Practicing Jazz with a terrible drumset

utetwo

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Hi all, I've been practicing the drums for about a year now, and after building a solid foundation and achieving skills that my drum instructor has set the "intermediate drummer" benchmark for, I've decided I'd like to start specializing in a specific genre (as per the title: jazz, my favorite genre).

I can infer that jazz drumming is especially tactful, particularly with regards to the bass drum. This is difficult because my current bass drum sounds like a bongo if I don't have a muffler on it. Unfortunately the muffler makes it near impossible to play sixteenth notes on the drum (I'm only able to do this at drum lessons, using the kit there), much less play tactfully on the bass drum. Similarly, my snare is impossible to play quietly, and the same goes with my toms.

One thing I look for when analyzing a song is sound: similar to poetry and melody in a song, I look for how sound is used, especially given the advent of digital synthesizers and all those tools. Sound is very important in the groove and feel of a beat on the drums, too, and I'm worried that it's affecting my skills.
 

CAMDRUMS

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A few questions: what do you mean by jazz? There are many genres, and different size drums may work better or worse depending on the style you are trying to play. Bebop? Cool jazz, fusion, big band?
Also, what are the dimensions of your drums and how old are the heads? To me this matters more than what brand.
Finally, you mention them being too loud. A lot of that has to do with the drummer’s touch. What size sticks are you using and do you practice playing quietly?
 

Elvis

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I found my bass drum skills improved vastly, when i started experimenting with increased bass drum pedal spring tension.
Difficult to work the pedal, at first, but once my muscles acclimated, I found the increased spring tension "glued" the foot board to my foot and it would better transfer all the things I was doing with the pedal, to the bass drum.
As for a new kit, the field's wide open these days.
EVERYONE makes a "Jr. Jazz Kit". Usually somekind of inexpensive wood and hardware, in 18/12/14 configuration (or similar sizes).
Gretsch is the classic Jazz kit, of course, and the Catalina series are good drums at a great price point.
If money's not the problem, their "USA Custom" is the REAL Gretsch shell.
Of course, Ludwig, Sonor and all the custom guys can all produce exceptional kits as well.
IF you're after something that doesn't really exist anymore, the vintage market is ripe with great examples from long gone makers.
However, as I recently wrote in another thread on a similar subject, Jazz is as much about the drummer as it is the drums.
My advice; don't get too hung up on marketing and labels.
Just get something that will work for you and let it allow your soul and technique to shine through.
In my mind, this is what Jazz (well, music in general, actually) is really all about.
Good luck, and please, let us know what you end up with. =)

Elvis
 

utetwo

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A few questions: what do you mean by jazz? There are many genres, and different size drums may work better or worse depending on the style you are trying to play. Bebop? Cool jazz, fusion, big band?
Also, what are the dimensions of your drums and how old are the heads? To me this matters more than what brand.
Finally, you mention them being too loud. A lot of that has to do with the drummer’s touch. What size sticks are you using and do you practice playing quietly?
I'm not sure what style, actually, I'm very new to the genre; still researching.

My drum sizes are:
  • 22"x16" Bass Drum, 10"x8" & 12"x9" Toms & 16"x16" Floor Toms and 6.5"x14" Snare Drum
The head for the snare is a year old while the tom heads are six months old (I replaced them).

The sticks I use are discards from my drum teacher. They're Vic Firth "Rock Maple American Custom SD4 Combo".
 

utetwo

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I found my bass drum skills improved vastly, when i started experimenting with increased bass drum pedal spring tension.
Difficult to work the pedal, at first, but once my muscles acclimated, I found the increased spring tension "glued" the foot board to my foot and it would better transfer all the things I was doing with the pedal, to the bass drum.
As for a new kit, the field's wide open these days.
EVERYONE makes a "Jr. Jazz Kit". Usually somekind of inexpensive wood and hardware, in 18/12/14 configuration (or similar sizes).
Gretsch is the classic Jazz kit, of course, and the Catalina series are good drums at a great price point.
If money's not the problem, their "USA Custom" is the REAL Gretsch shell.
Of course, Ludwig, Sonor and all the custom guys can all produce exceptional kits as well.
IF you're after something that doesn't really exist anymore, the vintage market is ripe with great examples from long gone makers.
However, as I recently wrote in another thread on a similar subject, Jazz is as much about the drummer as it is the drums.
My advice; don't get too hung up on marketing and labels.
Just get something that will work for you and let it allow your soul and technique to shine through.
In my mind, this is what Jazz (well, music in general, actually) is really all about.
Good luck, and please, let us know what you end up with. =)

Elvis
Thanks for the reply. I agree; my bass drum tension is already at the max lol. I'm more interested in adjusting my current kit than getting a new one, as I like to be frugal with cash, and no business in my area will hire a person my age. I might ask my instructor for help with tuning the drums, because I think that's also an issue.
 

JDA

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before you Practice Jazz it's best to go back and listen to it. back to the Forties. Short trip to the 20s. The late 40s early Fifties...
the late 50s...
Absorb it in your ear
"Listening and Analysis" was a required course (at berklee)
 

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I'm not sure what style, actually, I'm very new to the genre; still researching.

