Sharing expertise gained from a life behind the drums, studio & live. Sharing secrets I’ve learned interviewing the greats for drum magazines. And sharing the most detailed, trustworthy drum reviews out there.
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.
Welcome back. MRI’s couldn’t keep me away, just delayed me. And when the various road blocks were cleared away, my path was staring me in the face. I’m back honey. But there’s been a shift in focus. I will be concentrating on drum reviews, from the latest Sonor Hybrids to the ancient Rogers mini-donut multi-clamp. New A Zildjians retooled to sixties specs. Mystery Zildjians said to mirror the very oldest Turkish Ks so closely you want to bite them. You have spoken to me loud & clear. You want more reviews. The responses are unanimous. They hail from North America, South America, Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and places I can’t spell. Thank you…for your input. I’m honored that you trust me to respond personally to your questions on choosing drums, cymbals, and accessories and write me at T Bruce Wittet @ gmail.co
I’ve taken your suggestions, and plight, to heart. You want more of the kind of reviews I wrote for Modern Drummer: candid, honest, blunt, understandable to working drummer and student alike. I won’t sacrifice the feature articles I’ve penned exclusively for this website. Just the other day I did a fall jazz fest way out of town. Drummer approaches me: “Hey, in your article on drummers’ bad habits you advised drummers never to ride with brushes. Well, ten minutes ago I saw you doing just that!” You people are obviously enjoying that, which makes me happy and fuzzy inside. It feels good to supply a service that, apart from Jim Pettit and his Memphis Drum Center is damn near unavailable on the web. In the meantime, help me help you…..
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.
Incidentally, there’s a fair chance I may be sent to China to examine on behalf of this website; I don’t want to say more lest the gods cast the offer asunder. Maybe they figure 2 trips to Japan (the first for Modern Drummer, the second as an indie journalist) and 1 to Indonesia (this website) were enough. I’m thinking those gods can bite-it.
July 28, 2013: I’m back. 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. Okay, coming down pike: Watch for my controversial Top-10 Drumming Bad Habits. It’s in editing stage as are, oh, 20 complete, typically T Bruce Wittet-length articles. All provocative.
Thanks for your patience. I’m into this 1000% but, hey, I work alone. I’m not a good juggler but I’ve got balls. Wait ’til you read this stuff!
June 20, 2013: Video evidence: how to get a clean rimshot live-off-the-floor that will sound great in a studio mix or live! A detailed article appears on this website, now backed up by my usual Tbw-style folksy videography!
May 31-June 5, 2013: I keep harping on the fact that you can buy a really cheap, really good sounding drumset if you pay attention, mind the details, and don’t fall in love with the first drum that passes your way.
In this video you are not hearing rocket science nor are you beholding magnficent musicianship This jam is as ragged as it gets. I’m introducing my good percussionist friend to Gerry informally to see if we can work together in some sort of club band, long story. Yes, the mystery guest playing percussion (my Remo Tubanos, his congas, toys, etc) is the same Tommy K who tracked down the Coronet/Pearl 1960s Phenolic (ahem, as opposed to balsa wood) shelled drum kit and paid under $50 for the lot. Although this footage reveals the true nature of things, from leafy to white-haired, wait until you hear the new Griffin album Passage of Time on which I used the Coronet toms and bass drum, changing snare and cymbals per tune. By the way, thanks to all of my readers who responded to the various drum reviews, particularly the Coronet budget drum review, with comments and photos. It leads me to believe that there are real gems out there in the world, not all of them polished but gems all the same…at cut-glass prices!
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: email@example.com
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).