Get Better, Now! Here’s How To Level-Up Your Drumming.

This is what turns average drummers into great ones:

We’ve added an in-depth guide to escaping drumming mediocrity, with our latest article covering exactly how to become a better drummer.

Become A Better Drummer

You’ll find an analysis of problem areas that drummers can struggle with, along with some great tips on exactly how to target those issues.

If you can work through the advice in the article, and incorporate the solutions into your weekly drumming routine, you’re guaranteed to be playing better. Check out the article here, and turn yourself into a better drummer today.

New Review: KickBlock – Stops Your Bass Drum Moving

If your bass drum is constantly creeping forward as you’re playing, KickBlock is the answer to your prayers. We’ve just tested and reviewed it in full.

KickBlock acts like a shock absorbing “wall” for your bass drum. Place it on the carpet in front of the drum, and it locks in place via strong Velcro to ensure your kick drum doesn’t move an inch.

KickBlock Close-Up

Read our full KickBlock review here. We loved it so much, we even added it to our huge drummer’s gift guide!

BootyShakers Isolation Mounts Review

The nice folks at TNR Products have sent us some BootyShakers to review, so we put them to the test: Check out the review here.

BootyShakers Review Floor Tom

Overall these things are excellent – they do exactly what they say (especially for your floor tom). If you’re struggling with getting a decent sustain, deeper tone, or just having a hard time tuning, BootyShakers are worth checking out.

Click here to read the full BootyShakers review.

Roland TD-17KVX Electronic Drum Kit Review

We’ve reviewed Roland’s TD-17KVX – check out the full article here!

Roland TD-17KVX Electronic Drum Kit Top View

The TD-17KVX is loaded with great features, including all-mesh drum pads, a super-realistic hi-hat system, and an extra crash cymbal. It’s also great if you’re worried about making too much noise: The mesh pads, the quiet kick drum pad, and the cymbal design all help to reduce the volume when you’re playing it.

We also compare the other kits in the TD-17 line, so you know exactly which one to buy if you’re shopping for an electronic drum kit like this.

Click here to read the full review now!

Mike Mangini’s Dream Theater Pearl Drum Kit Walkthrough

Dream Theater’s Mike Mangini has just posted a video covering his brand new Pearl Masterworks drum kit (scroll to the bottom to see it)!

He talks about how he’s made the switch from birch to maple for the first time, to get an “extra level of punch” when playing live. Mike has also removed his two smallest drums, since he has the “hamster tubes” ( as he likes to call them) above his head.

Interestingly, he mentions that his drums are set up like a mirror image – with the same tom placement on the left and right side. This is done to avoid his arms crossing while drumming, to have better reach, and for more balance while playing.

Mangini has also added gong floor toms to hit setup. The idea behind these drums is to gain a single deep tone when struck, rather than the more complex sound of a double-headed (i.e. batter and resonant head) drum. The gong toms have a single drumhead (no resonant head), which allows for a huge clean tone when hit:

For his double bass playing, Mike Mangini’s drum tech Eric Disrude combined two Pearl Demon Drive bass drum pedals, so that both the left and right foot are playing a slave pedal. This allows Mike’s snare drum to be directly in front of him (where the main bass pedal would normally be). Eric Disrude also ensured that both kick drum beaters are hitting the center of the bass drum head, so that the same sound is generated by both the left and right foot.

By the way, Pearl’s great pedal customization options are one reason why they won one of our best bass drum pedal awards (although it wasn’t for the Demon Drive, even though it’s a great pedal)!

Along with the double bass pedals, there are also percussion and electronic pedals at Mike’s feet. The electronic pedals are there for a very interesting reason: in case his real bass drum breaks (which has happened before)! There are two Roland KT-10 kick pedals at his feet which can trigger bass drum samples in case of emergency:

Mike also shows off his huge Pearl Icon drum rack, which holds an absolutely massive number of cymbals and drums (and some mics!).

