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  • Get Inspired - 7 of the World's Most Admired Drummers

    Looking to channel the legendary power of the greatest rock and roll, punk, and jazz musicians? Look no further! We’ve listed some of our favorite drummers of all time below.  

    Now, without further ado—drum roll please!

    1. John Bonham

    A true Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-er, John Bonham is considered by many as the greatest rock drummer that ever lived.

    Born in Redditch, UK in 1948, Bonham (also known as Bonzo), was first recognized for his insane drumming talent as the drummer in the 1970s rock band, Led Zeppelin.

    His impressive solos in songs like “When the Levees Breaks” and “Moby Dick” are still studied by musicians today and highly regarded as some of the most influential solos in modern rock history. His style is most characterized by incredibly fast bass drumming and precise rhythm. In the late 1960’s, Bonham was introduced to Ludwig drums and became a major endorser for the brand.

    Bonham was also known for his extremely charismatic personality and charming spirit. His untimely death at the age of just 32 years old came as a shock to fans, and ultimately led to the end of Led Zeppelin.

    Rolling Stone magazine ranked Bonham as the #1 best drummer in their list of the “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time”.

    2. Neil Peart

    Famously known as the drummer in the Canadian Rock Band, Rush, Neil Peart is one of the most influential drummers still alive today.

    Born in 1952, Peart is said to have first gained his drumming inspiration from other hard rock drummers, including Bonham and Keith Moor. Eventually, he started to incorporate jazz elements into his drumming style, even studying under famous jazz musician Freddie Gruber. During this time he began to incorporate more swing components into his music.

    In 1983 Peart became the youngest person ever inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame—one of the most prestigious honors in the field.

    Peart continued performing with Rush until his retirement in December 2015. Some of the brands Peart has favored include Tama and Ludwig.

    3. Keith Moon

    Known as the eccentric drummer in the band, The Who, Keith Moon still receives both praise and criticism from critics today.

    His style inspired the character Animal, in the Muppets—a character often seen smashing drum kits and trashing hotel rooms. His ferocity, however, translated in his drumming performance. He became famous for refusing to do drum solos and instead attempting “to play with everyone in the band at once” (John Entwistle, Rolling Stone Magazine).

    A true rock-and-roller, Moon was also known for his controversial stunts and destructive personality—which some say led to his overdose at the young age of 31. Regardless, of his personal battles, his emotional and commanding drum performance with The Who has carried on his legacy as one of the greatest drummers of all time.  

    In 1964-1965, Moon used a Ludwig drum set with Zildjian cymbals.

    4. John “Jabo” Starks

    If you’re looking for some funk and blues inspiration, John “Jabo” Starks, is your man. Known for solo work as well as his music with Clyde Stubblefield, Jabo is a stable drummer in contemporary hip-hop and R&B records.

    Together, Starks and Stubblefield became incredibly influential on hip-hop’s Golden Era. However, many still consider them incredibly underrated artists. Nevertheless, Jabo had a long and highly successful career, working with musicians like B.B. King and Bobby Bland over the years.

    5.Ginger Baker

    Known as a pioneer in genres like jazz fusion, world music, and heavy metal, Ginger Baker Is known as a “superstar drummer” with a style that dips into jazz and African rhythms.

    Born Peter Edward Baker in 1939 in South London, Graham first made his mark in the music world as the drummer for Cream, alongside legends, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. The powerful trio combined jazz training with a distinct polyrhythmic style and long drum solos.

    After the band’s breakup, Graham traveled to Nigeria to open a studio. His music continued to evolve during this time, and he is now praised for his deep understanding of African beats.

    Earning a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, and the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame, Graham carries on his legacy today with a variety of musical projects. He is also known to play with two bass drums instead of one, and purchased a new Ludwig drum kit in 1968.

    6. Dave Grohl

    From Nirvana to the Foo Fighters Dave Grohl made his mark on the 80s punk rock and grunge scene early on.

    Grohl first learned how to play the drums by practicing in the Washington D.C. suburbs, beating thick marching band snare sticks on pillows. In this manner, he became an extremely powerful drummer, and he was known for his incredibly loud and relentless sound. This sound is what attracted Nirvana front-man, Kurt Cobain.

    Grohl’s incredible drumming has been recognized as one of the leading features that helped Seattle grunge band, Nirvana, go from an independent band to multi-platinum success.

    After the death of Kurt Cobain, Grohl continued his musical career as lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for the Foo Fighters. In addition, he has played drums for many other rock and roll legends, including Queens of the Stone Age, Pearl Jam, David Bowie, Tom Pettie, Nine Inch Nails, Tenacious D, and others.

    7. Al Jackson Jr.

    Also known as the “human timekeeper”, Al Jackson Jr was famed for his incredible drumming ability and precision. Born November 27th, 1935, Al Jackson became a founding member of the Booker T. & the MG’s group working with Stax Records.

    Al Jackson Jr was influenced early on by his father, Al Jackson Sr. who led a jazz/swing band in Memphis, TN. At the age of 5, young Jackson Jr began playing the drums, even performing on stage with his father.

    Today, Jackson Jr is still highly praised as one of the most influential drummers to date. He was known to use Ludwig and Rogers drums.

    All great drummers start somewhere. Think you have what it takes to channel these legends? Get all the equipment you need by browsing our inventory here at Drum Center of Portsmouth!

  • Cymbal Drum Sets: Yay or Nay?

    A cymbal crash is essential when playing the drums for different reasons. It can mark the transition into a new section of a song, be played as an accent, or marks the end of a tune. Yes, they are necessary if you want to take your playing to the next level.

    With this being said, is a cymbal drum set a good investment in getting your drumming career off to a good start?

    We all want the most value for our money, so what’s the best set out on the market? There isn’t a definitive answer since every drummer has a budget and plays unique music – at the end of the day, your ears will be the deciding factor! Your cymbal set needs to suit your musical tastes and fit with the rest of your drum set. But here are a few things to consider when browsing through potential cymbal box sets.

    The Biggest Benefit Of Cymbals

    Cymbals are an important part of a drum set. Buying as a set instead of individually is the will save you a large sum of money rather as opposed to buying everything separately.  

