“Get-Wittet!” I’m sharing expertise I’ve gained from a life behind the drums, studio & live. Here you will read the most detailed drum reviews on the web. You will gain privileged access to drumming tips & secrets gleaned from legendary players I’ve interviewed for magazines.
August 15, 2004: Attention and Get Wittet! Revised WorldMax brass shell kit video appears momentarily, spoken word now in-your-face. The drums, frankly, don’t need any tweaking. I mean, if you’ve followed drum magazines, you’ll know I’ve reviewed many, many, many drums, cymbals, and accessories. Well, they were good as claimed. But…I bought the WorldMax all-brass vintage drumset. And every time I sit down and touch them, I want to play drums. You know what I mean.Part of Tbw WorldMax brass kit: snare solid as stump
August 14, 2014: Get Wittet! When I go away for a spell, I don’t come back empty-handed. Aside from finishing another record, I’ve bought the drums of my dreams–drums I’ve tried to purchase in earnest over the course of the last two Winter NAMMs at the WorldMax booth. Problem is, whereas WorldMax USA has made the Black Dawg snare drums household words, the company does not distribute the beautiful brass WorldMax Vintage series drumset in America. Long story short, I was able to cut to the source and finally took delivery of a beautiful all-brass kit….shipped it from WorldMax International, Taiwan. It wouldn’t have been possible without the intervention of the kind, artsy, and compassionate Hera Lo, a director of the Chinese (ie Island, not mainland) company. For me, these drums, as I describe in my latest article, represent the pot of gold at the end of a journey that began in 1970.
June 20, 2014: Damn! When I woke up this morning (those Hybrids were gone, Lord have mercy!), in the pale light of day I began packing the Yamaha Absolute Maple Hybrid drums for return to Yamaha Canada director acoustic/electronic drums Sean Browne by way of local drum retailer Dave’s Drum Shop. Dave is delivering the review Hybrid kit (and numerous others) to serve as backline at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival. God knows I’d wanted to catch an artist at that festival this coming Tuesday. Accordingly, God redressed the situation one-better by sending me another great track from artists Sills & Smith , which we’ll record on that day at Bova Sound. Of course, I’ll be working once again with my long time colleague and fave bassist Phil Bova. He’ll be co-producing, engineering, arranging, and (God, indeed, is bountiful) playing bass. These are duties he acquitted admirably on the album we completed–or so we thought–for said duo a few weeks back. Incidentally, Phil plays killer Lado 4 & 6-string basses; also a Fender fretless Telecaster. I keep nudging Phil to do a solo album–one representing his deep love for Brazilian rhythm sections, as he heard them first-hand in LA circa 1977.
This morning, regretting the imminent parting of the ways with the Hybrid, as it were, I hurled out of bed and recorded the bonus clip you see above, ensuring it swam in the same Zoom echo/reverb you hear on previous clips. Note that although these effects will disappear in future my glitches may survive: For the record, please know that I’m well aware I rushed the intro cymbal bell figures, the entry into verse-2, and, at 6:40, jumped a little too hard on the 8th-note snare/bass drum push. These, I rationalize, add a certain charm. The fact is, I did it all for you, dear reader, that you might hear those Hybrids and new/old A Zildjians once again.
June 18, 2014: What’s a drummer to buy? How does a young drummer, or even a veteran, assemble a set of cymbals? Well, my two-cents on this matter are articulated in the clip above, the Get-Wittet Recommended A Zildjian Drumset Cymbal Set-up. For now, it signs-off (for now) on my examination of the “new/old” A Zildjians. Zildjian master cymbal smith Paul Francis has done a brilliant job redoing this noble line of cymbals to match standards set by the benchmark line in the fifties and sixties.
