The Sidestick

Oh, man, what a video to not have footage from the third camera!  I really needed it on this one, but we were in a hurry to finish, because my wife and daughter (who owns the camera) had to fly to Denver.  So alas, when I discovered that the files were missing, it was too late, oh well.  Thank goodness for the flip video.

One of the frequent complaints from engineers is “he plays the snare hard and the sidestick too soft!”  This is something I learned early on, so I pound the sidestick when I play it, mostly out of habit, but I do get compliments from engineers.  “I never have to ride the faders on your sidestick, it makes my job easier.”  This problem is exacerbated in live situations.  A live drummer needs to totally be aware of this problem.  Many times I hear a live drummer play and they go to the sidestick, and it just disappears.  Not good.

Currently in country music, the sidestick is a little out of ‘vogue.’  You don’t hear it as much, although, all it will take is one Taylor Swift hit with a sidestick, and it will be popular again.  It was all over 90’s country music.  Examples are Martina McBride ‘Independence Day,” the great Lonnie Wilson used quarter note sidesticks on the verses.   One of my favorites is “Lovin’ only Me” by Ricky Skaggs.  The sidestick sound that Eddie Bayers got was amazing.

Back in the 90’s, a lot of the sidestick sounds that you hear on records were samples.  We would take these racks of electronics to sessions, and trigger the sidestick sound, with an Akai sampler and a pad.  Everyone had a bunch of samples and the engineers would take a line for the sidestick.  It was easier to mix, and it was also before protools.

Now, we are in an uber organic mode.  Everyone wants natural sidestick.  A great sidestick with a big, fat, meaty tone is amazing.

Another thing that really affects the sidestick sound is the snare drum.  I’ve got a 15″ John Robinson snare with wood hoops, the sidestick sound is great on that one.  Also, die cast hoops will give a stronger sidestick sound than flange hoops.  But the biggest sound for me is when I use non dense sticks, or lighter sticks.  The density of the sticks for sidestick is paramount.

One of my pet peeves is the sidestick block. You know, it’s that block that looks like a cowbell.   Hate..sorry,  no I’m not sorry, when I hear one of those things live, my first thought is, hmmm, lazy drummer??  please don’t use those stupid things,  again, just one man’s opinion.  Play the dang thing live.

I’ve been in a crazy Rush mood lately.  I can’t stop listening to them.  What’s wrong with me?

What do you think???  About sidestick, that is….

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