This all changed last weekend. While perusing my local drum shop, a certain blonde snare drum caught my eye. With its beautifully lacquered maple finish and it’s fine, handcrafted construction, this 6″ x 14″ Pork Pie drum beckoned to me as I walked up to the snare section.
Nicknamed “Curly” (after the type of maple used for the shell), it was soon apparent that it sounded just as good as it looked. Tuned up high, it provided a “crack” that sounded like a .357 Mangnum and then, with a few counter-clockwise turns with a drum key, it produced a deep, round “thunk” that even Russ Kunkel would find satisfying.
After playing the snare for a few minutes, I realized I wasn’t going to be leaving the drum shop alone. Twenty minutes later I was back in my studio with my new “main” snare drum firmly placed between my legs.
After all of this talk about how great my new snare sounds, do you think I’d let you actually hear what it truly sounds like? Of course not. Today’s loop takes a bit of syncopation, a nice amount of space, and a ton of AutoFilter to make a funk groove into something just a bit different.
I’ve been using two snare drums in my live set-up for the past several years. Typically, I’ll use a smaller, higher pitched drum to the left of my hi hat (usually my 10″ Premier) and a bigger, fuller sounding 14″ snare as my primary drum. This gives me the option to switch up textures from song to song or within the songs themselves. For example, I might use the 10″ snare during the verse section of a song and then move to the 14″ during the chorus to help open things up.
Most drummers associate playing the rim of the snare drum with cross-stick back beats and rim shots. While it definitely serves these functions well, it can also be used as an alternative to the hi hat or ride cymbal for creating unique sounding grooves.
Some well known examples of this technique are Van Halen’s“Finish What Ya Started” and INXS’s“Need You Tonight”. Both of these drummers play enormous kits with a multitude of cymbals and hats to bash on, yet chose to ride a pattern on the rim of the snare drum to better suit the song. This “less is more” approach only accentuates cymbal crashes and fills when the time is right.
No cymbals. No toms. Just kick and snare. And a bit of rim.