In the first two Parts of this blog we discussed the “Small Gear” approach for Guitar and Bass. In this episode we’ll share some hardware ideas and processes for drummers. Full drum kits especially those packed in individual cases can take up a lot of transportation and venue storage space for the empties. Acoustic drum volume is difficult to control when trying to maintain tempo, tone, and energy for many players. Drum sounds also mask those of other instruments which can lead to “volume creep” by band members. Improvements in the playability and sonics of digital drums make them a solution for many applications. With the development of improved rubber sensor pads, mesh heads, multi-sensor segmented “cymbals”, and kick drum modules today’s hardware by manufacturers such as Yamaha and Roland rivals shell drums and brass cymbals. The feel of stick return and audible response make subtle changes and control possible. The quality of sound samples populating control modules rival those used “hits” replacement so prominent in production today. The sound module provides volume control for an output feeding two PA mixer channels. For local monitoring a compact drum monitor “amp” provides tonal control and headphone out (silent practice at home). This output becomes a stereo mixing board feed on stage. Drum modules offer multiple ”kits” for any musical style and tuning for each drum done with buttons. Some players find the mechanics or tonality of cymbal “pads” not ideal. A properly selected and positioned overhead mike and brass cymbals can be added as a third drum channel. The goal as with other “Small Gear” is to provide minimum stage volume while creating a powerful drum presence to the audience with the PA system. Supporting hardware frames, the pads, kick and high-hat modules can be packed flat in a single bag. A second can organize stands and high-hat if brass cymbals are used. This provides a truly light weight compact solution. A sample kit providing snare, three toms, three digital cymbals, high-hat, all stands, and a kick drum module with double pedals weighs in at 86lbs. Check back in two weeks for “Small Gear for Big Bands” Part 4. We’ll discuss the importance of sub-woofers in an effective full-range PA.