Posted by Gary Vallely on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 Under: Drums


Just go on any classifieds page for musicians and you’ll more than likely see that most of the adds are in the hunt for a drummer. I’ve been there on more than one occasion, looking for a drummer to complete a band. 

To be a drummer, more than any other instrumentalist, certain circumstances have to be in place. The stars have to be aligned in such a way that is so rare that it only happens for a few selected people. There are roughly 10 guitarists for every drummer and the reasons for this massive disparity are pretty simple.

THE SPACE - Drum kits take up so much room that unless you have a garage, a loft, spare room or a flying drum rug, you probably wont have one in your house. It’s not practical to unpack it, set it up and practice before putting it away again every time you get the urge to mash out some kit wide para-diddles and knocking over cymbal stands in the middle of the night is actually grounds for divorce.

THE NOISE – They are built to be loud! They are built to cut through the grizzle of distorted guitars and attack the bass lines. It’s like owning a Ducati. You can drive it under the speed limit but inevitably, your going to get caught speeding and the police will probably threaten you with confiscation. I’m relatively new to drumming and bought a cheep n cheerful kit for my flat. I got on fine to begin with, practicing at a whispers volume, getting a feel for the kit and learning some subtlety. But as I practiced more and more, getting louder and louder, I wanted to really start hitting it. Couple of calls from the landlord later and now I don’t practice as much.The noise is the biggest deterrent to owning and practicing drums.

THE EXPENSE – If you want to get serious about preforming and recording as a drummer, it’s going to cost you. You can practice anywhere as a drummer, on your knees and tabletops, up-turned buckets or even in your head but when it comes to getting a good drum sound, it can cost thousands of pounds. To begin with though get a cheap kit and spend the majority on the cymbals. The difference in sound is more apparent with good cymbals and you are more likely to keep practicing when you’re enjoying the sounds you’re making.

THE HUMPHING – Taking your kit to a gig can be a bit of a nightmare. Guitarists and bassists have it so easy, walking to the venue with their little guitar case, digging into their shoulders or stretching their arms a couple of millimeters, poor guys. Most venues will have a kit and just expect you to bring your snare and cymbals which is great but this is not always the case. To get your drums to where they need to be, you’ll need a lift, which means you have to know someone responsible enough to feed her donkey or pay his car insurance. Then comes the fight with the doors and bass drum, then the 45 minutes of setting it all up and finding out you left your snare stand at home next to your leaning tower of pizza boxes.

THE STIGMA – “If thine enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum.” said some ancient Chinese dude. He’s got a point but drummer jokes are a despicable, cruel and marginally accurate phenomenon. The best of which are: What’s got three legs and an arsehole?……. yip…… a drum stool! How many drummers does it take to change a light bulb? 20 drummers, 1 to hold the bulb and 19  to drink until they get spinny room. Most drummer jokes can be applied to any group of awesome cats that people have to put down to make themselves feel equal to, so don’t fret. (Insert guitarist joke here.)

Some Solutions for practicing at home:

  • Place an old jumper over the snare drum so that you mute all the high end ringing and still get the nice warm pop.
  • Get some rubber muting pads for the toms. They deaden the sustain and keep the thump.
  •  Scale down the cymbals. Use a splash as a crash and ride the crash. At low volume, the shorter decay time of smaller cymbals won't sound so harsh.
  • If, like me, you have a terrible set of hi-hats, wear some noise canceling ear protectors when practicing. They make practicing with bin lids infinitely more enjoyable.
  • Play with brushes too. they’re great for subtle groves and if you have decent cymbals, they will sound super sweet when the brush sweeps past.
  • Practice with just the bass drum, snare and hats. In limiting your canvas, you are more likely to refine your art (and they fit neatly in the corner).

So in conclusion, there are fewer drummers because not everyone can be gnarly.

In : Drums