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

CAMDRUMS

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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?
I think what you are considering makes sense of it will mean you are more comfortable where it counts - on the gig.
 

cribbon

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I don't do that many multi-band gigs, so having my own kit is essential. I like playing on other drum sets just to see what they're like, but I do prefer my own; like Kevin Kostner's character said about his boat in Waterworld, "I got it the way I like it." The last time I did one of those gigs there was no backline kit provided, so I just brought my Pearl Rhythm Traveler bass drum w/ two small Tama add-on toms (7x10 rack and 7x14 floor on legs) because it took up very little room on the small bandmobile stage and was a fast set up and tear down. They also got a massive sound out of that little 8x20 bass drum.

Back in 2005 I did a major rethink of my set-up and went back to a basic 4-piece kit with a ride and one crash as my primary set, and I have stayed with that ever since, with few exceptions. One of the advantages of that is, no matter what kind of backline set I may have to play on, I know it will always have at least as much as I'm used to, if not more (the default for backline kits around seems to be 2-up/1-down with a ride and two crashes).

Over the years, I have become constitutionally incapable of playing without a cowbell; it's a little thing that can add a lot to the music if used judiciously, so when I know I'm going to be playing on a backline kit or someone else's set, I always carry one with me (on a hoop-mounting post) along with my stick bag.
 

mkelley

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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.

Over the past 10 years, the quality of backline kits have improved. I went from garbage heads and crummy kits to DW and Recording Customs to newer decent mid level kits. I love playing my kits but if I have to play rented drums, I’m ok…..reluctantly ok.

If I have problems with kits it’s usually a drummer’s personal kit. And usually it’s a drummer who doesn’t gives a crap about their kit as much as DFO

Club and festival backline are good, someone’s personal backline have been meh.
 

cruddola

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Probably anger some of you out there, but the following has always been my take on the subject. I'm speaking for myself and no one else. Drums are nothing but the tools of my trade. Same with a plumber, carpenter, mechanic, landscaper, etc. Any of them show up for a job they always have their tools of the trade. Why should I, a drummer, be any different? I chose the instrument, knew what it logistically entailed and embraced the suck that came with it. Don't like humpin a load of kit to the stage? Should have selected the Fife.

I've only played a couple of kits not my own on a gig in four decades of money-making drumming. 1st time at a multi-family christening. The regular got picked up by the cops on his way to the gig. His drums and sticks made it without him. My sister ratted me out. This was in Northern Ireland. I'm from southernmost Arizona. like anybody else here, I didn't have my own kit with me. Who the hell would? So, I played it.

The second time I was again ratted out for a drummer skipping a two-night gig to be at his son's birth on the second night. His drums were already set up. I was on my way home from the eatery next door. I was on vacation. This went down three states away from home.

Again, I don't carry a drumkit with me on vacation. Their band's bassist recognized me. I had recorded some tracks for his band about five years earlier. Drafted again. I went to my truck and pulled my own sticks and did the gig.I haven't played a gig since retiring over a decade ago. Yet I still have four new pairs of sticks in each of my four vehicles. Habit.

Back when I was actively gigging, I always had a kit that never left my gigging van. Fully stocked to take on anything with spares too. I can set up a kit mighty quick. That's how I operated. I get a phone call, drive the van to the gig.

I won't play a backline kit. If I can't use my drums, I won't take the gig. I've never had the need for the dough that much. A good 9-5 has always carried me. I also realize there's a whole mega-world of players who do need the money and do use backline gear. I see that point very, very clear.

I don't like playing anybody else's kits either regardless on a job. Yes, I've rented drums on many occasions. My personal drums are akin to a wife. I won't ride another's wife. Not happening. No one but me would ride mine.
 

Tornado

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An unexpected benefit of having multiple kits in different sizes from different makers is that they are never set up alike, and that has made it a lot easier for me to sit down at any kit and make it work. I just don't care that much anymore. I actually like being on my toes like that, it forces me to be more mindful and intentional. I'm not yet at that Vinnie level of playing well without thinking, and going on auto-pilot and being too comfortable is detrimental to how I play.
 

ThomFloor

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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.

In many venues the place to 'build off stage' would be the washroom, broom closet or back alley outside.

