Skill level vs Gear level

Dumpy

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One thing
It is good as a performer on a stage that things match. If you come across as a "blues lawyer" you'd better be darn good to play an old beater, otherwise get that gold hardware and lacquer finish. Or alternatively, if you appear to be like a young parentally sponsored student better be really good on something other than an Export.
Gear on stage is kinda like your clothes posture etc. in projecting style.
My gear is better qualified to be on stage than me, but the drums have no badges, are not shiny and my cymbals have patina, so I think we match ok. I am trying to work up the guts to show up with a three piece kit, almost there.
I played in a Blues Doctor band, except these guys COULD play.
 

A.TomicMorganic

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A good drummer will always sound good. A good drummer will sound better on good gear than on crap.
 

Dumpy

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A good drummer will always sound good. A good drummer will sound better on good gear than on crap.
Just like triathlon bicycles- a slow cyclist will be slow on a $15K bike just as they are on a $500 CL special; a good cyclist will ride fast on either.
 

marc3k

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always associated drums with working ("means to an end")
So anything purchased
Should down the road Over time; pay for itself
But then there's the category of drummers that don't work that don't see it "as work"
And want it for personal home thing.
I was not aware of that type
for many many many years.

but I've become pretty active at dFO.
Always thought of drums/cymbals/sticks/heads/cases
in the "working" they make you money, (get paid) (gear pays it way "back") sense.
I was only able to start playing drums after I got my first job and had a steady income. I was and probably will never be "bold" enough to do this for a living. However, I "work" on the drums to improve my skills every day.
I started on a cheap secondhand pearl export. I played on my friends pearl export for a couple of years with my band. I got the chance to buy a 60s Ludwig kit and gave my pearl away. Only a couple of months ago I bought a Gretsch Broadkaster. Of course my skill level does not match these kits. However, I think with these two kits I will never have to buy a new set ever.
 

Dumpy

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still can be a side/hobby that pays needn't rarely is it a career (i think..)
can certainly be a (practical) side passion.
There is the rub. I paid for my wife’s trip home with gig money. I would have been on food stamps was this the only job, but it’s a decently fun side job.
 

Swissward Flamtacles

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Current skills to gear ratio: 2 to 8 (rounded down)
But I guess that I'm mostly done with equipment and I practice regularly, so I'm confident that I can increase the skills to gear ratio to 2 to 8 (rounded up).
Then I watch this and feel like correcting everything to 0 to 10...
 

owr

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Alright - one more comment from me. I started playing when I was 12 but gave it up at 14, and then came back to it at 24 or so and haven't looked back - going on 20 years now. I often regret missing those critical years 15 - 24 in which I had the time to really practice and build the core chops I still lack today. There were alot of factors involved with me quitting at 14, but I think I would have been much less likely to if the toms didn't swing away from me every time I hit it, and if the hardware would have functioned well enough to actually set up that POS kit I had in a way that fit my small body. When I started up again at 24 I carried this guilt with me about not buying gear that out-classed my skill. Luckily I had a mentor/teacher at that point who taught me that its ok, and that having nice functional gear can inspire you to play, which is nothing but a good thing.
 

Dumpy

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Alright - one more comment from me. I started playing when I was 12 but gave it up at 14, and then came back to it at 24 or so and haven't looked back - going on 20 years now. I often regret missing those critical years 15 - 24 in which I had the time to really practice and build the core chops I still lack today. There were alot of factors involved with me quitting at 14, but I think I would have been much less likely to if the toms didn't swing away from me every time I hit it, and if the hardware would have functioned well enough to actually set up that POS kit I had in a way that fit my small body. When I started up again at 24 I carried this guilt with me about not buying gear that out-classed my skill. Luckily I had a mentor/teacher at that point who taught me that its ok, and that having nice functional gear can inspire you to play, which is nothing but a good thing.
I became a better player when I bought better cymbals. Quality cymbals can have hundreds of voices. Crummy ones only clang.
 

Dave HCV

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I broadly divide a drum kit into three groups of components: drums, cymbals, and hardware. My first kit (bought in 1966, at which time I was 13) was MIJ firewood. I did learn a lot about how the sound of a cheap drum can be vastly improved with high quality heads and meticulous tuning (drum key and ears only; no Drum Dial in the 1960s). Ultimately, I managed to get reasonably good sounds out of the drums.

Cymbals, on the other hand, are what they are. The garbage cymbals that came with the kit were hopeless and I ended up buying Zildjians (one ride, one crash, hats, and a splash).

Likewise, there's not much that can be done with cheap hardware. The original hardware went into the trash and I bought Slingerland cymbal stands, snare stand, and hi-hat.

Bottom line is that the components of an "entry level" kit, no matter how bad, can selectively be upgraded to provide an overall kit that sounds decent and is reliable enough to gig. Also, those bits and pieces can be purchased piecemeal as cash becomes available.

In 2009, I bought my current kit, a Ludwig Classic Maple with an appropriate array of Zildjians. So my gear now exceeds my talent, but that's okay.
 

Dumpy

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I broadly divide a drum kit into three groups of components: drums, cymbals, and hardware. My first kit (bought in 1966, at which time I was 13) was MIJ firewood. I did learn a lot about how the sound of a cheap drum can be vastly improved with high quality heads and meticulous tuning (drum key and ears only; no Drum Dial in the 1960s). Ultimately, I managed to get reasonably good sounds out of the drums.