When it comes to drums, Mike Mangini’s kick and snare drum are both “stock standard” Pearl Reference drums. The bass drum has a 24″ x 18″ mahogany and maple shell, featuring a clear Remo Powerstroke P3 batter head. The snare is a 14″ x 6.5″ 20-ply drum, with 16 plies of maple, and 4 birch plies. Mike’s secondary snare drum is a 10″ x 6.2″: the smaller drum is used to give a tighter snare sound, and can also be used as a high tom with the snare wires turned off. Many of the other drums have been custom-built (and they’re also Pearl Masterworks drums). The gong drums are 14″, 16″, 18″, and a big 20″, all with clear Remo Emperor drumheads.

When we say “custom built”, this is standard for Pearl Masterworks drum kits. Pearl’s European website actually has a custom drum builder page where you can choose everything including wood type, bearing edges, ply count, finish, and hardware, and then see a finished product (and price). Check it out here. By the way, if you have fun with that, you’ll have even more fun with Sonor’s super cool 3D online drum builder.

Take a look at Mike Mangini’s full 2019 drum kit walkthrough video below:


Will Sony Replace Human Drummers?!

Sony CSL (Computer Science Laboratories) Paris is developing the latest AI-assisted drum production software.

SonyCSL DrumNet Drum Generator

Called DrumNet, the software is based on an artificial neural network which learns the rhythmic relationship between the different instruments within a song. The software then uses this knowledge to create drum tracks that fit the music. Importantly, the drum track will adapt to the music as it changes, allowing the beat to evolve as the song progresses.

At the moment, this software is only available as a proof-of-concept to generate kick drum tracks. However, Sony is currently working to extend their platform to provide an entire drum kit.

Sony says the goal is not to replace musicians, but to give them better tools to work with when realizing their creative ideas.

You can read more (and listen to some samples) here. Since this is limited to generating kick drum patters, drummers shouldn’t have too much to worry about (for now…!).

Need another reason to play drums? It might just make you smarter

Canadian researchers have just released details of a huge study, showing that learning a musical instrument is related to gains in many other key academic areas.

Drums Academic Improvement

The large-scale study shows that students who participate in music-related activities also perform better in subjects like English, math and science.

The study looked at over 110,000 secondary school students in Canada (grades 7-12), and is the largest study of its kind to date.

Specifically, the largest academic gains were found for student taking part in instrument-based music activities (such as playing the drums) compared to vocal-based music studies.

Students that were highly engaged in school-based music studies were, on average, more than one whole year ahead of students who were not studying music. Greater academic achievement was seen across all subjects and topics.

The researchers controlled for factors such as students’ socio-economic status, sex, cultural background, and other variables that have been shown to influence academic achievements (allowing greater clarity when looking at the impact of music).

It’s important to point out that this was a correlational study: From these results alone, it’s unclear whether music causes higher grades, whether high-achieving students decide to take part in music studies, or whether there’s another unknown variable affecting both of those things.

However, other studies have shown academic improvements in students who were randomly allocated into music studies, meaning it’s very possible that learning a musical instrument is one of the key driving factors behind the academic gains shown in the Canadian study.

The findings are helpful in highlighting how music studies, including learning drums, can form an important part of academic life. Looking at music this way, it becomes a key component of learning, rather than a distraction from other subjects.

The fact that highly musically-engaged students were more than one year ahead of their non-musical peers shows the magnitude of the study’s results. Adding musical studies to student life might just have a large and lasting benefit to many other academic areas.

Read the full study here.

Buy Terry Bozzio’s Tour Kit… If You Can Afford It

How big is your drum kit?

I’m sure it’s no match for this one:

  • 4 bass drums
  • 15 toms (5 piccolo toms and 10 rack/floor toms)
  • 9 hi-hat and bass drum pedals
  • 50 (yes 50!) Sabian Radia cymbals
  • A gong
  • Enough DW hardware to sink a ship

Terry Bozzio’s 2012 DW Reunion Tour kit is for sale, and it’ll cost you $36,995.


Terry Bozzio 2012 Reunion Tour Drum Kit Front


It’s an all-maple DW Collector’s Series kit, covered in a custom chrome wrap. Apparently this kit cost $65,000 to build, which makes the current $36,995 price tag seem (slightly) less crazy.

