Given a Choice, Everything is Pretty Much Equal…

You can open any drum magazine, or go to a drum shop, and see all types of fancy, shiny advertisements proclaiming that "Our drum/cymbal/head/stick/conga/etc. is the best!" But what really is the best? 

The best is some sort of hypothetical objective that we hope to achieve, both as seller and buyer. But the idea of best is different for everyone. My best may not be your best. And the best that you are searching for, may not actually exist. Think about that: the best that you are searching for, may not actually exist! 

I must admit to having a gear fetish as big as anyone out there. I love any and all percussion. If I ever one a huge lottery, I'd have a warehouse full of percussion. In reality, I have a house full of percussion, and not all of it is the newest and best. In fact, a lot of the percussion I have, I've had since my high school & university days in the 1970's. I'm still playing it. 

Now I don't play that stuff because it's now vintage or fashionable to play older gear. I still play it because I've developed a relationship with it. And that relationship is very important to me, because I know how my gear sounds and reacts in any given situation. I know what it will sound like live, on stage, and miked up. I know what it will sound like in a recording studio. I know what to expect and what it will deliver musically for me. 

My trusty '60's Rogers kit I bought in 1975 with my trusty Paiste cymbals.

This is very important, and something I think a lot of people dismiss while chasing the holy grail of drum and cymbals sounds. Take the gear you have, right now, right in front of you, and PLAY IT! Play it often, get to know it. Get to know how it reacts to your touch. Get to know what it sounds like in different situations. Develop a relationship with it. This happens a lot with string players who play the same main guitar or violin for their whole lifetime. Why not drummers?

We live in a very wondrous time where we have so many, some would say too many, choices in the gear available to us. And most of that gear, even beginner and student lines, is of exceptional quality. If you stick with the proven brand names, it's all good. It will all work for you. Given a Choice, Everything is Pretty Much Equal.

That's not to say I don't buy new things now and then, because I do. But what I don't do is chase the image of the best. To me, the best is always what I have in front of me at any given moment. It does me no good to be at a gig playing, say, a Pearl Export kit, all the while wishing I was playing a Craviotto kit, because that Craviotto kit isn't going to magically appear in front of me. I owe it to myself, and both the other musicians and performers to be in the moment and playing the best I can, on what's in front of me.

So remember, don't let yourself be seduced by an imaginary idea of the best. The best is always what you have in front of you, and what you can make of it!

~ MB


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