Drums

Hot rod sticks

1

I’m not a drummer but I’m curious how drummers feel about using hot rod sticks?

Drummer in my band refuses to use them and he is very, very loud. There are many gigs we play where volume can become an issue.

Thinking of letting him go. I just don’t want to continue to have the same conversation of “dude you are too loud.”

Any ideas from drummers appreciated.

2

I feel your pain. I play a number of venues where the average age of the music fan couldn't be called "young," and we are frequently trying to play as quietly as possible. Even then, the inevitable "you are too loud" sometimes occurs.

Drums are often the issue, because a person playing a real drum kit with real sticks is going to be fairly loud. Our drummer uses those sticks, and they are OK, but I don't love the sound of them--attack/feel is different.

We've tried using extra monitors to help with volume (turning up is usually the result of trying to hear something--often oneself). I've had some luck (I know some will be shocked) playing in front of the mains--angling them away from mikes--so that I am hearing the PA at the same level the audience is, instead of standing behind the mains. Some of these things help. We actually carry a db meter to many sit-down venues to check levels, too.

I wish I had a perfect solution--if someone knows one, pass it on. I don't think firing your drummer is the best solution (especially if he's a good drummer!).

3

Thanks.... I do need to come up with a workable solution.

4

"Mike him and turn him down."---old sound guy proverb.

Use a drum shield.

Hot rod sticks work somewhat, but can't do everything well. They're a cross between brushes and sticks and can really quiet a loud drummer down. Of course, if I can turn my amp down, a drummer can play softer just as easily.

The other alternative is to use a hammer on his fingers.

5

The drum shield may be a good solution.

6

Any thoughts on an acceptable dB level for a small venue?

Say a sit down venue. People have just finished dinner and are having a drink.

7

I like the drum shield idea, but he won’t go For it.

Thinking of getting this dB meter.
Has an adjustable “alarm” Flashes when level is exceded.

8

There are some drummers who can adapt to different settings and others who simply cannot --- they play like they play, and if it fits what you're doing, great, but if not, it's the wrong fit --- just as much as if he can't keep time or play the right feel for the music you're trying to do.

9

The drum shield may be a good solution.

– Ric12string

We've used them on our stages for years. They were especially helpful when miking large ensembles for recording.

The "mike 'em and turn 'em down" came from trying to mix an electronic classical organ with an orchestra. The organist kept putting "the pedal to the floor" and was drowning out the orchestra. I'd mentioned that there was an XLR output in the electronic rack in the organ loft (I'm an organist and helped install the gear). We plugged it into the PA, bypassed the huge organ sound system, and the problem was solved. Same trick works for guys that crank their amps up after sound check. I'll just turn you down in the PA. Don't screw with the sound guy.

He won't "go for it"? Make him. Everyone else has to turn down---so does he. He's no better than anyone else. It's a group effort, not a solo act. You have to play for the crowd---NOT how one guy wants to play.

10

There are some drummers who can adapt to different settings and others who simply cannot --- they play like they play, and if it fits what you're doing, great, but if not, it's the wrong fit --- just as much as if he can't keep time or play the right feel for the music you're trying to do.

Yes. It's not a problem of the sticks. It's a problem of the stickman. If he can't fit in with the dynamics of the situation, he's just a poor musician.


I play a number of venues where the average age of the music fan couldn't be called "young," and we are frequently trying to play as quietly as possible.

I'm not sure this is an age issue. I am of the too-loud generation, and I'm old. This realization was shocking to me when I walked into a gig to set up and everyone looked old. I thought, "damn, they're gonna see an amp and tell me to turn down before I even turn it on." Then I realized they were all about my age.

I think volume demands are more situational than generational. No one of any age wants to be blown out of their seats or have to lean in and cup their ears to hear a conversation at a supper club.

11

Drums are loud, they were designed to be loud. I wouldn't like the idea of Hot Rods either if I was a drummer, they're a solution that doesn't sound like a stick and doesn't play like a stick. I don't like the sound they make.

