A project I’ve been experimenting with off and on over the years has been adding a foot-operated snare drum to my drumset. This really stems from my goal of playing the role of drummer AND percussionist at the same time in live playing situations. There may also be some boredom motivating it as well!
In an interesting tangent, this experiment somehow led to the writing of my drumset method book, Building Grooves, which is going into pre-release this week, and will be officially out on January 14th. I’ll be doing a drum clinic and release party on that date at 2112 Percussion here in Raleigh, so be on the lookout for more information about that coming soon!
So, back to the floor-snare (I’m still trying to decide what to call this thing!). The problems that I kept running into really came down to instability (of the drum, not me personally). The drum itself would wobble and topple over, the pedal I was using to hit it would wobble and scoot out of position, and I could never get the angle between the two of them to work right in order to get a good attack on the drum.
So, finally I got the right combination of hardware to make it work! Step 1 was using a floor tom to bass drum conversion kit made by Pearl. This gives the bass pedal something to connect to, making it much more stable. It also adds stability to the drum itself, as it is made (in conjunction with some legs) to brace a floor tom.
Step two was using a small snare drum. I’m using a 5×13 drum that comes with the Pearl “Rhythm Traveler” drumset. The smaller size of the drum helps keep the whole assembly from tipping over. Also, in this picture you can see that I’m using the Rhythm Tech “Active Snares” instead of standard snare strands. This helps keep the snares in position against the bottom head (gravity is working against us here) and also takes away some of the weird sound you hear when listening to the “wrong” side of the drum (check this out if you haven’t noticed it – a snare drum sounds dramatically different from the bottom! I can even tell a difference if I put too much of an angle on the drum to compensate for my traditional grip ).
Step 3 is using a double pedal instead of a single. The double pedal helps in a couple of ways. 1, a double pedal tends to have more mass and a wider base than a single, so that helps with stability. And 2, it means I’ve got a lot more flexability in positioning, as I can put the drum past my floor tome and still have the pedal in a convenient position. I can get it within inches of my bass pedal, and not have to worry about finding it on the floor! I’m guessing this will also help with projection, as the snare doesn’t have to be hidden behind any other drums.
So there you have it! Below is a video showing the drum in action (my mics weren’t set quite right, so apologies for the sound quality). And, be sure to check out my clinic on January 14th, 2010, where it will be making an appearance as part of some pieces I’ll be playing!