My recommended A Zildjian cymbal set-up (15″ New Beat, 16 & 18 Medium Thin Crashes, 23″ Sweet Ride) flows from 3-freelance album sessions at Bova Sound and also from several disparate tracks recorded elsewhere. To put this in perspective: I own over 100-cymbals; I’ve never counted. But once I tried the “new-old” A Zildjians, I simply had to use them. I’d hear the producer announce that we’d be beginning a new track and invariably I’d trot out this lot. The punchline: I’m traditionally a “K-guy”! But, as you hear and see in the video (I do show-and-tell with the first cymbal I ever owned, a 16″ A Zildjian bought used in 1965). I grew up with a legend and, well, Mr Francis has made it possible for me to return to those older, thinner A Zildjians…and not have to bash the living daylights out of them to get what I need in terms of touch, sensitivity, response, etc. They say you can’t go back. In this instance, you can!
In summary, the cymbal set you see and hear on the video clip is that which appears on over 50-tracks, soon to be released. TEASER TIME! Note the new Yamaha Maple Absolute Hybrid snare drum, a portent of reviews to come. In days, not weeks.
Matter of fact, my review of the Yamaha Hybrids will appear in Jonathan Mover’s Drumhead magazine. But don’t expect you can read it here and skip buying Drumhead. No way would I lift a single phrase from these pages and ask Jonathan Mover to print it in his pages. That is, the Drumhead review is 100% exclusive.
What’s inescapable is the common thread: The new Yamaha Hybrid drums meet or exceed the benchmark standards set by my friend and mentor Takashi “Hagi” Hagiwara. We’re talking everything from wing nuts to smoothly-turning tension rods to the functionality of the Phoenix-style “hook lugs” to the new snare strainer–you’ll see shortly in the print review, first on Tbw.com, next in Drumhead.
June 19, 2014: In my second rambling video clip (below) you get a peek at the Yamaha Absolute Maple Hybrids (in the preceding clip…sorry to be confusing….it’s my own Birch Absolutes). The Maple Hybrids feature a single ply of wenge, which adds a snappy attack component to the robust mids and lows we expect from a maple shell. My review of the new Maple Absolutes (another version appears in Drumhead magazine) is startling. The quality is beyond reproach. As are those A Zildjian cymbals–my recommended cymbal set-up from among the A Zildjians tweaked to fifties/sixties specs.
February 10, 2014: Readers have requested I amplify on certain points made in the “Koide cymbals revisited” clip seen here. I’ve responded with a new, long clip showing many of the Koide prototype B23 cymbals. Then, to aid in your job of comparing Koides with others, I’ve swapped-over the hi-hats for the new/old A Zildjian New Beats; then replaced a Koide crash with a Z or a Paiste; maybe threw up a Koide band cymbal. Actually, I had fun doing this clip (not a bit of it improvised….) because it matches what I do when recording and sometimes live: I hear a tune and I make quick decisions on cymbals that will be appropriate–cymbals that match the feel, touch, and groove I’m looking for. You’ll see.
February 6, 2014: Koide cymbals revisited before I deliver my atypical Tbw Awards for drums, cymbals, and accessories at NAMM 2014.
January 23 – January 26, 2014: Check the Micky Dolenz signature drumset (above...just kidding) I spotted at winter NAMM 2014. Just kidding. I arrived at NAMM late, my luggage was late, and my will be late but worth the wait. As usual, you’ll be hearing details about drums, cymbals, and accessories nobody else bothers with. Get ready for a few surprises and the usual Tbw get-wittet bluntness.
January 23, 2014: Two items: First is part II of my review “new” A Zildjians tweaked to old (1960s) specs. The intro got clipped off: When I say “he’s done them (the A Zildjians) up a treat” I mean Zildjian’s Paul Francis. Thought you’d enjoy this plundering of the “new” old A Zildjians, wherein as a reference item (think the bread served at a wine tasting to cleanse the palette) I use the defunct K Zildjian Dry Complex….the “K Bill Stewart ride”. No, as Zildjian market dept pitches have suggested, they’re not your dad’s A Zildjians (ie heavier, thicker edges). Right. I’m thinking they’re your grandfather’s (read “yours truly” and my peers: lighter, thin edges, sensitive). The 23″ Sweet Ride is incredible, the New Beats as God intended.
