Your Signature Sound

MrDrums2112

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The thing that has always drawn me to certain drummers is not necessarily technique, but sound. Some (perhaps most?) drummers just have a very distinctive sound, and you just know who is playing as soon as you hear the music. John Bonham, Charlie Watts, Buddy, Phil Collins, Art Blakey, Ringo Starr, and Keith Moon are just a small few that instantly come to mind. Some of what gives them their sound is surely technique, and some of it is the gear they play. I'm not sure how I would describe my "signature sound", but it most definitely has to do with the way I play my drums (lots of dynamics, drawing out different tones from snares and cymbals). It may be difficult to define, but what makes your signature sound? Do you try to focus on that when you play? Does it change, depending on the gig? Hhmmmm.....
 

pwc1141

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I have been told by friends that they know its me playing before they have seen the band. That is mainly because I play brushes a lot on tunes that other drummers might use sticks for and even drummer friends have mentioned that my brush style is distinctive. Apart from that, I have few actual "chops" and like to keep everything simple and swinging.
 

hsosdrum

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I've always cared a great deal about how my drums sound. I think I got that from Gene Krupa, whose drums were always immaculately tuned, even in the calfskin days — when men were men and drummers carried drum keys because they had to use them all the time!

I like medium-to-higher pitched drums — everything tensioned way above wrinkling. This is as much for how the drums respond to my touch as it is for their tone. I like bright, cutting tone, with lots of woody "bark" in the attack and plenty of overtones. I get this from how I tune and how I play. I learned how to draw the sound out of a drum when I was young by listening to Krupa, and from having an old drumkit with calfskin heads. Calf heads quickly teach you that you need to play "off" the drum with a snapping motion to get the best sound out of it. (I also had good teachers.)

I like my bass drums to have a musical "thud", with fullness and tone, but less of a discernible note than a typical jazz bass drum. I prefer less attack than you hear on typical rock, R&B and pop recordings. I play mostly heel-up, and always (and I mean always) play the beater off the head. If you bury the beater you kill the bass drum's sound; you might as well be playing a cardboard box instead of a drum.

The drum sounds on most YouTube drum demos leaves me cold — the toms all growl and go "d-oooshz", the bass drums thud with too much attack, and the snare drums always have one or more amusical overtones; every drumset tends to sound the same. (Except for the A&Fs. Those seem to have a personality all their own.)
 

multijd

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The thing that has always drawn me to certain drummers is not necessarily technique, but sound. Some (perhaps most?) drummers just have a very distinctive sound, and you just know who is playing as soon as you hear the music. John Bonham, Charlie Watts, Buddy, Phil Collins, Art Blakey, Ringo Starr, and Keith Moon are just a small few that instantly come to mind. Some of what gives them their sound is surely technique, and some of it is the gear they play. I'm not sure how I would describe my "signature sound", but it most definitely has to do with the way I play my drums (lots of dynamics, drawing out different tones from snares and cymbals). It may be difficult to define, but what makes your signature sound? Do you try to focus on that when you play? Does it change, depending on the gig? Hhmmmm.....
The sound a drummer (musician) makes is related to what they hear in their head.
 

Phantomlimb777

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I tune my drums too high for the rockers, too low for the jazzers, and the snare sounds I like tend to sound “dense”. Cymbals are low pitched but medium thin to medium in weight. I also hit pretty hard.
 

MillerMav

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I've been told I have a "swing" to my playing by multiple drummers and other musicians and I can tell you I've never practiced it or tried to be that way. I took a lesson with Ben Satterlee while visiting Nashville last year and while working on a specific groove he said "Why do you have like a bit of New Jack swing in that? Are you doing it on purpose?" I said "no it's just how I play I guess". So I guess from a style perspective that is my "sound". From a gear perspective it would be higher snares, lower tuned 10" rack and a deep rumbly 15 or 16 floors with dark crashes and bright rides.
 

greegor

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As cliche as it sounds, I think my sound comes from what I don't play in between the notes and how I try to sync up with the band, especially the bass. And I strike the snare deep in the pocket (some say just slightly behind the beat), which I guess adds to my sound.
 

Rock Salad

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If there is anything recognizable in my playing it is probably where I feel and play the beat in relation to the rest of the guys.
Most of the unschooled players I have played with are very much on top of the beat nearly rushing it. For some reason I feel it further back even though I am also unschooled. This makes for some tension between us that puts some roll in our rock.
I try to have my gear sound as generically wholesome as it can.
 

Drm1979

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I've always been told I have a unique technique to my playing. I didn't actually start playing drum set until I had already been in concert and marching band for 5 years. And the first band I played with was a ska punk band with a very wide range of influences to include metal, rock, reggae and funk. That being said I've been told that when I play I like to push, pull and dance around the beat with a certain swing to it. Also gear wise the 2 things that are me is my ride cymbal, it's an old 20" zildjian A probably from the 60s or 70s and my pearl steel piccolo with is tuned medium high and dried out with an Evan's genera dry head. Its loud and tight.
 

Tracktuary

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The most common feedback I get on my playing relates to my ears--responding to rhythmic ideas, supporting soloists, playing a tune for the first time on the spot. I was thrown in the fire early, which forced me to have to really listen to survive. As much as I like to get a set list ahead of time when playing with a new group, it's comforting when others tell me, "You'll be fine."

The downfall of this is that I haven't learned to read as well as I should, and I also haven't shed enough heads to play them perfectly when called upon (i.e., respect the tradition).
 

DrummerJustLikeDad

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I’ve heard the phrases “quarters in a dryer” and “wheelchair rolling down a flight of stairs”, but I don’t know what those mean.
Wait, isn’t “quarters in a dryer” a compliment?

Whenever people tell me that, I always figure they mean my quarter notes were so deep in the pocket, I forgot to take them out when I did the laundry.
 

supershifter2

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I have the size drums I like. I use the heads I like. I tune them to the pitch I like. Now my drums make noise that I like. I go to the store and tap on cymbals until I hear the ones I like. I play what the song requires. Maybe I have my own sound, maybe I dont. I dont care either. All I care about is if I played what the song required.
 

MrDrums2112

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Great responses! I have come to know that I most definitely am NOT a soloist when it comes to the drum set. I do play a lot of local theater gigs every summer, mostly with the same music directors. I suppose the one comment I hear from them the most is my use of dynamics. I suppose that’s why they hire me, so...I suppose that’s my “signature”. That said, I can certainly do my fair share of quarters and wheelchairs falling down stairs...but at least they’re MY quarters and wheelchairs.
 

Gunnellett

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I definitely have my own thing going on. Whether that is good or not is debatable:)

I tend to play behind the beat. Didn't realize that until reading about playing behind/dragging the beat on a forum a few years ago (drove my guitarist nuts until he got used to it as he always practices to a drum machine and likes to be right on top of the beat). Any time I try to play more on top of the beat it feels to me like I'm off to the races. I definitely like it pulled back.

For whatever reason I naturally want to open the hats on the "and" of 4 instead of the "and" of 3.

I'm right handed with my drums set up righty but I will go to "traditional" grip with my right hand without thinking about it while keeping my left hand with the more normal palm down position. I'm not sure why this is. I haven't seen anyone else playing traditional grip reversed.

I'm not a solo kind of guy. I prefer to keep a nice solid backbeat/groove with the quirks mentioned above while working a shaker pedal with my left foot.
 

Bob Blackwood

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I've been told by some guitar player that I play in a Russian style. Some singers claim I take a Dragon style. Almost all say my snare drum is loud - they say too loud, I say loud enough. Been working on getting my style consistent, so I can do it all in each song, every night.
 


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