Hi-hat!! I can get so much out of the Hi-hat. I love it so much my drumkit has two DW9000 Cable-hats and another rigged with two tambourines in place of the cymbals and a fourth rigged with ice-cymbals. The Hi-hat, my true love!
my picalo snares are so cool , they give me the crisp sound i want. i can crack it for funk and its great for jazz .its my identity
my flat rides are super , that is me on the cymbal
my bass drum pedal is so important, if i have to play with a pedal that isnt what im used to, its going to be a long night or session. i can deal with lots of variations in the bass drums , with size etc , i can tune them to get where i want, but, a good pedal feel i like helps so much
and, my DW hi hat clutch. the absolute go to for making horrible high hats functional . i have about 4, they usualy are big enough in the hole to accomodate most all high hats. it really locks in the upper high hat so i can at least control the situation .
Tough question. I think if I had to have one piece of my drum set which would it be, I would pick the snare drum. You can have snares on, you can have snares off. You can play with sticks, brushes or mallets. You can do Rim shots, rolls, or stick clicks (?)......which snare, though? Whole other problem!
For me it's the combination of the snare drum and two bass drums. I've always loved playing patterns between my snare and basses. A kit with a single bass drum just isn't much fun for me to play, and double pedals don't sound anything like double bass drums. So for me it's the triumvirate of snare/bass/bass.
Hum...I first thought of the hi-hat and like some said you can get a number of sounds from them, in my head I'm looking at each drum, cymbal and even the stands and brackets but one thing coming to my mind is the Grove Wedge. I play mainly Country Music and even during my Big Band days, cross stick playing to me is one of those things you just can't seem to not forget to play. It's a method of playing that puts so much feeling into a song or a part of a song. So I'm picking the Grove Wedge as my go to item in my set. The Groove Wedge is a specially designed multi layered Maple Wood rim device that mounts next to the rim and used as a cross stick device. It was designed by Russ Miller.
Before I learned how to really get into tuning drums, it's seemed that I never knew how my snare would sound at any given gig, so I purchased the wedge and that not only improved the sound of my cross stick playing it also opened up a new way/style of playing and sound control. I found that each type of wood stick would produce a different type sound and ended up using Oak sticks to produce my favorite sound. I also learned by rolling the stick so the grain of the wood in a vertical position, giving a more rich woody sound, which I liked very much. Also the position of your hand and the amount of pressure helps to control the sound to match the feeling of the song.
So, I vote for the Groove Wedge for that reason. Sorry to say, that version is no longer in production.
The ride cymbal. It's the center of time in straight-ahead jazz. It also has the most personality... imagine Kind of Blue with any other ride cymbal - it would be a whole different thing. or Miles Smiles. or Bright Size Life. or Blakey's Free For All. The ride cymbal has the greatest variation in sound. It is the voice.