If you want a gig, sometimes you have to alter your demands and expectations, and as somebody posted, there are advantages to not hauling ALL your fave toms. One wants to be a workable person, and band member. That gets you called back.
Guitars and basses are different, they are portable, plug and play.
 

mebeatee

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I purposely set up and change different sizes and configurations for my students so they will not be "spooked" by any drum setup. They learn how to adapt and play on a bd/snare only kit, or a double bass wrap around kit, or.....ad nauseum, plus what gear works best in what situation.....and more importantly how to get by if the gear is out of the ordinary....like how to feather a 26" bd behind a quiet vocalist.... The high school hotshot drummer I work with has thanked me on many occasion for this....different setups.
I've rarely toured with my own kit....for about 10yrs....pre covid....and kept only (my own) basics....cymbals/snare/pedals in the city, and used rented/backline kits.....most of the time you get what you ask for....fests are pretty good with gear and good promoters know the better the gear provided...
If I had to use a rented kit.....well that can be like a kid in a candy store.....unless you're in Poland where I was presented with a Taye kit from the rental company....because the band was based in Vancouver where the drums were made. Sorta kewl actually....used that kit two years in a row.
It's a great way to try different stuff.....if we did say 15-20 shows a month that's 15-20 different kits to check out plus I don't have to strike and move them. I have played 3 different kits in one day tons of times at fests....a workshop stage, a hat band stage, and mainstage for instance. This is also good because you also have to learn pretty quickly to make an unfamiliar kit familiar in about 15 min or within set changeover time......
The weird thing was getting home and using one of my own kits and forgetting how it went together....;)
bt
 

Old Drummer

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Back in 2005 I did a major rethink of my set-up and went back to a basic 4-piece kit with a ride and one crash as my primary set. . . . One of the advantages of that is, no matter what kind of backline set I may have to play on, I know it will always have at least as much as I'm used to, if not more.

Over the years, I have become constitutionally incapable of playing without a cowbell . . . so when I know I'm going to be playing on a backline kit or someone else's set, I always carry one with me.

This is the practical implication of the question I asked. If we're sometimes (often?) going to have to play a generic backline kit, we're probably better off keeping our personal kit a 4-piece so we don't have to modify our playing when it counts. Then, if there's something somewhat unique that we're wedded to, like a cowbell, we bring it with us.
 

Old Drummer

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Over the past 10 years, the quality of backline kits have improved. I went from garbage heads and crummy kits to DW and Recording Customs to newer decent mid level kits. I love playing my kits but if I have to play rented drums, I’m ok…..reluctantly ok.

If I have problems with kits it’s usually a drummer’s personal kit. And usually it’s a drummer who doesn’t gives a crap about their kit as much as DFO

Club and festival backline are good, someone’s personal backline have been meh.

The quality of backline kits is only one of the issues, in my opinion. There are also issues like whether it includes an 8" tom (probably not), how the drums are set up, what heads are on the drums, and so on.

Not that you are, but to justify backline kits because they're good quality assumes that "all drummers are alike." We aren't.
 

mkelley

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The quality of backline kits is only one of the issues, in my opinion. There are also issues like whether it includes an 8" tom (probably not), how the drums are set up, what heads are on the drums, and so on.

Not that you are, but to justify backline kits because they're good quality assumes that "all drummers are alike." We aren't.

And that’s fair. Last night, I did my first open mic of 2022. Snare was an acro(!) and had K hats. Everything else wasn’t great. The kit had a floor Tom and a bass and nothing else.

I adapted and did what a lot of Music requires, improvisation.

In the end, I had my band and other musicians in the crowd coming up to me and talking about how well I played. (I was ok, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do)
 
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mebeatee

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This is the practical implication of the question I asked. If we're sometimes (often?) going to have to play a generic backline kit, we're probably better off keeping our personal kit a 4-piece so we don't have to modify our playing when it counts. Then, if there's something somewhat unique that we're wedded to, like a cowbell, we bring it with us.

No no and again no……
I can see if one has but one drum kit (and/or hasn’t played out very much) how this may be so.….no biggie. If one has multiple kits….are they all the same….set up and sizes? And if so why…..
Being able to “modify” one’s playing (or gear) is paramount to any situation. Don’t think of having to modify…..think of being adaptable and versatile.