Second: I’m off by taxi to the airport for a 6am flight….came back home, early flight cancelled. I do it for you, meaning covering winter NAMM 2014. Somebodies gotta do it, excite you about new drum products (and maybe mic’s and mini recorders and whatever takes my fancy).
January 13, 2014: Remember my review of, and all the buzz surrounding, the Zildjian K Symphonic Traditional...extra heavy orchestral hand cymbals I reviewed as drumset rides? I’ve received two letters recently asking for more info. So I made a video on the context (the heavy Jon Christensen K Zildjian) and to illustrate the new K Zildjian Symphonics. Close as it gets! Check out the video snippet, noting that there’s a glitch that prevents you hearing/seeing more than a minute of the newer Symphonics. That’s all you need, however. Any reader can get questions answered (maybe not custom videos as per Mr Hobson in this instance but detailed text responses…to far and wide, Brazil to Birmingham, Auckland to Atlanta!) gratis. I reckon I owe it to you. Somehow.
December 31, 2013: I’ve posted a video, pledging, as per my review of the Ludwig Supralite steel snare drums (14×4, 15×5), announcing a more review-oriented T Bruce Wittet.com. Sure, there are already something like 60 reviews, each as poorly indexed as the next (I’m working on it). I am told that I’m running the most comprehensive drum review site on the web. People write me from all over the world for advice on which ride to buy, which snare drum will do such-and-such. I answer each letter; I follow-up. My responses are painfully detailed. Anytime you need advice, email me at T BruceWittet@gmail.com (don’t include spaces, though, or dots & dashes; no Morse code).
Why increase the emphasis on reviews, new and vintage? Because I can. And because I’m as frustrated as you. I Google, for example, “drum review, Ludwig Supralite” and I’m snowed by the same words derived from the company press release. I don’t bother with that literature until I’ve really tested the drum. I learned how to review during my 30-some years spent at Modern Drummer magazine). So it’s natural for me to continue in that spirit…but in considerably more detail. A review, incidentally, means playing the drum on real gigs, not just from the armchair, on stage and in studio.
Incidentally, I rented the Supralite 14×4 plus 8 snares, two bass drums (incl the Camco Chanute 24″ seen in the New Years Eve video above), toms, percussion, and bags of cymbals to a record label for use by Dony Wynn (the same: Robert Palmer, Brooks & Dunne). He’s a DW guy and a Paiste endorser: the two items he stowed in the overheads on his flight up here to Siberia consisted of a DW 15×5 snare (hmmm, great drum) and a bursting bag of Paiste cymbals. Everything else on the date he got from me. And, you guessed it, the one drum he offered to purchase from me, cash on the line, was the Ludwig steel Supralite 14×4 (No, I didn’t bite)! Go ahead: spend $2000 USD on a boutique drum. But Dony felt that the Supralite was akin to his old Keplinger/Ayotte. I gave him no advance notice re the drum. He played it, on several tracks, and had no idea it cost chump-change: $180 USD at Dave’s Drum Shop.
I want to thank Ross Garfield, the real Drum Doctor, who kindly and generously gave of his time to acquaint me with his practices. When he’s hired by the rich and famous (Keltner, for example) Ross will scope out the session, deliver what Jim feels is appropriate, and will tweak tuning. His rates are modest for what he does, seriously, and if you’re not famous he’ll rent to you and you’ll be richer for the experience.
November 28, 2013: Part I, teaser review of the new A Zildjians…tweaked to 1960s standards!
November 5, 2013: Ludwig Supralite snare drums, as I discovered, are not only among the best buys in drums I’ve ever encountered (under $200 bucks, tax-in); they’re pro drums that happen to be going cheap. Act now before somebody discovers the mistake. I could tell from the minute I touched that classic Ludwig rim profile and delivered a rimshot that the elements were so combined that this was a drum. Read the review here.