    For example, our specially-designed, and exclusive Zildjian A Sweet Cymbal Pack has a retail value of $2,200, but are available for $799.95, ultimately saving you over $1400. In this set you will get the following:

    • 15” New Beats
    • 18” & 20” Thin Crashes
    • 23” Zildjian Sweet Ride Cymbal

    Aside from the price value of a set, there are other reasons cymbal drum sets are a must-have. The problem you may run into when looking for a set is that there’s an overwhelming number of models to choose from.

    Which ones should you start off with? Keep these key elements in mind to help you decide:

    Material

    You want the most value for your money which is why you need to consider quality, more specifically, the material it’s made from. Most commonly made of bronze, cymbals may also be made from brass which results as being cheaper in price. You can, however, expect all cymbals to be made up of some bronze – a combination of copper and tin.

    There are two types of bronze used for cymbals: B20 and B8. With this being said you have the following three options when it comes down to your set:

    • Brass – used for entry-level models
    • B20 – 80% copper and 20% tin
    • B8 – 92% copper and 8% tin

    Bronze comprises most cymbal alloys making it a good material to start off with. The less tin a cymbal has the more focused it will sound offering higher frequencies. A good rule of thumb is that the higher the tin to copper ratio, the pricier it will be. If you have questions about the best material for you, learn more about the types of cymbals!

    Types of Cymbals

    When it comes down to types of cymbals you need to consider 4 categories: hi-hat, crash, effect, and ride. You’ll notice that each has a specific role to fulfill in a modern drum set.

    Crashes

    typically range in sizes 14” to 18” and there is a 16” which is a good size for beginners. The sounds that crashes offer is explosive however not very long in duration. Keep in mind that the thicker the cymbal is the higher the pitch will be. Opposite to ride cymbals which hold down a steady rhythm, drummers use crashes to create defined and loud accents. You can play this type with your sticks, hands, or mallets.

    Ride cymbals

    range from 18” to as much as 26”. For beginners, consider a 20” or 22” as they will make a good starting point. Rides give short, distinct ping like sounds to ride sticking patterns like standard jazz patterns or eighth notes. Holding down that steady style for drummers, a ride cymbal is placed on the right side of the drummer assuming they’re right-handed.

    Hi-hats

    are usually sold in pairs in conjunction with bass and snare drums. The bottom cymbal is just a bit thicker than the top one. The same rule we mentioned earlier about the thickness of cymbals applies here. The lower pitch will come from the thinner one. Sizes range from 12” to 14”. Hi-hats are operated by a pedal that opens and closes them.

    Effect cymbals

    are a great addition to add to your set, however, they are a little on the pricier side. There are a few kinds of effect cymbals among them being Splash and China that can really add a distinct signature sound to your playing.

    • The smaller accent cymbal is known as splashes and range in between 6” to 13”. You will find a wide variety of splashes such as the salsa splash or bell splash.
    • Next are the china cymbals which resemble Chinese gongs. They typical china bell is cone-shaped and are thin. They usually range between 12” to 26” in diameter. The sound of a china bell is often described as explosive and dark.

    Effect cymbals are used in non-rhythmic ways to bring forward a burst of accents. These are essential to your drum kit allowing you to create your own special playing style.

    Conclusion

    If you want to start off your drumming career on the right foot, we suggest you look into cymbals. You don’t have to spend a fortune especially if you’re a beginner on a tight budget. Browse through our discounted options to find something that works for you! Always remember the difference between each type – they will change your sound!

    As always, we are here if you have any questions & are dedicated to helping you find the right set for you. Our 100% satisfaction guarantee combined with our return policy allows our customers to shop with confidence. Best of luck and happy playing!

  • Neil Peart’s Most Famous Drum Fills

     

    Drum fills are one of the first tricks drummers want to learn when getting their first drum set. No matter the style of music that you’re into – rock, jazz, metal, funk – you can use a fill to increase the playing experience for yourself, your band, and your audience.

    These short passages full the transition between parts of a song. Drummers will use them when they want to let the band and listener know a change is coming. Not only does it make the playing experience more enjoyable for everyone in the band, but it helps listeners anticipate the next section of a great tune.

    So, how long should a drum fill be? This all depends on your preference. We wanted to explore drills brought forward by the legend himself Neil Peart to give you a better understanding of what they should sound like and how you can incorporate them into your playing.

    If you haven’t done so already, we invite you to listen to the following fills by Neil E. Peart! Now a retired musician, Peart is remembered for his epic rock career as the primary lyricist for the rock band Rush.

    Here are some iconic fills to enjoy and revisit:

    1. “Tom Sawyer”

    The percussion solo in this song should be mandatory listening for drummers of all ages and skill levels. There are two fills within this piece the first one being trickier than it seems. The second is the famous quadruplet with triplet fill. If you want to go straight to the drum fill fast forward to 2:35 in this tune.

    2. “The Enemy Within”

    If you listen closely, he is playing a lot more notes than it may seem during his drum fill within this song. It’s a bit deceptive but it just shows how you can create an illusion for your audience that gets them hyped.

    3. “Between the Wheels”

    The fill in this song is found at the end of the solo section and makes a great example of how Peart used precision and control. It’s a great one to practice and we’re sure you’ll have a lot of fun trying to get it down. If you don’t get it, remember it’s a challenge even for experts.

    4. “Free Will”

    The fill in this tune comes before the second chorus. You can really hear the control and strong feel incorporated into it. Notice how Peart takes the hi-hat to the ride cymbal. There are so many great fills in this song making it hands down one of his best!

    5. “Limelight”

    The fill that brings this song to an end is considered a masterpiece not only by us but many listeners. Peart combines all his best elements up to date with this breathtaking fill. If you haven’t heard it, prepare for it to be etched in your mind forever!

    6. “YYZ”

    There are a few fills in this tune, one of them beginning in the solo section. This is a 4-stroke riff, however, it’s a bit difficult to get the right feel for it even if you understand how to play it. Peart does an amazing job landing an “off” beat. You’ll notice in his other song, “The Digital Man” he shares many of the elements found in his “YYZ” fill.

    These are all great drum fills brought forward by the legend himself. Other great tunes by him that you should listen to in your free time include “Leave That Thing Alone”, “Vital Signs”, and “The Spirit of Radio”.

    How To Create A Drum Fill?

    Excited about learning how to play a drum fill? With practice and dedication, you’ll get to the level you wish to reach. Always trust a few steps.

