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How do you cope with loud drummers?

Jimmymack

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We all experience this and I did so again last week. It seems to be commonplace that drummers will play loud unless it’s a ballad and even then there’s no guarantee. I spent a long time looking for louder mouthpieces but the one I have is as loud as I want. This particular guy I’ve played with several times and called him out on it but he just gets offended, as drummers seem to, this last time it was the first opportunity I’ve had in over a year and I told myself that he probably wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was wrong. Halfway through the session he said “you know, I think I’ve lost half of my hearing” which he blamed on having spent years next to bass amps. Then he went back to knocking the living excrement out of his kit.

Is it just me, because if I’m spending my energies on blasting the horn so I can hear myself I can’t play, certainly not with any imagination? How do you manage in these situations beyond making the best of it and leaving unhappy? Maybe I’m just being too precious but I think it’s bad musicianship and I’d be interested in your take and experiences.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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I'd get an app (e.g. Audio Tools) with a sound pressure level meter in it and find out what the dbSPL is. Armed with data will make the conversation more meaningful.

The rules for employees is 85db, here's a quote from the HSE web site:

The level at which employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones is 85 dB(A) (daily or weekly average exposure) and the level at which employers must assess the risk to workers' health and provide them with information and training is 80 dB(A).

The general principle being that regular exposure to levels above 85db places you at risk of hearing damage.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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New Mexico, US
Are you the only one in the band who feels that way ? Because if there is another member who also does, then it's likely the ensuing conversation can be something which the drummer cannot just blow off....

(No, it isn't just you....)
 

Halfers

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Our drummer used to play with a set of sticks made out of dowling rods or cane, bound together. Plenty loud enough for pub and small venue gigs and if the venue got much larger, he'd still use them if there were drum mics available. Not sure what the brand was. I seem to remember them as being Hot Sticks, but a quick google shows that they do a whole host of sticks.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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Really comes down to the band leader ie play down or you won’t be on the next gig. Hot Rods could be suggested if he can’t temper how hard he hits. Otherwise, it is what it is.
 

Jimmymack

Member
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Location
London
Others feel the same but seem ready to live it, I’m the intolerant one. The trouble is that he’s a good drummer, also a good friend of the pianist who tends to put these thing together, also she can just turn up the volume which of course makes it worse.

I don’t really want this to be about him, although I think he’s the most extreme that I know, but to me it seems to be a common event. I know that one solution is to not go to sessions where he’s playing. If you can get some distance between you and him it can work, this happened to be in a rehearsal studio, but I wondered if there were any other ideas or similar experiences.
 

saxyjt

Saxus Circus Maximus
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This particular guy I’ve played with several times and called him out on it but he just gets offended, as drummers seem to, this last time it was the first opportunity I’ve had in over a year and I told myself that he probably wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was wrong. Halfway through the session he said “you know, I think I’ve lost half of my hearing” which he blamed on having spent years next to bass amps. Then he went back to knocking the living excrement out of his kit.

How do you cope with loud drummers?​

I googled for an anwser and here is what I found:

Hit them repeatedly, harder than they hit their drums!

Preferably not with your horn...

Just as you'd do tenderising an octopus1

(1) Tenderising the octopus:
The best thing you can do is to take a rounded wooden stick2 (or a meat pounder) and to beat it hard, for about 10 minutes, on its head (the area around the eyes) and on the tentacles all their way long. This operation will stretch the fibres and make the meat tender.

(2) A baseball bat does it, but I guess a properly handled cricket bat can achieve the same.

NB: Of course this is second degree3.

(3) As opposed to first degree4

(4) Murder for example.
 

Jimmymack

Member
Messages
589
Location
London
Our drummer used to play with a set of sticks made out of dowling rods or cane, bound together. Plenty loud enough for pub and small venue gigs and if the venue got much larger, he'd still use them if there were drum mics available. Not sure what the brand was. I seem to remember them as being Hot Sticks, but a quick google shows that they do a whole host of sticks.
If he’s as deaf as he says He probably couldn’t hear himself if he used them. I don’t know how he hears the band.
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
A regular dep drummer used to playing big band and losing his hearing was a little loud for the small ensemble at a church fund raising do.
The band leader admonished him on the mic. The rest of the group looked a little sheepish and we carried on.
After several hundred emails he decided not to play with us again. Not that he got asked.
If the band gets too loud my solution is to play more quietly. I've even been known to mime. ;)
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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Hampshire
A regular dep drummer used to playing big band and losing his hearing was a little loud for the small ensemble at a church fund raising do.
The band leader admonished him on the mic. The rest of the group looked a little sheepish and we carried on.
After several hundred emails he decided not to play with us again. Not that he got asked.
If the band gets too loud my solution is to play more quietly. I've even been known to mime. ;)
Colin that’s far too subtle, no one would notice. The worst example I’ve had was the on-stage fold back at an overseas festival. It was so loud that I couldn’t discern pitch.
 

Jimmymack

Member
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589
Location
London
If the band gets too loud my solution is to play more quietly. I've even been known to mime. ;)
I’ve heard of singers doing that, I think it was Ella Fitzgerald, I’m not sure I have the same clout but I have considered it. Of course I wouldn’t be able to hear myself at all so maybe miming is the answer.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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2,281
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New Mexico, US
Good thread, hot sticks or the like can help somewhat, but if you have a sorta emotionally labile drummer to begin with they'd probably just get all mopey.

Yes this is the exact problem.....it causes the entire band volume to rise....guitar, keys, bass, they will all turn up a notch....which of course, will make the drummer then play louder...and it can just become an auditory assault.

Talk to the most reasonable member of the band, get their feeling on it. If it's not gonna be the keys player, who may 'wingman' for their drummer....then someone else ~ two other members approaching the leader or drummer..again, it cannot be blown off as 'this guy just has a stick up his arse about me".

I actually kinda wonder, these days ~ if a horn player in an electric group started to play more softly ~ whether anyone in the rhythm section would even notice or care....
 

jbtsax

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In some groups and venues, the drum set is behind a three sided plexiglass sound shield. The drummer can hear himself as loud as he wants and the rest of the group can hear themselves. A lot of the gigs I played "way back when" were in country clubs and the drummer used a cut down set and nothing but brushes. Of course we played lots of ballads and bossa novas as part of the "background" for the clientele who were more interested in each other and drinking than the music.
 

Jimmymack

Member
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589
Location
London
Good thread, hot sticks or the like can help somewhat, but if you have a sorta emotionally labile drummer to begin with they'd probably just get all mopey.

Yes this is the exact problem.....it causes the entire band volume to rise....guitar, keys, bass, they will all turn up a notch....which of course, will make the drummer then play louder...and it can just become an auditory assault.

I actually kinda wonder, these days ~ if a horn player in an electric group started to play more softly ~ whether anyone in the rhythm section would even notice or care....
All true, the thing is I know drummers who play the drums as a musical instrument rather than an assault weapon but I don't usually get to choose.
 

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