December 30, 2008

My Drumkit Set-Up Experiment

Happy Holidays again!

It was my day off yesterday, and I just stayed home the whole day. Because of the busy holiday sked, it seems like it's been awhile since I last spent my day off in the comforts of my home. I had the chance to rest and sleep some more.

It also gave me the time to tinker with my drumming gear. I did some cleaning, oiling, inspecting... All the caring and pampering it deserves, after how many gigs. Then, I realized that I should start experimenting on altering my drumkit set-up, which I've been thinking about a lot eversince I began mounting the second pair of closed hats in front of me, beside my 10" tom, a la Jojo Mayer. Actually, I got the idea from him, and I thought that it would be more comfortable for me to play the closed hats in that position, since I play more hi-hat grooves with K24/7. Two weeks ago, I got a Tama closed hat attachment, and began setting up the second pair of hats in front of me (when I'm using a traditional 4-piece set-up on gigs). There I realized how comfortable it is to have the closed hats nearer and right in front of me. Plus, it's easier to play grooves on the closed hats with the 10" snare drum on my left-most side, since I don't have to extend my right arm to the right side of the kit (where I used to position the closed hats).

So, after some tinkering and fooling around with clamps and hardware, here's how my Tama Superstar drumkit is set-up right now. From a standard 5-piece configuration (two rack toms + 1 low tom), it's now in a classic 5-piece double-floor tom configuration (except that I have two suspended toms instead of two floor toms).

On some of our gigs, like at Mugen, I play only two toms (10" and 14"). I'm comfortable with small, less-is-more set-ups. I could have easily set aside my 12" tom, but I don't want to lose a voice in my drumkit, plus the fact that I love having many toms. So I moved down my 12" tom in order to accommodate the closed hats. Most drummers think that the 12" tom is too small to be in the "floor tom" position. I can trick it out by tuning it lower (I use double-ply Evans G2 batters on my toms, which helps in providing more low end), and it's a good thing that Tama Superstars are big-sounding drums. I know Keith Harris of The Black Eyed Peas has a similar set-up. Anyway, my kick is 20" in diameter, so everything's still pretty much in proportion. And I think it looks cool.
The cool thing about Tama's OmniSphere double tom holders is its adaptability. One single tom holder is inserted into a separate pipe. I can easily remove the inserted tom holder, and the double tom holder becomes a clean-looking single tom holder. That leaves a hole for me to mount any compatible hardware. So, I removed the closed hat boom attachment from its clamp, then I mounted it on the tom holder. As for the removed tom holder, I mounted it on the closed hat attachment's clamp. Now I can suspend the 12" and 14" toms on a stand.

It took me some time to suspend the 12" and 14" toms, making sure that the cymbal stand is balanced, in respect to its center of gravity. It's a good thing that Tama's Roadpro stands are very strong and stable. One concern that I had was the ride cymbal's distance. I still want my ride cymbal to be on my favored position, high up on my right side, just next to the closed hats. The cymbal boom arm and the stand itself are still strong and stable enough to support my medium-weight ride. The whole stand is holding up pretty well. If the Tama Roadpro double tom stand becomes available here, I would consider that for this low double-tom mounting purpose.

This bird's eye view photo represents a drummer's point of view from behind the kit. I have my 10" snare drum on the left side of the main hats, which isn't shown on the photo. If you can visualize it, it's now more comfortable to play the closed hats, while playing backbeats on either snare. Also seen on the photo is my new bass drum-mounted LP Black Beauty Sr. cowbell. I wrapped an old black wristband around the cowbell for muffling purposes. I can adjust or remove the wristband, depending on the situation.

I'll be using this configuration for the first time this coming Friday night at our Off The Grill gig. I'll try this alternative set-up on the coming gigs. If I become comfortable with it, I can stick with this configuration. The set-up looks very promising.

Drumsets are the coolest musical instruments. Drummers can customize their set-ups depending on their personal and musical needs and preferences. It's unlike any other instrument. It's perfectly fine to have conventional set-ups. Yet, we have the freedom to alter our set-ups in order to meet our needs, or to adjust based on our preferences, or simply to be unique or different.

I'm pretty much happy with my kit. With a few more cymbals and hardware, and perhaps an additional 8" tom (which will make me alter my set-up again), I'll be fully satisfied. Yet, everything would still depend on my musical needs, and even my mood. From a fully-loaded configuration, I can suddenly strip down to a less-is-more set-up, and back again. My drumkit will continue to be a work in progress. Just like me and my drumming.

PS > The second pair of hi-hats belong to Marco Katigbak, so thanks bro for letting me use it and for trusting me to keep it for you. I much search for my own second pair of hats.