Compensating for bad drummer

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Comrade Momenta, Jan 21, 2014.


  1. Comrade Momenta

    Comrade Momenta

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2013
    The drummer in my cover band is bad/average at best. Takes him forever to learn the simplest of songs. As the band leader I am probably going to have to give him a warning soon to pick up the pace or he is gone. Thing is though that the singer and guitarist like him a lot and I'm trying to avoid as much drama as possible.

    What I'm looking for is advice as to how I as the bassist can compensate for his drumming. I want to keep his drumming as simple as possible and I'll pick up any slack. Any tips would be appreciated thank you.
  2. Lo-E

    Lo-E

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Can you rehearse with him separately and try to help him get the tunes down?

    Also, it's awfully hard to compensate for a weak drummer by yourself, but if everybody else in the band is helping to keep everything in the pocket, that might actually elevate the drummer's playing and help him to improve. The pocket is everyone's responsibility - not just the drummer's and bass player's. If the rest of the band works together to pick him up, he may rise to the occasion.
  3. Art Araya

    Art Araya Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2006
    Location:
    Palm Coast, FL
    The way I play changes when I'm with a solid drummer. With a weaker drummer whose time fluctuates I"ll play the basic groove and add the subdivisions. With a drummer who has solid time I can wander from the time keeping role some more and play more melodic lines and fills.

    I don't give weak players ultimatums. They cant get better overnight. If hes too weak for the band you have to let him go. Good players that need to spend more time preparing you can speak to however
    ToneMonkey likes this.
  4. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    N.H.
    Good luck.
    We've all been there. Timing is all over the place, don't know the form of tunes.
    Easiest thing is replace him.
  5. bassdude51

    bassdude51 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    Umm, is the problem with your drummer that it takes him too long to learn songs? Or that he can't keep in time? Or both?

    If he can keep in time, live with him!

    As with playing music in an excellent manner, it all starts with the basics. Have your drummer keep it simple and stay in time. Once that is mastered, then he can start adding fancy drum fills and stuff. Or keep it simple and dump the fills. Isn't the drummer for Black Sabbath one who does not do any drum fills?

    My favorite drummers are the ones with a 3 or 4 piece set and a couple of cymbals. Slim Jim Phantom of Brian Setzer/Stray Cats is a good example.

    The hard part will be telling or asking your drummer to "tighten up" without hurting his feelings or making him angry.
  6. the rocket

    the rocket

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    When playing with a drummer whose feel is not very solid, it usually helps to simplify your bass line. In my experience, playing a busy bass line only draws more attention to the sloppiness of the groove--it will just feel cluttered. If you play a very simple line with a lot of space, you'll be able to help keep the time steady and lock in better with the drummer. It is easier to lock in with a simple groove than with a complicated groove.
  7. NYCbassist

    NYCbassist Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2007
    Location:
    Mount Airy, North Carolina
    +1 to this. I think the same thing to myself every time I read a post about drummer Drama.
  8. bass_case

    bass_case Used Register Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2013
    Location:
    Miami, FL
    +2

    Hide the tom-toms!

    Also, make sure the bass cab is close enough for him to feel what you're playing. Drummers are highly physical creatures, and may not respond to complex musical stimuli in an appropriate manner.
  9. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2003
    Location:
    Southern California
    In reality there is relatively little that you can do to compensate for a less than solid drummer. The quality of the drumming can make or break a band.

    If he's 'not quite there' its worth trying to mold him. Otherwise just bite the bullet and find someone who can Play Their Instrument.
    ToneMonkey and BMGecko like this.
  10. Lownote38

    Lownote38

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    Aug 8, 2013
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Does he get paid to play (from gigs)? If so, then maybe you should look for someone new. If not, good luck finding a great drummer who will play for free.
  11. pfox14

    pfox14

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2013
    I think your talking about Phil Rudd from AC/DC. Man that guy can keep time, but never a drum fill. Love it.
  12. nysbob

    nysbob

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2003
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    I can't tell you how many times I've said this.

    No drummer is much better than a poor one.
    ToneMonkey likes this.
  13. electracoyote

    electracoyote

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    Jan 2, 2009
    Location:
    Purple Mountain Majesties
    I vote drama over bad drummer.

    Lesser of the two evils.
  14. Comrade Momenta

    Comrade Momenta

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2013
    I'd say it just takes him too long. It has been almost a month and he has been unable to learn two songs. Dreams by The Cranberries and Someday by The Strokes. First week okay understandable second week errr fine I guess but after that and no progress? Come on.

    I have told him to just forget the fills. Our guitarist is more than capable to keep all eyes on him with the guitar playing. Thing is said drummer always says he wants to do the song justice. :eyebrow:

    I believe the singer, guitarist, and myself are more than capable of performing live and getting paid for it, it is just that for lack of a better term our drummer is dragging us behind so I don't even want to start finding gigs and making a disaster of ourselves.

    I'm getting frustrated as well because I sent him a text message and voicemail telling him I need him to learn the two songs by Sunday practice or else and he has not replied back to me. We have Thursday practice as well and if he comes that day having not attempted the songs at all then I'm going to have to give him a stern talking to before I get really angry and make Sunday practice just me and him. :mad:
  15. lowfreq33

    lowfreq33

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Location:
    Nashville
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    So the problem isn't he's a slow learner, it's that he just doesn't do it.
  16. groooooove

    groooooove

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    keep time as best you can. make sure you're amps are close to him.

    having to walk the drummer on a leash in terms of time-keeping really sucks. i'd rather make less money but play with cats that you don't need musicianship-babysitters for.

    but sometimes you're stuck with em. you can only do so much.
  17. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2003
    Location:
    Southern California
    You're just DELUDING yourself. This type of pronounced problem is never corrected by a 'stern talking to' or hand holding. He either doesn't have the musical knowledge and chops or he doesn't give a crap. Either way its a terminal disease.

    Get another drummer or mire yourself in continual frustration and foolishness with this guy.
    BassChuck likes this.
  18. u84six

    u84six Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2006
    Location:
    US
    A band is only as good as its drummer. If timing is all over the place and intros and endings suck, then that will represent your whole band. The best thing to do is sit down individually with the guitar player and singer and tell them how you feel and take it from there. If they both disagree with replacing him, then you should quit the band and start a new one. You wouldn't be asking this question if you were at the same level as the drummer. You're obviously a more advanced player. So do you want to be in a good band, or spend most of your nights teaching a drummer how to play?
    SunnBass likes this.
  19. Bassin'

    Bassin'

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2000
    Location:
    Oregon City, Oregon
    I have found this to be the case as well. Either you fire him now or look forward to wasting your time until you fire him later.
  20. Rocker949

    Rocker949

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Location:
    USA

    +1

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