Monthly Archives: September 2019

New Toy

This week I got a Yamaha DXTplorer electronic kit. I haven’t had this much fun practicing in a long time. The multiple kits that it comes with keeps things interesting and the sound quality is exceptional. The 5-piece set features high-impact rubber pads with natural feel and rebound, a kick pedal, hi-hat controller module, and rack. At the heart of the DTXPLorer is its compact trigger module, with a 16-bit/32-note tone generator that produces amazingly realistic voices. You can choose from 214 drum and percussion sounds, 22 preset songs, and 32 preset drum kits covering rock, funk, jazz, reggae, and Latin styles. An array of onboard digital effects let you tweak your sound to your liking. You can also create and store up to 9 custom kits.

The module also includes the Groove Check practice feature, a multifunction metronome, backlit LCD display, and simple plug-and-play connections. Auxiliary inputs and MIDI outputs expand the kit’s versatility, allowing you to connect to a PC or other device. The headphone output allows quiet practice too. My new drum room is very quiet but not quiet enough to allow for late night practice sessions. The DXTplorer enables me to play at any hour of the day or night. I plan to post a video of me playing some cool grooves using the hip-hop feature. Stay tuned. (Special shout out to Alvin Sonny Fuchs who gave me the set. Sonny plays in an original band named “The Secret Ingredients” and a cover band called “Hold My Beer.”)

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South and North

It’s been a while since I posted anything on Civil War drummer boys.

Above is a portrait of Confederate drummer boy Charles F. Mosby who served with the Elliott Grays of the 6th Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment and Henderson’s Heavy Artillery. Son of a southern, pre-war widow named Sarah Brumfield Mosby from Manchester, Virginia, Charles seems to have entered army life on the shortly after the start of the war. He was only 13 at the time. While still 13, Charles had seen the Battle of Bull Run and at 14, the battles of Antietam and Malvern Hill with the 6th Virginia Infantry, Mahone’s Brigade. Charles mustered out in 1862 and reenlisted in Henderson’s Heavy Artillery. He survived the war and mustered out in 1865.

Above is a portrait of the Union drummer boy Johan Christian Julius Langbein of the 9th New York, Hawkins’ Zouaves who received a Medal of Honor for voluntarily providing medical aid to a wounded officer “under heavy fire.” Langbein joined the 9th New York Infantry from New York City in May of 1861. On April 19, 1862, during action at the Battle of Camden, Lieutenant Thomas L. Bartholomew was hit in the head by shrapnel. Langbein brought the officer to a nearby home and then snuck him into the wagon of other wounded headed to the federal hospital on Roanoke Island. Because of Langbein’s actions, the officer received the medical care that enabled him to recover.

For more, download The Long Roll.

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E-Street Setup

Max Weinberg’s setup has always been simple, mostly consisting of a snare drum, mounted tom, bass drum and floor tom while his usual cymbal setup consists of two crash cymbals, a ride cymbal and a pair of hi-hats, with an occasional third crash: “I’ve got four drums, he says, “Anything more is redundant. Besides, I tend to trip over things.”

  • Drumset: DW with white pearl covering
    • 6×14 Edge snare
    • 9×13 rack tom
    • 16×16 floor tom
    • 18×24 kick drum
  • Cymbals: Zildjian
    • 14″ A Mastersound hi-hats
    • 17″ A medium crash
    • 21″ A Rock ride
    • 18″ A medium crash

He also uses Remo heads and Vater drumsticks, notably the 5A Nude wood tip model and Wire Tap brushes.

Back in the legendary Power Station (Avatar Studios) where “Born In The U.S.A.” was recorded, Max shares some insight on the drum sound behind the classic track.

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An Argument

Today I got sucked into a controversial discussion, more like an argument, over this meme featuring a quote from Tony Royster Jr. If you follow Tony like I do you know that he currently serves the role as Katy Perry’s touring drummer. That’s a sweet and probably lucrative gig. Playing for superstars like this requires a strict adherence to the requirements of both the star and their musical director. It also varies according to the style of play. A sideman on a country gig has to play with a different approach than say a sideman serving a pop artist. No doubt Tony has to fit into Katy’s sound and contribute to her live show according to her tastes. Now there were some different understandings to this meme. Some people thought Tony was simply saying that ghost notes are prohibited. Some, like me, think he is referring to the possibility of them misfiring while trying to do ghost notes. Here is part of our discussion:

Playing for an artist as big as Katy Perry means you do whatever she wants. That’s what a sideman does. That comment means he is following orders.

No way is he doing what he wants. I’m surprised he would even take a gig like this when it prevents him from showing off his blazing chops.

Playing for an artist as big as Katy Perry means you do whatever her music director wants. That’s what a sideman does.

