My Pretty Big Tama Drumkit, and Why More is More

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When I got my first drum set at 13, it was a standard four piece with one cheesy little sorta crash-ride cymbal. It was a gateway to the most amazing universe I would ever know. I had no idea how drummers were able to do the things they could do, and as my listening expanded to the heavy metal and prog drummers of the day in the 70’s, I was amazed at what guys like Carl Palmer, Ian Paice, and Bill Ward could do with their jazz chops.

Around that time, I also discovered Billy Cobham and his bombastic Fibes kit. His display of musicality and technical prowess were beyond belief, and I worked as hard as I could to figure out what he was doing. As time passed, I eventually did figure a lot of it out, and I could actually play it. At 16, this was quite a ride. I had also added pieces and parts to my small kit and expanded to a pretty big 10-piece, loving every bit of it.

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Fast forward to 2015. I have a three piece be-bop kit to keep my jazz chops in tune and refined, but when it comes time to let it all out, there’s only one way to go…

Last year, I made a decision to focus on Tama, for several reasons. Mind you, I’m not an endorsed pro, not a touring or recording guy. I write a blog and hit things. But I do have plans and ambitions, which are slowly moving forward, and to accomplish them, I decided to go with something I could find anywhere in the world and that had hardware I could do handstands on.

I picked up a cool little five piece with a 20” kick from Guitar Center, Lawndale California. Chris Chiles sold it to me, a very good guy. He told me a girl sold the kit to him but really didn’t want to get rid of it. Hard times, the reality of our day. I immediately felt soul from this little kit, gave the kick a stomp, and bought it.

Mostly, I loved the color. It made me feel a certain way, which brought out certain things in my playing. I know, that sound ridiculous, but I feel colors, literally. Like touch sensations sometimes almost.

So, I bring the little kit home, and I soon wanted more. I went over to Jammin’ Jersey’s, Northridge, California, and picked up three more Rockstar drums (two rack toms, one floor tom). I brought them home, hooked them up, and I felt my childhood coming back. I bought a 22” kick and another rack tom off of eBay, and then things really started to feel familiar.

I’ve always loved cymbals, so over the next several months, I started adding to my Zidljian A’s, including a 23” Sweet Ride, a 22” A Custom Ping ride, a 22” medium thin crash, 16” medium thin crash, and a really cool sounding pair of 15” vintage New Beat hi hats. All in all, 11 cymbals, 10 drums, and a few more Tama snares, including the massive 8×14” Big Black snare.

And when I was done, My Blue Dream was born.

Hell yeah!

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The logistics of setting up such a kit required a lot of boom cymbal stands, although a rack is probably what a reasonable person would use. I’m thinking about it. In the meantime, I have the size kit I want, could use another kick drum and some Octobans (of course), but for now, what I really have… is a percussion ensemble.

When I hear the expression, “Less is more,” I usually cringe. I know, I know, play for the music, and all the other classic phrases… but what if you are capable of unleashing in a way that far transcends what a four piece, single cheesy crash/ride can do? What if you are able to soar, blaze, let er’ rip like a big dog?

Why should drummers in any way feel like they have to apologize for going big?

As far as I’m concerned, More is More. By expanding your tonal palette, you can paint some pretty amazing pictures. On the other side of things, I most often use only the 23” Sweet Ride with my bop kit. I don’t need anything else for that music. But for what I hear in my head, feel in my heart, more lets me do more.

Now if I can just find that 22” Zildjian Pang somewhere…

My First YouTube Video About My Books, The Elements of Rhythm, Volumes I & II

Whew!

Okay, lemme tell ya up front: THIS was some work! And for those of you who’ve already done it, my hat is off to you. For those thinking about making a drum video of sorts, I figure it might be helpful to tell you a little about the process I experienced in hopes that can save you some time and steps.

The short version: I bought a GoPro, a backdrop system to hang fabric, some lights and stands, a very functional tripod (good lord, a must!), a complete set of mics for a 10-piece drum set, a mixer, dug out my ProTools LE8, bought another Mac laptop that could process the GoPro 4k images, and I borrowed a really nice HD video camera as a backup.

The short short version: no GoPro, no mics, minimal kit, and I only used the HD camera and one lighting stand.

What I discovered was that… the new version of iMovie was getting slammed reviews, and I couldn’t figure out how to strip original audio from the incoming iMovie 8 file and layer it with a ProTools sound track. My old laptop worked just fine, and I was able to import the footage, move it around and edit it, add some still shots and some music audio, and get it up and running on YouTube.

Seriously, I wasn’t experienced with this stuff to the degree I wanted to be, but it got done… which is all that matters.

If you’ve been following my last few posts, I’ve been sharing what I’ve been able to accomplish to move forward with getting my stuff out all over the world. We have the technology… but not all of it easy to grasp. It ain’t perfect, but I don’t care. I began the journey three decades ago with this project, so, tonight, I’m happy it got launched in one piece.

Meanwhile, I hope your individual drumming projects are moving forward, and hey, keep pounding if they aren’t done yet. You’ll sleep pretty good once they are, and then you’ll wake up and want to do more.

Enjoy, and remember: Everything You’ll Ever Play Comes From Here!

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