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what do you look for in a drummer?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Byrneondrums, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. Byrneondrums


    Mar 3, 2008
    hi guys,

    I'm new to this forum, and a drummer. I am here because I figured who better to pose this question to, than you - our partners in the rhythm section.

    So, generally speaking, what do you look for in a drummer? What makes you want to play with a particular drummer again?

    Looking forward to your replies.

  2. Restraint. Lack of ego. Solid 'groove' skills. Good attention to detail skills. Equipment always in good repair.
  3. Willingness to experiment and try different stuff while still staying in the groove. Spicing it up. Just as we do not like to play the same 3 chords over and over in every song, we like to see the drummer have different fills and rolls for different songs. Most important of all, really listening to the song and the dynamics. (No drum solos during the part where we sing about a lost friend:smug:)
  4. loendmaestro

    loendmaestro Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2004
    Vienna VA
    An appreciation of restraint & volume control.
  5. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I Grow Organic Carrots
    good meter, good volume control, smoothness, good personality,

    I want to play with a drummer who can easily play what the band is doing ... a guy who can drop a stick and not loose a beat ... a guy who won't drown out the whole band ...
  6. MarkMyWordsXx


    May 17, 2006
    im a bg, but i feel i can also comment on this. if you feel otherwise, disregard my post.

    i look for control. meaning, they need to be able to control the song through both tempo and dynamics. too many times the drummer doesnt have the right feel for the song and it just doesnt work.

    now, i dont mean they need to call the shots all the time, but they really do need to be the qb and be on the changes, and dictate where the song is going.

  7. SWR098


    Nov 13, 2007
    O--Overly punctual
    C--cool groove
    K--kit of his/her own
    E--easy to work with
    T--TIME!!!! has to have good time :bag:
  8. Solid time, consitant kick drum patterns and a sense of groove and commitment to the song that is more important than his need to show off and draw attention to him/herself. John Bonham meets Phil Rudd if you will.
  9. MyUsernameHere

    MyUsernameHere ?????????????

    Nov 3, 2007
    Lexington KY
    That's pretty good.:)

    If you're going on a bass forum asking what traits you should have...I think you're well on your way to being easy to work with. As important as all the other traits mentioned are, they mean nothing if you can't work with the band to fit in.
  10. BillytheBassist


    Aug 18, 2005
    Dynamics,time, able to tune their own kit is a plus, attitude.
  11. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    One thing that I can't stand is a ride cymbal that just rings and rings. It wipes out the tone of the other instruments. I heard one drummer that had rivets in his ride. I hated it. Totally distracting.

    I really love hearing the wood tone of the stick when it hits the cymbal. I must admit I hear this more so on recordings than live.

    Then there's brushes. I can listen to a good brush player all evening.
  12. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    nice hair.

  13. Byrneondrums


    Mar 3, 2008
    well fingers - I have nice hair - for now - in a few years, who knows!

    guys - really great reading these wonderful replies. I'm 40 now (been playing about 25 years), currently playing with a trio of my own, plus working in the bands of a few other guys, so I am always interested in the point of view of the other musicians to inform me and help me to constantly improve. I also play a little trumpet so I got to experience playing with a great drummer and a not so great drummer - that was very interesting and revealing as well.

    thanks again and let's keep the discussion going.

  14. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Good sense of dynamics, rhythm/groove of course, good sense of intonation, all of that of course. Well trained in theory is a plus. Able to follow me and sense where I'm going is a plus, when it comes to locking with the kick drum, etc. Artistic sense, as far as taking the groove to new places, improvisation skill/talent, love and dedication to the instrument, that je ne sais quoi of a great musician when he gets behind the kit.

    That's only half of it, though. The other half is showing up on time, taking good care of his gear/being prepared (things like extra drumsticks, heads, his own drum mics, his own transportation, etc), being agreeable/honorable/trustworthy, having a good attitude, being a good problem solver, resolving conflict maturely, handling money well, etc.

    One surefire way to tell if a drummer is someone I will work with again is whether or not he carries a drum key on his keychain. I carry a drum key on mine, even though I do not play drums at all, because it's just a smart thing to do if you're a musician. If I'm working with a drummer and he asks, "Does anyone have a drum key?", that tells me a lot about him. There's no reason a drummer should come to work without a drum key if he expects repeat business, IMHO:

    Talent (and who you know) gets the gig; attitude keeps the gig.
  15. JmJ


    Jan 1, 2008
    Big Ears.
  16. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Collaborative approach with band members

    Both buoys and anchors rhythm section; uses rhythmic "turn signals" with band

    Rhythmic partnership with bassist

    Good listener


    Educated & versatile, knows way more than "drums"

    Impeccable time

    Consistently counts off songs at the right tempo

    Understated playing, thoughtful, musical, choices

    Makes every note count, leaves open space for others

    Always on time for rehearsals & gigs

    Professional comportment & skills - a mensch

    Skillful use of polyrhythms

    Attention to dynamics

    Easy to be around, great to hang with

    Plays coherent, melodic, thought-provoking solos that leave people wanting more

    Versatile in many styles

    Doubles on vibes, marimba, congas, timbales, bongo...

    Dynamics, Dynamics, Dynamics

    Uses cymbals in ways that respect the sonic space occupied by vocals and lead instruments

    Self control & self discipline

    This isn't a wish list. Believe it or not, it's a fairly accurate description of an extraordinary local pecussionist by the name of Charlie McGhee. We should all be so lucky :D
  17. The "pocket" answer above is pretty spot on!!! But above all- GROOVE!!! & good ears- listening skills!!!!
  18. the ability to play with an upright bass unamplified and still portray a pp and a fff.

    Can take solos that say "here is the top of the form" but still not compromise creativity.

    Pocket. Unique pocket.
  19. The ability to turn up on time and sober!

    Personally, apart from the talent to play (as many people have detailed above), personality is critical to me. I've always been very close to every drummer I've worked with and still consider every one of them among my closest friends. If you don't get on personally, making music for any extended period is going to be a strain.
  20. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    A compact kit and a several pairs of brushes.

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