20 Ludwig sky blue pearl next in my rotation. If it works, and I assume it will be killer, that may be my dedicated gig kit. I also have a 12/13/16/22 Gretsch RB/SSB kit I am refinishing as a Charlie Watts tribute kit - that may or may not go on gigs.......

I've changed my mind on vintage kits - why should they sit in my studio or garage and not be played outside in all their glory???? None are collector grade kits.......
 

Ox Han

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Getting a bit off topic, but it is why I love my Sakae Trilogy kit so much. Vintage type sound without hassling with the old hardware.
I’ve heard good things about sakae trilogy kits. I’ve got a new Gretsch broadkaster that is my only kit at the moment. It’s all the vintage sound and non of the trappings that can turn into a money out. It was less than a collector grade vintage kit and it’s absolutely worth it.
 

Ox Han

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I have no problems gigging vintage drums and I love playing them! I gig with (depending on venue and my mood!):

'66 Slingy 12/14/18 sky blue pearl
70's Gretsch tangerine SSB 12/13/16 with matching RB snare (or 20's Black beauty).
'68 Ludwig 13/16/22 WMP
Rogers 12/16/20 silver sparkle w/COB Dyna
DW pre-collectors 12/14/18 ("modern") w/Slingy COB snare, and
Gretsch RB 13/16/20.

I have a vintage 12/15/20 Ludwig sky blue pearl next in my rotation. If it works, and I assume it will be killer, that may be my dedicated gig kit. I also have a 12/13/16/22 Gretsch RB/SSB kit I am refinishing as a Charlie Watts tribute kit - that may or may not go on gigs.......

I've changed my mind on vintage kits - why should they sit in my studio or garage and not be played outside in all their glory???? None are collector grade kits.......
sorry to go OT again, but is the 15 a marching snare conversion? Really want a 15” floor
 

Topsy Turvy

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I normally gig with a Pearl Export or Catalina Club, so when I brought out my '69 Rogers my bass player commented that they're louder. I don't think they are, I think they just cut through better because they overall sound better. Hardware wise the tom mount isn't the strongest, but it's workable. The weak link in that is the ball joint, but if I was too worried I'd get a modern Yamaha tom arm. The spurs and the floor tom legs are as solid as modern drums.

I typically gig with the Exports because they're made for the abuse of gigging and I don't worry too much about them getting dinged up. I only take out the Rogers for special gigs or when I know I don't have to drive our singer with the PA taking up space in my car.
Is your Rogers kit a collector kit or in great shape? I ask because my vintage kits are simply player’s drums, which is why I am so strongly considering using them live.
 

Topsy Turvy

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If you love vintage drums, you can and should play them live. One exception may be hardcore touring if you’re dealing with throwing them in the back of a van, small venues, etc.
I won’t be touring with these drums, but why would you suggest they not be used for touring?
 

Topsy Turvy

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For years I gigged regularly with a Camco Oaklawn bop kit and a 1920 Ludwig snare. Several nights a week. Sometimes 8 or 9 gigs a week. No issues, no problems. Also my Dayton Rogers. I even gigged my 1928 Black Beauty for a couple years. I played in both dives and country clubs, theaters and stadiums.
Oh man, do you have any pictures of that setup?
 

Topsy Turvy

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Your not missing a thing. At the young age of 70, I've had my '66 Oyster Blue set since HS and they are in pristine condition with thousands of hours of playing time on them. There is a sound that only comes from the vintage drums. I asked Bill Ludwig II about using my vintage set out because of their condition, which he saw and autographed for me inside the shells, and his response was quite simple. "They were made to be played and enjoyed so play them and enjoy them." Great advice!!
That is great advice, actually
 

Skyrm

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20 years ago I put together the set I still use, buying drums one or two at a time and having them refinished and assembled into a kit with modern hardware. I have seven toms and two bass drums, all Gretsch, made from the 60's to the 90's. I dare anyone to listen to my drums in any configuration and identify which is which on sound alone.

Want a different sound? Change heads and tuning.


View attachment 447619
I can’t believe it’s been 20 years!!
 

troutstudio

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Thank you for your response. Can you please explain what you mean when you say, “...I don’t have to work as hard?”
It's just easier in terms of the energy required. The snares are not really an issue - at least not the metal shells. I save my DAW input settings in the studio and the Rogers toms (as wonderful as they sound) are 3 or so Db lower in output. Not quite as much attack, definitely not as much sustain. They do sound warm, with a shorter decay and a nice mid range. The Sakae toms are really loud, because of the bearing edges and the density of the wood. Live, I don't mic all my toms - I use an overhead. So if it's a louder gig, I have to turn up the gain on the overhead - which introduces more band spill - self defeating. My vintage kits are always tuned a bit higher but I don't like playing on tensions past a certain point. If I got booked for a dinner show in a nice club (hopefully that does happen again) I'd take them to somewhere like that because everything is miked up and the sound guy will probably say "great drums" and the look of the kit is fantastic. All of this is completely individual. But this is why you don't see touring drummers use vintage drums very often, except for the snare drums. You do see jazz drummers use them a lot. Because that's organic music, with a large dynamic range and much quieter in general. And this is not unique to drums. It's the same with guitars, microphones, pianos - technology changes output and that's usually in the upwards direction. None of this has anything to do with why I love vintage drums and feel that owning them is a pleasure. But I also love new drums, new music, new people - it's how I live. If as a drummer you are asking should you buy and play vintage drums live, the answer is an unqualified yes. If you are asking me why I choose the gigs to play them carefully - hope this answers the question. One thing I would say as a tip - don't buy Ludwig drums in the Super Classic era, unless you can see and play them in person. They are amazing drums - but not every drum is a keeper. Good luck with your music.
 

TheBeachBoy

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Is your Rogers kit a collector kit or in great shape? I ask because my vintage kits are simply player’s drums, which is why I am so strongly considering using them live.
I don't think it's a collector kit, but it's overall pretty good shape. It doesn't have any permanent modifications but it's missing the original BD hoops and there are a small crack in the wrap of the floor tom, but it's also a fairly unique wrap. It's blue, silver, and red striped glitter, so not super common. It was given to me by a friend's sister who found it in her attic, so I don't know how much it would be worth.

IMG_20190104_160224.jpg
 

jb78

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I won’t be touring with these drums, but why would you suggest they not be used for touring?
In my experience, touring can present a lot more issues for gear than just handling for local gigs. The whole band’s gear is together and banging around, it’s near impossible to avoid other people handling your stuff in various settings, etc. Therefore, there’s a greater chance of something getting messed up; and in a setting where it’s sometimes hard to fix or replace.
 

scaramanga

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No one has ever complained that my 50-year-old Ludwigs weren't loud enough. Heh.

And you don't have to use the hardware that came with them.
 

Topsy Turvy

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In my experience, touring can present a lot more issues for gear than just handling for local gigs. The whole band’s gear is together and banging around, it’s near impossible to avoid other people handling your stuff in various settings, etc. Therefore, there’s a greater chance of something getting messed up; and in a setting where it’s sometimes hard to fix or replace.
Yeah, that absolutely makes sense.
 


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