West Coast Drum Shop Blog
3/31/23 Blog Entry #7 The evolution of modern drumming and the drum set: A brief history.
Discover the fascinating history of the drums and explore the top brands and models that have shaped the industry. Vintage drums have a rich history that spans over a century, and they continue to be a popular choice for drummers today. From the iconic brands like Ludwig and Gretsch to lesser-known models, this guide will take you on a journey through the evolution of vintage drums and the impact they have had on the music industry.
Vintage drums are drum sets that were manufactured in the past, typically before the 1980s. These drums are often sought after for their unique sound and character, which can be attributed to the materials and manufacturing techniques used at the time. Vintage drums can include classic jazz kits, rock and roll icons, and everything in between. Many drummers prefer the sound of vintage drums over modern sets, and they are often used in recording studios and live performances.
The history of drumming can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where drums were used for communication, religious ceremonies, and entertainment. However, the modern snare drum as we know it today was first developed in the early 1800s. It was originally used in military bands and was designed to produce a sharp, staccato sound that could be heard over the noise of battle. Over time, the snare drum evolved to become a staple of modern music, and vintage snare drums from the early 1900s are highly sought after by collectors and musicians alike.
In the early 1900s, drumming became an integral part of jazz music, with drummers like Baby Dodds and Zutty Singleton paving the way for future generations. As drumming evolved, so did the technology and materials used to create drums, leading to the birth of the modern drum kit. Vintage drums from this era are highly sought after by collectors and musicians alike, and continue to inspire new generations of drummers. The 1920s, also known as the Jazz Age, saw the rise of the drum set as we know it today. Drummers began to experiment with different cymbals and drums, creating a more complex and dynamic sound. The introduction of the bass drum pedal allowed drummers to play more intricate rhythms with their feet, while the addition of tom-toms and other percussion instruments expanded the range of sounds that could be produced. Jazz drummers like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich became household names, and their innovative playing styles continue to influence drummers today.
Slingerland Drums played a significant role in the birth of jazz music. In the 1920s, jazz was becoming increasingly popular, and Slingerland's innovative designs and high-quality craftsmanship made their drums a favorite among jazz musicians. The company's use of metal hardware and innovative tuning systems helped to create the distinctive sound of jazz music, and Slingerland drums were used by many of the genre's most famous performers, including Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.
Ludwig is one of the most iconic drum brands in history, with a legacy that dates back to the early 1900s. The company was founded by William F. Ludwig Sr. and his brother Theobald in Chicago, Illinois. They began by producing bass drum pedals and quickly expanded into drum sets. In the 1920s, Ludwig introduced the first bass drum pedal with a footboard, which revolutionized the way drummers played. The company continued to innovate throughout the 20th century, introducing new materials and designs that helped shape the sound of modern drumming. Today, Ludwig remains a top choice for drummers around the world.
Gretsch is another iconic drum brand with a rich history. The company was founded by Friedrich Gretsch in Brooklyn, New York in 1883. Initially, Gretsch produced banjos, tambourines, and drums for military use. In the 1920s, the company began producing drum sets for jazz musicians, which quickly gained popularity. Gretsch drums were known for their warm, rich sound and innovative designs, such as the use of silver sparkle finishes. Today, Gretsch continues to produce high-quality drums that are beloved by musicians around the world.
World War II had a significant impact on the production of drums, as many drum manufacturers shifted their focus to producing military equipment. However, some companies, such as Ludwig, were able to continue producing drums during the war. In fact, Ludwig was one of the few companies that was able to secure contracts with the military to produce drums for soldiers. After the war, the demand for drums increased as musicians returned home and began playing in bands and orchestras. This led to a boom in the drum industry and the development of new and innovative drum designs.
