No smarty pants, number 1 isn’t ‘drums’ and number 2 isn’t ‘cymbals’. If you don’t already have those things you don’t qualify as serious!
No gimmicks, let’s get down to it…
1 – HEARING PROTECTION
Your ears are your livelihood if you are a working musician. Don’t delay. Get into healthy habits in terms of listening to music and playing. This is number one on my list for a reason. DON’T delay.
– Over the ear construction work style ‘ear muffs’. These block out a decent amount of noise but all you need is a tool belt and you’ll look like you are playing drums for The Village People.
– Foam ear plugs. These are handed out on planes along with eye covers to help you sleep. These are discrete as they almost entirely fit in your ear. They do block a good amount of noise but you get a distorted view of what things actually sound like.
MY TIP. Musician Earplugs. Spend a bit more money and get custom made ear plugs. Treat yourself. The benefits of these are too numerous to mention. Not least is you are getting an accurate representation of the frequency spectrum. This is the best purchase i have ever made in my career. That is not an exaggeration.
Cost – Varies a lot. Mine cost $150 (NZD). Call your closest audiologist for a quote on getting the moulds made. Best money you will ever spend.
Thank me later!
2 – IN EARS
These are fantastic for doing anything where you have to listen to click tracks or backing tracks. They are far more discrete and direct than over the ear headphones. Here is a more than decent pair of over the counter in ears.
Some companies do Musician Earplugs and In Ears in one. Ultimate Ears are a good place to start if you want quality custom made in ears. But the price does jump!
3 – A RECORDING SETUP
Something… anything. You do not need to recreate Abbey Road in your bedroom, but you do need to record yourself. Recording yourself on your IPhone is fine for now if you have no gear. I’ll talk more about recording on another blog post! Video is also helpful. Seeing yourself play is as crucial as hearing yourself when it comes to identifying weaknesses and bad habits.
If you have never heard/seen yourself play in a recording you don’t know what you actually sound/look like. Get ON IT!
Cost – Free. A camera and mic are already in your phone/ipod. If you don’t have a phone you can pick up an HD camera very cheap.
4 – METRONOME
Metronomes are no longer cumbersome boxes that constantly run out of batteries. Head to your app store and load a free metronome into your phone or IPod.
Cost – FREE
5 – DECENT HEADPHONES
I did a lot of research into this. I ended up going with Audio Technica. They have a nice range and the prices are not outrageous. I settled on the ATH-M30x. They are not as flat as i would have hoped for (a little bass heavy). But they are light years better than what i was using previously. Good headphones will help your transcribing a great deal and just make listening more pleasurable. You are transcribing…. right?
Here’s some of the Audio Technica range. Something for every budget.
6 – A VARIETY OF STICKS
It is a good idea to have different types of sticks in your kit bag. Especially if you’re racing in and out of the studio and off to various types of gigs. Sometimes brushes can provide the perfect flavour for a Jazz Ballad or Country tune. And Cane Sticks (Hot Rods) can take the ouch factor out of an intimate cafe gig. Be versatile!
7 – SLOW DOWN SOFTWARE
It can be a game changer when you have the ability to slow down tricky parts and figure things out properly. Check out ‘Audacity’. Essential for transcribing. And if you are serious you need to be transcribing regularly.
Cost – FREE
8 – MOONGEL/BUZZ KILL
If you don’t know what moongel is you shouldn’t be reading this article! Will kill a bit of yucky overtone (but not too much) in the studio or live. Good stuff.
Cost – Cheap
9 – PRACTISE PAD
Being a serious working drummer you don’t have the luxury of time. You often have to warm up for a session or a gig silently and quickly. Often a kit is not available. If you are putting in some work on your hands, a pad is a much better option than an actual snare. Practise pads are a working drummers friend.
I hope this list helps you out. Let me know what i missed.