The other day my wife came down into my basement office /hopefully soon to be studio.
She looked around and asked “Don’t you have enough drums? Why do you need all of these drums?”
I guess like most of the guitar players and keyboard players I know, you can never have enough toys.
Right now I have four kits, 3 acoustic and 1 electronic, and I’ve been tinkering with building my own electronic kit out of miscellaneous drum shells.
I still have my original kit, a vintage 1968 Slingerland kit. The kit is a gold satin flame finish which I still love today. It consists of a 14” Slingerland Radio King Chrome Snare (my very first drum so it’s actually from 1966/1967), 12” rack tom, 14” floor tom and 20” bass drum. It’s the kit I learned to play on and I was fortunate that my parents chose to buy me a quality kit.
I’d lost some of the bottom hoops and tension rods over the years but I found replacements. They now have Remo Coated Pin Stripes on top and Clear Pin Stripes on the bottom. The bass drum has a Remo Clear Pin Stripe on the batter side and I just moved the old coated head to the front since it is a good head in decent shape.
I used no external tape of muffling devices except for the original muffler that came with the snare drum and of course the proverbial pillow in the bass drum. The kit has a small but punchy sound and is really fun to play. I use a 14” set of Paiste hi hats, an old Zildjian 14” bottom hi hat makes an interesting crash and an old vintage 22” Zildjian Sizzle for a ride but I’m not exactly wild about its sound.
I also have what I call my old Rock and Roll kit. This one is made up of more Gold Satin Flame Slingerlands that I added to my original kit back in the mid seventies. This was a time when drummers were adding more drums and bigger drums to their kits.
This kit consists of a 24” bass drum that has a clear Remo Pinstripe Head on the batter side and the original Slingerland logo head on the front. I wish I still had the original front head for my 20” kick as well.
I use my 14” Slingerland Radio King Wood Snare which came with my original kick so the date of this drum is 1968. The rest of the drums date around 1974 to 1977, and consist of a 10” and 14” rack toms and a 16” floor tom along with the afore mentioned bass drum.
All the toms have the bottom heads removed. In fact the 10” and the 14” came from the factory without bottom hoops. This was the 70’s and the drums needed to be loud so every rock and roll drummer was removing the bottom heads and shoving a mike in the drum. I’m sure the manufacturers loved this as it helped keep the cost down for them. Originally I had the front head off of the bass drum but since I like how cool the head with the Slingerland logo looks I keep in on.
All the drums on the rock and roll kit have clear heads, either Remo Pinstripes or Evans Hydraulics. Eventually I’ll go with all Remo Pinstripes. I just love those heads.
I used the old standby of duct tape and folded pieces of paper towels for muffling the drums. It worked for me in the 70’s and it still works today.
They sound very rock and roll having that “tub” sound. When I’m in the mood to play some hard rock or gritty blues it’s the kit I go to.
I also have a 13” rack tom that is just sitting on a table top that was part of my playing kit back in the seventies. I really don’t have a place for it in either kit. I’ll always hang on to it. You never know when that will be the sound I’m looking for.
My newest kit is by Pearl.
They are the Classic Session Studio with a Sheer Blue finish. I bought them in 2012.
It consists of the following: 14” wood snare, 10”-12”-14”-16” toms and 22” bass drum. All have Remo Pinstripe heads on them. The bass drum has the black Pearl head that was supplied with the drum on the front and the Clear Pinstripe on the batter side. The toms all have Clear Pinstripes on the batter side and the Pearl supplied clear heads on the bottom and the snare has the Coated Pinstripe on the batter side and the Remo clear on the snare side. I use Evans drum rings for muffling on the snare and toms and the proverbial pillow in the bass drum.
The cymbals are a matched set of the Sabian XS20’s. I spent hours going through all different sets of cymbals and ended up liking these the best. For the price they can’t be beat.
My Pearl set is my gigging kit and usually sits in the cases waiting to go out for a show. They sound great no matter what type of music I’m playing. They have a nice fat sound that I like. I’d love to set them up in my office/hopefully soon to be studio and will when I finally get recording gear and make more space.
My electronic kit is an Alesis DM10 Studio. The module is great but the trigger drums and cymbal pads just don’t hold up to my playing. I’ve already had to replace the kick pad twice, one of the tom pads, the high hat pad and the two crash cymbal pads are starting to fall apart. That’s why I have start tinkering with building my own.
For years I poo pooed electronic drums but after working with them I see them as another tool in my tool box. They are a useful tool that I like to use.
What I find really cool is the fact that I have 4 kits with various hardware and cymbals.
When I was struggling to make a living as a musician it was all I could do to keep one kit up and functioning. Breaking a head or a stick was a bummer, breaking a cymbal was disastrous. I would use heads and sticks and cracked cymbals until they were no longer playable.
Each kit has its own feel and sound and each kit brings out different styles and creative ideas.
So why do I now have so many kits?
I guess because I can.
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.