NEWS FLASH October 27, 2013: Out of the closet, out of the shadows, Ray Ayotte rejoins drum company he founded, now partnered with savvy Jean-Denis Beaudoin, Photos don’t lie…
NEWS FLASH October 25, 2013: Exclusive to T Bruce Wittet.com. Ray Ayotte rejoins the Ayotte Drum Company: the gospel truth. I was there, I’m proud to say. Read about it here.
Promise to visit my web hosts Patrice & Chad, who run cymbalholic.com. Cymbalholic.com is the only forum I’ve ever joined. It’s populated by inquisitive souls who are as Freudian as me when it comes to cymbals, which are part science, part alchemy, and part magic. I reckoned they’d want to know first about my Japanese Koide Cymbal prototypes. Thank you Mr Koide for entrusting me with the only set of your prototype B23 cymbals in America. Break your chisel on this: B23 alloy is ultra-hard. Imagine B20 but glassier and stinging. More on Koide cymbals coming your way soon.
The Rimshot: a Quick How-To Video: watch carefully. A rimshot is not a device to cause pain in venues like my music room, with its low ceilings. A rimshot is a musical necessity on drums, not just for survival but for its almost singular role in fostering the sound of rock & roll, Roy Haynes-inspired jazz, etc.
July 28, 2013: In and out of the studio, Bova Sound, overdubbing drums to replace another drummer’s parts. I won’t name names because it’s happened to me and the feeling ain’t pretty. All I can say is something I’ve learned over 30 years in the saddle: Making a record is not like making a live performance.
May 18, 2013: Nobody has guessed the snare drum I play in the video. Nobody came close: no cigar, no prize. The answer is: I used a 12″ Yamaha oak-shell (custom, not Musashi) fitted with a 12-strand wire snare unit. All backbeats struck with rimshots. And you thought 12″ snare drums were “auxiliary snares”. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get hold of board mixes of the bed tracks on executed for producer Phil Bova and artist Gillian Kirkland. I’m told they’re going to be overdubbing a string quartet next (from the Montreal Symphony, I think) then extract tenor/soprano from some operatic vocalist dude whose name I’d recognize were I cultured. Fine and good, aye, but I’ll wager he’s no Frank Ifield. Google the tune “I Remember You”, or, if it’s the Webster Dictionary, “I Remember Youse“.
April 28, 2013: Guess the snare drum I used in above video. You’ll be surprised when, later, I furnish the answer. Go here for the complete article, a footnote to the one cited immediately below.
April 27, 2013: Video and text on how to become a better drummer: Break the rules! Forget the printed page, screw up the rudiments, sing a song and play along. If you do that, ideas will come.
April 16, 2013: a film about an urban myth, the $100 drumset. Many readers found my story, my “drummer’s dream” tale, of buying a pro-sounding Coronet (1960s Pearl) kit for $40 US hard to swallow. I’ve now combined the Coronet drums with a Rogers 15″ (head diameter) concert snare ($40 due to a hole in the shell). For cymbals I employed 3-star Zyn hats and a couple of made-in-Japan (a long time ago) crash-rides: a 24″ and a 20″. Presto, I’d cobbled together a really fine sounding kit for $100! You be the judge: Here’s a video showing me doing barnyard funk on a “C-note kit”.
Part III of my review of monstrous Yamaha Live Custom oak drums series (before it hits the shelves) is another Tbw exclusive: Here’s directions to more playful footage: part III of my review of the Yamaha Live Custom, new thick oak drums, made entirely in China. Monstrous. See and hear them (sorry for all the head and shoulders shots) in a studio environment without board mix.
March 28, 2013: A 3-video summation of my deliberations on bring a 16″ bass drum, no riser, and, insult to injury, with a hole in the front kick head, to an album date. And…with session day-1 over tonight, I guessed it worked. Watch my videos here.
