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Good Grief!!! Why This Obsession with Percussion, Anyway???

Posted by fiddlepogo on Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sometimes I think I've flipped out.  Being into an instrument that doesn't really use melody or harmony seems STRANGE... just not "like me"!


To pay for a used $99 entry level drumset at the local Guitar Center, I sold the dreadnought I can no longer play.

After the required hold period, my old guitar just showed up among their used items.... and got sold immediately!  My response surprised me... and I realized:

I was grieving over losing acoustic guitar in general, and that guitar in particular. 

I went through a grief recovery group at one point, and it's pretty obvious to me now that I'm dealing with a form of grief.

I've played guitar since I was 14.  It's been a big part of my life.  I'm a singer, and it's just a great instrument for accompanying singing, and none of the instruments I have left quite fills the void.   Baritone ukulele comes surprisingly close SOMETIMES... but somehow for country and cowboys songs it just doesn't quite CUT it!

Now, drumming isn't exactly known for being used to accompany singing, although Levon Helm did a pretty good job of it.  But somehow in another way drumming IS filling the void.  It's a project that keeps me looking towards the future, and not dwelling on the past.

I'm actually kind of scared that some day  I will wake up, and my interest in drumming will have evaporated.  So far, though, that hasn't happened.

And playing the full drum set is a GREAT exercise machine, although a NOISY one!

It also helps me partially get my mind off of my wife's ongoing long term illness, and slow deterioration. I need a break from the grimness!  Pounding on things seems therapeutic!

6 comments on “Good Grief!!! Why This Obsession with Percussion, Anyway???”

Larry Rutledge Says:
Friday, November 22, 2013 @9:12:28 PM

Good Grief!!! It wouldn't be you, if ya wasn't obsessed about sumtin. Piddling, tinkering, inventing stuff, and can describe it down to the smallest detail. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you will never get over the loss of a fine old guitar. Maybe it's our age, loss of brain cells,ect. I haven't progressed to the drum stage, yet. But their is a Washburn B-9 sitting to my left as I type this. I would have bet, I would never have owned a banjo. How have you done it? this thing is sooo tweekable, with all the nuts and thing-a-bobs on it. Being a 24-7 caregiver for a loved one is one of the hardest and best things you will ever do in this life. Yer friend Larry

fiddlepogo Says:
Saturday, November 23, 2013 @1:10:57 PM


You're right!
Good to hear from you- you've been quiet lately!

Larry Rutledge Says:
Sunday, November 24, 2013 @5:18:14 AM

Starting to feel better day by day Micheal. Doing what the Doc's say. ( have to be doing better or losing my mind to get a banjo). Always struggled to put my thoughts to pen(so to speak) for several months my mind was so muddled it was impossible. Can't wait to hear you post flight of the bumble bee drum solo. Larry

fiddlepogo Says:
Sunday, November 24, 2013 @6:16:16 PM

Glad to hear it! Yes, the brain is very vulnerable to whatever crazy things are going on with our body chemisty being out of whack.
Yes, banjos ARE tweakable.
I do this with my banjo:
1. I only tighten each nut until I can feel it start to snug... more resistance in the wrench. Then I stop- too tight makes banjos too bright and too ringy, IMO. I like mellow and plunky.
2. I like the Fiberskyn head. Because you can't see through it, I add some masking tape in a cross under the bridge, with two stripes between the neck and tailpiece so that each bridge foot has two stripes of masking tape crossed under it. That's mellows it more and cuts more treble.
3. The stock bridges are too bright for me. I tried beechwood from some closeout beechwood salad tongs, and I really like the sound.
4. I take a sock that has lost it's mate, stuff it with a plastic shopping bag (the cheapest kind) and stuff that under or behind the bridge underneath the head between the head and the metal rod.
Anyway, I'm a clawhammer player.... maybe if I were playing Scruggs style I'd aim for something different. The tone Scruggs players aim for and the tone most clawhammer players aim for are "horses of a different color" or something like that!

Larry Rutledge Says:
Sunday, November 24, 2013 @8:48:41 PM

Great stuff, as always. My head has Remco, weatherhead or some such stamped on it. It's not a clear head. Do I place the strips of tape on the under side of the head? How wide is the tape? I like the sock mute idea,( always thought banjos where too sharp and loud) Does the length of the sock matter? I have some that will reach from one side of the ring to the other. Thick sock or thin? There was a Gibson Epiphone (sp) at the same pawnshop, might as well get it for a back up.( have a un-tweeked one to compare) lol May have to switch styles if I can't find some finger picks that don't cut into my fingers. Good time for tweeking, too cold out to do much else. As always thanks for the help.

fiddlepogo Says:
Monday, November 25, 2013 @11:42:20 AM

That's "Remo", the biggest manufacturer of drumheads, and as far as I know the only manufacturer of banjo heads.

I hadn't thought about the width... since masking tape is removeable, try what you have first.... I THINK what I used was.... never mind... I'll just get up and LOOK! Hmmmm..... looks like I started with 3/4 inch wide, and then layered some 2 inch over it. A real mess, but with a non-transparent head, who cares?

I don't think the size of the sock matters so much as the placement. I do a simple half knot ( like the first half of a square knot) to attach the open end of the sock to the rod. Then you can experiment with position. I like it best behind the bridge.
The key thing I've found is the plastic bag stuffing. I always liked the gentle muting they gave, but it was hard to keep them wadded up and in place, so the sound was always changing and they would have fallen out in transport when I opened the gig bag. The sock is essentially there to hold the plastic bag in place and give it a shape to conform to.

I'm using a fairly heavy ribbed cotton sock, sort of like a colored gym sock, but I figure you should try whatever orphaned socks you have left- it's the perfect use for them!

Some people use heavier stuff like diapers (clean, hopefully) but I find heavy items are only suitable for quieting a banjo down a LOT,... muting, really, and not for tweaking the tone.

Hmmmm..... someone passed on some drum lore that jazz and blues drummers would just put their leather wallet on a snare to mute it. I tried it, and it DOES work great for snares! I just pulled the sock out... (tying it to the coordinator rod allows you to do that without the sock going AWOL!!!) I put my wallet in the place where I normally put the sock... I like it! It IS quieter, but it's a BALANCED quiet sound.... leather damps, but not too much!

Hmmmm I wonder what a wallet in a thin sock would sound like....???? ;^D

Ah.... fingerpicks cutting in??? You have to tweak those too.... like with some needle nose pliers WITHOUT a serrated gripping surface. Twist the metal so it's angled more like your finger. I also used a SMALL nylon cable tie with the bump up and the excess cut off to keep the fingerpicks from expanding and falling off.

I found the Kelly Freedom Picks to be very comfortable IF you happen to have a finger of the same size as one of their sizes. Mine fits the large perfectly.... but I don't think my fingers are that large.... they are expensive, though.

I mostly have used fingerpicks backwards as a substitute for a fingernail in clawhammer, but I think the Freedom picks are also good for Bluegrass.

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