    1. Start with a Rudiment

    You want to begin with a rudiment which is fundamental in percussion music. Familiarize yourself with the stick pattern on the snare drum. After you’ve mastered it try playing this same rudiment on different drums.

    2. Practice with a Pad Set

    While you can play a fill on one drum, things get more interesting when they are played on multiple drums and cymbals. Consider purchasing a practice pad set to work on your drum fills. This helps you get comfortable with the movement and practice drum fills repeatedly without damaging your hearing.

    3. Don’t Expect Great Results Right Away

    Just like anything else you’re trying to learn, begin slowly. Get all the fundamentals and basics down before going into a more difficult drum fill (like Neil Peart’s). You want to practice every day – even if it’s just for a little while – to see the best results.

    When To Use a Drum Fill?

    There are times when a fill is appropriate. For instance, you must treat them as ad-libs since they can be played at just about any time during a tune. They contribute to songs when you’re switching from one structural element to the next. For example, just before a chorus begins you can use a loud rumble on the toms to tie both sections together.

    Other great times to use a drum fill include:

    • When you’re playing a drum beat and want to break up the pace.
    • At the end of a bar or as a transition between versus and choruses.
    • Use a drum fill when changing time signatures halfway through a song.

    To play to the best of your ability you need to learn how to successfully leave a beat and then come back to that same beat again. These ad lib characters of fills relate to both the position and contents of the tune.

    Wrap Up

    Learning how to play successful drum fills is essential to your playing abilities. If you need help creating unique patterns, consider getting a drum fill system. This is a step-by-step program that will teach your fills through many different music genres including jazz, rock, or metal. You’ll eventually grow out of the repetitive rudiments and be on your way to creating stunning fills.

  • Coated Drum Heads VS Clear Drum Heads – Which is Best?

     

    Heads and tuning are everything when it comes down to drums. Picking the right one for your drum set makes the differences between an instrument that plays amazing tunes and one that just makes an obnoxious amount of sound.

    Because your choice in drumheads is as important as your choice of drum kit, you want to pay extra attention before coming to a buying decision. The quality of heads can make or break the sound you’re going for. You can completely transform you’re playing options with the right models involved.

    You probably already know the selection for drumheads is very extensive. There are so many options – coated, clear, single, double ply, thin and thick. In this guide, we will cover a question that many beginning drummers struggle with: What is the best drumhead for you?

    Elements To Consider

    Before we jump into the types of heads let’s touch base on a few things you need to look for. Before you decide on a model you want to keep in mind brand, thickness, and budget.

    • Brands – When it comes down to the manufacturer of your drumkit you want to go with a highly respected brand especially if you’re an experienced drummer. Two major manufactures are Evans and Remo.

     

    • Thickness – Why is this important? It’s all about simple physics. The thickness of a head contributes greatly to the tone. Thicker heads are also more durable, louder, less sensitive, and offer more attack. Thinner options will be less durable, quieter, more sensitive, and offer less attack.

     

    • Budget – Pricing from these models range to fit any budget. If you’re just beginning in the world of drums you may have a tighter budget than more experienced players. Keep price in mind when shopping. This will help narrow down your shopping selection. We assure you’ll be able to find a quality model at a good cost.

    Having these elements in mind will help you narrow down your buying decision to the best model for you and your playing style. But you’ll still need to know a little more about the types of drumheads that are available.

    Types Of Drumheads

    Essentially there are 4 different types of drumheads you need to be aware of – single ply, double, ply, coated and clear ones. Then, of course, you have your specialty options which offer distinct tones and feels. At the end of the day finding the right drumhead for you is a matter of personal taste.

    We hope this guide helps you decide and narrow down your shopping selection. Let’s touch on your different options:

    Single Ply

    The first drumhead we will touch base on is single ply options. They are the most basic and usually the thinnest type out there. They are made from a single layer of 10 mil Mylar, but you can find other thicknesses within this category like 3-mil snare side heads or 6-mil specialty tom heads. The 10 mil is most widely used among drummers.

    Here are a few reasons you should go for single ply:

     

    • They will resonate better
    • Single plies are bright and help bring out overtones of a drum
    • Perfect for lighter styles of music like jazz

     

    The only downfall you may come across with this option is their durability. Single ply drumheads don’t last as long in rock settings. Even then, many players like the sound of a single ply on their drum set.

    Double Ply

    Next up are double ply drumheads which are more durable than single ply options. This option offers more attack, shorter sustains, and reduces overtones. They are great options for rock and similar styles where articulation and longevity are a must. The most basic double ply heads are made from two plies of 7-mil Mylar.

    Coated and Clear Heads

    Now we have gotten down to the debate of this post: which is best? Both coated and clear drumheads have their advantages and downfalls.

    Coated drumheads can be sprayed with different types of clothing. For instance, some are sprayed with a translucent coating while others are coated a solid white or black. Others are etched to create a more textured surface. Why the difference in coating? It’s simple – the more mass that’s added to something the more it will vibrate creating a dampening effect.

    Non-coated drumheads won’t offer this same effect. Instead, they will produce brighter sounds with control and more attack. You’ll notice that even when tuned to the same pitch, coated heads will offer a warmer tone than a non-coated option.

    Here are a few other ways that they differ:

     

    • Coated drumheads tend to muffle the sound a little bit while clear options offer brighter, more open sounds.
    • Coated options are great options for snare drums and a must if you play with brushes. You won’t be able to achieve that sandpaper sound with a clear snare head.
    • Coated tom heads make drums warmer than clear tom heads. However, clear models will offer more attack.

     

    Which one is best for you comes down to personal taste, but it’s always a good idea to be informed of your options before buying. At the end of the day you don’t want to be stuck with a drumhead you don’t like.

    Coated vs Clear? Up To You!

    If you are a heavy hitter consider a double ply drumhead for more durability. If you are lighter with touch than you’ll get plenty of years out of a single ply model. Now, if you’re a drummer that is looking for an open and bright sound consider a clear single ply head. If you want the complete opposite then a double ply option is your best bet.

    Coated vs Clear is always going to be debated, but the best choice really depends on each individual player. If you still don’t know which will be best for you, it’s best to get in your local store and test out your options. You’re already doing what you’re supposed to by researching, now try out a few choices for yourself!

  • Drum Center of Portsmouth NAMM 2019 Report!

