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   Someone is offering me a Sabian Jack Dejohnette Signature Series hi-hat at a price that's too low to beat (he made a mistake with these and bought something else). The only problem is that the sound is nothing like what I imagine I'm hearing on my jazz CDs! Are these jazz hi-hats? What hi-hats would help me achieve that kind of sound?

   The "jazz sound" is in the ear of the player. I've heard excellent jazz recordings made with 14" thick hats, 15" thin hats, and any combination in between. The real question is, do these cymbals give you a distinct sound, and are they something you should add to your kit to broaden the tonal palette? Drummers are sound groupies, the more sounds, the better [I know I'm going to get into trouble here :-)]. Don't limit your tonal palette: if the guy's giving you a good deal, go for it. You'll make use of them someday, and you'll be glad you bought them!

   How do you feel about digital drums?

   There is alot of debate about the "validity" of digital drums, even after Bill Bruford proved that they do have a place in the drumming community. I don't have a hang-up about them. They're just a tool.

   They would certainly benefit someone who has restrictions in space or on the amount of noise they can safely generate (dorms, apartments, etc.). As musical instruments, they have certainly come a long way, but there's still some trashy product out there. Good digital drums cost a lot of money, so take your time in your purchase and check out a number of different makes and models. If one music store only deals one brand, go to another music store! Don't rush the purchase.

   What's your view on playing a 4-piece kit as oppose to a 5-piece kit when playing rock music? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

   There are none. Some folks are purists, who believe that since Ringo used a four-piece, you don't need any more drums to play rock! Adding another tom will only add to your tonal options; it should not effect the way you lay down the rock beat.

  • Craig writes:
  •    In this argument personally i would go for the 5 piece kit, as i like large kit (mine being a 9-piece) 22" Bass Drum, 6", 8", 10" Remo Roto-toms, 12" 13" Toms 16" Floor Tom 14" Rock Snare 10" Effect Snare. All mounted on a pearl drum rack, I love my kit, I say have all the drums you want if you will use them, and not leave any out...

       There not there just to look good, its your playing.

  • obuma oyafah writes:
  •    When playing a 4-piece kit I feel limited going around the kit, but playing five piece makes me feel a little complete.

   How do you feel about drum machines? They have been around for years, but mainly in Dance/R&B/Pop realms. Now, however, they are making appearances in every form of music (David Bowie, U2, etc.). I was just wondering what your opinion is on them.

   I bet you're looking for the old argument that drum machines usurp the drummer's role and they have no place in music; that only a "real" drummer playing "real" drums can make "real" music. But, I guess that begs the question: what defines "real" in all of these statements?

   I think we've matured as drummers through the scare put into us by these instruments. We now see them as tools that can be used to make music. It is interesting to note that drum machines - artificial drummers, if you will - have matured more rapidly and fully than any other "imitative" instrument: keyboards, bass guitars, etc. I guess this says more about the drummer's perceived role in the making of music than it does about our actual role: the music community seems more comfortable with us as timekeepers than as thinking musicians.

   But, that's OK with me, because times have changed back in the drummers' favor. Anyone can program a drum machine to make a simple rhythm, but only a real drummer, playing real drums (acoustic or electronic), can - through his or her performance - make the music breathe, and in doing so breathe life into the music.

   I have noticed that many drummers, including you, are using an extra snare drum on the drumset off to the left of the normal snare drum. Why is that?

   I honestly don't know why drummers didn't start this years ago. Besides giving us another snare sound color (many drummers put the 6 1/2" between their legs and a 4" or piccolo to their left), it also helps in the playing of odd rhythm patterns; it's a simple matter of dropping the left hand off the hats to the snare.

   I guess the best way to sum it up would be the word "versatility".

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