**** Drum Nerd Speak ****
Things are rarely as they appear and deciphering between deceptively attached false traits like 'sound enhancing' to wooden knobs and true characteristics is a never ending life puzzle that requires a clear mind to navigate. As you can probably tell, I feel much disdain for those humans intent on blurring the lines between true facts and the fabricated un provable claims that these parasitic shiesters use to prey upon lazy minds to sell their wares to the naive. On the flipside though, occasionally I run across truly amazingly subtle nuances that have a very real and surprising impact on the function. Today I had the pleasure stumbling across one of them and I love it!
This is a true story is about a rock band named Chili Peppers. On each tour, every detail is meticulously and naturally pressed to another level of refinement. The interactive entity of musician and equipment has reached such a precise and precarious plateau that even the slightest variations result in surprising ramifications. We experienced that when attempting to switch to a digital monitor consol and the band found the sound disconnecting. It turned out that the digital board introduced a delay time that made the sound more distant sounding so we went back to analog. Around the same time during the promo tour we introduced a "power soak" on John's guitar rig to drop his level while maintaining his tone. It worked perfect tonally and level wise but John was unable to get the desired amount of feedback from the speakers at the lower volumes. Starting this tour Flea switched to vintage Fender basses which were wonderful for the studio but live we lost the clarity and deep low end that signifies his sound, so upon my own and Rick Rubin's request, he switched back the active pre amp Modulus basses. The pattern repeats often and much care is taken with every change made in the audio realm.
Well, today another gremlin got into our world. On a typical Peppers show, chad switches snares a few times so the set is divided on to three snare drums which seems to be the optimum balance between a consistently solid snare sound and not swapping too often. A few shows back, Chad started going through six snares a show, heads were denting and snare heads were tearing, yet nothing was changed. Did Chad acquire instantaneous super arm or did we get a bad batch of heads? Chad has proven consistent year after year so it seemed gear related. Chris Warren, the drum tech, had drum heads from several sources of various ages acquired in various countries, so the probability of a bad batch of heads is quite slim.
After a bit of pondering, the drum sticks seemed to be the only logical culprit but Chad has had his own signature sticks manufactured for him specifically for many years. These sticks are all exactly the same, made by a single company, the same design and there have been no changes. Hmmm, dented heads. Better look at the sticks anyway. Since drum sticks are expendable and they are constantly worn out and given out, it was fortunate that Dave Lee had an old one and here, take a look at this comparison.
The top one is a new stick and the bottom is the older stick. Dented heads. Look at the sharper curve. Since Chad 'side sticks' the snare, that would mean that the new stick would contact the drum with the slightly more pointed edge on the newer stick The toms, though, would contact the flatter edge as they are struck from a less parallel angle. With the force of Chad's hit being constant and if that little pointier edge of the new stick had 1/2 the contact area, that would mean the head is taking twice the force per square inch; hence, head dentation. Further comparison of the sticks revealed that they the new stick are a bit heavier all around and especially on the tip end due to a thicker taper. Now keep in mind, I am not a drummer and this may all be common knowledge, but I do understand physics and it appear that we have found the gremlin and finding gremlins is fun.
Sooooooo, when in doubt, get the sander out! And sand we did.
Curving the new stick's tips to the old shape and it was a 'three snare show' and though the sticks are not quite right, they are close enough and problem solved.
**** End Drum Nerd Speak ****
Hey, check out the newest Rat Swag
And a gratuitous shot of Gibby Haynes and I because I can and to remind myself that I am a lucky roadie.
Hoping I do not bore you and a bit tour weary,