    The 2019 Winter NAMM report from Drum Center of Portsmouth

    Momentum and Shift in the Drum World

    For those of you who have not attended a NAMM show, it’s really a whirlwind. The show runs from Thursday to Sunday, and the days start early and they end late, and it’s a constant attack on the senses in regards to instruments and interactions, not to mention the food and drink. There are copious amounts of awesome and it’s over in a flash. Writing this report serves many purposes: firstly, to let you know about what we saw that’s new and notable, but also, it allows me to keep track of what actually happened.

    Jeremy "T-Bone" looking uber cool, and Shane looking like Thelma from Scooby Doo

    So, what happened at the NAMM show?

    I like to summarize NAMM shows with quick terms.

    This year, it’s “Momentum”, and “Shift”. DCP completed our first complete year in what we believe is the largest drum store in the world, and as our processes have refined, our momentum has gained. It has not been easy, and it’s not about to get any easier. But we’re feeling really strong about 2019 and beyond. Allow me to thank all of our customers for allowing us to do what we do!

    The most notable thing for us is the obvious:

    Drum Center of Portsmouth is the Zildjian Dealer of the Year!

     

    L to R, Mike Gross, Craigie Zildjian, Shane and Lauren Kinney, Jerry Smith, Jeremy Charron

    We were presented with the award at the show and I was absolutely gobsmacked.As we age, we’re really just older versions of the little boys and girls we once were, and the little boy inside of me is always at the forefront when it comes to drums.So to have the most respected name in our industry present this award bearingone of the most identifiable logos in the world, well, let’s just say I was speechless.One of the proudest moments in my life to date, without a doubt.

    Receiving this award made me ask myself; “What brought this on? Was it a targeted effort to sell more Zildjian cymbals?”The answer is no, we didn’t.We stock their line deep, and they’ve made an incredible “shift” in their product line over the past 6-7 years that has really brought people in the door asking for it.

    This award will be proudly displayed at DCP for many years to come.Many thanks to everyone at Zildjian for making this so memorable.

    The Shift

    The other buzz word to summarize this show is “Shift.” There’s a shift occurring in our industry and the navigation of it is difficult because of how fast it’s occurring. What I’m referring to is Electronic drums. The amount of electronic drum companies representing at NAMM was impossible not to notice. Everywhere I turned, there was a new Electronic drum set. The E-drum world for many years was comprised by two titans; Roland and Yamaha. (older generation DDRUM modules get honorable mention but they’ve been out of the picture for many years)

    The majority of other electronic drum brands that you see today that are not Roland or Yamaha are made in the same factory and have a different names slapped on them.These drums all share significant weaknesses that I’ve found impossible to overlook.These weaknesses create diminished experiences all in the name of a lower price which to me is infuriating.

    Roland and Yamaha have committed to making drums that will encourage the drummer to want to play, whereas the others, in my opinion have been looking to move units to a price sensitive public. Like anything, with electronic drums, you get what you pay for. Dear Mr. Wholesaler, I appreciate the need to want to sell stuff, but if a young drummer buys an electronic drum set as their first set, and it doesn’t respond as it should, this drummer is apt to lose interest and give it up. And guess what? We just lost a drummer. So these low quality sets benefit only two: the people that make them and the people that sell them.

    WE MUST NOT THINK THIS WAY OR WE WILL DRIVE OUR CUSTOMERS AWAY!

    DRUMMING IS A LIFE CHANGING GIFT THAT WE WANT AS MANY PEOPLE POSSIBLE TO EXPERIENCE. IT'S OUR JOB TO MAKE IT A GOOD EXPERIENCE!

    But there’s a shift occurring.

    The “Not-so-good” E-drums are continuing to improve. And the high end E-drum market is not unlike Mount Rushmore; what once displayed just two icons, Roland and Yamaha, will now be joined by the newer players; ATV, Pearl, and Gewa.

    ATV aDrums

    Featured at the booth this year was an actual acoustic looking drum set employing their trigger technology with mesh heads. From 10 paces away, you would not be able to tell it was an E-drum kit. And the ATV module is stoic, simple, and perfect. Less tinkering, more playing.

    Gewa Electronic Drums

    I was invited to preview a prototype e-drum set from German mega-distributor Gewa and it was a rather scary moment; I’m rather convinced this is going to be a historic watermark moment in the electronic side of our industry. While the set is still being refined, the one I tried had many of the elements we’ve wanted in an e-drum set and many more. I’m really looking forward to this one.

    Pearl E-Merge has Emerged

    Pearl was showing their E-merge set, which is a partnership with Korg. Korg has pioneered a technology with their wavedrum, and it’s put to use on the e-merge drum set.

    I approached this set with hesitation, as I was admittedly not a fan of the E-pro drums Pearl offers. My fears were removed once I played this kit. It’s absolutely awesome. We have to wait as it’s still many months away. But wow, what a set. It feels great too.

    In summary, 2019 is going to be great for the Electronic drummer.There is now more healthy competition which will bring more value and innovation to the equation.And this is needed.

    So what else was new for drums at NAMM?

    I’ll address the elephant in the room first; Sabian.

    Sabian has done something that I’m very happy about; a new direction for AAX.Over the years, AAX has expanded several times over, each time taking the focus away.The Sabian ethos for many years has been to offer something for everyone.While this is a tremendous virtue, it also is a detriment as the paradox of choice slows down the selection process.

    This year, AAX has been trimmed down and re-worked.To me, for the everyday drummer looking for versatility, the centerpiece of Sabian should be AAX, and the centerpiece of AAX has been the AAX-plosion crashes.

    If you want a darker, lower pitched, penetrating crash cymbal with clean overtones, this is the one. It’s a great rock cymbal, and a staple at DCP. The bloated catalog of offerings created a crippling amount of choices, in which customers would inevitably ask; “What’s the difference between AAX Studio, AAX Stage, AAX Metal, AAX Dark, and AAX Omni?”

    My not so expert advice would typically be in the form of a question.

    “Do you like this AAX-plosion? You do? Ok good. You should buy that one then.”

    Sometimes, this worked. Others, well, you can’t win ‘em all.

    As drummers, we owe a HUGE debt to Sabian for bringing countless innovations, options, and top tier craftsmanship to us.

    Now, it’s going to get much easier to pick all purpose cymbals; the new AAX has been re-worked with new weights and sounds, targeted to the drummer who has been stricken with analysis paralysis. There’s not a dud in the bunch, and I truly believe these to be among the best in class for professional, all purpose cymbals.

