Topic: Acoustic Drums For Worship  (Read 9694 times)

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mid life crisis

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Acoustic Drums For Worship
« on: February 17, 2007, 08:57 AM »
Hello All,

I'm new to the board & this is my first post. You guys have a great forum here.

So you'll have a bit of background for my question, I'm in mid-life & returned to drumming 18 mos ago, not having played since I was 19.  I have a blue burst Mapex Mars Pro studio kit and also a Gretsch Purewood Walnut Renown kit.

Among other activities, I play on a worship team where we do mostly Hillsong type music using Roland V Drums, which I dislike with great enthusiasm. Our new worship leader is more than willing to try accoustic drums with our team.  We have shields that were used years ago, but it would be great if I could play in a controlled way such that we dont need to use them.  The sactuary seats around three hundred or so.

I am thinking of acquiring a kit specifically for worship.  My research suggests that a birch kit would be a good choice - it has been suggested to me that a birch kit would be a bit easier to play in a controlled fashion in such a setting. Also, thin cymbals have been suggested.  I'm thinking that it would be a challenge to use either of my kits as they are both pretty resonant and "Big" sounding (Boomy in a live room?).

A local drum shop has two of the Gretsch Catalina Birch fusion kits on closeout, as well as some used Zildjian thin Ks that could be had at reasonable prices.  Another option is a set of pristine Pearl Masters Studio birch drums in ocean Blue - it is owned by a friend of mine - 5 toms & the 18x22 Bass.  He wants $1500 for the shells with the opti mounts.  I would probably only use a four to five-piece configuration for church.

While I know my own technique will be the largest success factor (I've been working on that with my teacher) I would be interested in th opinions of this board as to whether I am on the right track in my thinking about this and how much of a difference the drums themselves will make.

Thanks in advance!

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2007, 09:27 AM »
Tuning is the factor when it comes to resonance, so any drum can work. However, since we have to "lay into" larger drums so that they will sound good (more air to move inside the drum, I would recommend that you go with a small kit. By small I mean diameter drums ... the largest Tom being a 14-inch diameter. A 20-inch Kick drum if possible, but nothing bigger than a 22-inch. Some companies make great 18-inch Kick drums that sound very full.

The smaller diameter drums will be easier to control. With the right tuning, you can have a very nice acoustic sound while not playing them hard.

Many churches use plexiglass shields which really only slaps the sound back at the drummer; it doesn't reduce the sound in the room. The shields keep the sound of the drums from spilling over into other mics and over-powering people near by. It can also help the drummer play softer because the "slap back' will let them hear themselves well, and thus play a little softer than they would if they can't hear everything in the kit.

You need sound absorption to reduce overall volume, resonance, etc. Adding mass and sound absorbing materials will make the drums sound quieter and more controlled.

You also may want to consider Birch shells, if possible, as they tend to sound more controlled with a flat frequency response across the harmonic spectrum. The lows won't sound as big as with Maple shells.

If possible, experiment before you buy. If buying locally, talk to the store owner about briinging in several kits to try before you purchase.

mid life crisis

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2007, 09:43 AM »
Thanks,Bart.  The Catalina kit has an 18x22 bass & 10, 12 & 14 inch toms.  The Pearl kit has an 18x22 bass &  8, 10, 12 14 & 16 toms.

Obviously, the Gretsch are less expensive at $599 for the shellpack, but the Pearl kit would, I imagine, be higher quality & of course it has more drums.  While I would like to spend less, suitability for the purpose is my main objective.

Would either of these be expected to work any better than the other in the setting I describe?

There is also a mahogany Catalina Club kit with the small bass drum - should I consider that?



Thanks.

Offline Todd Norris

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2007, 09:54 AM »
Hello All,

A local drum shop has ...  as well as some used Zildjian thin Ks that could be had at reasonable prices. 

While I know my own technique will be the largest success factor (I've been working on that with my teacher) I would be interested in th opinions of this board as to whether I am on the right track in my thinking about this and how much of a difference the drums themselves will make.


