Well I finally did something I haven’t done in decades; changed up my drum setup.
Anyone checking out my pictures can immediately tell my set is influenced by Neil Peart’s setup. Yep. As a lifelong Rush fan and drummer (who lived up the street from Geddy Lee and went to his and Alex’s Junior High) it’s a natural thing.
My older kits were similar to my existing setup with the smaller toms up on my left. While cool and totally playable there were a few challenges. First and foremost was clearing the hi-hat. That was tough. The toms had to be high enough to clear them even when open and slanted by a good bash. This also required the hi-hat be up close to the snare. Not bad in and of itself but often a bit squishy. If you don’t clear the hi-hat with the toms you’ll get hat rash on your tom. My Pearl 10″ has suffered a bit of this but I won’t let it happen to my Gretsch.
This leads to the second issue which is swinging around to get that hi tom. Not difficult when doing the old Spinal Tap roll around the kit but try maintaining a beat on the floor toms while working your way up the toms with your left hand. Bit of a shoulder ripper when you get to the 8.
One very nice feature of my previous setup was that it was, at its core, a 4 piece jazz setup. I could go into any venue and expect to find a minimalist kit with a snare, one up one down, a single crash and the ride over the kick. This setup seems to be in fashion and all the rigour now. One word boys and girls; BORING!
With my new setup I’m returning to the old 70’s tom-tom rock wall. Moving around it is becoming a cinch. I’ve got my lower toms, the 12″ and 13″ close enough that going for them doesn’t require a reach and the 8″ and 10″ are right in front of me and slightly to my left. No reach at all to hit any tom and I’m hitting with more accuracy. I’d like to apologize to each of my poor microphones I’ve whacked. Thanks for holding up and not breaking on me guys!
The ride is a bit more of an issue but not one that isn’t resolving itself. Having the ride over the floor tom means you don’t have to spend much effort holding up your right arm while ting-ting-tinging along. With the ride raised and moved slightly to the right more effort is required to keep that arm up. At first it can become fatiguing but after a few practices the muscles build up and you don’t even notice it. What’s tricky is getting used to a slightly different cymbal placement. I’ve crashed my Ride so many times it’s starting to have a personality crisis.
I’ve set both my kits up in this new style. I like consistency, especially when learning a new kit layout. I plan to set the kits up at my jam spaces in a similar fashion (although the electronic kit pretty much is set up that way). If you’ve been following this blog might also notice in the pictures that the positions of my Gretsch Renown Maple and Pear Export kits have switched sides. I have a large, sun filled window in my jam space at home. While I keep my Renown’s covered I was concerned the sun might fade their beautiful finish. It’s really tough to bleach out “white” so I moved the Pearls close to the window. It worked out nicely because my microphone setup is more organized and tidy.
As for the left side of the kit, I’m still using it, at least on the Pearls. I’ve moved my Roto-Toms and some percussion there. Still easy to get to while leaving the core setup right out in front.
So now it’s time to sit down with the new setup style and play, play, play.