    Is there a "But".... Coming?

    The philosophy at Drum Center of Portsmouth from day 1 has always been “Sound first.”In short, the sound and performance of the musical instrument is what matters to us.Not the price, not the popularity, not the marketing hype.

    We sell musical instruments for you to express yourself creatively on.I was disappointed that these awesome new AAX cymbals were not even mentioned in what was the most discussed topic at the show; the “re-branding” of Sabian.

    Sabian decided that they needed a new logo. Gradually, the entire line will be emblazoned with this new logo. If the target in the short term was to draw attention to the brand, then the mission was accomplished. Everyone was certainly talking about it.

    Logo-Gate, The New Coke, Slaybian, Call it what you will

    The public has spoken as well.The response I’ve received and the responses I've witnessed on this logo has been overwhelmingly negative.

    The Sound Remains The Same

    As Sabian re-brands, please remember this; they will continue to manufacture what I believe to be some of the greatest cymbals in the world. I do not want to see you NOT buy a cymbal because you don't care for the logo.

    Sabian Logo Removal Service at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    As the new logo starts to trickle in to our stock, we will offer a free Sabian logo removing service to those who want it removed.We make our suggestions based on sound, and if you don’t care for the logo, we’ll be happy to remove it for you.

    Ok, let's move on.

    While on the topic of cymbals, we’ll talk about the other brands too!

    Paiste

    2019 is the 30th anniversary of the most groundbreaking cymbal innovation in my opinion; the Signature series.Only Paiste can make Paiste cymbals, and what a sound they have.The Sigs were designed for recording situations.Eq’d and optimized for the unflappable scrutiny of expensive microphones, the crystalline frequencies of the fast, full, and mellow crashes found their way onto recordings of some of our favorite recorded music.The power crashes and heavy full crashes soon found their way on to the stages as well.

    As a retailer, one of the most fun things I get to continue to do is to show people Paiste Signature Series cymbals.Many drummers have not been exposed to Paiste, or they haven’t spent much time with them.I’ve had many occasions where I’d show someone one Signature series crash, and they would buy a whole set of them.

    We live in a world where quiet, low pitched cymbals are popular with drummers, but speak to any recording engineer that’s trying to mix a track with multiple guitars, bass and vocals; and they will be happy to tell you that they prefer instruments that carve out their space in limited headroom. 30 years later, the Signature Series is the cymbal for that job.

    Paiste re-introduced bigger Fast models, and the Mellow crashes are back too. The often requested 15” Dark Energy hats are also back, along with the 22” Full ride. The Paiste 2002 series has expanded with the extreme crashes. The goal here is to have a cymbal that is in between 2002 and Rude. And that’s EXACTLY what it is. A great crash that will take some abuse, for sure. And it’s LOUD. Something else worth mentioning is that it really sounds unlike any 2002 I’ve heard, and I like that.

    Zildjian

    Zildjian introduced the K Sweets last year and they’ve been a smash. The line has been rounded out with the new hats, and the Cluster Crashes. The FX stacks are my favorite effect from NAMM 2019.

    Meinl

    For 2019, Meinl has introduced the Byzance Foundry Reserve cymbals, which is a more than welcomed addition to the line. They have dipped their toes in the cymbals geared for the jazz drummer, but these cymbals are all in.I had a chance to play them and I have to say that they sound exactly like what you’d want; a beautiful sounding jazz cymbal for the drummer looking to buy Meinl.

    Also for 2019,there are a few additions to the tk Classic Customs Dark line which has been a powerhouse to the value minded harder hitters; the new effects cymbals and 16” hats are welcome additions.

    Dream

    A few additions to the Dark Matter line. I loved what I tried. More info on that later.

    Ok, how about some drum musings? Let’s go.

    Tama Drums at NAMM 2019

    Tama has discontinued the Birch/Bubinga line. This was a result of new regulations that have restricted the importing of certain hardwoods, bubinga being one of them. The Star Bubinga will remain, but Birch/Bubinga, and Starclassic Bubinga have been discontinued. Something important to note is that Tama WILL manufacture add ons for these lines for a little while. They will all be built to order with a 5 month delivery time. If you want an add on, get a hold of us, and we can get it ordered for you.

    Replacing the B/B line is the Walnut/Birch line, and they are awesome. To me, the B/B drums had a great attack but I wasn’t in love with the lack of roundness. These W/B drums provide that lower fundamental note with enhanced bottom, with the crispy attack of birch. And they are priced VERY aggressively. It’s obvious that Tama has examined the market and responded to the needs.

    The new Dyna-Sync bass drum pedal was a nice surprise, as was the Ronald Bruner, Jr snare drum. Other than the breathtaking tk pic of Star Bubinga set, my choice is the Tama Superstar Neo-Mod drum set. With compact sizes reducing the depth, and not the diameter, the drums are geared for the drummer in quieter environments, or smaller stages. And they are priced well too.

    Yamaha Drums

    Yamaha abruptly ended the Live Custom line last year, and it’s been replaced with Live Hybrid Oak. The standouts on this kit are that they have re-introduced phenolic to their offerings, something they did with the Rock Tour Customs from the 80’s and 90’s, and they’ve incorporated a weight system in the bass drum that brings out more bottom end. I for one cannot wait to try this in the DCP environment. And they look beautiful too.

    Also added is a new bass drum pedal that is bringing sexy back in a big way.Yamaha hardware has been about functionality for many years, but the FP-9 has that, AND the estethic appeal too.Wow.

    Pearl Drums

    Pearl found a winner with the “studio” recipe shell in the Masterworks line. I personally have spoken at length to Shannon Forrest and Todd Sucherman about this, both of them insist that these are the best sounding Pearl drums they’ve played. Pearl wanted to bring this to the drummer that wasn’t looking to spend Masterworks money, so the limited Masters Maple/Gum series has arrived. We’ll be doing some videos on these for sure. And there were several Masterworks snare drums on display that we bought. Watch this space for details.

    Sonor

    The new Jojo Perfect Balance Standard pedal was nice, and the new Prolite finishes were gorgeous.

    Mapex

    The Black Panther design lab drums were on display. I have to hand it to Mapex for pushing the envelope in drum design and innovation. I’m looking forward to getting these in and spending some time with them.