Here’s another scenario for ya….you‘re about ready to play somewhere and your kit is set up exactly the way you’ve had it at home so the kit sounds and feels great. You, as well feel super dooper!!!! Halfway through the set a tom mount or a cymbal stand breaks…..you are suddenly down a tom or a cymbal…..what are you going to do now that you are “out” of your comfy zone? Whine and retreat into a shell…..or deal with it and continue to play as if nothing happened…and learn from the situation.
bt
 

telejojo

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I play in an oldies band with guys that are just as old but that's ok bud we practice at the lead singer's house which he has a pretty nice setup. Well the drums he has for me to play and he (won't let me bring mine) are junk. They are some old Gretch Blackhawks and zbt cymbals just as old that sound like garbage can lids and he thinks it's just fine. I put some decent heads on which helped but you can't do anything with the junk cymbals and I almost hate going to practice......................
 

Polska

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In many venues the place to 'build off stage' would be the washroom, broom closet or back alley outside.

If you want a gig, sometimes you have to alter your demands and expectations, and as somebody posted, there are advantages to not hauling ALL your fave toms. One wants to be a workable person, and band member. That gets you called back.
Guitars and basses are different, they are portable, plug and play.

Exactly! The times I play multi-band gigs you do literally set up in the closet, or the hallway or outside. It sucks. Too many venues that want to have live music but really aren't set up to accommodate it. Then on top of that they try to maximize the effort by making the changeover time way too tight. It's easy to say, "Well I won't play those gigs", and that's fine. But restaurant/bars that also have live music are not dedicated live music venues, and there are a lot of them out there. Being picky means playing less. Again, fine if that's what you want. Most of us have no choice but to suck it up and sit behind crap gear. At least bring your cymbals and snare and the night isn't so bad.

I notice a trend too for original music bands. Every place now has 4 or 5 bands playing on a Fri or Sat night. Trying to maximize the draw. Unless you are established, large crowds aren't coming to see all original music, I get it. And very few venues at all can house 5 drum sets set up inside somewhere.
 

LarryJ

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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.
My rehearsal kit (like my gigging kits) is a 4 piece with one ride and one crash. My church kit, which the church let me select, has a second crash and a second floor tom. I have no problem adapting to the larger kit at church nor to larger backline kits when provided.
 

RockrGrl

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My rehearsal kit (like my gigging kits) is a 4 piece with one ride and one crash. My church kit, which the church let me select, has a second crash and a second floor tom. I have no problem adapting to the larger kit at church nor to larger backline kits when provided.
This to me means you're limiting yourself. You won't grow to add more drums/percussion to your setup, to be able to play different genre's of music. I can hear it now, "If you're a real drummer you can play any genre of music with 2 up and 1 down." Maybe, but you're missing the rich complexity of the sounds that multiple toms and cymbals add. IMO
 

JDA

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You should have 'your own' drum set @Old Drummer
so you know what the heck you're doing when you go on someone else's.."
: D
 
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LarryJ

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This to me means you're limiting yourself. You won't grow to add more drums/percussion to your setup, to be able to play different genre's of music. I can hear it now, "If you're a real drummer you can play any genre of music with 2 up and 1 down." Maybe, but you're missing the rich complexity of the sounds that multiple toms and cymbals add. IMO
I am currently playing in a big band, a blues/rock trio, some bebop occasionally, and at church. Have played in rock, R&B, rockabilly, Latin and concert bands. Still playing the first kit I bought (in 1960), among others.

Don't suspect I'm limiting myself with my current kit size.
 

Lee

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I am confident enough in my abilities to do what needs to be done whether playing on my personal gear or back line gear supplied by whatever venue. Am I most at home with my own gear? Absolutely. Just enjoy the moment as best you can.
 

Rock Salad

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I never complain about not having to tear down and load out at 02:00 on a work night.
And re providing my kit for back line- I go and ask each drummer if there is anything I can do to help them be as comfortable as possible, it puts a face to remember who's stuff they are bashing and no one has broken anything yet.
 


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