Cymbals, on the other hand, are what they are. The garbage cymbals that came with the kit were hopeless and I ended up buying Zildjians (one ride, one crash, hats, and a splash).

Likewise, there's not much that can be done with cheap hardware. The original hardware went into the trash and I bought Slingerland cymbal stands, snare stand, and hi-hat.

Bottom line is that the components of an "entry level" kit, no matter how bad, can selectively be upgraded to provide an overall kit that sounds decent and is reliable enough to gig. Also, those bits and pieces can be purchased piecemeal as cash becomes available.

In 2009, I bought my current kit, a Ludwig Classic Maple with an appropriate array of Zildjians. So my gear now exceeds my talent, but that's okay.
I will argue on cheap hardware in a tongue in cheek manner: how many hose clamps did you use as “memory locks” to keep from the collapsing cymbal stand syndrome”? My local hardware store guy kept plenty in stock knowing that every week (it seemed) I was buying $5 worth of hose clamps, which was a lot of money for hose clamps in the 80s! Thank goodness for Gibraltar hardware.
 

drummer5359

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I started out on a beater MIJ stencil kit that I traded a five and dime bass guitar for. It didn't take long for me to be better than that gear.

My next step up was a very clean 1965 Slingerland kit that I bought used in 1978. It was a pro level kit, I was not a pro level drummer. I sold that kit in a time of financial desperation. Although I owned other kits and gigged all through the eighties, I didn't really own a nice kit again until 1992 when I bought a set of 1975 Slingerlands. I gigged the bleep out of that kit until 2008 when I bought my first new kit, a set of DW Collector's Series. I'm sure that I played well over five hundred gigs with that kit, thanks to Humes and Berg Enduro cases, they still look new. They payed for themselves many times over. I was in the mood for something different, so last year I bought a Gretsch USA Custom kit, and this year I expanded it into a shell bank.

Today my gear is the equal of that used by many national acts. As for my playing, the stroke that I had in 2008 took me back to square one. I work on my playing daily. I'll never be a pro level player, but it won't be because of lack of effort. I've been a working drummer for most of the past forty-five years. Many years I averaged fifty to a hundred gigs, there were years in the eighties and nineties that I played quite a bit more.

With the shut down this year and venues closing all around, I have no idea how many gigs are in front of me, but I am working hard to be ready. I'm rehearsing with a new band with a great female singer. We are covering Pat Benatar, Blondie, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Joan Jett... The singer is a big fan of RUSH, we are currently working on learning "The Spirit of radio".

I'm just a local cover band drummer, but I try to be the best that I can be. My gear reflects that.
 
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Old PIT Guy

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Back in the day (old man alert) you'd buy a nice set and that would be it for years. Even decades. A new cymbal every so often and that was all. Then came modern drummer stuffed with ads and endorsers, and then the internet's whoever dies with the most toys wins mindset and it was retail game on.

To me, it isn't odd for someone not very accomplished to own a top quality instrument. But when owning a roomful of top quality instruments has come to replace building a skill level something's just not quite right.
 

Neal Pert

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The one time I felt genuinely embarrassed for a performer was when I went to hear a duo at a local music place. I also play guitar have a friend who's a luthier so I am familiar with the high end custom guitars that are out there. I LOVE that level of craftsmanship and love to look at expensive acoustic guitars but I could never justify it for my novice-level playing. Anyway, at this gig, the dude showed up with a $6000 (or more) fan fret guitar from a prominent custom builder. And the whole night he played cowboy chords-- badly-- and the gig was just terrible. If he'd been playing a cheap guitar or even a lower level Gibson or Martin, I'd have understood.

Anyway, I felt bad for the guy more than angry. He's free to get whatever he wants, but it was a little embarrassing. Then again, my luthier friend tells me that guys will often order three guitars from him at a time, all in crazy exotic woods with all the features, and never, ever really make music with them.

I'd say right now my gear is at my performance level but obviously there are no gigs to justify having all of it. And the plan that I thought made sense-- a set for home and concerts and a set always in cases for local gigs-- now seems excessive. I'm going to hold onto the Stage Customs but who knows if the gigs are ever coming back? I'll watch and see how things are post-pandemic and then maybe scale way back. I've already sold off a bunch of cymbals to pay for some modest recording equipment, and that trend may continue.
 

cribbon

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This is a guitar-based thing, but its philosophy is universally applicable:



There's also Dieter Rams' "Weniger, aber besser" (less, but better) philosophy that can be applied across the board to almost every aspect of life: drums, shoes, diet, coffee makers, life choices:

 

Twakeshima

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Personally, a true beginner shouldn’t be playing a super high level kit, just based off of the fact that it could be treated wrong or simply not used to it’s full potential. But if you’re intermediate to advanced and you have the money, better gear can be really inspiring and fun.
 

Jazzhead

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This is a guitar-based thing, but its philosophy is universally applicable:



There's also Dieter Rams' "Weniger, aber besser" (less, but better) philosophy that can be applied across the board to almost every aspect of life: drums, shoes, diet, coffee makers, life choices:

Pretty cool video, and I agree with him but does he really believe in what he says and practice that himself?
 


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