Hey Mid Life, welcome aboard.  I can relate to the V-Drums situation.  I had to use them for about 8  years at my church before I brought my drums in to use to show that it would work.  I ended up donating them and bought a new set for home and it's been great ever since.  (And we haven't needed a shield either!) 

Anyway, you mentioned technique and that was the big thing for me.  Keep working on that with your instructor!  Also, I see that you notice that thin cymbals will be easier to get a full sound without having to hit hard.  The only difference is the ride.  I found that with the right "touch" a heavier cymbal works better because the resonance is less prominent than a thinner cymbal. 

Best wishes to you, and please keep us aprised on your progress!

mid life crisis

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2007, 10:05 AM »
Thanks!

My ultimate aim is also to donate the kit to the church - my wife says two are plenty at home!

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2007, 10:12 AM »
Thanks,Bart.  The Catalina kit has an 18x22 bass & 10, 12 & 14 inch toms.  The Pearl kit has an 18x22 bass &  8, 10, 12 14 & 16 toms.

Obviously, the Gretsch are less expensive at $599 for the shellpack, but the Pearl kit would, I imagine, be higher quality & of course it has more drums.  While I would like to spend less, suitability for the purpose is my main objective.

Would either of these be expected to work any better than the other in the setting I describe?

There is also a mahogany Catalina Club kit with the small bass drum - should I consider that?

With a sanctuary that size, only seating around 300, I would definitely consider the Catalina Kit with the smaller Kick drum. I wouldn't even mess with the kit that has a 16-inch Floor Tom ... unless you want to convert that into a Kick drum!  :)

Go with the thin cymbals ... and not too big on the diameter. A thin 16-inch cymbal would be the largest I would go with; maybe a 17-inch. Every room is different, so an 18-inch may work, but keep in mind ... the bigger the cymbal or drum, the more it takes to get it to sound or vibrate ... which means you've got to lay into it (aka play harder) in order to get its full sound. I would stay away from Medium Thin Crashes as well. You can try them, but I would expect that they will take too much to get them to sound full. You're going to want your Crash cymbals to sound full, meaning a big full crash, with only a 12-inch stick height (all wrist).

Another tip (secret): When you do get the acoustic drums, play as soft as humanly possible at first. Get everyone (paster, worship leader, congregation) used to the "new" acoustic sound. If you don't play really soft, and they have a negative response to the sound, you are sunk. Once they get used to the sound, you can gradually increase the volume to where you want it ... but takes weeks to bring it to that level. We want their first reaction to be positive ... so keep that in mind. If you can tell you this ... I've been down this path many, many, many times.

mid life crisis

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2007, 10:15 AM »
Nothing like the voice of experience!

Thanks.

Offline Dave Heim

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2007, 11:38 AM »
. . .

Another tip (secret): When you do get the acoustic drums, play as soft as humanly possible at first. Get everyone (paster, worship leader, congregation) used to the "new" acoustic sound. If you don't play really soft, and they have a negative response to the sound, you are sunk. Once they get used to the sound, you can gradually increase the volume to where you want it ... but takes weeks to bring it to that level. We want their first reaction to be positive ... so keep that in mind. If you can't tell, I've been down this path many, many, many times. . .

Good advice there.  You only have one chance to make a good first impression.  Try to play softly enough so they need to ask you to play out (play louder).  Coming on too strong will scare them off.
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Offline Bob Bartley

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2007, 12:26 PM »
Another tip (secret): When you do get the acoustic drums, play as soft as humanly possible at first. Get everyone (paster, worship leader, congregation) used to the "new" acoustic sound. If you don't play really soft, and they have a negative response to the sound, you are sunk. Once they get used to the sound, you can gradually increase the volume to where you want it ... but takes weeks to bring it to that level. We want their first reaction to be positive ... so keep that in mind. If you can tell you this ... I've been down this path many, many, many times.


This is good advise. Let me pass on this story. Our church sanctuary seats 2500 with a stage with high ceilings. We have a yamaha maple custom absolute kit. On a Sunday, after we had done our Christmas program, the drums were set up to the side of the stage with out the shield in front of it. Our Pastor was sitting in the front row right in front of the drums. Now we had one of our quieter drummers on that day. Lets just say that in a couple weeks we had a completely enclosed drum room. Like this... http://www.clearsonic.com/isopac_a.html  Way overkill but you get the point on volume.

