Monthly Archives: August 2019

Today we reach another milestone. 500 posts! It’s hard to believe we are still going strong after all these years and I have you to thank for that. Every day I am amazed at the number of visitors I get and the various countries that you come from. I never take that for granted. I promise that I will continue to provide the best content that I can with hopes that you will continue to return again and again. In honor of this day I am re-posting the very first piece that ever went up on Off Beat. We started off short and sweet.

March 3, 2015 · 2:43 pm

Practice Properly

I know I said I would only post every two weeks but I got a little anxious after going live today. For my first “official” pearl of wisdom I think I will keep it short and sweet. As the inaugural post I believe it is appropriate to discuss the first (and most often) thing that we do as drummers. That of course is practice. It’s a dirty little schizophrenic word in every musician’s vocabulary that means both agony and ecstasy. Who doesn’t remember sitting at a drum pad for hours on end practicing sticking exercises and rudiments? How about working endlessly at the drum set on three way independence and syncopation? “Practice makes perfect” some say. Wrong! Practice makes you better. No one’s perfect.

That said, practice is perhaps the most important thing that we do. Establishing muscle memory, maintaining consistent time and getting the proper feel is an absolute necessity. Therefore the exercises that we do over-and-over-and-over are critical. Just like an athlete must sharpen their mind and body, so too does the drummer. Many people don’t know that there is a correct and incorrect way to practice. The biggest mistake that drummers make when practicing is trying to sound good. That defeats the whole purpose and stifles any growth or potential.

If you are really trying to get better you should struggle. That means you are learning. Only by challenging yourself, exploring places you’ve never been to and having the courage to take chances can you improve as a player. There is an old saying used by ballerinas that goes “Dance like no one is watching.” What an amazing concept. Play, perform and practice like no one is watching. Be brave. Go for it. That’s how you learn. That’s how you improve.

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Product Review: Booty Shakers

I’ve got some great new product reviews coming up. Stay tuned!

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Battle for the Ages

Popular in the 1930’s and 1940’s, big band battles were contests to see which of two competing bands could be the first to drive an audience crazy. One of the most famous of these playoffs took place between the Chick Webb Orchestra and the Benny Goodman Orchestra. The battle took place on the night of May 11, 1937, in the famous Savoy Ballroom in New York City. Two of the standout players were drumming heroes Chick Webb and Gene Krupa. Both were known as two of the greatest musicians at that time.

Hours before the scheduled battle, the police had installed a barricade around the stage. New York riot patrolmen were at the ready just in case the 4,000 people inside and 5,000 outside got out of hand. George Simon, a noted jazz historian recalled that “Benny’s band played first and made a great impression. But then the Webb boys got into it. They blew the roof off the Savoy! The crowd screamed and whistled with delirium. The Webb band easily toppled Goodman’s that night.”

Years later Krupa still remembered that night. He wrote, “That night when we battled Chick at the Savoy – he just cut me to ribbons — made me feel awfully small…that man was dynamic; he could reach the most amazing heights. When he really let go, you had a feeling that the entire atmosphere in the place was being charged. When he felt like it, he could cut down any of us.” Here’s a testimony from two witnesses who where there:

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Playing Quietly

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CROSS OVER POST FROM FACEBOOK PAGE: One of the most common problems experienced by the drummer today is their ability to practice without disturbing those around them. This is inevitable as the very nature of our instrument is to be loud. Drummers try all kinds of things to be quiet from padded walls, to mutes, to drum covers, to mesh cymbals and heads. Some of these approaches work and some are futile. I myself look at this dilemma as an opportunity to work on dynamics. I have a drum room in my house (an unfinished room off my finished basement). It’s got thick insulation and does a pretty good job of muting my sound. I however, still use rubber pads on my drums and cymbals as a courtesy to my neighbors. I also play softer than I would if I were performing on stage or in a recording session. It’s a challenge for sure but also a great exercise that forces me to play with control and diminuendos. I use lighter sticks, my signature 8As, and often I’ll switch to traditional grip which I am weaker at. This forces my volume to go down naturally. Here are some easy and effective ways you can quiet your drums:

  1. Use an electronic drum kit: This one is obvious. If you have the money to invest in an e-kit you’ll be able to play with the same energy you would naturally with low volume settings or headphones.
  2. Fit mesh drum heads on to your acoustic kit: These are a good way to cover your entire kit with soundproofing. Much like an e-Kit you can play with the same power with minimal sound.
  3. Replace your sticks with brushes or hotrods: I use this technique often by switching to hot rods. There are many different kinds available on the market today. They vary in thickness.
  4. Dampen or muffle your drums using everyday household objects: Using a towel on the snare and toms and a blanket in the bass drum dampen the sound greatly. Ringo did it.
  5. Use a set of practice pads on your acoustic kit: I also use this technique. Most of the time I use drum mutes on the toms and a practice pad on the snare. This gives you the same “feel” while minimizing the sound.