Terry Bozzio 2012 Reunion Tour Drum Kit Top Front
Almost every single drum is signed by Terry Bozzio himself. The 50 Sabian Radia cymbals were also created by Terry Bozzio in collaboration with Sabian.


Terry Bozzio 2012 Reunion Tour Drum Kit Top

Donn Bennett is handling the sale of the kit, and it’s currently in Miami, Florida. Get in touch with Donn on his website, or via the Facebook post here.

Roland TD-1DMK Electronic Drum Kit Review

We’ve just reviewed the Roland TD-1DMK, and you can read all about it here!

Roland TD-1DMK Electronic Drum Kit

This is a great beginner’s electronic drum kit, and also a top choice for advanced drummers looking for a practice kit.

Some of the stand-out features include all mesh snare and tom drum pads, and a bass drum pad that supports a double pedal. A kit with both of these features is actually very hard to find in this cheaper price range!

If you’re in the market for an electronic kit that won’t send you bankrupt, the TD-1DMK is definitely worth a look. Read our full review of Roland’s TD-1DMK here.

If you’ve got a little more money to spend, the Roland TD-17KVX is a great option – read our review here.

Hal Blaine – A Look At One Of The World’s Most Prolific Drummers

In the music community, Hal Blaine is a certified legend. Prolific is a great word to use here. To put things into perspective: If you could achieve just one tenth of his success, you would be a drumming superstar and could retire happy.

Hal Blaine

Even if you don’t know much about him or his legacy (he’s not a “household” name for many younger drummers), it’s guaranteed that you’ve heard him drumming on something. There’s a story about Bruce Gary, drummer for The Knack, being disappointed to learn that 12 of his favorite drummers were all Hal Blaine.

Hal passed away this month at his home in California of natural causes, age 90.

Much of his most notable work was as a member of session band “The Wrecking Crew”, where he played on over six thousand singles (including hundreds of top 40 hits). He influenced drummers worldwide, and won the respect of some of the world’s biggest musical stars. The Wrecking Crew were the go-to musicians for the biggest producers and songwriters of an entire generation.

In total, Hal Blaine recorded drums on over 35,000 songs. That’s over 85 days of nonstop recorded music… More than one recorded track per day for every day of his life. Along with hundreds of top 40 tracks, he’s played on 150 top ten hits and 40 number one hits.

The most important thing to point out here is that none of this was by accident: He was simply that good. He was called upon by the biggest names in the music industry, and for years he was the go-to drummer who could nail anything and lift a recording from good to amazing. This was well before there were computers to fix off-beats, mis-hits, and mistakes.

So let’s take a look at the carrer of Hal Blaine, to really understand the impact this man has had on drumming (and Western music in general) across his time here.

Hal Blaine started drumming at eight years of age. After spending some time in the army, he moved to Chicago. He honed his skills early in his career by playing in Chicago’s strip clubs, before going on to perform with touring acts like Count Basie, Patti Page, and Tommy Sands. From there, he started as a session drummer in the 1950s.

Older jazz-trained professional drummers weren’t interested in playing rock and roll music, which allowed Hal to get on board with a new musical style that would become huge. The Wrecking Crew started in the early 1960s as Phil Spector’s house band. Considering the huge range of recordings they made, Hal and the Wrecking Crew weren’t well-known in the general public, and were often not even mentioned on the recordings. For example,  albums by The Monkees and The Beach Boys would have no indication of the actual recorded musicians, even though it was often Hal Blaine behind the kit in the studio (and other Wrecking Crew members on the other instruments). Fans would simply assume it was the band’s “official” drummer who played on the albums. Hal got paid, the records sounded great, and nobody was any wiser.

Due to studio recording restrictions in the 1960s, instrumental tracks were almost always recorded live (with the entire band playing all together) rather than one instrument at a time. This required top-class musicians, as a small mistake by anyone meant having to restart the entire song from the beginning (which wasted money on expensive studio time). The instruments were usually mixed to a single mono track, and vocals would be recorded later.

