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  1. #1

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    I have a CB drum set that I provide to players who come over to rehearse, jam or teach. This is, basically, a student model kit.

    I now have enough data to say this.

    Without exception, the weaker the player the more negative comments about the drumset. Cymbals don't count. They all bring their own, except hihat.

    The worst player I've ever had here must have complained non-stop for 30 minutes while he retuned the top and bottom heads, changed the damping and generally disparaged the set. Complained about the hihat.

    Next weaker player (although much better than the aforementioned) also made a fuss with retuning and damping. Mild complaints about the hihat.

    Next up, complaints about the throne being wobbly and the action of the bass pedal (both of which I replaced, the guy did have a point).

    Next up, three local pros -- nothing to say about the set. One brings his own throne, but he never said anything negative about mine, which is a DW I paid about $80 for. One changed out the new DW beater for the old CB one.

    Next up, a nationally known player whose only comment was he's happy with any set he doesn't have to bring himself. Said the hihat is fine.

    Next, a Modern Drummer category poll winner (here to teach), stayed to jam for hours after the lesson -- and returned for another lesson and jam. Nothing to say about the set. In fact, he used the old wobbly stool and didn't complain about it.

    So, the best players had nothing bad to say about the set. The weaker players all had something bad to say about the set.

    Of course, that's drummers. I wonder if we guitar players are any different?

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  3. #2

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    Probably not, but most of us carry our own guitars, so we get to complain about amplifiers. And we take full advantage, in my experience, although not always. I lent my Polytone to Jim Hall for a gig, and it developed a volume problem at sound check, had to turn it all the way up to get the sound he needed. I apologized, and he said "it's probably me".

  4. #3
    Come to think of it, I brought an ancient Yamaha JX40 amp to a music Camp. Just to have an extra amp for the classes.

    The staff left it on stage for the faculty performances and it was pressed into service. It was an amp, it worked, what more did they need to know?

    A good local player used it for a band performance and complained that it didn't sound very good, which is true.

    An international star used it for solo guitar performance in the amphitheater and didn't say anything about it.

  5. #4
    I very wise best in the state jazz pianist taught me you can tell a lot by what a guy brings to an audition. If its the shiny most expensive equipment available hes probably not any good.

  6. #5
    At Berklee College of Music we had a no brand amp and speaker several people could plug into at once.I think Motown studios had a similar one. It did the job just fine. Look at the caliber of players who have used these type amps.

  7. #6

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    I’m often asked “what guitar / amp should I buy to improve my playing?”. All I can say in response is “It’s not what you play - it’s how you play it.”

    I’m the house band leader at a small club (about 75 seats including the bar). Our back line includes a Vibrolux, a DV Mark Jazz 12, a Blues Deluxe, a Custom Shop blackface Princeton reverb, a Peavey Bandit, and a triamped bass rig with an 18” bin, 4x10 mid, and twin tweeter top driven by Crest electronics. The keyboard is a Nord, the organ is a new Hammond XK-5 with Leslie, and the house drums are a frame-mounted custom Bucks County kit. We have touring acts from regional beginners to international artists, and my bands play weekly shows and host blues and jazz jams (separately, not together). Wanna guess who complains about the equipment?

  8. #7
    Ive been at my computer about 2 hours now trying to learn a simple task. I offered telephone lesson about what I learned from living and studying with Lenny Breau in exchange for this info. I guess out of 950 to 1000 members online there are no teachers reading tonight.

  9. #8

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    I used to own a fairly modified Subaru WRX and participated in an autocross event to see how I would do on an actual road course. Turns out, I blew through most of the cones and overshot nearly everything. I worried about tire pressure, when I shifted, brake fluid and everything else that was “wrong” with how the car was set up. Made a mental list of all the upgrades I was gonna need to pin the car down and make it handle better. After three rounds, I let my friend, a much more experienced driver, behind the wheel and rode shotgun. He laced the whole course and exited the car saying “Damn, this little thing moves good!!”

  10. #9

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    It's pretty common that when you're starting out, you seem to need to feel a specific "thing" to know what you're doing. And if you don't have that "feel" you're struggling. Lack confidence.

    As you get better, you learn to do some adaptations to get around a few things. Then more things.

    When you're really experienced, you start adapting as a natural part of doing whatever it is that you do. Which means the setup to do that becomes less crucial to feeling like you can successfully perform whatever.

    Joe Pass and Benson and Green could pick up an old beater guitar and if it held a tune, play a gig.

    And after, think, well it's a beater but I got through. What's for dinner?

    In my professional work, the cameras and lights are important, yet I could produce images with crap gear most of my peers couldn't do at all. Not that I don't work to have the gear that does my desire at will. But in a pinch I'll still produce and never complain around a client.

    That F1 or top NASCAR driver can do things with your street car you wouldn't think possible.

    Again ... for beginning people at anything, comfort, feel, and assurance of them is very important. The throne wobble will distract and worry them. The high hat being slightly stiffer will take too much thinking. The tone of a tom being different than "usual" will distract.