The 1950s and 60s saw the rise of rock and roll, and with it, the birth of the modern drum kit. Drummers like Ringo Starr of The Beatles and Keith Moon of The Who who created distinct, well-crafted drum parts for this groundbreaking genre that was taking the world by storm, incorporating catchy rhythms and fills into their playing. In the 1960s and '70s, drummers like Ginger Baker of Cream and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin paved the way for future generations by injecting technique and their own unique voices into the world of rock and roll. Billy Cobham, Louie Bellson and Baker pioneered using double bass drum setups which quickly became a staple of rock and metal drumming. At the same time, advancements in drum head technology led to a wider range of sounds and tones, allowing drummers to experiment with different textures and timbres. The modern drum kit had become a versatile and powerful instrument, capable of driving the energy and excitement of rock and roll.
In the mid 1950s through the 1970s, Rogers Drums came to prominence with their shell recipe, hardware innovations and Dyna-Sonic snare drum which featured a unique snare cradle which held the wires against the resonant head. The latter portion of this time period saw the rise in Japanese drum companies who were making solid offerings that would compete head-to-head with American-made instruments. In the 1970s, Pearl, Yamaha and Tama were innovating and offering drummers new sounds and tour-worthy hardware options. Legendary drummers like Stewart Copeland, Billy Cobham and Neil Peart switched to Tama due to their sound, reliability and unique voices like gong bass drums and octobans.
As technology continued to advance, the 1980s and 90s saw the rise of electronic drums. These instruments used electronic triggers and pads to produce sounds, rather than traditional drum heads and cymbals. While some drummers were hesitant to embrace this new technology, others saw the potential for a wider range of sounds and greater control over their playing. Electronic drums also allowed for easier recording and live performance, as they could be easily amplified and mixed. Today, electronic drums continue to be a popular choice for drummers in a variety of genres, and they're the best solution to keep the noise down while practicing at home.
Today, vintage drum brands continue to have a significant impact on the music industry. Many modern drum manufacturers, such as Tama, DW and Pearl, have been influenced by the designs and innovations of vintage drum brands. Additionally, vintage drums are highly sought after by collectors and musicians alike, with some vintage drum sets selling for tens of thousands of dollars. The legacy of vintage drum brands lives on through their continued influence on the music industry and the passion of collectors and enthusiasts.
As we move into the future, the possibilities for drumming are endless. With advancements in technology, we can expect to see even more innovative and creative ways to play and produce sounds. From virtual reality drumming experiences to new materials and designs for drum kits, the future of drumming is exciting and full of potential. One thing is for sure, the passion and love for drumming will continue to inspire musicians for generations to come.
3-16-2023 Blog entry #6 - Beginner Drum Set Buyer's Guide
Whether you're heading to your local music store / drum shop or searching how to buy a drum set online, here is some great baseline info to gather and consider from your friends here at West Coast Drum Shop. Here's the big barrier of entry for most: price. How affordable can a set of drums be, and is it worth saving a few more dollars for the step-up? What do you need to know? Used vs. new? Let's tackle this.
If you're a first time buyer and don't have much of a background, buying used could be risky. Sometimes the money saved from finding a seemingly solid used drum set might wind up costing more than expected due to missing or broken parts, entire components of the kit being lower quality or even non-existent. For example, a used drum set sounds enticing when it comes "complete" for $300, but let's say for example the drumheads are in need of replacing and the kick drum pedal has been previously repaired with incorrect parts. You're now spending roughly equal amounts to replace worn components on a cheap kit, where the same amount of money could have gotten you a brand new kit with new heads, hardware, drums and cymbals. Then you find out that you're missing tension rods and claws for two lugs on the bass drum... see where this goes? There are some semi-complete kits under $600 that exist, but aren't made by reputable brands and aren't built to last. These cheaper models sound more like toys than instruments and will likely need to be replaced if you decide to stick with the drums for more than a year or so. Entry level models from name brands can be used in live performance and even in recording situations with the right heads and tuning.