By using these techniques you can still shed in the practice room without having the cops called on you.

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Welcome New Visitors

I’d like to welcome all the newcomers who discovered this blog from the new Off Beat Facebook page. As I used photos of me sitting behind Troy Luccketta’s drum kit I thought it would be fitting that I start off your first impression by repeating his post. It follows:

Troy Luccketta: The Untold Story

Growing up in the 80’s one of my favorite rock bands was Tesla. I have many fond memories of listening to their acoustic album over-and-over and playing ‘Little Suzi” with my own band. A few years ago I had the privilege of interviewing Troy Luccketta for a cover story in Drumhead Magazine. Since then I have communicated with him frequently and I am proud to call Troy a friend. I had a tremendous time hanging with Troy and his wife when the Tesla, Def Leppard, Styx show came to town. Here is an excerpt from the article:

Perhaps no one can more eloquently sum up the extraordinary career of drummer Troy Luccketta than the man himself. “I never wanted to be just a rock ‘n’ roll drummer,” he said. “For me, it’s always been about the music and diversity.” With a career spanning three decades on the stage and in the studio, Luccketta has more than lived up to that mantra. From routinely filling the roles of drummer and producer, teacher and activist, the diversity of his experience rivals that of many of his peers. Best known as the hard-hitting timekeeper behind the ‘80s mega-band Tesla, Luccketta has quietly assembled a body of side work that may surprise even his biggest fans. An incredibly humble musician, he admits that he is only now beginning to comprehend the influence that he has had on an entire generation of drummers. Many of these drummers are now full-fledged professionals who routinely make it a point to credit the man who inspired them to pursue their craft.

A native Californian, Luccketta’s journey began like many drummers, in a garage with a snare drum. What made his experience unique was his innate talent for playing it. “I can’t say that I had always wanted to be a drummer, but once I played that snare drum, I knew,” he recounts. “When I was about ten years old, a couple of friends and I were standing around this old snare drum in a buddy’s garage. We were just staring down at it. My friends in the room knew that I wanted to play, so one of them handed me a pair of spoons, and I immediately starting playing ‘Wipeout.’ I played it nearly spot on. My friends looked at me in amazement. There was something special about the expressions on their faces and the feeling that I got from playing that drum that struck me. From that day forward, I was a drummer.”

Following this newfound instinct, Luccketta immediately set about to get himself a proper drum set. One paper route led to a second and eventually to a third, marking the start of a workaholic mentality that has become a balancing act throughout the drummer’s career. He eventually saved up a precious $55 to purchase a used three-piece Crest drum set in faded marine pearl. Luccketta recalled the tremendous sense of accomplishment that he felt after purchasing that kit. “I loved those drums! It was a beginner’s set and only had a bass drum, rack tom, snare and a ride cymbal. My mother eventually got me a hi-hat later for a birthday present.”

As a member of a family of music enthusiasts, Luccketta credits his mother, sister and brother with introducing him to a wide variety of genres by sharing their eclectic record collection that spanned everything from Motown to Led Zeppelin. “‘Proud Mary’ [Ike and Tina Turner’s version] was the very first song that I ever played,” he said. “I remember how it started out kinda slow, then built up and changed tempos to a fast, rockin’ jam. That was my first introduction to dynamics and tempo changes. The break at the end of that song was explosive and very cool!”

Shortly after obtaining his kit, Luccketta started a two-man band. Their first gig was a performance in front of the sixth-grade class. He said, “My friend, who had a guitar, and I wrote two little funky jams, a total of two riffs, and the talent show was our first concert performance. We played both numbers and the kids seemed to enjoy it.” Although he didn’t realize it at the time, this inaugural event foretold an illustrious stage career that would see the drummer playing to millions of fans around the world. “That day was really my first step. Since then, my journey has taken me from the classroom, to the club, to the arena.” […cont.]