Offline amoacristo

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2007, 01:17 PM »
Another tip (secret): When you do get the acoustic drums, play as soft as humanly possible at first. Get everyone (paster, worship leader, congregation) used to the "new" acoustic sound. If you don't play really soft, and they have a negative response to the sound, you are sunk. Once they get used to the sound, you can gradually increase the volume to where you want it ... but takes weeks to bring it to that level.

This is definitely the best advice you will receive. I recently started playing at a new church (because of my move) that is even smaller than yours. They have a Remo kit with standard size drums, 12, 13, 16, 22, without a shield. They didn't have a regular drummer before I moved here. I started playing very quiet. They actually asked me to play louder. I was very open with them telling them I needed their help to know what volume to play at. I didn't just go in there and bash away. I made it known I wanted to do what was best and that I could adjust how loud I play. Keep that attitude and you will be fine. I have been amazed at how loud they actually want me to play in such a small room.

mid life crisis

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2007, 02:05 PM »
Thanks for the benefit of your experiences!

So....sounds to me like the consensus is that either of the Gretsch kits are appropriate choices and I need to play as softly as I can to begin with.

It will be a few weeks before we actually try this....I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thanks again!

Offline Todd Norris

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2007, 02:36 PM »

Go with the thin cymbals ... and not too big on the diameter. A thin 16-inch cymbal would be the largest I would go with; maybe a 17-inch. Every room is different, so an 18-inch may work, but keep in mind ... the bigger the cymbal or drum, the more it takes to get it to sound or vibrate ... which means you've got to lay into it (aka play harder) in order to get its full sound. I would stay away from Medium Thin Crashes as well. You can try them, but I would expect that they will take too much to get them to sound full. You're going to want your Crash cymbals to sound full, meaning a big full crash, with only a 12-inch stick height (all wrist).

Absolutely!  I'm using 16" and 17" thin crashes. 


Another tip (secret): When you do get the acoustic drums, play as soft as humanly possible at first. Get everyone (paster, worship leader, congregation) used to the "new" acoustic sound. If you don't play really soft, and they have a negative response to the sound, you are sunk. Once they get used to the sound, you can gradually increase the volume to where you want it ... but takes weeks to bring it to that level. We want their first reaction to be positive ... so keep that in mind. If you can tell you this ... I've been down this path many, many, many times.

THat's exactly what I did.  The first few weeks I was barely touching the things.  Over time, I got a little more bold and eventually, the worship leader was asking for more volume or power at times.  I can't imagine going back to the electronics.  Fortunately those are in the youth room for the youth band...

mid life crisis

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2007, 04:45 PM »
One follow up question.....Do you use any sort of alternative sticks, such as hot rods, in your worship drumming?


Offline Matt Self (Gaddabout)

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2007, 04:58 PM »
One follow up question.....Do you use any sort of alternative sticks, such as hot rods, in your worship drumming?

How big is the stage and how big is the room? Hillsong, like any pop music, requires a backbeat. It's really hard to play those songs the way they were arranged without using sticks, but you make do with the situation you've presented.
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Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2007, 06:28 PM »
How big is the stage and how big is the room? Hillsong, like any pop music, requires a backbeat. It's really hard to play those songs the way they were arranged without using sticks, but you make do with the situation you've presented.

I don't know Matt, I can play some big backbeats using brushes, multi-rods, etc., as long as I play rimshots. I also play rimshots with sticks but keep the drumsticks low to the drum. It takes a little practice, but the results are wonderful. Planning rimshots in a small room, who would have thought!

mid life crisis

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2007, 06:30 PM »
Hmmm....never occurred to me to play a rimshot with the rods...I'll try it when I practice.  Thanks!


Offline Riddim

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Re: Acoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2007, 11:09 PM »
I've had good results in small churches using small toms -- 8, 10, and 12, tuned slightly below mid range -- and much of the time using Blastix.

