Here’s something I wanted to throw out there. In part, I hoped to solicit some opinions, and I just wanted to publicly brainstorm a little myself. Why are guitar gear rundowns, or “Rigged” features as we like to call them, more popular, or at least more common, than ones focused on drums?
A little background here: I almost never specifically seek out guitarists when I’m working with a band, or their publicist, for a Rigged feature. Yet, more often then not, a guitar-focused piece is what winds up being settled upon. Often I just ask for something from any of the musicians, and what I tend to find in my inbox is a description of a guitar rig. Or maybe bass. I don’t want to sideline this with why we get more guitar than bass responses, but I think that’s more obvious: 1) a lot of bands have two guitarists and one bassist, 2) bass rigs are usually more straightforward, 3) bassists are less often the “featured” musician in the band, even though I wish that weren’t the case.
Anyway, here are some of my theories…
It’s a vicious cycle
Because guitar features are more common they tend to stay more common. Hell, even when I give links to our existing Rigged features as an example, they’re all guitarists and some bassists. As we get used to the form of a thing, we stop thinking about that form. It just becomes a standard. By now it seems that bands simply look to their guitarists out of habit when it’s time to do a gear feature.
The sonic benefits of high-end drum gear are more subtle
I’ve long been of the opinion that drums are a more human instrument than electric guitars. There’s less stuff in between the musician and the sound. It’s true of any acoustic instrument, but drums are the only non-electric instrument commonly played in loud rock and metal, besides the voice obviously. While I certainly don’t mean to imply that a quality kit is unimportant, I do believe that if you have a great drummer on a well-tuned kit in a good sounding room then they can make a cheap set of shells sound great in a way that it’s harder for a great guitarist to do with a lower-end amplifier. Now please keep in mind that I’m talking about averages here, and I know there are exceptions. But in my time as a recording engineer, and throughout my years in many bands with all types of musicians and gear, I’ve found it usually to be the case. I’ve heard so many great rhythm guitar parts (and to a lesser extent, leads) totally killed by shit tone. And yet the great drummers, especially the ones that can tune, always sound great, no matter the gear.
With the exception of cymbals. Nothing ruins a good recording faster than a bad set of cheapo cymbals. Or broken ones.
Drummers just care more about performance than gear
You just don’t see as many drummers geeking out about some new type of drum head or snare strainer. Again, I’m talking about averages, but there are more communities based around obscure guitar pedals than there are craft breweries. I don’t see as much of that for drum gear specifically. Do drummers care more about learning a new paradiddle than they do about what type of snare they’re playing it on? Perhaps many do.
Supply and demand: there are just more guitarists than drummers
Any Jane or Joe Schmoe can keep a never-touched Strat in the corner of their apartment’s living room and claim to be a guitarist. They’ll browse boutique tube screamer clones and strum some chords. It gives that necessary ego boost as they assure themselves that they haven’t entirely mortgaged their dreams since adulthood. But to be a drummer, well, you at least need a rehearsal spot, or a house with a basement (and no sleeping newborn that will wake at snare hit one). Drumsets are big, and loud. It’s well-known that great drummers are a commodity in the scene in a way that guitarists simply aren’t. So naturally, the ratio of guitarists over drummers (and bassists) means that more readers flock to the guitar features, and more clicks on that subject means more features to cater to those viewers. And then we get back to the vicious circle above.
So what do you think? Why are there less drum gear breakdowns? Do any of my theories hold water? Do you have any of your own? Or am I simply frequenting the wrong drum sites?
Photo Credit: Tom Tom Magazine