March 22, 2013: I probably didn’t need to apologize on video for statements such as (1) don’t ride cymbals with brushes, and (2) don’t be a slave to retro fashion/folly by placing your first tom on snare stand (oh, I’ve got to index these suckers!), thereby choking it. Maybe,as this video suggests (warts and all…I’m learning!), there’s better ways of viewing these notions.
Enough poetry, audio/video is now part of the drill! Note the screen shot below. The actual youtube console is here.
VIDEO is now a solid part of the T Bruce Wittet.com experience.
I will do my usual casual commentary on video (and extremely casual playing style). I will review drums and cymbals according to the impeccable, objective standards set by the magazine I grew up with: Modern Drummer.
I do not endorse any company although I like many, many drum & cymbal brands. I resigned a Sabian deal years ago to avoid perceptions of conflict-of-interest when I began reviewing for Modern Drummer. I think you’ll find me objective, excited, enthusiastic, and, again, detailed in my review of the new Yamaha Live Custom. Go back there are some fifty other reviews of modern and vintage bits of gear.
February 1, 2013: More to come from NAMM. Meanwhile, how about using medical tape used as damping….
January 24, 2013: I flew from Siberia to Anaheim in winter and it was raining! Day-1 winter NAMM 2013: A Zildjians return to default settings circa late 1950s. And, get this, the T Bruce Wittet award for DIY alternative excellence goes to the, ahem, Booty Shaker
January 16, 2013: You’d be surprised at how many reviews have emanated from TBruceWittet.com in the last couple of years. Hell, I was surprised at this list! Click over and scroll down just past the fold. It includes drumsets, snare drum, cymbals of all sorts, vintage pieces, electronics, and all industry gatherings, summer camps, etc.
January 14, 2013: The $50 Salvation Army Coronet 1960s budget drums...an update.
January 10, 2013: Apologies for offending drummers with my tongue-in-cheek “How to be a better drummer in ten easy steps” or words to that effect. I was yanking your chain! Follow the link to my disclaimer, which will link you to the original piece. Glad you’re reading…at very least; thanks for that.
January 3, 2013: My annual award for best…drumheads…ever! By “drumheads” I mean “drum heads” and “drum skins” and the surfaces you strike with hand or club.
January 1, 2013: Happy New Year. I greet you with a gift of 10 odd but essential steps to better drumming. Funny, nobody mentions these much.
November, 2012: Thanks to Manu Katche for his input on my review of his new ECM CD, the self-titled Manu Katche. I figured I could go only so far guessing on his recording/miking modus. Elegance, intricacy, life in the details……..
October 15, 2012: Another War and Peace from yours truly: how to achieve success & fame in drumming. Think globally while you’re acting locally!.
September 23, 2012: A solution to the jargon controversy in country: the rim-click vs the cross-stick, vs the..rim-clock?
October, 2012: People looked at me funny when I told them that I was saving my 18″ ancient UFIP B8 flat ride for Charlie Watts, especially when it never left my basement music room. But it’s gone now, first to Zildjian, which will copy the cymbal, and then to Charlie (who has just cracked his). Read about it here.UFIP/Pro Cussion 18″ flat ride, my cymbal goes to Zildjian then off to Charlie Watts
August 18, 2012: You gotta play a rimshot for your backbeat or you’re gonna sound like The Timi Show. In fact, there is no such show but there are timid sounding backbeats out there. You want art? I’ve mapped out suggested stick positions
News Bulletin: The Montreal Drum Fest is celebrating year-twenty in October. Highly recommended.
July 30, 2012: Chomp on this free drum lesson: when muffling drums & cymbals, forget about duct tape and crazy priced Moon Gel. Spit out your chewing gum, dirt cheap and better tasting, and recycle it as the ideal, cheapest damping material on the market.