I’m not sure but in my place, ghost notes are a must for drummers in most of the genres. I hate that he doesn’t use them. Where is the solid beat that pumps up your heart rate?

IMO, these gigs require the highest level of ability and responsibility from a drummer. Tony is providing a service to a client. She just happens to be a huge pop star.

Katy’s drummer can be replaced by a computer. And, ghost notes are crucial. Her music is not. Besides, she’ll fire you simply for upstaging her.

Its simple. Tony uses triggers and they don’t handle ghost notes well. Anyone who has ever used them knows that.

Can’t you set the trigger sensitivity/threshold on this shit? Doesn’t he have the best gear money can buy?

I am actually glad she uses a drummer. She can use a recording very easy! Many pop stars like Pink and Carrie Underwood have awesome bands backing them.

So what are your thoughts?

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Stickman’s Philosophy

A few weeks ago I found myself involved in an online chat discussing the problematic habit of developing blisters while drumming. I got into a back and forth with one of the participants and this led me to their video which I found incredibly interesting. The video was that of a drumstick manufacturer who passionately declared that it was not his sticks that made the drummer but the drummer himself who was responsible. This led me to ask the individual if he would answer a few questions here on Off Beat to share his refreshing philosophy.

Hi Michael,
Thank you for the shout out and interview. It’s a real pleasure to be here with you and all your readers.

Fabulous questions Michael, thank you. You ask. “Why, as a drum manufacturer, would I place less emphasis on the stick and more on the work ethic?” Because you’re right. It’s a bit of a quagmire for a stick manufacturer to promote this kind of thinking. Because drum sticks aren’t just tools. They aren’t “simply extensions” of our limbs. Let’s face it. If music is an expression of our souls, drums must be the expression of our beating hearts. Which means there needs to be finesse, feel and soul. There needs to be a cognitive connection between our minds, our hearts and our brains flowing through our veins before our sticks ever hit the brass or the skins. Ultimately, sticks won’t tap out a groove all on their own. So for me, work ethic weighs in over stick choice every time.

As for how my experience has shaped my philosophy might be as simple as going back to the early 70s when I started playing and understanding the limited selections of sticks a drummer had to choose from. Because that’s where you’ll find the original 7A’s, 5A’s, 5B’s and the 2B’s and very little more. So! Stick choice wasn’t truly an issue when I was young and learning. However, later on thru the 80’s and 90’s as music genre’s started meshing and evolving, gear manufactures found their niche and absolutely flooded the markets with crazy varieties of products for playing louder, wilder  with more color and designed for more technically proficient players.

On the flip side, stick manufactures, not so much. Even today, they still pretend to put out a wider variety of sticks. Pretending it’s new by adding colors or logos. Offer sticks that are a pinch thinner, or longer with a slightly different tip or fulcrum, but still counting on artist endorsements for sales. Not much change to speak of. And with so little change it makes me wonder how they do it. In fact! If you’re buying your sticks at a local brick and mortar store, you won’t even know what inch diameter your 5A sticks are much less its weight or length. You just pick out the shortest, smallest, fattest or longest, hold them in your hand and if it feels okay… you buy them.

Mad Hatter Stick Company, while continuing to pay homage to the North American hickory, we equally celebrate all other hardwoods around the world that share its same strength and dependability. Allowing us to combine these hardwoods, mix, match and innovate. Lending to the industry fun, provocative, great looking, handcrafted, and durable sticks with longer lengths, more accurate sizes while bringing awareness to today’s drummers more viable, killer options than ever before. And we do it all with the same passion as the drummers who play them.

We truly are making a difference. Choosing to concentrate on blunt ended sticks is one way we are doing that. If you’re playing style requires you to play with a tipped stick, there are companies out there for you. But for us here at Mad Hatter Stick Co. And those thousands of players who don’t need them, we provide a solid, great looking, longer stick with amazing balance, bounce and attack with more comprehensive options of width weights and lengths than the leading competition. Because we can.

Lastly, you asked me if these sticks are an extension of my own work ethic. And the answer is Yes! Michael, most definitely. Everything about these sticks came from my own needs as a drummer. And only when I realized there were other drummers that had the same needs, did I decide to move into making and designing them for others. From my shop to your hands. Turning the art of drum thumping into a whole new level of loud.

Thank you Michael for your time with me today. I’ve really enjoyed this interview with you and look forward to more in the future.

t. mills

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Rider on the Storm

It seems unbelievable that this Blog is four years old and I am only now posting about John Densmore, the drummer for The Doors. I went through a Doors phase in college where I listened to the band on a daily basis and I have just about everything they put out on CD. As my tastes changed I lost interest in the band although I’ll still stop and listen to them when they come on the radio. Like The Door’s music Densmore’s drumming was always unique. What I noticed about Densmore was he referred to himself as a “percussionist” in every interview he did. Apparently he thought of himself more than just a drummer.