My drum sizes are:
  • 22"x16" Bass Drum, 10"x8" & 12"x9" Toms & 16"x16" Floor Toms and 6.5"x14" Snare Drum
The head for the snare is a year old while the tom heads are six months old (I replaced them).

The sticks I use are discards from my drum teacher. They're Vic Firth "Rock Maple American Custom SD4 Combo".
You have to be hitting hard to be too loud with SD4 Combos. Your drums are fine. Bring your stick height down.
 

CAMDRUMS

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I'm not sure what style, actually, I'm very new to the genre; still researching.

My drum sizes are:
  • 22"x16" Bass Drum, 10"x8" & 12"x9" Toms & 16"x16" Floor Toms and 6.5"x14" Snare Drum
The head for the snare is a year old while the tom heads are six months old (I replaced them).

The sticks I use are discards from my drum teacher. They're Vic Firth "Rock Maple American Custom SD4 Combo".
If they are stock drum heads and not made by Remo, Evans, Aquarian, then a new set of heads might help. Also, while I am generalizing here, jazz drums often have smaller size drums, especially bass drums. Like 18” bass with 12” and 14” toms. You might try muffling your bass drum somewhat, and try tuning the drums a little higher than you usually would. If you are practicing in a small room than any drums can sound really loud, so also try muffling the other drums a bit. Try light sticks like size 7A, or sticks with more of a round tip, and wood tip rather than nylon. Jazz swing playing is often more about top down, by which I mean the ride cymbal is the focus, with the bass drum played very lightly and/or infrequently. Hope this helps.
 

utetwo

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before you Practice Jazz it's best to go back and listen to it. back to the Forties. Short trip to the 20s. The late 40s early Fifties...
the late 50s...
Absorb it in your ear
"Listening and Analysis" was a required course (at berklee)
Could you provide some prominent artists and songs from the time? I'm admittedly not familiar enough to aptly find things on my own.
 
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JDA

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most of the s'tuff' would be on paper but today with Google you can find something.. like..


and video from the 20s the 40s...video's-->


First. before leaping head long into say 1959 .
When you can briefly tell me who Warren baby Dodds and gene Krupa were and give a brief demonstration
I'll know you have went 'back..

It's not hard. Go back to the 20s rather than starting in the 60s
 
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Elvis

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Utetwo,

If you're competent at tuning drums, try this setting - 1 1/2 turns of the tension rods.
Do that will all the drums, even the bass.
Use that as a base setting and adjust if you run across any distortion (remember, "always tune UP").
This will set the heads at a medium-tight setting. You'll get ample stick response but the head will be loose enough to allow the drums to breathe freely.
This will allow them to speak fully.
If your BD beater is the standard felt beater, it may help if you wrap a tube sock around the head and tie it off (leave the knot to the rear). Not too tight.
Sticking a small square of Moleskin at the striking point of the batter head will accomplish the same feat (possibly a more effective practice, compared to the sock).
This will put a softer surface striking the head and will mellow out a little of the attack.
Don't worry about snare buzz. They're drums. They're supposed to resonate. You're going to encounter a little. It's ok.
The 22" bass drum may sound a bit "large". I get that. I experienced the same thing with an inexpensive kit I once had, that had a 22" bass drum.
You could try aftermarket heads, but my feeling is that the sheer volume of a 22x16 bass drum creates too large of a sound. You get a lot of "boom" when the chamber gets that big....of course, if you're powering a 50 piece big band, it might just be the ticket, but for a small combo, it may be a bit much.
You could try experimenting with your floor tom, laid on its side, as a smaller pseudo bass drum and see how you like that.
You'll need some kind of riser. If you set the drum about 2" off the ground, it will simulate and 18" BD sitting on the ground.

Elvis
 

Elvis

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before you Practice Jazz it's best to go back and listen to it. back to the Forties. Short trip to the 20s. The late 40s early Fifties...
the late 50s...
Absorb it in your ear
"Listening and Analysis" was a required course (at berklee)
jOe knows! :thumbup:
 

JDA

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I know you can't wait. we'll skip the Riverboats..(just for a second
still some dixieland and NOLA in here
as swing evolved into small group and modern jazz..


i'm done I'm not giving lessons over the phone..
GO STRAIGHT TO TONY WILLIAMS SEVEN STEPS TO HEAVEN WITH MILES DAVIS
I'm kidding.
 
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Elvis

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Could you provide some prominent artists and songs from the time? I'm admittedly not familiar enough to aptly find things on my own.
Another thing you could do is just start listening to your local Jazz radio station on a regular basis, like when you're in the car. The radio in my car is always tuned to 88.5 FM (my local Jazz station).

...also, one of the most interesting things I've ever heard, in regards to Jazz. Go through ALL of the sound tracks listed here. Mel was there. He knows what he's talking about...

 

paul

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I see no reason why the drums you have won't work for jazz. I keep a 10/12/14/16/22 set here at home and play jazz with different groups once or twice a week. I don't tune them for a specific genre, but just try to get a good sound out of them. Jazz isn't in the instrument; it's in the drummer and how you play.

The best thing you can do is find some people to play jazz with. If you can find people who are better at it than you, so much the better. Then open your ears, listen to your fellow players, and let the conversation begin.
 


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