Practicing Jazz with a terrible drumset

JazzDrumGuy

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My related topic is "Terrible practicing of jazz on Amazing kits!"...... I still suck!

I definitely agree that tune up the 10, tune down to 12 as low as possible and play it as a floor tom, and get a nice blowing out of the 16. You've got a snare so you're good to go. Just practice on that kid to get the feel of the higher tunings and the smaller kit size. If you decide to dedicate yourself to having a jazz Bop kit, you'll know what to expect in terms of tone. I have kits with 14" basses.
 

paul

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Joe Morello recorded jazz with the Dave Brubeck Quartet with a 13/16/22 kit that wasn't tuned particularly high. You don't have to have a baby bass drum or tune your drums to soprano range. Just tune them so they are articulate and sound good. Then quit worrying about the drums and just f***ing play!
 

Sinclair

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Similarly, my snare is impossible to play quietly, and the same goes with my toms.
Just to be clear, snares and toms don't make a sound until you play them. Sorry to say... but them being impossible to play quietly is more a reflection of your technique than the instrument or it's quality. Playing quietly is one of the most challenging things you'll ever do on a drumset... and I'm not talking about using brushes instead of sticks to get there. Using brushes is for getting a different texture and not to achieve a lower volume necessarily. The goal is to be able to play just as quietly with either one. Ask your teacher for exercises that expose your flaws. Getting better at this is completely doable, but takes practice and concentration. Rant over. ;-)
 
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JimmySticks

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I'm not posting this to start the whole grip argument, and I'm not slagging on matched grip, but I will say I think that traditional grip is best for jazz and lighter playing in general. I'm not sure what grip you use, but I think matched grip tends to make you hit just a bit harder and just a bit heavier, especially as a beginner. Albeit small, I think you'll hear the subtle difference in the two grips.

Maybe try trad grip with light 7A maple sticks and see if the helps. But as others have said here, playing soft and understated is the hardest thing you'll ever do on drums. I'm still coming to grips with that aspect of drumming myself.
 

RIDDIM

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Good tools help, but it starts with your ability to control the sounds you make. Develop the facility to burn at all dynamic levels. Do you play the drums or do they play you?

If you haven't already, start playing brushes. You'll find the facility to gain from them will do wonders for your ability to play at lower volume levs with sticks.

Most importantly, listen to the music you want to play. What do you have to do to serve it? Go there.
 

Matched Gripper

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Just to be clear, snares and toms don't make a sound until you play them. Sorry to say... but them being impossible to play quietly is more a reflection of your technique than the instrument or it's quality. Playing quietly is one of the most challenging things you'll ever do on a drumset... and I'm not talking about using brushes instead of sticks to get there. Using brushes is for getting a different texture and not to achieve a lower volume necessarily. The goal is to be able to play just as quietly with either one. Ask your teacher for exercises that expose your flaws. Getting better at this is completely doable, but takes practice and concentration. Rant over. ;-)
I recently saw the Tal Cohen Trio with Dave Chiverton on drums. His dynamic control was astounding. In particular, it was his ability to play at pretty much any tempo with stick heights as low as about an inch. I’ve seen many world class drummers live, but, haven’t seen that kind of dynamic control before.

Gonna be spending more time practicing my rudi’s with MUCH lower stick heights.
 

b/o 402

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Yeah forget about different drums. Plenty of great jazz of all types has been recorded and performed on your sizes. Really 90% of the sound is heads and tuning. Then it’s your touch.
As mentioned, Joe Morello on 22/13/16:
 

Matched Gripper

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I'm not posting this to start the whole grip argument, and I'm not slagging on matched grip, but I will say I think that traditional grip is best for jazz and lighter playing in general. I'm not sure what grip you use, but I think matched grip tends to make you hit just a bit harder and just a bit heavier, especially as a beginner. Albeit small, I think you'll hear the subtle difference in the two grips.

Maybe try trad grip with light 7A maple sticks and see if the helps. But as others have said here, playing soft and understated is the hardest thing you'll ever do on drums. I'm still coming to grips with that aspect of drumming myself.
Steve Smith explains that traditional grip enables you to play softer because your hand under the stick rather than on top of the stick. I think traditional grip makes it easier to play with a higher angle of the stick to the drum producing a more glancing strike of the drum which results in lower volume.