Read the complete interview as it ran in the magazine (PDF) at:

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New Facebook Page

Check out our new Facebook page! This is where I will be posting things that are too short to share on the blog to include random thoughts, quick items, upcoming events, historical anniversaries, product recommendations and anything else that comes to mind. I also look forward to your comments. Visit

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Getting Motivated

Today I want to talk about motivation. At the moment I have none. You would think now that I have a drum room in the new house I would be plugging away. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve played a few times. Every other day in fact. But I’m not inspired. First off, I have to use muffling pads. Although the room I am in is insulated and off the finished basement it’s not soundproof and as I am new to the neighborhood I don’t have a feel yet for my neighbors. The last thing I want to do is make a bad first impression. That’s why I am looking into getting an electronic kit. Second, I haven’t played in a couple months as my drums were in storage so I suck. I posted my dilemma on a Facebook group that I belong to for advice and I’m going to post the best answers below. Come back as the post will be completed in two days. I look forward to the variety of comments I get.

[UPDATE: Here are just some of the 40 answers I received:]

When uninspired, I treat it like a job. Set a fixed time and duration to play regularly. Focus on exercising and rudiments if music isn’t appealing. Usually after a few sessions of slogging through nothing but development work I will find the desire to create and uncover joy again. – Franklin Flint

I’m coming out of my slump now. Funny thing was, got together with some friends, and just jammed. No set list, no schedule, no genre, just played. After a few times, things started to flow again. Relax, have fun. – Andy Daley

I go back and listen to the music that made me want to play as a kid. I also find inspiration in learning a groove or a style that I typically don’t use but have always wanted to learn, like afrobeat. – Matthew Schieferstein

I have a bookmarked folder for such occasions. It contains videos from many of my idols (Morrello, Chambers, Peart and many others). It doesn’t take long to become motivated to jump on the throne and create. – Jeff Moyer

It does happen to most of us. All I can say is don’t “Force” it. I agree to listen to the music and drummers who first inspired you that will bring the spark back to play. – Andrew Roman Ciebrant

Go to a show, change your set up a bit, buy a new cymbal or snare, use different heads, check out unfamiliar drummers on YouTube, or check out the vast selection of drumless tracks on YouTube. – Kenny Howard

Taking their advice I spent sometime watching videos of Papa Jo Jones and Max Roach. Then I worked through some rudiments on the pad. Then I played on the kit working on my ghost notes and syncopated patterns. I ended up spending close to an hour exploring familiar and unfamiliar things. I think I’m cured.

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Get Big and Fat

I’ve stated before in my reviews that I don’t fall for gimmicks when it comes to drum accoutrements. There are far too many stunts out there that make false promises and don’t deliverer. The Big Fat Snare Drum is not one of those products. Billing itself to be able to transform any snare into a vintage 1970’s-esque drum with that big beefy sound the BFSD delivers. The good folks at BFSD sent me a combo pack to test out and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The combo pack comes with “The Original” which provides full coverage for a medium thud and “Steve’s Donut” which has a center circle cutout for more of a crack. The ease at which one can convert the drum to these sounds is as simple as putting one of these covers on top of the existing drum. No need to tune or adjust the drum’s tension at all, just set it and get it.

I used the combo on a 14” Ludwig maple snare with medium tuning and a coated Emperor head. “The Original” immediately had a significant effect on the drum’s sound and transformed it into a much lower and heavier sound. The ringing was taken away too. I switched out “The Original” for “Steve’s Donut” and got a completely different sound, still subdued and thick but with a little more sustain. The difference was subtle but there nonetheless. Testing out the claim that the sound mimicked that 1970’s sound I pulled a couple records out and listened for a similarity. Being a huge Deep Purple fan I grabbed The Complete Albums 1970-1976 and Ian Paice’s snare did have a similar bottom end to the one the BFSD delivered. All in all, the BFSD enables you to transform any snare drum into multiple snare drums. It’s perfect for any drummer who plays in a 70’s cover band or for drummers just looking for that unique 1970’s sound.

For more information or to order your own visit

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Welcome to The Basement

It’s been quite some time since I mentioned our book/DVD FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids. This book was truly a labor of love for me and my co-author Rich Redmond and neither of us could have predicted the success we have had with this project. From being a NAMM award-winner to an Amazon Best-Seller in its 4th printing I am amazed by how many people have embraced our system. It’s always a thrill to have people contact us and share their story of how the book helped them guide a student or child. I never considered myself an “educator” but I reluctantly accepted the title at the insistence of a reader who pointed out that I co-wrote an educational book. I’ve also been accepted as a member of the Salyers Education Team of which I am quite proud. With that said I’m going to try and post more one-on-one educational pieces in the coming months. Now that I have a dedicated drum room and will be adding an electronic kit I can do more things, more often. Therefore I want to introduce you to my new drum school called “The BASEMENT.” It even has its own logo. Stay tuned. My first lesson will be my “famous” fill. I’m really excited about adding this new feature to the blog.

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