    For someone really comfortable at drumming, they're minor annoyances.

    And yea, that's part of why working with experienced people is so often easier. And why Pass or anyone at that level could take any guitar of mine and make it sound better than I ever will.

    Without even thinking about it.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

  11. #10

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    Just another way of looking at it: pros are jaded and don't really give a shit about most of this stuff.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    Just another way of looking at it: pros are jaded and don't really give a shit about most of this stuff.

    "jaded" meaning experienced, perhaps. I've found that most of my equipment concerns don't affect the audience at all as long as everything is working. Attitude and expertise can overcome most obstacles.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz View Post
    Attitude and expertise can overcome most obstacles.
    In his 70s, Paul Newman was asked by an interviewer why he thought he was still able to win races over younger drivers with better reflexes, vision, etc. He responded that age and treachery beat youth and skill every time.

    In my experience, most of those who blame their tools have only one of those on which to depend.

  14. #13

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    Analogous: I have done some amature racing and had added some "toys" to my car. I was at an event and asked this wonderful driver, who ran a racing shop and was a a great driver, what else I could add to my car. He leaned over, and ever the gentleman, said "Learn to drive". That, and the fact that he had just saved me untold thousands of dollars... A somewhat hurtful learning experience.

  15. #14

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    That's an awful lot of drummers coming through your place, man, hope you got your valuables secured and a lock on the liquor cabinet

    Joking aside, that's pretty much par for the course...pros are pros, because they are professional, and bitching about gear ain't professional.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwackbob View Post
    Analogous: I have done some amature racing and had added some "toys" to my car. I was at an event and asked this wonderful driver, who ran a racing shop and was a a great driver, what else I could add to my car. He leaned over, and ever the gentleman, said "Learn to drive". That, and the fact that he had just saved me untold thousands of dollars... A somewhat hurtful learning experience.
    Indeed! I've been an SCCA racer for decades (FV, C sedan). I've built and maintained all my cars over the years and loved finishing ahead of the guys who had pros build up the same car for 5 times what I had in mine. I'm also a vintage racer (VSCCA), and I've done well over the years. Back in the '80s, I fully restored the 16th Lotus 7 series 1 (serial #416) and ran it for about a decade, setting the VSCCA small bore lap record at Lime Rock (1:06.195) at Vintage Fall Festival in 1989 on street tires (Pirelli P3s). I loved the car, but it was a 36 short and I'm a 42 long - so I finally sold it to one of the pay-a-pro people.

    Several weeks later, I got a call from his mechanic, who's been a friend (and great competitor) for many years. He told me to be aware that the buyer was very angry with me because he believed I'd switched engines on him before he picked up the car. The best he could do at Lime Rock (on racing tires) was a 1:27, and he got it down to a blazing 1:22 after pumping another $10k into it. "But don't worry about it - I took it out this morning and ran a 1:08 without pushing very hard"

    Once again, it ain't what you play/drive, it's how you play/drive it!

  17. #16

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    I agree on the equipment and it pretty much crosses music and sports. Many years ago in my running prime I showed up for a 10k race in my racing flats and pretty decent running shorts and matching tank top. I will never for get the guy lined up next to me had on an old pair of beat up running shoes that had duck tape around the top near the toes wrapped around. Had on an old gray pair of cotton gym shorts and cheap white cotton tee-shirt. The only thing was he did look in great shape and was build like a runner.

    I think the guy finished in the top 5 of the race that had well over 400 runners. He was long ahead of me and managed to set my 10k PR.

  18. #17

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    As we mature on all topics, we learn to use only our inner voice for negative expression. And quiet adaptation to challenges is a skill. I'm sure pro drummers sound and play better on pro sets of their own choosing. And enjoy it more.

    Gear does matter. Possibly by varying degrees for different instruments but for the ones I'm familiar with, saxophone and guitar, it matters a lot. At least when it comes to how I think I sound (something I actually care about) and how much I enjoy playing.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spook410 View Post
    As we mature on all topics, we learn to use only our inner voice for negative expression. And quiet adaptation to challenges is a skill. I'm sure pro drummers sound and play better on pro sets of their own choosing. And enjoy it more.

    Gear does matter. Possibly by varying degrees for different instruments but for the ones I'm familiar with, saxophone and guitar, it matters a lot. At least when it comes to how I think I sound (something I actually care about) and how much I enjoy playing.
    I don’t disagree with you at all. It’s that quiet adaptation that differentiates those who can from those who can’t. Being able to make / get the most from whatever resources you have is a valuable skill. But the wise person puts all available effort and energy into that pursuit, while the unwise wastes effort and energy complaining and blaming. There is no best except the best that each of us can be.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    That's an awful lot of drummers coming through your place, man, hope you got your valuables secured and a lock on the liquor cabinet

    Joking aside, that's pretty much par for the course...pros are pros, because they are professional, and bitching about gear ain't professional.
    As a teen "pro" I played my Strat thru one of these, a SS 100w 2x12. It was loud and got the job done with a EHX Big Muff in front of it.


