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Loud drummer...small room....suggestions

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  • Loud drummer...small room....suggestions

    Played a room last night that I'm now having issues with due to our new drummer's volume. Most rooms we play are pretty large and the stage volume of the drums isn't an issue, but this place is small. On top of that it was pretty empty at sound check when it's normally pretty full so that just added to my struggles. During sound check I start pushing up faders on my iPad from FOH and quickly realize everything is getting too loud to keep up with the stage volume of the drums. Sure enough a table to my left starts grumbling about the volume and then the manager walks over and asks me to turn it down. I didn't blame them. I didn't want it that loud either but just getting the vocals and guitar above the stage volume of the drums required that much overall volume. When I was done all I had was the kick in the mix and maybe a little toms just to match the unbelievably loud snare and cymbals.

    I did tell the drummer last night of the issues but it wasn't like I was asking him to hit softer. I just can't see asking the guy to completely alter his style of playing for one venue. After all, he's a rock drummer and a good one and he's probably been playing this way his whole life. I actually like that he plays with authority because our last drummer was such an inconsistent player. This guy just hits hard, has a great sounding kit and the loudest snare I've ever heard and in this one room it's a problem. I'm wondering if you guys have any suggestions for helping drum volume that don't include asking the drummer to change his style. For example are there special sticks or pads that can help with this? This is a new problem for me and I'm not sure how to deal with it. It's probably only going to be an issue in one or two venues but it's still an issue. I'm open to suggestions.
    http://www.partypushers.net

    http://www.myspace.com/soulvillemusic

    Yamaha 01v / JBL PRX612's / QSC HPR181i's / Mackies SRM 450's / Shure, Audix & Line 6 mics

  • #2
    There's a whole host of possibilities:

    1) A drum shield or better yet a drum box... being a plexiglass sound fence (I doubt drum boxes exist).
    2) Fill all of the drums with styrafoam peanuts and coat the cymbals with rubber.
    3) Move the drummer off stage... maybe out into the alley, mic up the kit and mix in as suitable.
    4) Pick the venues to accomodate the drummer's style.

    Regardless of the tactic, it's dancing around the actual problem. Generally adressing the actual problem is more cost effective and produces better results than any work-around (avoidance) attempt at a solution. But I understand... and I also know from first hand knowledge, that I significantly improved as a musician when I focused on playing quieter. Tone is in the fingers.

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    • #3
      I do like solution number 3.
      http://www.partypushers.net

      http://www.myspace.com/soulvillemusic

      Yamaha 01v / JBL PRX612's / QSC HPR181i's / Mackies SRM 450's / Shure, Audix & Line 6 mics

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      • #4
        This might help...

        http://www.cympad.com

        Tell him he just has to chill a bit in this room. I know a few drummers like that. It's pretty much pointless though.



        New drummer?
        PA Unity15's over LS800p's. YX15's, YX12's IPR power, RM32AI

        LightsMartin Minimac Profiles, Chauvet Intimidator Spot Duos, Blizzard 3NX, Fab5, Hotbox

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        • #5
          Lighter sticks or "hot rods" may help. Mark C.
          "Good tools are expensive. Cheap tools are damned expensive."

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          • #6
            Good drummers know how to play to the room, song and audience. They have an arsenal of cymbals they can choose from and the ability to use different diameter sticks when called for. Find yourself a seasoned drummer and you will not have to deal with these issues. I am not a flashy or super-star technical drummer by any means, but I get calls all the time because I play for the music and understand things like stage volume, dynamics and most importantly the needs of the person running FOH.

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            • #7
              Good drummers certainly do.

              I guess some drummers are like some guitarists.


              "their sound" at all costs. Whether the amp is killing everyone in the room, or the drums are way too loud, what can you do. Some musicians are a joy to work with, others you just survive and live to fight another day.
              PA Unity15's over LS800p's. YX15's, YX12's IPR power, RM32AI

              LightsMartin Minimac Profiles, Chauvet Intimidator Spot Duos, Blizzard 3NX, Fab5, Hotbox

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              • #8
                If he's a drummer with experience he has to have another snare besides his piccolo snare drum from hell right? If he tunes toms wide open no reason he couldn't tape them down a little and take a little of the resonance out since they mic'd anyway, I consider this a last resort, I do not like anything put on heads as it affects tune. If a drummer doesn't know he's breaking eardrums he can't adjust.

