Why bother choosing your own drum set when you end up playing backline sets?

Old Drummer

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Like many others on this forum, I've put some effort into configuring my drum set the way I like it. It's a 2 up 1 down 5-piece with one small tom tuned high and the rack toms on a floor stand rather than on the bass drum. I've chosen plain coated heads plus one of those vintage bass drum heads. It is surrounded by 4 cymbals and a set of hats. I rather like my set.

However, except for the enjoyment of a home hobby, I can't help thinking that I'm wasting my energy. I am because what little playing out I've done has always been on a generic backline set. These sets have always been 4- or 5-pieces, and when 5-pieces had the rack toms mounted on the bass drum. They've never included the small rack tom I like, and the heads have always been those popular modern pre-muffled ones. I don't remember any having more than 3 cymbal stands, so I suppose I can forget my 4th unless I want to bring my own stand.

On the assumption that it's better to practice on the kind of set you'll play in performances, I'm thinking that I'm better off cutting my personal set down to a more conventional 4-piece with no more than 3 cymbals. This way I'll be accustomed to the configuration I'll likely have to play.

What do the rest of you think?
 

bassanddrum84

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That’s a tough one. Do you find it harder playing something you’re not use to? I myself use a massive kit at practice.( any random drum we find we add to it) currently 6-8-10-12-13-16 22” gong 6 crashes. But live I play one up one down two crashes and a ride and hats. It doesn’t bother me it’s fun to play.
 

dcrigger

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I think we need to try and keep some perspective.

Every endeavor has it's compromises... including being drummers.

But on this specific issue, just imagine what is like for acoustic piano players - even the most famous concert artists - who literally never get to perform on their personal instrument. You may not be using your own drums for much now, but that can easily change depending on what you are doing.

The practical reality of being a performing drummer means not always playing on our own set. And if your home set-up is really personalized - I guess the next question would be, why? I totally get the need for unusual set-ups, when they are created to serve the needs of a specific band or collection of music. But with that comes taking on the responsibility to be able to re-create that set-up for the gigs.

But for freelancing and playing with a bunch of different bands - in a bunch of different setting... being comfortable with a more conventional set-up just ends up being a lot less swimming upstream.

And it's OK to change-up your "regular" set-up at times. I remember Ralph Humphrey talking about he would purposely set-up differently each time - in order to him thinking, to keep his playing conscious and purposeful instead falling into "remote control"... just playing be rote.

If having to play on 4 piece sets is uncomfortable - just take away one of your toms at home now and then. If transitioning from stand mounted rack toms to bass drum mounted toms is problematic - then figure out the way to switch between both ways at home. Or simply adopt the most common.

Personally I feel that my home set-up is exactly how I want it to be - but I can't deny that some of those choices were influenced by what I knew I could reproduce pretty closely with most any decent backline kit.

And as far as any feeling of loss of personal expression, I can only say - what we play, how we choose to set-up, big set, little set, blah, blah, blah probably makes up less than 15% of our value to any musical environment.

Sorry no easy answer (and I think everyone goes through this to some degree) you just have to make it work... and find the path to being happy about making it work.
 

TheBeachBoy

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If I know the backline won't have something I need then I bring it. If you like playing with a 4th cymbal just bring an extra stand. I used to hate using backline but I've changed my mind because it's way easier to pack out at the end of the night when I just have to grab my snare, bass drum pedal, and cymbals. I figure if it's not exactly how I like it, it's not a big deal because it's only 45 minutes to a couple hours of my time and most gigs I have to bring my own kit, so it's like a "vacation" from the normal setup/tear-down routine.
 

ThomFloor

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On the assumption that it's better to practice on the kind of set you'll play in performances, I'm thinking that I'm better off cutting my personal set down to a more conventional 4-piece with no more than 3 cymbals. This way I'll be accustomed to the configuration I'll likely have to play.

What do the rest of you think?

