Friday, October 14, 2011

Buddy Rich: No Cymbal Felts?

I had a question in my email this morning about Buddy Rich. Love that guy!

Hi stephen,
Ive noticed in videos of buddy rich that he doesn't use felt washers on his cymbals, so they move for longer. Is there an advantage to this?

Hey Geoff...

It depends on what pictures you look at. I've seen pics with him using no washers and pics with some very thin washers on top. It really boils down to, they used to not use top washers. I'm guessing that's how he started playing and just never changed it. Some drummers will argue that it affects the ring of the cymbal, and I'll agree...but it only affects it on a very, very small level. If you were in a rock or pop setting, it would be negligible. In a small jazz setting, it would be a bit more noticeable, but again, hardly at all. Having no top felt allows the cymbal to move more. I personally don't love that, because the cymbal becomes uncontrollable at times. If you put the felt on there, it allows you to tighten the wing nut down to the felt, limiting its movement and in some cases choking the cymbal. And lastly, it allows more access to the cymbal bell.

If you look at old pictures of Gene Krupa and other drummers from that era, you'll notice they don't use felts either. It was what drummers were doing at the time. They also didn't use cymbal sleeves as consistently as we do today. A lot of vintage cymbals from those times will have an elongated hole in the middle from years of hanging at the same angle on a stand with no felt. You'll also notice that many of them didn't use wing nuts on their stands either (you'll still notice that with some jazz drummers today). They honestly didn't hit the cymbals hard enough in many settings to worry with wing nuts. Nowadays, wing nuts are a necessity with popular music. The drumset is a relatively new instrument...not even a hundred years old (there are some instruments that have been around in almost the same capacity and form for thousands of years). Look at drum sets from the 1920's and compare them to the kits of today. There will be ALOT of small differences...and all of them happened for specific accomodate the music, to protect the instrument, or to ease the work of the drummer.

So again...It was what drummers were doing at the time, it slightly affects the sustain of the cymbal (but not much), lets the cymbal move more and it allows more access to the bell of the cymbal. I'm going with the "it's what drummers were doing at the time" excuse though.

Hope that helps!



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