    Gretsch

    Red Gumwood kit was gorgeous. We have one coming. New Catalina Birch kits sounded AWESOME and they are a great price too.

    DW

    I stopped by the DW factory just before NAMM to hear John Good talk about the new Almond drum set. I also got to play it, and I’ll tell, it’s VERY, VERY special. I’ve not heard such pronounced highs AND lows from a drum shell. It’s truly a different sound. I fear that only a few of these will be made, as it’s just too difficult to make shells from this material.

    A&F

    Boundaries pushed. New A&F’er snare drums are absolutely awesome, and the kits too. I’m so amazed how these drums emulate older, vintage drums, but they have a new sound, that hints at an old sound. (did I just bend your brain there?)

    We have a ton of the booth coming to us, watch this space for details!

    British Drum Company

    I was lucky enough to spend the night before NAMM with my friends from the BDC. We’ve had a successful first full year with them, and during that time, I was able to visit their factory and see how they make their drum shells, (which is absolutely mind boggling btw) and during that time, they themselves have gained momentum and have worked out some cracking new snare drums to their line; the Aviator, The Archer, and The tk

    Do not just glance and quickly look away at these drums.Look closely.The attention to detail is unmatched, and they possess an elegance and charm often missed in our world.And what a passionate, focused group these guys are.I’m excited for these new drums to hit.

    Ludwig Drums 110th Anniversary

    The winner this year is Ludwig. Turning 110 this year, they’ve pulled out ALL the stops with commemorative offerings, like the Rosewood snare drum (pre-order this now, it will sell out, I promise), the Jazz Festival re-issues, and eight lug black beauty snares. (BOOYAH!)

    The legacy mahogany limited kits also were absolute head turners. Things are REALLY firing over at Ludwig.

    Dunnett/George Way

    Dunnett Classic Snare Drums are a high water mark for any drummer’s collection. The new B8 2N is something I’m ecstatic about, and there were other glorious one-off’s that we cannot wait to get our hands on. The other big surprise was the return of the original George Way turret lug. (This is the original lug that went to Camco, and has become the DW lug as we know it)

    This lug is more true to the original, and it looked incredible in person.Bravo!

    Schagerl Drums

    I brought Schagerl snare drums into DCP after Todd Sucherman told me it was the finest metal snare he’d played.That’s quite the testimonial.Upon their arrival, and subsequent departure, I have to say that these are without doubt, some of the finest snare drums I’ve experienced.There’s a price tag associated with this quality, and it’s worth it.

    We have a bunch of this NAMM booth coming in, and these will be priced with out the import tax and shipping fee from Austria, so there’s an opportunity to lower your cost here.

    WFLIII

    A regret of mine is not being able to visit Bill Ludwig at the WFLIII drums booth. Why? He was too busy! They were boasting a full booth with good looking drums, and I’d dare say the busiest boutique booth at the show.

    Canopus

    Several new one of a kind snare drums were discussed, and we’ve got them coming!

    Hendrix Drums

    Hendrix Snare drums continue to be a favorite at DCP. And they are focused on improving what they are doing, and they constantly do. There’s a new stave maple snare drum that is incredibly low priced, that sounds amazing. And we have those coming in.

    RBH Drums

    We picked a couple of gorgeous pieces up that I’m eager to get my hands on.

    Trick Drums

    Trick continues to drive innovation. And they represent what a beautiful family run American small business is. Hard work, dedication, and creativity are never missing, and we just love the new pedals! The VMT kits get honorable mention with the new color options too.

    Rogers Drums USA

    Rogers is creeping back into the picture, and some gorgeous Dyna-Sonic snare drums are coming in. Some new hardware was also shown that was an obvious nod to the originals, with some modern fittings. A prototype set was also shown with some blasphemous spurs and brackets, which I'm told will thankfully not be a part of the production model, whenever that may be.

    Wrapping Up

    I could go on and on and on, and I have. I’m sure I missed something obvious here, so please accept any apologies for overlooking something.It’s not intentional.This flight is getting close to landing, and my wife and I have 2 kitties to get home to who are looking for some attention, and I have a very full year planned for us and you.

    2019 is going to be the 10th anniversary of DCP and we’ve got some things cooking that you’ve never experienced at a drum store. Trust me on this. It’s big. REALLY big. I’m so excited for this year and I think you will be blown away with what we have planned.

    I constantly am thinking about how we can bring more value to you, our extended family of customers, and in 2018, we expanded our video production department to bring you higher quality, more in depth videos, and the response has been overwhelming. We're working to make it easier (and entertaining) to select your drum gear.

    Year 10 will have even more levels of awesome, and I can’t wait to get started on it.

    Well, I suppose I already have.

    Again, we simply could NOT do this if you don’t buy from us. So thank you for spending your drum money with us.

    If you’re reading this, and you're not a customer, tell us what we can do to establish a mutually beneficial relationship. Your growth is our growth, and we can save you money by making professional suggestions.

    Can I say thank you again?Ok, I just did.

    Thank you.

    Again.

    #year10

     

    Enjoy our full Winter NAMM 2019 photo gallery HERE!

  • DW Collectors Series Showcase!

    DW Collectors Series Drum Sets offer so many different shell configurations, it can be a little confusing. Drum Center of Portsmouth is here to help! We demo 5 variations of DW Collectors Series Drum Sets in our latest comparison video.
  • Advice for Drumming Beginners – From the Experts

    Drumming is lots of fun and it can look so easy. After all, you’re just hitting things with sticks, right? Expert drummers make it look like a cake walk. TV and movies make it seem as though you just need to “feel the music in your heart” for it to translate into an amazing song. What they don’t show is the thousands of hours of hard work and practice that goes into it. There’s no way around it, either. All the greats had to start to start somewhere. What made them great was their patience, dedication, and determination.

    If music is a universal phenomenon, then drums are the universal instrument. Their sound resonates with people all over the world. Almost every culture feature drums in their music. Anyone can play them, regardless of race, sex, creed, religion, nationality, or ability. It just takes practice. But sometimes, it can seem like all that practice is a waste of time when you aren’t improving as quickly as you think you should. In times like these, it is perseverance that will make you great.

    If you find yourself in need of a little inspiration, check out these tips from a few expert drummers. At one point or another, they’ve all been right where you are now.

