The Nostalgia of Nostalgia


nos·tal·gia

[no-stal-juh, -jee-uh, nuh-] 
noun
1.
a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time: a nostalgia for his college days.
2.
something that elicits or displays nostalgia.

[from Dictionary.com]

OK, I must admit it, right here in this blog, that I play almost all old drums and old cymbals. There. I've said it. But the funny things is, I play them not because they are old, but because I've had them a long time. You see, I am still playing the drums and cymbals I bought new in the '70s & '80s. I have nothing against new gear. In fact, I have some newer stuff that I use, but I only use my old stuff because, well, I like it and see no reason to change it. Oh sure, I'd love to have some fancy new kit in a fantastic modern finish, but it probably wouldn't sound much different then the drums I already have, because the sound is in how I tune them, and how I play them. 

My nostalgic set up

You see, I don't really care what type of wood my drums are made of. What's more important to me is that they are round and have a good bearing edge. That way I can put on the types of heads I like and get my sound. After working in music stores and drum shops for years, I've put together and tuned up thousands of drum kits, and you know what, I could make any of them sound the way I wanted them to. Crazy, huh? And it's very much the same for cymbals. I've played thousands of them, of all brands, and they all sound good. What I've discovered is that it's more important how I play them to get my sound, than what type or brand they are. 

Now don't get me wrong here, because I'm a total gearhead. And I've been known to obsess over my gear in very geeky ways (I can be very OCD about my stuff). But I don't ever let that get in the way of the music. In fact, I play a lot of cheap student drums and cymbals because, well, because they work for me. Again, as long time blog readers will have seen me write, it's all about the sound! 

So I love to play old things, but also play new things. To me, nostalgia is just a longing for something that is already gone. You can never go back, only forward. I'm always moving forward with whatever I have at my disposal.

So don't get caught up in either nostalgia for vintage gear, or conversely, the need to have the latest stuff. It's a waste of time, which is better spent in making music with what you have.

~ MB

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