Buying brand new for a beginner is a great move because you will not have to worry about replacing anything, and it's usually cheaper than a piecemeal of used components purchased separately. Seems counterintuitive, but it often ends up being true. Every major drum brand has complete, beginner drum sets well represented in a few key price points, and they typically come with everything a drummer would need to get started. The drums themselves in these kits can sound great with proper setup.
Some go-to outfits we recommend are the Tama Imperialstar, the Ludwig Evolution for build quality and longevity. They're both under the $1,000 mark and come with everything you would need to get started. If you can handle cheaper cymbals and hardware, the Ludwig Accent kit saves a few hundred dollars and will get the job done, especially if you plan in upgrading as you progress.
Acoustic vs. electronic: Let's face it. Most drummers would prefer an acoustic drum set but in many living scenarios, they are impractical due to the sheer volume they produce. If you're in an apartment/condo situation, it's nearly impossible to make acoustic drums work without completely disrupting neighbors. Even in a house situation with drums in a basement, the noise factor can be too much for some families. Room treatment options such as absorption panels will change the sound within the room, but do very little to prevent sound from leaking out. It's either tolerate the noise, or build a purpose-specific sound proof room with double-walled insulation. Electronic drums are a practical solution to allow beginner drummers to have a simulated experience of playing an acoustic drum set but with a fraction of the volume. All electronic drum sets can be used with headphones, and many modern options comes with super quiet mesh pads. Our Nu-X DM210 comes with everything (minus a throne) for $549, and has excellent build quality and great sounds in its module.
One of the most important pieces if info is to make sure your retailer has expert customer service. Many online drum stores these days are gigantic warehouses where they stock everything they can get their hands on, but cannot support their products or even answer questions a new drummer might have about setup, tuning etc. Your local shop might not have everything under the sun in stock, but are more than happy to support their products and if you buy from them, they often are willing to go the extra mile and make sure you get every bit of satisfaction out of your new drum set. The industry is based on minimum advertised prices, which means everyone is supposed to have the same prices whether it's a big box retailer or a locally owned shop. The difference here is how much time you might need to wait for your exact color or configuration, but the usual answer to this is sometimes just a few weeks. In order to save yourself time and potential headache, we highly recommend supporting local whenever possible and as long as customer service is a high priority. Feel free to contact us at West Coast Drum Shop for further advice and recommendations.
2-15-2023 Blog entry #5 - What is the deal with hoops?
Triple flanged, die-cast, wood hoops, single flanged hoops with clips, no-flange hoops, the list goes on. They make a bigger difference than one might think, and we're here to help with the details.
Most standard drums come with 2.3mm steel triple flanged hoops, which offer an open, "ringy" sound. They are lighter in weight and fairly flexible when tension is added. There is nothing inherently wrong with these hoops, as they are dependable and cost effective to manufacturer. Some believe that swapping these hoops for anything else on "classic" drums will disrupt the inherent beauty of the original design.
Die-cast hoops are probably next in line for what's most common. Being that they are cast in a mold and originally intended to minimize the need for reinforcing hoops in a drum shell, these hoops are heavier, thicker and much more rigid than a standard triple fanged hoop. Due to their rigidity, tension is placed more evenly around the drum head with much less bending than a triple flanged. With this even pressure around the drum, die-cast hoops are much easier to "crank" to higher tensions. Due to their weight, the hoops themselves have a sharper, more metallic sound with less ring if struck by a stick. When added to a drum, you impart those characteristics. Die-cast hoops are known for their solid attack and focused tone. The initial hit is emphasized with an explosive crack, and the overtones are naturally shaped and controlled by die-cast hoops.
Single flange / no flange hoops are typically used with clips to secure them since they have no holes punched in the sides. These hoops can be found on both vintage drums, and modern drums that want to achieve a vintage look and/or sound. Their sound can be described as dry, or even airy unless you end up getting a hoop thicker than 2-3mm. One downside to using the majority of clips and hoops is it's more of a challenge to achieve tighter tensions with vintage designs.