    On Practice and Lessons

    You’ve heard it a thousand times: practice makes perfect. You know you need to practice. It can be easy to feel as though once you’ve practiced a certain number of times, you’ll be skilled enough to not need to keep doing so. And lessons can sometimes seem like such a drag. How many more times is the teacher going to make you play the rudiments??

    However, it is important to realize no one ever outgrows the need for practice. No drummer ever reaches the point where they have nothing left to learn. Just read what these expert drummers have to say about lessons and practice!

    Author, drummer, and producer Rich Redmond says it best when he says “getting good at anything” requires practice. And you want to practice over and over and over again. His advice? “Take lessons and learn from anyone and everyone.”

    The Paper Jackets drummer Mike Di Guglielmo is direct in his advice. He says simply, “Learn the 40 rudiments.” You want to do this early in your drumming career. And most importantly, you can never stop practicing! Di Guglielmo says these rudiments aren’t just essential, they will amplify your own creativity beyond “playing beats and fills.”

    Harry Smith, lead drummer of June Bug, agrees with Di Guglielmo, saying simply you can never outgrow or be “too good” at playing the rudiments.

    On Goals and Motivation

    When you get bogged down with practice or discouraged by a setback, one of the best things you can do is to spend some time remembering your goals. Think back to the things that motivated you in the first place. Goals and motivations change over time and that is perfectly alright. However, it is important to have them. Having goals also gives you a sense of direction and accomplishment to guide you through your lifelong study of percussion. Motivations will drive you to accomplish them. Here’s why the pros have to say about the importance of goals and motivation.

    Keith Sorensen, teacher and professional music, says that if you practice without set goals, you might as well play “basketball without a hoop.”

    Jeff Page of Alice Cooperland says simply that drumming has to be your “passion.” Even those seemingly simple lessons can become an “intense learning experience.” Most of all, Page recommends that novice drummers “watch ALL drummers.” It’s the best way to absorb everything you see.

    Professional percussion instructor Jyn Yates has similar advice: “Never give up.” It doesn’t matter what other people say about your skills or that being different will hold you back. If you love it, then just remember to “smile and have fun”! That’s really what music is about when it comes down to it.

    Other General Pieces of Advice

    Aside from specific tips and inspiring quotes, most expert drummers offer these same pieces of general advice:

    Find a Teacher You Admire

    We touched earlier on the importance of lessons, practice, and life-long learning. A key part of this is finding yourself the right teacher. Ideally, this should be someone you admire and, more importantly, respect. You can learn something from everyone. But, a teacher whom you respect will motivate you to be the best you can be. If you respect them, you’ll want to emulate them. You’ll work hard to make them proud.

    Keep an Open Mind

    Don’t restrict yourself to certain types of music or styles of playing. Instead, strive to become a well-rounded drummer. Do your best to learn as much as you can from wherever and whomever you can. You might find enjoyment and inspiration in unexpected places.

    Stay Humble

    This doesn’t just mean to be humble in your dealings with others. In fact, it is most important to be humble with yourself. Don’t let yourself think that you’ve completely and totally mastered something and cannot improve upon it. No matter how basic it may seem, you can still learn. Even the most experienced drummer who has been practicing for decades can learn new lessons from the rudiments.

    Love What You Do

    Practicing can seem like a chore sometimes. This is true no matter how much you love drumming. But you’re more likely to stick with it and get the most out of each practice if you genuinely love what you’re doing. You’ll always need to practice, so you might as well enjoy it. Remember, it is much more about the journey than the destination.

    Learn How to Read Music

    This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you really cannot be the drummer you want to be without knowing how to read music. It might seem a little intimidating at first, but as with everything else, practice makes perfect. Once you learn to read music, you’ll be able to communicate with other musicians in no time. You’ll be speaking their language.

  • The Characteristics of a Great Drummer

    For as long as there has been music, there have been drummers. You might wonder why it is that some drummers are passable at best, while others are greatly skilled and quickly rise to fame. What sets these select few apart? Is it natural born talent? Maybe it was money and using better equipment? Perhaps they took lessons from other experts? Maybe there is some magical training technique that once mastered, makes you great?

    The obvious answer to all of these is no. The greats are great because of their hard work and tireless practice. But what drove them to practice and work so hard? Well, that comes down to a few key character traits, and there are some that all great drummers have in common. The experts have weighed in, and these are the characteristics that all great drummers have.

    Soft Skills

    These are personality traits that you don’t actively practice but strive to improve over time. Some people have them in spades, and others have a lot of one or the other. No one is perfect, so everyone has some room to improve in all of these categories, even the best of drummers.

    1. Persistence  

    Persistence is the key to all things. If drumming is something you truly care about and want to be good at, only persistence will get you to where you want to be. It will drive you to work hard, to push yourself, to practice, and to jump at opportunities. It will be what keeps you going when things get tough – and they inevitably will. The greats aren’t great because they’ve never faced challenge or adversity. They are great because they overcame it.

    2. Patience

    With persistence must also come patience. Your skill will not suddenly appear overnight. It’s going to take thousands of hours of practice, and this practice will not always be the most exciting. You won’t always be learning new songs or techniques. In fact, you should spend a lot of time on the rudiments. No matter how experienced you are, there is always something to learn from revisiting the rudiments. Be patient in your practice and put good effort into everything you do.

    3. Passion

    Since you’re going to spend a significant portion of your time practicing and growing your skills, it would serve you well to be passionate about what you’re doing. Passion will drive you to keep going. It will drive you to put yourself out there and to take risks. Greats didn’t become famous by always playing it safe. Sometimes, their passion pushed them to take risks.

    Remember, passion doesn’t have to be something that you start out with. In fact, your passion for drumming should develop and deepen over the years. It will grow with your knowledge and appreciation of the art form.

    4.  Know How to Capitalize on Constructive Criticism

    This is another soft skill that will benefit you in multiple aspects of life. All great drummers must not only know how to take constructive criticism, but they also must know how to make the most of it. This starts with seeing the criticism for what it really it. Put aside feelings of defensiveness and offense and recognize well-intended advice. Consider its merits, and maybe even give it a try. You can always go back to what you were doing or try something else if it doesn’t work out.

    Hard Skills

    Hard skills are those that you can quantify, actively practice, and improve upon.