Why limit the joy of playing the set you like at home or off the stage? Stay with your 5 piece at home, but learn to adapt.
Really, unless you're in a prog rock band, or an incredibly busy drummer, the snare-hihats-ride-bass drum are the heart and core of the kit and arguably 90% of what you're playing is with them.
If you like to do a fill around the toms, you simply change pattern from the 3 toms you'd hit at home on 5 piece, to the 2 with a 4 piece, and so on with all other things you do.

The easier thing to learn is you can still play what you like with fewer components.
Drummers should be comfortable on any kit.
 

JDA

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I am because what little playing out I've done has always been on a generic backline set.
most gigs aren't like that as far as I know;
you are usually schellepping your own stuff
I know of one bar/club/establishment where the owner has a drumset there
 
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Old Drummer

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most gigs aren't like that as far as I know;
you are usually schellepping your own stuff
I know of one bar/club/establishment where the owner has a drumset there
I think you're right and I'm exaggerating the number of venues with backline drum sets.

However, I guess I'm also reacting to the regularity with which band rehearsals and auditions take place in studios with backline kits where I live. Everybody here seems to live in a tiny apartment and nobody has rehearsal space at home. It's therefore the custom for bands to rent studio space, and the studios usually have drum sets. Split among the band members, the studio rental fees are fairly low, but you do have to pay by the hour. The extra time it would take to bring your own drums, set them up and tear them down, would add to the cost, and that plus the laziness factor discourages bringing your own drums. As a result, you end up playing the drums the studio supplies.

Also, although not my situation, I gather from others' posts that a lot of church drummers are playing church-supplied drum sets (sometimes complete with "worship cymbals"). We'd have to ask them how that's working out, but I think it's a huge part of the drumming industry today.
 
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Old Drummer

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It’s liking surfing on someone elses board. Unless you’re really good, it takes a while to get it dialed in.

I've never surfed, but the analogy that came to my mind is pool sticks. I own one. It's not terribly fancy and only cost around $75 online, but it's what I like. It's lightweight, thin, and straight. This contrasts with most house sticks that are almost always heavier, fatter, and crooked. Of course, I can play with a house stick and often have, but I'd rather not.

More specifically, a habit I got into when playing with house sticks is to find one with only one bend in it (they all have at least one) and turn the bend upwards when I shoot. But after playing my personal straight stick and then using a house stick, I've found myself forgetting to turn the bend upwards. I forget about the bend until it's too late because I'm used to my personal straight stick.

Or, there's the rental car analogy. I can drive one and often do, but it's not the same as driving your own car.
 

CherryClassic

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I'd say 99% of the time I have to use my drums and I like it that way.

The one time I had to use the house kit I was told I could tune it to my liking. I like the snare tight, high pitch and snappy sounding. To my surprise the next drummer started cranking it up tighter, I thought the head was going to pop.

sherm
 

dtk

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When I started playing original music in Boston backline kits were almost unheard of...now it seems like the norm (the clubs have gotten smaller).

Its a mixed bag. I like seeing how flexible I am in making the adjustment to playing anothers kit...and my sets aren't hours. I will say I do really like my gear compared to most of the drek I end up playing on....sometimes though its a treat.

I do have some things (extra cymbals, timbales) that I might want to bring to gig...so I do.

I also hope to do some recording...so that's another reason for having your own gear....though the last time I went in the studio had a few sets...i did bring cymbals and snares though.
 

RIDDIM

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Great question.

While it's lovely to have nice tools, I've found over time that the musical choices I make are more important than the gear I bring. And wherever I am, I try to use whatever is on the gig I have then to enhance the music.

The folks I respect have done this all their lives.

It's not the arrow.
 

Polska

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Why limit the joy of playing the set you like at home or off the stage? Stay with your 5 piece at home, but learn to adapt.
Really, unless you're in a prog rock band, or an incredibly busy drummer, the snare-hihats-ride-bass drum are the heart and core of the kit and arguably 90% of what you're playing is with them.
If you like to do a fill around the toms, you simply change pattern from the 3 toms you'd hit at home on 5 piece, to the 2 with a 4 piece, and so on with all other things you do.