It's all  down to one's musicality and control of the instrument.
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Offline David Crigger

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Re: Acoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2007, 01:07 AM »
Back in the day, I used to do a lot of those kind of gigs. Small drums, way more than slightly muffled - I wouldn't be looking for full at all, but rather tight and controlled.  Actually back then did most of that work with my Blaemire/Camco kit - 14x20 single head BD with pillow and sandbag, 8/10/12/14" single headed Blaemire toms (I'm sure with a bit of rolled up gaff to tame them a bit) and a 5x14 wood snare (again taped or with a ring - kind of Gadd like) - then still soft as all get out, but I could at least play with a bit of dynamics as the drums themselves weren't "too big" for the room.

Oh and mark me down as one who despises plex shields - help the "mic bleed", but always seem to contribute to the band disconnecting sonically, which always makes acually achieving a blend on stage even harder. Which IMO just contributes to everyone kind of playing in their own little world, which usually means playing louder than if the screens were down and everybody could ear each other.

David

Offline Matt Self (Gaddabout)

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Re: Accoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2007, 03:15 AM »
I don't know Matt, I can play some big backbeats using brushes, multi-rods, etc., as long as I play rimshots. I also play rimshots with sticks but keep the drumsticks low to the drum. It takes a little practice, but the results are wonderful. Planning rimshots in a small room, who would have thought!

Yeah, but I still think it depends on the stage and the room. Our stage is WIIIIIDE, so that's the direction the sound goes. You sit in the third row of our church, and rods on the snare tend to disappear. All the audience gets is the mic'd sound, which is turned way down. They don't get the acoustic reinforcement because it's going sideways and up into the corner dead zones. Just a horribly designed room for sound -- it was designed solely to meet the needs of a quickly growing congregation. I used to think it was just us that had this problem, but if I've been to many churches in strip malls, etc., that have the same problem.

I helped plant this church in 1989 and I've never had to play anything but sticks. Part of it is, I think, because I have a light touch, and part of it is because all of our sound men through the years tend to run our sound back into the monitors at ear damaging level. I've always had to play loud enough to hear myself. What's interesting is we never had a complaint about the volume of the drums until other drummers came in ... then we started getting speeches about using rods/brushes, they put up the sound screen, moved us around (and off!) the stage, and threatened about going electronic (I successfully shut them down on numerous occasions).

So more than anything, it really depends on the drummer.
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Offline Mark Counts

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Re: Acoustic Drums For Worship
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2007, 01:35 PM »
Hi mid life crisis,
First off, welcome to The Drummer Cafe.
Some great advice here.  I am hearing some mixed feelings about the plexy glass and sticks.  My church is a 2000 person church.  We use Roland V Drums which I really don't like much either but for a rare occasion, they have let me bring my equipment.  I play thin - heavy cymbals all sizes and styles in Paiste.  I also play a 6 piece Tama Star classic maple tuned low.  So far everyone has told me that I proved it could be done with taste.  I have to agree with Bart on the Glass stops vocal mics infront of the drum kit from picking it all up. It also keeps the kick drum, and drums and cymbals from beating singers to death in the back. I want to add one more thing that hasn't been metioned unless I just over looked it.
The glass keeps the kick drum from bouncing off the back wall of the church so bad.  This is why Bart was talking about padding and mass to absorb sound.  You will also notice a difference in sound with an empty church while you are rehearsing and a full church.  People are mass and absorb sound. I personally like the Plexy Glass in a church setting.  The biggest Church in Louisville Ky. has 23,000 to 24,000 members and in that church, the drums are completely inclosed.  I think that is a bit much but it seems to work for them. I think that plexy glass is a good option to electric drums.
  As far as sticks go in church on acoustic drums.  I use Hot Rods and Lightning Rods unless the song calls more for a marching band type cadence or Scottish Drum roll, then I use light weight sticks.
  As far as the volume that everyone is talking about.  I have to agree to starting off soft and build slowly after they are sold on the acoustic drums. Oh well, That is my two cents.
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