According to his official website: “I was in the orchestra and the marching band with those stupid uniforms, I got a rush from playing with 40 musicians, no matter how amateurish–there’s power in a marching band.” He became enamored, in his teens, with jazz–and particularly with the playing of drummer Elvin Jones, whose evocative, muscular grooves with John Coltrane’s band influenced a multitude of rock musicians. He also became a habitué of the L.A. club scene, where bands like The Byrds and Love were a foretaste of things to come.

Along with his 1993 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Densmore, as a member of the Doors, was recognized in 2007 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Also in 2007, Densmore and his band mates were awarded a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement. Densmore wrote his best-selling autobiography, Riders on the Storm (1990), about his life and the time he spent with Jim Morrison and the band.

Over his years with the Doors, Densmore used a variety of drum sets, including Gretsch and later Ludwig. He also used Zildjian and later Paiste cymbals. Here’s a transcription of one of Densmore’s smoother grooves courtesy of Redeye Percussion (Click image for full-size):


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Cobain on Grohl

A newly-unearthed Kurt Cobain interview sees the Nirvana frontman saying that every one of the band’s drummers before Dave Grohl “pretty much sucked”. Grohl joined the grunge outfit in 1990, replacing ‘Bleach’ drummer Chad Channing. Dale Crover and Dave Foster had previously played drums in Nirvana, while the band had also worked with session musicians Mark Pickerel and Dan Peters. Studio Brussels, a radio station in Belgium, has now shared a recently unearthed interview, which took place in Ghent during November 1991. “Krist [Novoselic] and I have been playing together for about four and a half years now with a few different drummers,” Cobain says in the interview. “Dave has been in the band for about a year. This is the first time we’ve felt like a very definite unit.” Cobain then adds: “The band is finally complete because all the other drummers we had pretty much sucked.” (Luke Morgan Britton,

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E-book and e-chat

Some of you may be unaware that our book FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids is available in an electronic format. You have the option to download the PDF of the book or a version with the PDF and all of the videos included. This is a great way to present the book to your students on an iPad or other electronic devices. If you decide to purchase the book in any format, print or electronic, we ask that you consider writing a review over on our Amazon page. Speaking of the Internet, I am making myself available online to discuss the philosophy behind the book via Facebook Live. If you are interested, email me and we can set up a time that is convenient for both of us. I look forward to starting a conversation about educating young people on the benefits beyond playing an instrument. I will post days and times here well in advance.

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Prologix and Redmond

Those of you that are familiar with this blog know that I have been a fan of Prologix drum pads for quite some time. One of the first video reviews I did was for them (View Here). You are also probably aware that I co-wrote an award-winning book with Prologix artist Rich Redmond. Therefore it only seems “logixcal” that I would be interested in reviewing a signature pad from Prologix designed by Rich.

In order to do this I had to clear my mind of all preconceived notions based on my previous affections for the manufacturer and the artist. Upon receiving the pad, (called the “C.R.A.S.H. pad” which stands for Rich’s motivational speaking acronym: Commitment, Relationship, Attitude, Skill, Hunger) I immediately noticed some interesting design components. First off, the pad comes as a 12” dual-sided split top practice surface. Each section provides a different resistance that helps build power and endurance. The flip side is a red and black flaked articulate high-tension surface giving the pad three distinct practice surfaces. Prologix’s 12” countersunk, non-marking rim surrounds the practice surface producing a realistic feel and sound for rim shots. This makes the pad more realistic than its competitors. The C.R.A.S.H. pad also features Prologix’s Variant Resistance Surface (VRT) technology.

Test driving this pad was a lot of fun. Obviously going through the rudiments and splitting back and forth between the two top surfaces enabled me to get a feel for the difference in resistance and rebound. The combination of surfaces would enable anyone to get a good workout while focusing on either of the halves of the pad. Of course playing off of the signature rim that is featured on all of Prologix’s pads added to the realism of the experience. Turning the pad over provided a whole new surface with a completely different bounce. Between the three options I felt very satisfied. I imagine any practice session could be three times as effective using the C.R.A.S.H. pad.

Once again Prologix has added another standout product to their catalog this time utilizing the vision of signature artist Rich Redmond. By incorporating three distinct surfaces Prologix has increased the practicing possibilities for drummers of all ages and stages. For more information, visit

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Sponsor Us, Reach Thousands

We are now making sponsor space available here at Off Beat. Reach thousands of potential customers across hundreds of countries. The cost is $50 per six months of posting. The product must be drum-related. We will even design the ad banner for you. Email for details. The money made from these ads will be directly fed back into the blog to bring you more thought-provoking content. Average Monthly Stats:

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