It’s hard out here for a drummer. Or, more to the point, it’s expensive out here for a drummer. There’s nothing quite as infuriating as listening to your guitarist complain about switching out strings when you have a crack in your ride or drumheads to change. Being a drummer is financially taxing, and the prospect of dropping hundreds of dollars on a new cymbal or drum begins to outweigh a musician’s natural instinct to seek out new sounds.
Expanding your sound doesn’t have to include a second mortgage or gambling debt. A number of cheap, effective methods for producing the most out of your kit are up for grabs and waiting for you to give them a go. Here are a few of our favorite:
Buying a new cymbal for your kit is great for an added sonic option, but between getting a new stand and the prices some chinas and accent cymbals fetch, you can drop some serious coin. Instead of expanding, stack it up: placing an inverse 10 or 12” splash or china on top of your ride or larger crashes gives you an immediate new option well within reach (pun intended). Zildjian’s Trashformer and Zil-Bels both provide distinct, unique sounds (one a staccato trash accent and the other a piercing bell) for an added flavor to your kit without sapping your wallet.
Bongos, once an object of ridicule for their association with coffee shops and bad poetry, are one of the best ways to diversify your sound and your playing. Producing a high-timbre response when struck with a stick, think of bongos as a cost-effective set of toms an octave or two up. Finished in tasteful stains and lacquers, a set of bongos will also look much more attractive and natural on a stage than a cumbersome set of Roto or Octo Toms. Mounted on a stand and placed next to your rack or floor tom, bongos provide a big tonal option in a compact package. Feel free to experiment with djembes, congas, and other world drums to find a sound that suits you.
Glenn Kotche of Wilco spent the better part of his adult life tinkering with ways to maximize the sound from a drum set. Known for everything from ping-pong balls filled with shotgun pellets to literally playing on an old hubcap, one of Kotche’s most fascinating discoveries is the “floor tom timpani”. Produced by feeding a length of rubber tube into the vent hole of the floor tom, the drum is played while blowing air into it, changing the pitch and providing an orchestral feel at a fraction of the cost. For an added effect, play the floor tom with a tambourine or sizzle string resting on the head for more atmosphere.
If you’re looking for a new sound out of your drums without a new set, wood hoops might be in your future. Typically associated with snares, pronounced rimshots, and sticking, wood hoops add a clarity and warmth reminiscent of a maple drum. The addition of wood hoops can make you feel like you’re playing an entirely different kit. If you don’t want to commit to a completely new set of hoops but love the rim clicks, smaller wooden blocks, sometimes called “cajon blocks”, that attach to the snare rim are available.
Julian Ludwig é diretor do Pro Áudio Clube, produtora de áudio Jacarandá, Loc On Demand e Jacarandá Licensing. Trabalhou para empresas como: Guaraná Antartica, TV Gazeta, NET, Chivas Regal, FNAC, Prefeitura de São Paulo, Mukeca Filmes, Agência LEW’LARA TBWA, Agencia MPM, Agência Content House entre outras. Fez trilhas para programas de TV como: Internet-se (Rede TV), Você Bonita (TV Gazeta), Mix Mulher (TV Gazeta), Os Impedidos (TV Gazeta), Estação Pet (TV Gazeta), CQC (TV Band) Vinheta Oficial TV Gazeta, entre outras. Também atuou em vários longas e curtas metragens, incluindo mixagem em 5.1 e serviços de pós-produção.