Angel Hoops are new to the fold and combine some of the design elements to offer new and exciting options. They are a thicker (5mm), no-flange design that does away with clips in favor of welded ears that work with normal tension rods. These hoops can fit the majority of modern drums, provide rigidity similar to that of a die-cast hoop, combined with the openness of a single flanged. These hoops both focus the fundamental tone, add attack and squash some of the unwanted overtones. They have a wide tuning range and work well for tighter tensions.
Wood hoops in a modern context are used to impart a fatter, "woodier" sonic characteristic. Ayotte, Dunnett, Woods Custom Drums are three Canadian brands who have pushed the envelope in regards to putting wood hoops into prominence and refining their design. Wood hoops help to minimize overtones and high frequencies while allowing the lows and mids to emanate freely. One downside of wood hoops is they're susceptible to damage/breakage over time with normal use, especially with repeated rimshots on snares. Ronn Dunnett and Jeff Woods have fixed this with the recent release of their patented SteelWood hybrid hoops which have steel-reinforced interiors. Now you wont feel too bad about smashing on your wood hoop snare!
Hoops made from brass, bronze, aluminum and more - Different metals and alloys will ring and sustain in different ways. This applies to hoops the exact same way. Bronze has that bell-like mid tone, brass has that dry, pleasant ring, aluminum is a little bit fatter, etc. Hoops made from different metal will absolutely impart their sonic characteristics onto a drum. These characteristics can be combined along with the different types of hoops to give you the ultimate combination that suits you. "Bell brass" hoops are sought after due to both the sonic characteristics of bronze, with the weight and rigidity of a cast hoop. You get the picture.
We can order any and all of these hoops for you at West Coast Drum Shop. Give us a call or send us a message if you're interested in any advice and recommendations.
1-19-2023 Blog entry #4 - Drum Tuning From the Drum Store Perspective
Does drum tuning matter? What should I tune my drums to? Tuning drums to notes? How do I tune my drums without a tuner? How do I tune my batter vs. resonant heads? Which drum tuning key do I need? The questions surrounding the topic of drum tuning are vast and constantly evolving due to the invention of different techniques, gadgets, heads and recording methods. In this humble drum shop / Bellevue music store blog, we aim to demystify this topic and help struggling drummers achieve a new outlook when it comes to tuning their drums.
The tried and true method to tune drums is... well, there's isn't one. And that's perfectly OK because it allows drummers to discover their own sound and voice on the drum kit through practice and experimentation. The goal is to devote some time to this endeavor and learn a few basics that we have outlined in the two videos to the right.
The phrase "drum tuning" can be interpreted literally to "tuning to notes" or loosely as in "tuning to where it sounds good". Most drummers who've successfully tuned their fair share of drums would likely agree that the latter is what matters most. We've even had top professionals exclaim that tuning drums to notes is futile for numerous reasons. In short, please do not stress about tuning your drums to notes, especially if you are just learning. There are a few rare exceptions where this might be necessary, but keep in mind that your drum might not be happy with the notes you might attempt to tune to!
The most important aspects of drum tuning to us is that your drums sound pleasing to you and the microphones. Each drum should fully resonate on its own, and compliment the other drums in the kit by matching characteristics rather than a series of notes. Typically you wouldn't want your small rack tom to sound "thuddy" and deep while the mid rack tom sounds bright and full of overtones. Rough intervals will naturally form because your shells have different diameters, and these intervals can be adjusted to maximize the range of the drum kit by using a consistent tuning method across your toms. Snare and bass drum tuning in many cases differs greatly from tuning toms since shorter, punchier notes may be desired.
Quick basics for toms:
1. Start with all of the tension rods at "finger tight"
2. Slowly tension the resonant side first by going a quarter turn with your key in a star pattern. Stop when a clear, singular note resonates when struck with a finger at the edge of the drum. Do your best to match the pitch around the diameter of the drum (shown in the video to the right)
3. Repeat with the batter side
4. Play the drum and adjust by finding a proper balance between the batter and resonant side. We like tom reso heads to be the same or slightly tighter on rack toms 8-14" diameter, and slightly looser on floor toms 15-18".