Having said that, you can still play as quietly as needed with matched grip if you play very close the drumhead.
 

Matched Gripper

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My related topic is "Terrible practicing of jazz on Amazing kits!"...... I still suck!

I definitely agree that tune up the 10, tune down to 12 as low as possible and play it as a floor tom, and get a nice blowing out of the 16. You've got a snare so you're good to go. Just practice on that kid to get the feel of the higher tunings and the smaller kit size. If you decide to dedicate yourself to having a jazz Bop kit, you'll know what to expect in terms of tone. I have kits with 14" basses.
I first learned how to play jazz by watching a local jazz drummer live up close as often as I could. Everything about his physical approach to the drumset was distinctively jazz. That visual input was more helpful to me than all the verbal explanations in the world.
 

komodobob

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Not sure if this was mentioned or not, but work at feathering the bass drum, with an occasional bomb being dropped. Learning how to feather that bass pedal helped me immensely, especially with the rest of the kit. I found I was able to play much softer.
 

m_anderson

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I would recommend the right books. Jim Chapin's Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer is still a staple, but there are many others.
 

utetwo

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Just to be clear, snares and toms don't make a sound until you play them. Sorry to say... but them being impossible to play quietly is more a reflection of your technique than the instrument or it's quality. Playing quietly is one of the most challenging things you'll ever do on a drumset... and I'm not talking about using brushes instead of sticks to get there. Using brushes is for getting a different texture and not to achieve a lower volume necessarily. The goal is to be able to play just as quietly with either one. Ask your teacher for exercises that expose your flaws. Getting better at this is completely doable, but takes practice and concentration. Rant over. ;-)
I was referring that to if I hit the drum a half centimeter with no external force, it sounds as if I had hit it with half a foot of height. I'm able to play and snare at drum lessons quietly.
 

Swissward Flamtacles

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Could it be that it's your room (small, empty, brick walls??) and not the drum? I'd also take that snare to your next lesson and spend it on tuning and setup. I mean some snares have more cut than others, but what you describe seems too extreme to be only related to the drum or itself.
 

glaze148

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Your drum instructor should be able to guide you with everything that is being suggested here.
Getting him to tune your drums could help with touch, and Jazzy feel. Make that bongo bass drum sound like a bass drum.
If he’s calling you intermediate, that’s a pretty good level to just keep on keeping on.
 

wflkurt

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If you have something like Apple music, there is tons of jazz out there to listen to. Learning technique is great to help you get where you need to be but hearing the jazz guys do it is another story. My favorite jazz drummer is Art Blakey and he made tons of records with the Jazz Messengers. learning to play good technique at low volume is also a must IMO. Nothing sounds worse in a jazz band than a drummer that is much too loud. While any drum set should be able to work for what you are doing, I personally feel like your sizes may not be ideal if Jazz is where you wish to focus.

I personally love the Gretsch catalina club sets. I know they are just import drums and not like the real Gretsch but you can find them used fairly cheap, they come in 18,12,14 jazz sizes with cool vintage finishes and the sound great. It also helps to have some halfway decent cymbals as a big focus in jazz is the ride and the hi-hats. I don't know where you live but I did a quick CL in various locations looking specifically for the Gretsch catalina club jazz and this is what I found. Every set is at least $500 and under. If you are patient enough, you can find them for around $300 or so. I have had a few that bought cheap over the years and I really liked them for what they were. I especially like the ones in colors like White Marine Pearl or Champagne Sparkle. Good luck!








 

Judgechuck

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Steve Smith explains that traditional grip enables you to play softer because your hand under the stick rather than on top of the stick. I think traditional grip makes it easier to play with a higher angle of the stick to the drum producing a more glancing strike of the drum which results in lower volume.

Having said that, you can still play as quietly as needed with matched grip if you play very close the drumhead.
I like the comment about the angle of the stick. I was watching a video of Art Blakey and it looked like he was holding the stick almost vertically while playing the snare.
 

JimmySticks

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I like the comment about the angle of the stick. I was watching a video of Art Blakey and it looked like he was holding the stick almost vertically while playing the snare.
That's kind of frowned upon when learning jazz, but that high angle really let's you play lightly, it gives you a nice stick bounce and you get better stick control. I like it and play that way.

If it was good enough for Mr. Blakey, I'm guessing it's good enough for me!
 


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