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Quiet Drummers

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by agreatheight, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. Everyone on this board is always complaining about drummers that hit too hard and are too loud. But what about drummers that play too quietly?

    I recently auditioned with a pretty good rock cover band, but I couldn't really connect with the drummer. There was no real authority in his playing - he played quite quietly, almost meekly imo. He wasn't a bad player, per se, he just didn't own it - I didn't enjoy playing with him at all. I did two sessions with them, and I wasn't really feeling him on the first one, but the second session was actually worse - I never felt settled in with him, I was continually watching him, trying to feel his one, trying to get locked in. The rest of the band was at reasonable volume, btw. I didn't get the gig, but I was 85% leaning toward turning it down if I got the offer - even though the money was pretty good.

    This made me think that I'd rather play with someone too loud than too quiet any day. I know the crushers have their enemies here :D but to me it seems like the lesser evil of the two sides of the spectrum.

  2. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Inactive

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    What?! Speak up, please.
  3. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    No discernible rhythmic metre in intensity and dynamic = no groove IME too :)
  4. bazzanderson


    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    my drummer is a very soft hitter (female...about 5 feet tall and probably 95lbs at the most) so.....we as a band play pretty quietly and let the pa (her snare and bass drum mic'd) do the work. It can be difficult writing new songs during rehearsal but we've all seemed to have adjusted to her style. In her defense....she is good....just a little quiet.
  5. guroove


    Oct 13, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    I think there was more going on than the volume being too low. Have you ever witnessed James Gadson, Clyde Stubblefield, Jabo Starks or Bernard Purdie? These guys can play so quiet you can whisper over it, but they own the groove with authority, but I doubt anyone has ever told them they need to hit harder.

    I personally love it when my drummer brings it down so low that you can talk over it. It really pulls the audience at shows in sometimes when we bring it really down. People stop talking, and they really pay attention.
  6. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    +1 and set's drummers apart IMO. : )
  7. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    The genre changes things IME. Playing upright bass in a Jazz setting, I'm really sick of the volume wars. There's one guy in particular who just can't keep from blowing out the frigging windows. In many aspects he's the best but a lot of Jazz folks won't call him and I can't say I blame them.

    On the other hand, with that same dude, playing rock 'n roll is a blast. He gives the music the cajones it needs.

    I believe it's possible to drum quietly but with intensity and authority. Most folks just haven't mastered that. ;)

    I play drums quietly because I have absolutely no chops. :meh:
  8. I hear what you are saying (did you see what I did there?) but those cats are R&B players, right? And yes, they are very good players - but I am not sure I'd categorize Bernard Purdie as a quiet player. He is dynamic for sure, and can play quiet when the music calls for it, but he can surely smack the kit when the music is pumping. We were playing rock / hard rock / alt rock / metal covers. And the songs we were playing were all high energy. But I didn't get that from him.
  9. This!
  10. nealw


    Sep 9, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    I agree with everything said so far. The best drummers I've played with-with one exception-have ranged from medium volume to bone-crushingly loud. There's nothing worse (in the genres I've played in: rock, rockabilly, & old-school country) than a tappity, meek drummer who doesn't establish a groove. I agree that it's not all about the volume, though. The one exception was an older player who could own a monster groove at a volume you could speak over. Most guys who play at that volume (and again-I'm not talking about jazz here) just have no groove at all. My favorite drummer to play with is very loud. He can still groove when the song's dynamics call for quiet, though.
  11. + a million. Drum dynamics add a lot to the sound...

    To the OP - what kind of music are you playing?
  12. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I think my playing style has evolved to match my ridiculously loud drummer. I get thrown for a loop when anyone else sits down behind the skins and drops anything short of a thunderstorm.
  13. jnuts1


    Nov 13, 2007
    i don't think i have every had this problem.
  14. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    It's not so much a question of volume for me as it is confidence. The best drummers I've played with have all hit the drums with a certain sense of authority. That probably translates into a louder drummer more than it doesn't. But, these same guys, when it's right for the music, can cut it down to a whisper too.
  15. Good lord, I'm dealing with exactly this in a new band right now. No snap to the drumming. He also has tempo issues when singing. I'm hoping for the best on this one but am not feeling it right now...
  16. This was a rock covers project. Last night we played Offspring, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Lit and AFI.
  17. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    Just out of curiosity, might he have been trying to pay attention to you, his counterpart in the rhythm section, or give the rest of the band a better chance at hearing what you were doing? If so, the band might have taken your response the wrong way and thought you weren't a good fit because it didn't seem like you were locking in with him?

    Not arguing that could have simply been his style, but then again it might not have been. Maybe a better approach would have been to say something - diplomatically, of course - at the first session just to make sure everyone was on the same page.

    Just another thought.
  18. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    +1 Balls to the wall IMO to do those kind of tunes justice for you, the band and the audience who will IME be expecting to hear good versions of these, 'tippity tappity' won't work for full-on rock repertoire without considerable loss of vibe IMO :)
  19. The drummer that I have played with for the last 9 years (though sadly wont be anymore as of the end of the month) is a quiet hitter, but he grooves like crazy. I like that about him, it is way easier to control our stage volume and our overall volume in the building. Sometimes I do wish that he would hit his snare harder, but he adjusts that when I mention it.

  20. Cosmo_Smallpiece


    May 26, 2000
    Yeah absolutely.

    I've been playing for the last year or so with the quietest drummer I've ever played with. He's got great technique and in a quiet practise session the band really grooves but unfortunately we play rocky pop with two guitars and when they turn up for a gig the drums just disappear into the mix.

    Like the OP says, I can't connect or lock in with him and it's got so frustrating that I'm leaving that band.
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