Very light sticks and a light, small size vintage kit that's tuned right if you want to use drums and not be loud, and have a proper drummer who knows how to play.

12

I hate them.

Did I mention I hate them?

BTW I hate them.

They make a drumkit sound like @$$.

First, there are a lot of variables here. For example, too loud for whom? In my time, I know of instances where the guitar player thought the drummer was too loud because the kit was equally audible with the guitar guy’s grooveless slop and he thought the drummer was making him look bad. (Not saying that’s the case here, of course, no way to know.) How realistic is the ear of them what’s experiencing the issue? But anyway, yeah, it’d be great to have a crystal ball here to know details.

I also hate those clear plastic drummer terrariums (terraria?).

Another bugaboo is basement rehearsals on poured concrete floors. High end hell for a drum kit. Just touching a bass drum sounds like you’re using a Cadillac to beat on a whale (minus the low end). Gotta have at least a thick rug under the kit to soak up some of that but still, drywall and concrete do not acoustic perfection make, especially regarding snares and cymbals. An average volume crash in a bar will sound like it’s set to Romulan stun in a basement-type environment. Just a drumkit being a drumkit.

My own personal solution has been brushes. Not for stirring soup in this instance, more like the same approach as using sticks, but with a couple of changes. My own personal approach is...

1.) The left hand plays rimshots using the brush. Still sounds like a snare drum, only kinder and gentler. (Incidentally, this is the only instance when I’ll consistently use traditional grip. Just makes it easier to get the brush to the best angle.)

2.) For the right hand, if I’m playing the hihat or ride cymbal, my right brush is turned around. If I’m on the hat, I’m hitting the edge with the furthest forward shank of the brush handle if I want it to “bark”, or with the wire loop if I want it more “ticky”, same as with a stick. If I’m playing the ride cymbal, I play it with the metal loop. (Note: I only use the traditional retractable brush design with the rubber handles, a loop at the back end, and metal bristles.) When I’m playing toms, I’ll hit them focusing on hitting them where the bristles and handle meet. (Think Russ Kunkel on “Fire And Rain” by James Taylor. Prime example.)

I’ll also invariably play my bass drum flat-footed on the pedal in that situation. Easier for me personally to keep the BD’s volume in balance and I personally have more control and finesse on it that way at lower volumes.

My choice for handling it this way is because I can stilll play with my usual degree of physicality that’s snuck its way into muscular memory but with my overall volume cut in at least half, yet still getting a drum sound that I consider halfway acceptable. You can literally balance out with an unamplified acoustic guitar. Every time I’ve used it with electric instruments, the band wound up having to turn down to balance with the kit.

The good news? No geezers at the local animal club are bitching about the band keeping them from being heard while they’re hollering to get off their lawns. The bad news for the drummer is finesse is outs da winda coz rebound is a fantasy. BUT it gets ya through the gig.

Another very viable (and preferable for me) solution is to just take my Octapad, aka the Etch-a-Sketch, trigger pedals, and my big ol’ keyboard amp. Nice beefy samples that sound like a kit being slapped with authority but at volumes not offensive to them with delicate constitutions. Another bonus is the diminished footprint.

A lot of electric stringed instrument and keyboard players also don’t realize how spoiled they are by having a volume knob. When I become king, drum kits will be made with a master volume.

Sorry for the soliloquy just to give an opinion of hot rods. (Did I mention I hate them?)

13

This is me just ranting now....

If your a drummer, master your fricken instrument. Don’t have a volume knob?

I don’t really give a rats ass, figure it out!

Can’t count how many Drummers I’ve had to have this conversation with.

“I don’t like hot rod sticks”

“ I’m not gonna play behind a condom”

Just learn how to play a fricken room.

15

And get off my lawn!

– tubwompus

This made me laugh

16

Very light sticks and a light, small size vintage kit that's tuned right if you want to use drums and not be loud, and have a proper drummer who knows how to play.

Yes, and a t-shirt over the snare drum might help too (see below). And, as you said, good technique. Listen to this, he does some nice stuff in the second tune, starts at 3:42, while he sings (!):


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