July 23, 2012: T Bruce’s free drum lesson/tip 3: Align your freaking snare wires. Look here for a how-to. And check out the artsy illustration, soon to appear under glass at the Met, right opposite the Greek miniatures.The top side ain’t right, the bottom is better
July 13, 2012: Friday the 13th, beat the odds and take your gear from under the glass back to nature.
July 11, 2012: T Bruce’s free drum lessons and daily drum tips, beginning with this bit of common sense
Followed by another instance of snares-off, ie when playing brushes
July 6, 2012: Addendum to my glowing review of the Yamaha Club Custom. What’s all the fuss? You didn’t know Ralph Angelillo was a once-famous drummer. And that he hung up his sticks for decades but is returning to the throne? The man can shuffle. He put me in my place on my own turf: in my basement office/music room. Same kit Stanton Moore played a year ago, almost to the day, same corner of TBW HQ
July 3, 2012: Part II, the extra-candid portion of the in-depth review of the Yamaha Club Custom drumset.
July 2, 2012: You want to talk about busy? Festival season and clubs active, to boot. And that’s the ideal situation in which to review gear, in this instancethe Yamaha Club Custom drumset...frighteningly candid and in forensic detail. And I’ve been out reviewing the new Jojo Mayer Perfect Balance bass drum pedal for Modern Drummer. First Jojo pedal to reach these shores and guess who gigged with it? Right…but you’ll have to wait until the review comes out in MD. It’s exclusive to the mag, only fair. I can tease you, though. And I can flaunt little suggestions about the Paiste cymbals; again, you’ll have to wait for the review appears in MD in the fall. Paiste Canada sent me Formula 602 paper-thins 16″, 18″, and 14″ medium hats. And a 22″ Ndugu Twenty series ride. Gorgeous to the ears, eyes, and touch. Paiste America kindly forwarded the 20″ in that same line. Also, in MD I will tell all re the Giant Beats, which I absolutely love … meaning I’m holding onto them a wee bit longer. Remember, for any cymbal matters or neuroses, go to cymbalholic. The link sits immediately above this backyard episode, me competing with construction noise…successfully with the review Yamaha Club Custom kit. That 24″ bass drum has got the goods where it’s most important: the mid frequencies. The lower-mids and lows are scary. I swear, construction workers were amazed. I was pissed off, migrainous, and needed to make my point. Thanks Sean Brown, head of drum marketing, Yamaha Canada for the review kit. Thanks to Scott Atkins, head marketing Sonor/Coast Canada for the loan of the Jojo Perfect Balance pedal.
March 28, 2012: Mat Marucci captures/channels Elvin Jones in this must-listen CD!
March 23, 2012: T Bruce Wittet’s Pick of the Best, Unsung Drummers: Let’s start with Nick Costa from DC, Baltimore. He’s not only slick, intuitive, exuding mastery…he guides me to hip music and drummers I’ve never heard. Another reader who takes a moment to contact me and set me right….
March 15, 2012: Finally, footnote to Mattacks Jimmy Page Death Wish II recording diary article (plus a couple of glimpses at my own recording/live diary: pages from 1982…..I feel awkward publishing pages of my thoughts back then but you’ll get a chuckle, so it’s worth it. DM is a true master. Without him and Jim Keltner to listen to for inspiration, and phone for advice, wow…I can’t imagine….my own Freudian recording diary. Note rimshots and Death Wish II…
March 4, 2012: Want to get messed up? Investigate the upbeat. That’s what I’ve been doing whilst away. Been playing up a storm, seriously. And learning. And sharing.
January 16, 2012: One of the best bass drum pedals of all time. REVIEW: The Rogers Swiv-o-matic bass drum pedal feels so gooood and smooth, it’s like playing in socking feet. Buy one now that they’re dirt cheap…And imagine the similarities to the new Sonor Jo Jo pedal. I’ve asked Sonor to send me one for review…
January 11, 2012: My night of terror playing free jazz, 2 sets before a live audience. What to do?