The easier thing to learn is you can still play what you like with fewer components.
Drummers should be comfortable on any kit.

Yep, this ^

You'll play much more at home than on a backline kit, so enjoy it! While they are usually not the best kits, I find if I can bring my own snare and cymbals (which is usually the case) I feel much more "at home". Especially the hihat and snare. With those 2 items we should be able to make most anything work.
 

WesChilton

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I can count on two fingers the number of times I had to play on a backline kit... and both times the kits were garbage with trashed heads. Considering I stopped playing live gigs in 2001, I dont see the issue for myself at least. Based on all of the complaining I hear though, I think I would really hate playing live gigs today... heh.
 

Dumpy

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I remember being asked to supply the backline kit at a multi band gig. I flatly refused, and glad that I did as the next player tore the holy heck out of the one supplied.
 

RockrGrl

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Why limit the joy of playing the set you like at home or off the stage? Stay with your 5 piece at home, but learn to adapt.
Really, unless you're in a prog rock band, or an incredibly busy drummer, the snare-hihats-ride-bass drum are the heart and core of the kit and arguably 90% of what you're playing is with them.
If you like to do a fill around the toms, you simply change pattern from the 3 toms you'd hit at home on 5 piece, to the 2 with a 4 piece, and so on with all other things you do.

The easier thing to learn is you can still play what you like with fewer components.
Drummers should be comfortable on any kit.
Why?
I was having this conversation the other day with my lead guitar player. No one would ever ask a guitar player to NOT play their guitar and play someone else's. I bet they get to use their own amps too.
Same with bass and keyboard players. So why is EXPECTED for drummers to play someone else's equipment? I get it takes time to setup and mic a different set. If venues allowed a place for drummers to build of stage then it would only take a short time to get the kit situated while the sound dude is placing the mikes.
To me this whole 'drummers MUST play what is provided' is discrimination, and I think we should stop putting up with it.
 

Dumpy

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Why?
I was having this conversation the other day with my lead guitar player. No one would ever ask a guitar player to NOT play their guitar and play someone else's. I bet they get to use their own amps too.
Same with bass and keyboard players. So why is EXPECTED for drummers to play someone else's equipment? I get it takes time to setup and mic a different set. If venues allowed a place for drummers to build of stage then it would only take a short time to get the kit situated while the sound dude is placing the mikes.
To me this whole 'drummers MUST play what is provided' is discrimination, and I think we should stop putting up with it.

The exact answer I gave the guitar player was “would you lend your Les Paul as a backline guitar?” Even after I asked the question, he still didn’t get it. Ultimately, this led to a falling out between he and I.

I understand the concept of backline and multiple drummers using one kit, but as I had alluded in the Musician’s Friend review thread, so much of musical instruments is subjective. I played a gig with a drummer that I never would have dreamt of playing because it was so muffled, almost as bad as some of the Craigslist Cuties we make fun of. For me, that would have been a living nightmare to play, and he hit so hard that I would have wanted to commit murder if he played my kit!
 

bpaluzzi

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Why?
I was having this conversation the other day with my lead guitar player. No one would ever ask a guitar player to NOT play their guitar and play someone else's. I bet they get to use their own amps too.
Same with bass and keyboard players. So why is EXPECTED for drummers to play someone else's equipment? I get it takes time to setup and mic a different set. If venues allowed a place for drummers to build of stage then it would only take a short time to get the kit situated while the sound dude is placing the mikes.
To me this whole 'drummers MUST play what is provided' is discrimination, and I think we should stop putting up with it.

That's the reality of playing multiband gigs. You're welcome to put up a fuss, but know (as someone who's worked on the other side of the mixing board) that you'll just a reputation of being a difficult band to work with, which will affect the number of gigs offered.

Guitarists often share amps (in fact, any time I've played where drums were shared, the entire backline was shared -- drums, guitar amp(s) and bass amp. Individuals bring their "breakables" (guitars, snares, cymbals, pedals), but the rest is shared.
 


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