The “Wrecking Crew” name became popularized thanks to Hal Blaine’s memoir in 1990, and comes from a tongue-in-cheek jab at the older professional musicians of the time who believed the Crew would “wreck” the music industry (due to their leanings towards rock and roll music and their sloppy t-shirt-and-jeans dress code). Rock and roll was a dirty word to many old-school musicians of the time. Back when they were playing though, there was no official name for The Wrecking Crew, and it’s hard to get an exact number of members that were involved.

It was not uncommon for Hal to work 14+ hour days, especially at the height of The Wrecking Crew’s career in the mid to late 1960s. This led to some of the crew becoming burnt out. They were paid very well for their time, but they had to neglect family life and everything outside of the music world.

Hal would have two identical drum kits, and they’d constantly be moved from studio to studio. While he was recording with one, the other kit would be set up at the next session waiting for him. Check out one of those kits in Donn Bennett’s Drum Vault video below, which has a great overview of why Hal used concert toms (with no resonant heads), and shows what is probably the world’s first “drum rack” (on wheels!) which was needed to help quickly move the kit around town for recording. You can also see how Hal ensured every single studio got the “best” sounding set of his two identical kits:

The musical landscape was changing by the beginning of the 1970s, which led to a reduced demand for top-level session musicians (and session ensembles who could record all together). Improvements in recording equipment meant that instruments could be recorded separately and in greater detail. Emerging bands also wanted to record all of their own material, leading to less demand for “ghost musicians” to record their parts in the studio. Drum machines would become a more common studio tool towards the late 1970s. Hal Blaine remained quite busy across the 1970s, but by the 1980s he took part in much less studio work and eventually moved into semi-retirement. By this time, he’d arguably achieved more than any other drummer in the world.

There are simply too many achievements to list here, so let’s look at some of the highlights.

Hal played on six consecutive Grammy award records of the year from 1966 to 1971:

  • A Taste Of Honey by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
  • Strangers In The Night by Frank Sinatra
  • Up, Up And Away by The 5th Dimension
  • Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In by The 5th Dimension
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel

Hal was called “the greatest drummer ever” by The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.

He was the drummer on Buddy Rich’s daughter Cathy’s album – when Buddy was asked why he didn’t play on his own daughter’s record, he replied “I wanted the best”.

Here’s a short list of just some of the musicians Hal Blaine has recorded with:

  • Dean Martin
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Byrds
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Nancy Sinatra
  • The Mamas & the Papas
  • The Supremes
  • Simon & Garfunkel
  • Tommy Roe
  • The Carpenters
  • Neil Diamond
  • The Partridge Family
  • Barbara Streisand
  • John Denver
  • Captain & Tennille
  • Diana Ross
  • Steely Dan
  • Elvis Presley
  • Sonny & Cher
  • The Ronettes

For some great insights into Hal Blaine’s career (and some great stories), take a look at his 2017 interview with Dom Famularo:

Hal Blaine used Ludwig calfskin and Remo mylar drumheads across most of his career. Remo Diplomat drumheads were his choice on toms, and his bass drum often featured a calfskin drumhead, or a kevlar head. His main recording drum kits included a Ludwig blue sparkle bass drum with a 16″ floor tom. Along with this, Hal used 7 custom-made fibreglass concert toms (6″, 8″, 10″, 12″, 13″, 14″, 15″), and a Ludwig 400 Supraphonic chrome-on-brass snare.

Hal Blaine was born on February 5th 1929, and passed away March 11th 2019 at the age of 90 years.

His family released a statement upon his passing: “Hal Blaine …. inspiration to countless friends, fans and musicians – has passed on today, March 11th, 2019 at the age of 90. May he rest forever on 2 and 4. The family appreciates your outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Hal from around the world, and respectfully request privacy in this time of great mourning. No further details will be released at this time.”

Along with their statement, his family released a recent email Hal had sent, discussing his limited time left and how he feels about his life – it’s definitely worth reading:

Hal Blaine Email