    5. Feel

    Feel is sort of hard to define, but it is both a characteristic and a skill that you have to practice. It’s all about your sense of timing, and how you manipulate the beat and time of a piece. Some have a greater knack for this than others, but you can practice by getting intimately familiar with 8th and 16th notes. Don’t be afraid to experiment as you go – developing your sense of feel is a lifelong process.

    6. Adaptability

    Adaptability is a good trait to have in all things. But because we humans are creatures of habit, it is also one of the hardest to master. If you can learn to be flexible and adaptable in your drumming, you’ll be better suited to tackle any challenge that comes your way.

    Adapting can take many forms. Maybe you need to play on a kit that has parts you don’t normally use, and you have to adapt to different kits. Or maybe your bandmates want to speed up or slow down a tempo. You’ll have to adapt not only to different tempos but to playing with other musicians.

    You become more adaptable by pushing yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone. This is a skill that also translates outside of drumming and will benefit you in almost any aspect of life.

    7. Time Keeping

    One of the drummer’s main responsibilities in a band is to keep time. It can be a difficult skill to master at first, but don’t shy away from using available tools like a metronome. A great drummer keeps track of and measures time. If the timing is off, you must also speak up. If you don’t notice it, chances are that no one else will either.

    8. Active Listening

    One of the most important things any musician can do is learn how to listen. It seems obvious, but a great drummer always makes sure to listen to and get an overall understanding of the song before they jump in. It is critical to understand the song as a whole if you are to build effective transitions and sections. Don’t just do random crashes and fills. Consider each bar, verse, and section and focus on what best complements the song.

    If you read this and feel as though you may be lacking in one or more areas, don’t despair. Remember that people and their character traits are not static – they are ever changing and growing. If you think you need improvement in some categories, try to set some goals and make a mindful effort to help yourself get better.

  • How to Choose the Best Drum Set for Your Band

    Drums have been around pretty much as long as humans have. Research shows they were one of the very first instruments ever made, and they appear in almost every culture. Over the years, we’ve made countless improvements that have led to today’s infinite selection of drums.

    It’s great to have options but having so many can make it hard to pick the set that will be perfect for you and your band. The guide below provides some basic information you’ll need to get started.

    Determine Your Needs

    Before you start assembling your drum set, you need to sit down with your band members and discuss your needs. Some factors to consider are:

    • Type of music
    • Available space
    • How you will transport your equipment
    • What type of venues you’ll need it for
    • How much you are willing to spend
    • And your level of experience

    Before you buy, it might be helpful to test out some drums with your band members present. This will help to make sure they all like the sound and tone that the set makes.

    Breaking It Down: The Anatomy of a Drum Set

    In order to be able to find the right drum set for your band, you first need a thorough understanding of all the different components that go into it. It’s the same as when a doctor needs to know everything about the body before they can start treating it. So here is your first course on Drum Anatomy 101.

    Basic Structure

    Drum kits have four main components that make up the basic layout: a bass drum, a snare drum, a floor tom, and a mounted tom.

    This layout was made popular by the Beetles drummer Ringo Starr. Since Ringo, it has remained a staple in the drumming community. It works so well because it gives you all the basic sounds you might need. Plus, it is easy to transport and takes up the minimum amount of space.

    Most drum sets will include these components at a minimum. Fancier ones will often include additional pieces like cymbals or different types of drum heads. Many musicians will start with this basic configuration and add more accessories as they go. What you choose to add – and what brands you buy – will often be determined by the factors outlined above.

    Standard VS Fusion

    Most drum sets will be labeled as either a Fusion or Standard configuration. These are defined by the drum diameters. Fusion sets have smaller diameters and deliver a punchier tone. Standard sets have larger diameters that give a bigger tone and louder volume.

    Drum Heads

    The drum head that you play on is the batter head. The head on the other end of the drum is called the resonant head. However, drums that are made for maximum brightness and attack will have just a batter head. The material of the drum head and its thickness can have a dramatic effect on the tone and sound.

    Most drums nowadays are made with Mylar heads. Mylar is a type of plastic that is very durable and can come with either a coated or uncoated finish. Choose a coated finish for a warmer sound with less ring to it. An uncoated head is best for sharper sounds and more projection. For recording or studio purposes, coated heads tend to be preferable.

    When it comes to thickness, you can choose between one and two-ply. The thicker the head, the more controlled the sound. Thicker, two-ply heads tend to be more durable than thinner ones and tend to be favored by rock players. Single-ply heads produce a livelier sound that makes them more popular in jazz music.

    Consider Specialty Drums: Snare Drums

    No discussion of drum heads is complete without visiting the unique heads of the snare drum. A snare is a special type of drum known for its snappy, crisp sound. This signature sound comes from its snares – metal wires that are situated against the very thin, bottom head. The top head is usually thick and coated to help balance out the responsiveness of the bottom.

    Snare drums can be used in almost any type of music piece, so most drummers have at least one in their kit. They can be made from a wide variety of materials. The shell material will affect the sound it makes. Most drummers prefer a wooden snare for its slightly warmer tone.

    When it comes to choosing a snare drum, it might be best to try out a couple different ones. That way, you can see which fits best into the songs you want to play.

    Consider Specialty Drums: Electric Drums

    Electric drum kits are one of the newest innovations to hit the percussion scene. They’re rapidly gaining popularity. Yes, there are many drummers out there that feel like electric drums are a form of cheating, or that they cheapen the art of drumming. However, it’s all a matter of perspective.

    Electric drums are easily portable, have adjustable volume, and can make almost any sound imaginable. This makes them great for band practice. They’re also great for recording studios because they can plug directly into the sound mixing board.

    You can use electric sets for stage performances. However, if you do so, you’ll need to use an amp and a speaker monitor that is connected to your kit.

    To Sum It Up

    Building a drum set and buying additional pieces is a process. You’ll get better at it as your skill as a drummer grows. If you’re just starting out, remember that most kits come with four basic components: the mounted and floor toms, the bass drum, and the snare. You can buy additional pieces to widen your sound range. When buying drums for use in a band, test out drums with your other band members before you buy. This will ensure that everyone will be happy with the sound and tone range.

  • Modern Takes on the Classic Ludwig Black Beauty Snare Drum

    We've put together a video comparing 3 modern snare drums that were influenced by the classic Ludwig model.  As a bonus, we included a demo of an original vintage Black Beauty from the early 1930's!

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