  21. #20

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    "It's a poor workman that quarrels with his tools".

  22. #21

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    Most working pros need quality, functional instruments. For electric guitarists, a very good instrument can be found for under $1,000 including a setup by a qualified luthier/guitar tech. You don't need an L5 for that bar gig. However, horn players have to pay 5-7K for an older quality instrument. Band models are difficult to play well and don't have the "sound" most pros need. However, with drummers, as long as the hardware is functional, the heads can be tuned, and the cymbals go "ting ling a ling" there's no need for pro-level drums. I once needed a drummer for a gig in 3 days. My girlfriend ,at the time, told me how great her brother was and that he would drive in from New York to Chicago for the gig. When he showed up the day before at rehearsal, he had an artist model Ludwig set with top line beautiful Zildjan Cymbals and a Maple Ludwig snare. We were doing Funk/R&B and chose Al Green's "Love and Happiness" as a easy warmup song for him. After the usual intro without drums, we kicked into the song and by the second bar this guy was the worst drummer I've ever heard and couldn't keep time to save his life. If he were playing tin pans, he couldn't have sounded worse. So, RP you're 100% right!
    Play live . . . Marinero



    P.S. I had to call the union for a drummer that same night and got an old studio guy who kicked ass on the drums. We were in our 20's . . . he was in his late 70's . . . funky dude! M

  23. #22

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    I guess with my level of playing I should be blaming the equipment more than I am.

    Younger plays pro and below seem a lot more focused on gear these days. IDK, maybe it was always so, but I look back at what some great players gigged with back in the day...stories of Parker with a borrowed plastic saxophone...

    I think there have always been some musicians who are interested in gear, probably since time began ("Oh I only used sheep gut lyre strings, I would never put goat gut on my lyre.") The prototype of this kind of artist is Pat Metheny, who's a player AND a gearhead. Maybe he was inspired by Les Paul in this regard.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero View Post
    Most working pros need quality, functional instruments. For electric guitarists, a very good instrument can be found for under $1,000 including a setup by a qualified luthier/guitar tech. You don't need an L5 for that bar gig. However, horn players have to pay 5-7K for an older quality instrument.
    And we guitarists are one spoiled group of musicians for sure! I have no doubt that I could play most of my gigs with an inexpensive solid body guitar that wouldn't top $500 with a good setup even if I replaced all the hardware and electronics (a necessity for reliability if nothing else). But a decent horn of any kind today costs far more than I ever thought, and you can't just replace the mechanical parts of a cheap sax with better keys and pads.

    Just another reason to love the guitar!!

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit View Post
    And we guitarists are one spoiled group of musicians for sure! I have no doubt that I could play most of my gigs with an inexpensive solid body guitar that wouldn't top $500 with a good setup even if I replaced all the hardware and electronics (a necessity for reliability if nothing else). But a decent horn of any kind today costs far more than I ever thought, and you can't just replace the mechanical parts of a cheap sax with better keys and pads.

    Just another reason to love the guitar!!
    Seems like horns used to be a lot cheaper. IDK...my son played sax in high school and I looked into getting one for him, but gave up. We rented a Yamaha from a local music store, and they wanted $1500 in installments to buy outright, which I thought was a bit much knowing the likelihood of him playing after HS. Maybe if I had got the sax for him he’d be playing jazz gigs now??

    (My older son played our nice Yamaha piano, and then got a nice digital after he left home, and he still plays and composes.)

    Here’s the difference though:

    Sax guy gets calls for:

    Classic rock covers—Selmer alto
    Jazz combo—Selmer alto
    Country outfit—Selmer alto
    Big band—Selmer alto
    Classical music ensemble—Selmer alto

    Guitar guy gets same calls:

    Classic rock covers—LP AND Strat, cause you know
    Jazz combo—ES 175
    Country outfit—Tele
    Big band—ES 335 (to cut through the mix)
    Classical music ensemble—Cordoba Pro

    Plus a half dozen amps to cover every eventuality...

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    Just another way of looking at it: pros are jaded and don't really give a shit about most of this stuff.
    Maybe in some instances but pro players understand how to get good sounds out of equipment. They understand how eq-ing works, gain, presence and how to use volume controls on the guitar. Amateurs will crank their guitars to 10 and put the eq settings at 5 and god knows what they do with reverb, gain and presence. They do that with every kind of amp - as if they are all the same. I was at a jam and the hosts had an inexpensive modelling amp on stage. This inexperienced guy gets up and starts twisting knobs to his usual setting and it is sounding like hell. He is complaining after he gets off the stage that the amp sucks. I get up and see he has a Cube 60 on a Marshall model with crazy eq settings. No clue. I dialled in good JC model based on how I understood JCs to work and it sounded great. That said, I had spent the previous 10 years messing with all kinds of amps and guitars. There is so much giggable inexpensive equipment out there we really are blessed as guitar players. You just need to spend the time working with different gear (even the cheap stuff) and learning how it works.