What percentage of the time do we need more than a 4-piece kit to play music?

Jazzhead

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I have noticed many of us are always on the hunt for that matching 2nd floor or even 3rd floor tom (14”,16”, and 18” wow) or 10”,12”, and 13” toms and the list goes on and on. Some just enjoy having all the matching drums, feels good and it’s cool, but I suspect that’s a “need”.

Question comes up for me, what percentage of the time do you actually need more than a bass drum, a rack tom, a floor tom, and a snare, your standard 4-piece kit. If you have been playing for 30-40 years then you have good data. Give me a percentage!

Assume your friend calls you up says take your tubs and meet me at Dave’s bar in downtown we are gonna jam and make this crowd feel good, no questions asked, how many drums are you gonna setup?
 

ThomasL

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If we exclude backline kits, which occasionally have two rack toms, the answer is 1 gig out of quite many over 30 years or so.
 

Fat Drummer

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Not being disrespectful as you have presented this with a fresh angle (the specific percentage aspect), but it's the same answer as the last 600,000 times this was debated... it all depends on what the music calls for! For each respondent that will be a different number.

For myself, it's 50 /50. I only need a 4 piece for almost all my local casuals, but for the larger shows I'm called for, almost all require more voicing. I'm being asked to replicate a part and add more color than a local bar gig so that 50% requires more.

For many the answer is 100%.... if your Neil Peart, you need more than 4 pretty consistently. And does choosing to have more lessen ones musical qualifications? Did Tony Williams decision to play a large kit disqualify him from being considered a legendary Jazz player? So I dont agree with the premise that one shoe fits all which this thread will surely become... as they all do. You play what the music calls for, no more and no less.
 
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Jazzhead

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For many the anwser is 100%.... if your Neil Peart, you need more than 4 pretty consistently. And does choosing to have more lessen ones musical qualifications? Did Tony Williams decision to play a large kit disqualifie him from being considered a legendary Jazz player?
No, and I don’t think the post says or even suggest or implies that if you play a larger kit than a 4-piece you are not a good drummer or anything of that sort.
It is asking, in your drumming history, how many times you couldn’t play what you needed to play on a 4-piece kit and you definitely needed a larger kit. It’s different data for different people here.

Your money, your taste, your needs, you’re the drummer, buy as many matching drums as available.
 

Pedal_Pusher

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For me, its more of a question of wanting/needing more cymbals than drums. I have almost never had more than four drums for a gig in over fifty years of playing. Cymbals is a different story, I love having extra ride options (flat ride, swish cymbal with rivets) and several crashes and splashes. Same problem with sticks and brushes, I always take extra for fun and also most gigs end up with someone wanting to sit in and play a tune.
 

Fat Drummer

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No, and I don’t think the post says or even suggest or implies that if you play a larger kit than a 4-piece you are not a good drummer or anything of that sort.
It is asking, in your drumming history, how many times you couldn’t play what you needed to play on a 4-piece kit and you definitely needed a larger kit.
LOL! Sorry, I jumped the gun a bit there didn't I? I have just grown so weary of the old, stale "you never need more than a 4 piece kit" debate among the drumming community that I snapped to quickly! But I did answer the question then in my rant... for me it's 50 / 50... maybe even 60 / 40 (with a 4 piece kit holding the slight edge). I will go quietly away now....
 

Squirrel Man

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I remember seeing a band decades ago called Weapons for Peace at a small venue, hard rock band. Drummer had a snare and a kick and a full compliment of cymbals.

After the gig and because it's a small venue I was chatting with the drummer after the show. The performance was really well done and I asked him about his curious set-up. He said his toms were inadvertently left behind at their last show.

He managed to pull it off.
 

NobleCooleyNut

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Carrying gear sucks but the reason I keep playing a four piece kit is that ai enjoy the challenge of being creative on a four piece kit . I also like the ergonomics of a four piece kit . The capability to keep my main ride cymbal in a position where my hand falls naturally .
 

Cauldronics

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For many the anwser is 100%.... if your Neil Peart, you need more than 4 pretty consistently. And does choosing to have more lessen ones musical qualifications? Did Tony Williams decision to play a large kit disqualifie him from being considered a legendary Jazz player?
^^ This.

I don't think having played for 30-40 years would be a requirement to give a qualified answer, although I have played for 30+ years. It boils down to a matter of preference balanced with what the music calls for.

Having 4-8 toms on a kit means more choices to add to the music, but it obviously doesn't mean we need to play them all. I appreciate when a drummer has a larger kit in a smaller band, or one that plays simpler music... given that he or she know what to do with everything on the kit. Taste above all.
 
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Jazzhead

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LOL! Sorry, I jumped the gun a bit there didn't I? I have just grown so weary of the old, stale "you never need more than a 4 piece kit" debate among the drumming community that I snapped to quickly! But I did answer the question then in my rant... for me it's 50 / 50... maybe even 60 / 40 (with a 4 piece kit holding the slight edge). I will go quietly away now....
Well I did sort of mention that I suspect that’s a need but it’s absurd to say that you never need more than a 4-piece kit. I am just trying to see what everyone else’s experience has been in needing more than 4 piece of drums.
I started on a 5-piece kit but all I have needed has been 4 pieces.
 

dyland

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With the exclusion of the metal band I played in in 8th grade/early high school, no other situation has required me to use more than a 4 piece. For me that's 16 years. In 2019 I went on the road with a band who wanted to bring their own drum set (smaller dimensions, soft cases, better fit in the van) but they forgot to pack the floor tom legs so I did the whole tour on a 2 piece (excluding dates where backline was provided) and it worked out great.

That said, this is all because of the music that I've decided to play and the situations I've decided to participate in. I don't audition for prog metal bands because I don't have the vocabulary or gear required to play a lot of that music and I'm not particularly interested in investing my time in that area. It's just a choice based on personal preference, not a value judgement. I love playing on huge drum sets and having more sounds available to me. It's fun, but it's not really going to help me work.
 

drumflyer

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Back 20 years ago when I got back into playing, I wanted the biggest set I could play. I got a DW 7 piece kit and loved lugging it to every gig and practice. About 10 years ago (age 50) it started being work carrying all the drums and looking back, I wasn’t playing all of them. So fast forward to today, I’m playing out with a band and we play everything from Country to Rock to Disco. I play a 4 piece kit, crash, ride, hihat and that’s it. You can play almost any song with that kit or less. When I play with an acoustic guitar player I play a kick and snare, hh and a ride. All that said, play what makes you feel good!
 

RIDDIM

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I haven't quantified it; I certainly didn't keep records.

That said, most pop hits of the last 70 years didn't require much in terms of lots of sound sources from the drums. Lots of hits could be played on kick, snare, hats and a cymbal or 2. And it's generally more challenging to get a lot out of a little than a little out of a lot.

For most gigs over the last 25 years I've used a 5 piece kit of variously sized drums, depending on the music. I can appreciate having more sound sources, and do at home or in long-term projects where I can leave gear safely on site, but for most calls, it's much easier to schlep less gear, especially when you're dealing with hotel kitchens and small, or no, elevators.

The bottom line is always what the music needs. Everything follows from that.
 

mydadisjr

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ZERO percent of the time do I "NEED" anything more than 4.

I would never go to a gig with anything more than 4 drums, so it is a moot point. I guess if the bandleader thought "His" drummer needed more drums, he could send me home, but it won't ever happen. I play classic rock, blues, country, jazz: 4 piece kit (or less) all the way for the last 30 years.

I did a regular jazz gig for about a year awhile ago with just a snare and a tom, plus cyms. Worked fine.
 


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