                Consider Brushes until place fills.

                Saw a band last night with one of those plastic cages around the drummer, never used one but I would think it would be a simple investment to test out. May want to ask what your drummers take is on that.

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                • #9
                  Good drummers know how to play to the room, song and audience. They have an arsenal of cymbals they can choose from and the ability to use different diameter sticks when called for. Find yourself a seasoned drummer and you will not have to deal with these issues. I am not a flashy or super-star technical drummer by any means, but I get calls all the time because I play for the music and understand things like stage volume, dynamics and most importantly the needs of the person running FOH.

                  +1
                  This is the solution. Other technical approaches, like getting him electronic drums, plexiglass shields, smaller sticks, etc will not work consistently until you have a drummer who is actually a musician and knows how to play with other musicians. If he won't learn to play to the room and the audience, find someone else who can and will. Or get some earplugs and get used to getting less gigs.

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                  • #10
                    "I'm wondering if you guys have any suggestions for helping drum volume that don't include asking the drummer to change his style."

                    No.

                    The drummer is the issue. Everything else is secondary.

                    Usually it is easier to find a different drummer or a different set of gigs.

                    If the drummer isn't aware that playing too loudly is a real issue (blows my mind how many aren't), then -no- fix is gonna get you anywhere. For instance playing with rods (easy fix that a lot of folks try first) isn't going to get you anywhere... of the 7-8 drummers who I have seen "asked" to play quieter using them every single one just plays like normal and then ditches them half way through the first set.

                    You never know, though.

                    Have you asked the drummer about the volume? How was the monitor situation, and can you cut his monitors to the point where if he can't hear the vocal, then he knows it's too loud?
                    My Business: Media Production in the Texas Hill Country

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                    • #11
                      "I'm wondering if you guys have any suggestions for helping drum volume that don't include asking the drummer to change his style."

                      No.

                      The drummer is the issue. Everything else is secondary.

                      Usually it is easier to find a different drummer or a different set of gigs.

                      If the drummer isn't aware that playing too loudly is a real issue (blows my mind how many aren't), then -no- fix is gonna get you anywhere. For instance playing with rods (easy fix that a lot of folks try first) isn't going to get you anywhere... of the 7-8 drummers who I have seen "asked" to play quieter using them every single one just plays like normal and then ditches them half way through the first set.

                      You never know, though.

                      Have you asked the drummer about the volume? How was the monitor situation, and can you cut his monitors to the point where if he can't hear the vocal, then he knows it's too loud?

                      Agreed... if you're having problems trying to stuff an elephant down a gardenhose, then either the elephant is too large or the garden hose is too small or maybe elephants were never meant to be stuffed down garden hoses, and it's time to re-think the project.

                      Whatever the case may be... the work-around solution probably involves some communication.

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                      • #12
                        I just can't see asking the guy to completely alter his style of playing for one venue.


                        Why not? If the drummer is too loud and will not change technique, get a new drummer.

                        /thread
                        Chief fader ape, wire monkey, mic macaque, and speaker chimp.

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                        • #13
                          1. Get some rugs/carpet down on the stage, if not there already.

                          2. Get a piece of Sonex, or any thick foam and cut a small (2'x2') piece and place it around the outside bottom of the snare and the floor, facing the audience, like a little wall. This will take 3-5dB of harsh crack off the drum, which is often enough to do the trick.

                          Cymbals are most likely bleeding thru the vocal mics, probably not a lot you can do about that.

                          If it's Hat, have him get a set of Zildjian New Beats, which sound great and are about half the volume of the screamers that most drummers use.

                          If he's still too loud, you either can't play there anymore, or you can pack the place to the gills - I've never heard a club owner complain about volume w/a full house of drinkers.

                          MG
                          "Thank You, NASA!"

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                          • #14
                            I find it awfully difficult to call a drummer "good" if he's unwilling or unable to adjust his playing dynamics.
                            "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else" - Yogi Berra, 1925-2015

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                            • #15
                              In this situation(small room/loud drummer) mic the kick drum only.You will find it easier to get the vocals on top,and if asked to turn down,you then look at the rest of the band(who already know they are not in the P.A.)and say "We gotta bring her down,boys".They will adjust if they want to finish the show and get a return engagement.

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