Snare drum tuning: at West Coast Drum Shop we prefer much tighter reso heads for increased projection, and snappier snare response. The reso head should not feel squishy when brought up to tension. You'll have to experiment on your own to find the proper balance between tight and loose, but in many cases when a snare gets brought to us we find that the resonant head is too slack. A slack resonant head combined with snare wires that are too tight will result in a choked sound with poor snare response. We correct this by significantly tightening the resonant head to near tabletop tension and adjusting the snare wires so that the slightest hit towards the edge of the batter head activates the snares and presents a pleasing sound.
Tune-Bots and DrumDials work to help guide you to get even tension around drum heads if you can't do it with your ears, and they're perfectly OK to use. What's also great about them is they provide a numeric value the tension at a particular point in the drum head. These values can be recorded and then utilized as needed to allow for consistent tuning at any time, for example having the same tone from gig to gig. Tuning devices do not replace tuning knowledge and experimentation. Understanding how drum tuning works without them will benefit your experience with them.
The subjective nature of drum tones combined with external factors such as microphones, room size and reflectivity, recording/mixing/live sound engineers, an audience or even the internet means you'll likely be dealing with many different opinions. Sometimes you'll need to stick to your instincts, other times you might need to adjust to keep the room happy. Another thing to add is mods (gel, tape, tampering with snares etc.) are suggested to be used after the drum sounds great and not used as a crutch to disguise tuning issues.
Lastly, we offer drum tuning classes by appointment at our shop which will leave your kit sounding ready for the stage and studio. We'll show you the methods we use on your particular drum set, and work with you on achieving the sound you're looking for.
1-5-2023 Blog entry #3 - Cole's heavy metal snare drum comparison
We often get asked about the difference in sound between snare drums made from different metals. In this video, you can hear the difference between two types of steel, bronze and copper for yourself thanks to Cole Paramore's efforts. These drums were tuned just about the same and played by the same person, in the same room with the same sticks. Each one of these drums features at least a 3mm or heavier shell. Four different types of metal are used.
12-26-2022 Blog entry #2 - Joyful Noise Knighthawk review by Cole Paramore
From time to time, we will be featuring our favorite products here in the blog. We might as well kick things off with a bang by talking about this Joyful Noise ferromanganese Knighthawk snare drum. Normally we have differing opinions over the usual "high-end" snares and kits that come through West Coast Drum Shop, but this particular snare is unanimously praised by all of us. It's a rare combination of unique, striking visual appeal, a beautiful feel, absolutely top tier fit and finish, and world class sound with it's own distinct sonic characteristics. Cole Paramore does a deep dive in his YouTube video to further elaborate on what makes this drum special to us.
Joyful Noise snare drums are for sale in our shop as a special order. We've had a Joyful Noise drum or two get sniped by customers when they were in-transit to our store before they even hit the shelves. There's a good reason drummers search high and low for these JNDC snare drums.
Thanks to everyone for making our 2nd year anniversary and Holiday party/sale a success. Thomas Lang, Dave Elitch, and Dave Garibaldi did clinics, masterclasses, and some private lessons here at the shop and inspired all of us with their amazing knowledge and musicianship. Also John Tempesta stopped by today on his way to play with Hawks Blue Thunder tonight. Thanks to Rachael Rine and Tavis LeMay for making that happen. We thank everyone in our music community for support the last couple of years! It is very much appreciated and humbling. Special thanks to the team here at WCDS - Chris Hankins, Will Andrews, Rebecca Meister Culp, Mike Simms, Cole Paramore, Conrad Ormsby, Wade Reeves. Bruce, Henry LaVallee, and Scott Parker! And last but not least our up and comers at the shop - Michael Todd and Zachary Ziontz!!