thread: DRUMS!!!
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Old 19th January 2020
Gear Nut


First an explanation - then a rant - then a question.....

My band plays a variety of music , including prog. I work as a full time sound tech, and am the main sound designer for the band. I talked the band into trying something different a while ago.

We went full stereo IEM - dumped all amps by using Line 6 Helix's for guitars and bass, with no amps on stage, no monitors on stage - our stage volume levels dropped significantly to the enjoyment of our audience. People described the band as sounding like listening to a CD live - and really manageable volume levels. Numerous clubs told us that we were the best sounding band to ever play the club. Notice - no drums mentioned we go.....

One more cavat - we play small clubs. Usually under 100 - say 30 to 50 people.

Our line up - Lead Vocals/guitar, Lead guitar/backups, Keys/backups, Bass, Drums/Lead and backup vocals.

Ok, here we go. Our drummer. His acoustic set is a monster made in the 70s. 24" kik, snare, 4 toms 10, 13. 15, 18 - plus cymbals and he uses a drum pad for percussion. It takes him over an hour to set up. Just sayin.....He insists on using a drum riser - ok.....I love this man. He is a kind and wonderful musician, but a pounder - he does not play quiet.....

He built and designed a full set of electronic drums. His first complaint about e-drums was that the pads responded bad (rubber), and they were the wrong size so he kept missing on rolls. So he took a full drum kit - replaced the heads with mesh heads, had parts machined to mount triggers and got a drum brain. I am not sure of the model here, but its a roland mid level unit. I set up the system so that he has a separate input into the mixer for every drum. He used real cymbals that we miced - OH L OH R Ride and HH.

I purchased and paid for 8 channels of DI, the 1/4" snake, and supplied the stage box for the extra inputs.

We did one live gig and he refuses to use the electronics anymore. He has spent ZERO time finishing the set up. I will explain.

To get the Helix's sounding good, and the different output patches balanced - it took 60 to 70 hours of programming.....and every time I practice, I am still refining the sounds.

So here we are - a band with no amps, no stage monitors, and a concert sized kit on a riser BLASTING out at 90+ DB- in a small club - washing out the rest of the band. In this scenario the drums are ALWAYS too loud. WIthout the IEM earbuds in, I would have to leave the stage cause I can't handle the volume level of the drums.

I get the electronic drum issue. It is s huge adjustment. And it takes a LOT of time to program these things. A lot. But he has not spent 1 single minute working on this. He dials a standard kit that comes pre-loaded - and complains that it sucks.

I am done. First, an hour to an hour and half set up time for drums is ridiculous. If this fine person shows up late (50% of the time) - then my set up time for PA becomes a nightmare. With the acoustic drums on a riser - it is SO loud on stage.

Are there any solutions to this dilemma? Here is my final offer to my drummer.

I have purchased Slate drums. I plan to put a computer in the rack, and use numerous channels to layer drum sounds till he is happy. This is relatively easy because the board has ASIO drivers. The best drummer I have ever worked with has offered to come and help with this effort - to help make the electronics as responsive as possible, and to sound as good as possible.

If he refuses this offer - am am going to quit doing sound for the band. I will remove all my gear, and state clearly - I will show up and play guitar, but until you do EVERYTHING possible to resolve the drum issue, then I am uninterested in fighting this anymore.

Are there any other solutions that pro's can see? IMHO - this is not about what's best for the drummer, but about what's best for the band.

For every gig - By myself, I load all the PA gear. I own it. I have supplied the band out of my pocket with new mics, custom built snake, DIs, stage box, computer lighting control. I set up, troubleshoot and do sound check and set up lights - then I get to set up my guitar system. The band is great about helping with the strike, but after I still unload the gear by myself, and have to set up the practice spot again, and again, and again.

Rant over. Need solution. We have one more gig booked - next Friday and this will be my last as sound tech for the band unless the drum issue gets resolved.

Drummers responses MOST appreciated.