when weird things happen to good drums:
my highly modified cocktail kit
|I bought this slightly damaged 24x16 shell from Phattie Drums, off an eBay auction, and resolved to do some experimenting, even if I ruined the shell. Here's what I did to this poor unsuspecting drum.
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|In the bass chamber, I cut a 4" round hole, facing the audience. It came out nice - I edged the hole in black, which improved the appearance - and I get a good bass drum sound that's easy to mic. The shell is a dark green hand-rubbed oil finish, but I dig vintage wraps, so I'll probably have my buddies at Resurrection Drums refinish the drum for me when I get a gap in my gig schedule.|
|In the snare chamber, facing the back, I cut three 2.5" holes to vent the snare. I started with just two holes, but wanted even more air and sound to escape, so I cut the third. For all holes I used a circle-cutting attachment on an electric drill.|
|Instead of using any toms, I mounted a set of Remo Kid's Bongos on the side. I know, that's a real manly finish on those drums, but hey - they sound good!
The bass drum pedal is a WorldMax pedal with a metal base plate. It was recommended to me by the late, great Dennis Stauffer from Phattie Drums - it's heavy enough that no mounts or brackets are needed. And its single-post design makes it easy to switch it back to a regular pedal if needed.
|For all cymbals, I used right-angle cymbal arms, mounted into floor-tom leg mounts that I put on the front of the shell|
|My closed hihat holder consists of a right-angle cymbal arm and two U-clamps from a cowbell holder, with a felt washer on top and bottom. Cheaper and lighter than an "official" X-hat attachment.|
|For snares, I took a set of snares off a Purecussion Headset (a single-headed snare drum), and mounted them in the upper part of the shell, so they'd press against the top head.
NOTE: Lots of drummers write to me asking where to get this kind of snare mechanism. Tama, Meinl and LP all make small single-headed snare drums that use a similar snare mechanism, so you might be able to order the parts from your favorite drum shop.
I cut a thin plywood baffle with a jigsaw and mounted it about 5 or 6 inches down. The baffle was NOT an airtight fit, and the snares still buzzed like crazy every time I hit the bass drum. I then worked on making it a tighter fit, using weatherstripping, but it STILL buzzed badly. It was not from air leakage - the baffle itself seemed to help transmit the sound wave. When I'd hold my hand over the baffle (with the top head taken off) and hit the bass drum, the baffle acted like a drumhead; I could feel it move. Strange.
So I got creative and cut ANOTHER baffle. I laid a bunch of pillow stuffing (fiber fill from a craft store) on top of the first baffle, then lowered the second baffle on top of it, bolting them together to make a baffle "oreo" with the pillow stuffing in the center. This was crude, but effective. I finally got the level of isolation I wanted.
|The baffle is held in place by 3 L-brackets bolted into the shell from underneath.
It was very important to me to be able to get good sounds from both the bass and snare, as I like to use this drum by itself, with no external drums needed. Although I have bongos to use as supplemental drums, on some gigs all I want is kick and snare, with the Zen simplicity of ONE drum.
|The top head is an Aquarian Jack De Johnette coated black head, with a Classic Clear with Power Dot head on the bottom, with no muffling. Both the bass and snare sounds are pretty good, although I'm not wild about the drum at high volumes. But for coffeehouses and quiet club dates, it's perfect.|
I find I'm frequently using "rod" alternatives to sticks, such as Vater Acousticks and Promark Hot Rods - to me the sound I get with these is fatter than what I get playing lightly with regular sticks. But the cross-stick sound is excellent!
For cymbals I'm using a pair of Sabian 13" AA Regular hats, and an 18" AA El Sabor that's got a killer bell and is great for light riding AND crashing, which I sometimes top with a B8Pro 8" China Splash, separated by a felt washer.
To learn more about cocktail drums, check out the Cocktail Drum Lounge, and also CompactDrums.com. There are some very creative innovations being made that continue to make drumming more and more portable.