January 4, 2012: As promised, a hugely detailed account of the Death Wish II sessions…Jimmy Page and Dave Mattacks recording duo. Catch this one. It’s never been seen anywhere by anybody and it covers issues of concern to anybody interested in studio drumming…or any sort of drumming! Aye, life’s in the details.
Drum tips, for better drumming, better sounds…and out of respect: Snares buzzing? Flick the switch!
Ralph MacDonald, as I reported yesterday around noon, died earlier that morning December 18, 2011. I’d met Ralph a couple of times and didn’t know him except for the music he made, but my friend Hagi was tight with Ralph MacDonald. Hagi’s words are touching. I thank Will Lee once again for his warmth and assistance. And to Martin for this photo of two masters, Steve & Ralph, hand-in-glove!
Steve & Ralph: Now THIS was a rhythm section!
Oh, boy, the tyranny of fashion and its effect on choosing drumheads. What’s so wrong with the Remo Pinstripe?A Pinstripe, a Yamaha 12″ tom, and some Bailie Nicol Jarvie blended Scotch
Can you cite the top 21 cymbals of all time? Of the last 50 years? I take a go at it here.
A review of the new Neil Peart Taking Center Stage video (in typical in-depth Tbw fashion). Hint: it’s great.
Paul Motian passed away November 22, 2011. I’d like to share my unseen, unpublished photos and excerpts of an interview with Paul.Paul Motian’s stick bag, courtesy Virgin Airlines, awaits his return
November, 2011: Do you serve the song? Okay, how about shark? Blowfish? What do all those drummers mean when they say, “Hey man, I serve the song”? Is it some apology, some excuse, some indentured servitude? Maybe a manifestation of the eternal struggle twixt drumming simplicity and complexity? In this article, I hazard a guess.
November, 2011: The definitive electronic drum review, most in-depth anywhere: Alesis DM8 USB Electronic Drumset given thumbs up…and then some. Read the Alesis e-pad kit review here.
August, 2011: How about a true, real-deal exclusive: Neil Peart stuns drum world, makes surprise appearance at KoSA 2011 in Castleton, VT; drives to this notch in the mountains alone out of his passion for drums and to show his support for KoSA founder Aldo Mazza.
You makes your bed, you sleeps in it. And that is why you need a snare bed. Read all about it.
Summer reading: reads like fiction but every word is true. A young drummer’s early road experiences staring down the barrel of a gun. I’m going to take heat for this tale.
Why tune loose and go for fat? What I learned from Carter Beauford & Manu Katche: a backstage exclusive
April, 2011: From the pages of my recording diary, a recent album date in a fab upscale recording studio, located in a mountain chalet overlooking a lake. One of the overheads alone was worth $2500, maybe doubled or triple that figure. And the kit I used? A fifty-buck ($50 US) 1960s Coronet by Pearl drum kit! Want to know what a recording session is like in my neck of the woods?
HOW THIS WEBSITE CAME ABOUT IN OCTOBER, 2010
TBruce Going for a Home Run
THE TRUMPETS (AND TROMBONE OF THE GREAT ROSWELL RUDD) HERALDED THE LAUNCH OF TBruceWittet.com. I co-produced an album featuring Roswell and a cast of thousands. I did a mini-shoot in his hotel room. I’ll share some of my stories and pics. Lend me your support, not your money. Visit often.
WELCOME TO MY LIFE! WHY AM I OPENING IT UP TO YOU?
Many of you know my name from Modern Drummer, Drums Etc, Rhythm, Down Beat, or one of many magazines published from New Jersey to New South Wales. You’ve told me you like my style, my angle on drumming, my attention to detail. That means you’ll see drum reviews, cymbal reviews, drumhead reviews, drumstick …you get the picture.
I’ve spent years working with the editorial team of fave drum mag Modern Drummer reporting on drums and drummers. I wrote all those Modern Drummer tributes, examples of which include Al Jackson Jr, John Bonham (two cover stories), and Keith Moon (ditto). Funny, the last time Keith Moon appeared in my home town I was a teenager and my parents refused to allow me out to see him play; same with Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell. I made up for it then, and when it came time to write tributes, by listening to their music, interviewing people who knew them, and trying to get a feel for what it was like to experience them playing, thus the famous “traffic light intro” to the second Bonham article. In addition I really enjoyed writing features such as “In Search of the Perfect Ride”, “Getting the Right Sound in the Studio”, the Cozy Powell tribute, and interviews with Jeff Ballard, Lenny White, and many others.TBruce on Camco walnut/gold drums, Ottawa Jazz Festival 2008
I will share stuff on my cutting room floor. For example, you want to learn about Glyn John’s 3-mic job? I can help because I’ve kept notes on it; I’ve learned much about the technique from Dave Mattacks, one of my mentors. Dave learned it from Glyn, with whom he did several albums. Incidentally, the 3-mic approach is not so much contingent on issues of phase and directionality as it is on the drummer sending a balanced, “final mix” to the control room. More on that later. For the present, if you like scouring roots vinyl, you’re possibly wondering how Keltner got that snare sound on “The Tattler”? Me too. It’s not your basic 14″ diameter snare drum common in the seventies. Again, we’ll come around to it in these pages. I’ve had the good fortune of counting Jim as a friend since the early eighties. He’s furnished the answer to that question and others. Larrie Londin is another person who helped along the way. He aided me in deciding what to do with RIMS suspension mounts when they didn’t seem to work with my Camco drums. So did the late Jeff Porcaro, who was very much alive circa 1988 when I began calling him, seeking his advice on session matters. Incidentally, Jeff advised me to skip RIMS on my Camco LA vintage kit (with gold lugs, yet. How I miss it!). Jeff owned the same kit in larger sizes and traded the drums for a painting. I sold mine to provide cash flow while I was putting up this site, no small feat for a guy whose knowledge of web design could fill a peanut, leaving room to spare.
For your part, bear with my lengthy texts. I’ve got hours of interviews in the can, with everybody from Robert Plant and Booker T and Tom Dowd, legendary engineer, to Sammy Creason (Dowd’s session drummer), Ronald Shannon Jackson, Josh Freese…you wouldn’t believe. You want? I share.
Regarding forums: I don’t have one.
The reason I don’t have a forum is that there’s a great one, run by Chad and Patrice, at cymbalholicc.And, of course, you know well enough to go on to drummerworld.com
I’M OPENING MY RECORDING DIARIES FOR YOU
Read about my recording experiences. I’m no Chamberlain, Keltner, Gadd, or Mattacks, as you’ll see, but I’ve done my bit. My first pro sessions were actually cited in Billboard and featured The Brecker Bros. and Bob Babbitt (Shadows of Motown). Being inclined to pen and ink, I began writing down details in a hard cover black book. The diary grew to 5 volumes. I’m getting around to sharing the lot. As of late (January, 2013) I’m borrowing from Dave Mattacks’ recording diary, more enlightening than mine!TBruce recording Cathy Miller’s album, circa 1986. Note drum gloves, RB Gretsch kit, Oberheim DMX drum machine, and too many cymbals.
Today recording sessions have almost vanished, at least in proper, downtown studios, begging the question. I play gigs, I teach drums at Carleton University, I do seminars on recording drums for The Audio Recording Academy, an accredited community college in Ottawa, Canada. And I still get the occasional call for a freelance session. And write PRs, web copy, catalogs, and you wouldn’t believe. Need my services? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I teach, too: a very small group of students. Same email address.
MEDIA CITATION: “TbruceWittet.com offers a portal to a vast …info found nowhere else. Everything has an unmistakable ring: that of credibility. vast information portal. He’s continuing the tradition he began in Modern Drummer, Down Beat, Rhythm, and other mags around the globe. I love his gear reviews.”(Thomas Halley Southgate, Edinburgh, Scotland).