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Author Topic:  Drummer plays behind the beat
Paul Sutherland


From:
Placerville, California
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 10:21 am    
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Is it just me? I'm extremely frustrated with the drummers I've been working with. They all chronically play behind the beat, which is fine for certain songs. But so many uptempo songs in the country vein are recorded with the drums in the pocket or on top of the beat. Buddy Harmon was brilliant at playing on top of the beat. It's the difference between the drums being an anchor and the drums being the engine that drives the song.

This issue directly affects my ability to play my best, so I think it's relevant for this forum. I've raised the issue but been met with defensiveness and hostility. I've even forwarded articles from the internet on the subject to the drummers. I'm sure they think I'm an arrogant A-- H---.

If you have an excellent drummer treat him well. I'd love to steal him.
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Roger Crawford


From:
McDonough, GA USA
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 12:35 pm    
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You’re not alone. I played drums before I got hooked on steel, and I may be over sensitive to not being in the pocket. It’s hard to play your best when you never know what to expect from the drummer. One band I play in has an excellent drummer and it’s always a pleasure to know what to expect. Another band I play in, the drummer is the lead guitarist’s buddy, but he couldn’t find a groove as wide as the Grand Canyon. I think I’m a short timer with that band.
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Kevin Fix


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 3:51 pm    
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Our drummer does a pretty good job. Once in a while he will have a hard time hearing the vocals and he will slip behind a little. When I hear him fall behind I listen very close to the bass player and hold back on my volume a little. Works for me.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 12:09 am    
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My instant reaction was that by definition a drummer can't play behind the beat because he is the beat, but then I realised I was assuming a certain level of musicianship Very Happy
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Dave Campbell


From:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 1:16 am    
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it's a tough one. from my experience, it's very difficult to alter another musician's perception of the music we're playing and how we're playing it.

are you the only band member noticing this? if you are, you have a steeper hill to climb.

if everybody in the band notices (and cares), then rehearsal is the best way to fix things. you'll need to do his work for him most likely. pick a song that needs an on top of the beat approach and really listen to how the whole band plays it. recently i did this for a buck owens song. when the band gets together to rehearse, play the song, then listen to a recording of the song. play the song again. if it doesn't feel right, step away from the steel and start isolating stuff. for instance, ask the bass player, acoustic guitarist and drummer to play the song. start making suggestions, but you can't be vague about it. instead of saying "play more on top of the beat" say "can you lock your hi hat pattern in with the acoustic player's rhythm". you'll find out a lot about everybody's strengths and weaknesses this way. it'll take work, but if everybody wants to sound better you'll get it accomplished.

if you're the only person who cares, you risk making yourself look like a jerk, and if the drummer doesn't care, then i wouldn't expect a positive outcome, and so you're better off trying to cultivate a different perception of your own.
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Sandy Inglis


From:
Christchurch New Zealand
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 2:11 am    
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I've played with some good and bad drummers over the years. The worst caused me to leave the band because I started to realise that if I sped up my strumming (i was playing guitar back then) he would follow and speed up, so I would slow down and noticed that he was following me! Not the other way around as a drummer should be setting the beat. I just couldn't handle it.
A few years later I was at a function where my old band was playing with a new (good drummer) and they got me up to sing with them, What a difference, so I rejoined them and stayed for many years.
Our current drummer would be as close to perfection that a drummer could be. He is a Piano Tuner and guitar Tech by trade and has taught me so much that I wished I known 40 - 50 years ago.
We play a lot of Rockabilly/ Honky tonk music and discovered that the snap of the snare has a large influence on the drive of the song (without increasing volume) and some (most) drummers are lazy with their snare hand. As a mainly rhythm guitarist (who doubles on PSG), I have developed a good feel for tempo.
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Dean Rimmer


From:
texas
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 5:39 am     drummers
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when we play up tempo stuff.....if a drummer is a rocker ,blues ect...and is having trouble picking up the feel with up tempo stuff ...i'll always ask him to listen to the mandolin player in a bluegrass band..on top of the beat but does not speed up.....seams to work
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Matthew Walton


From:
Fort Worth, Texas
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 6:40 am    
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My favorites are the ones who don't seem to realize that tempo and volume aren't intrinsically linked.
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Skip Edwards


From:
LA,CA
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 6:59 am    
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I'd rather they play behind the beat instead of in front of it.
What really jerks my chain is when they don't when to go down to cross stick... on a verse...or do a good shuffle with cross stick.

I'm with you, Matthew... if they know how they can dig a deep groove without hitting hard.
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ajm


From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 7:01 am    
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More musicians, NOT just drummers, would benefit by taking a portion of their practice time to regularly practice with a metronome. And in addition to that, recording themselves.

I was working on some solo acoustic songs a few years back. I recorded them, listened back, and was immediately given a huge wake up call.
Before resuming any more recording of the said songs, I spent a few months practicing them with a metronome. From the very first day, first time with the metronome, it was painfully obvious how far off my timing was.

You don't need to go out and buy a dedicated metronome. If you have an old drum machine lying around, generate a simple pattern/click track to play along with.

And speaking of click tracks..........

Any time I record a song to my multi track, one of the first tracks I record is a simple click track. I do this for several reasons.
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Roger Crawford


From:
McDonough, GA USA
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 8:17 am    
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You don't need to go out and buy a dedicated metronome. If you have an old drum machine lying around, generate a simple pattern/click track to play along with.

That’s one of the advantages of practicing with a BIAB track!
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 9:07 am    
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If your bass player and drummer are not locked, it will always seem like one or the other is dragging or pushing. As mentioned before, there is a time and place for playing on top or behind the beat, but it should never screw with tempo. A snare that is too loose can make it seem like the back beat is falling behind, and can give the rhythm guitarist fits. If the kick is too boomy, the bass gets drowned out and messes with the player’s timing (if you are lucky enough to have a bass player with a sense of rhythm). All you can do is suggest the drummer use a click track, and wait for the reaction.

I have tried isolating players during rehearsal - just bass and drums, just rhythm guitar and drums, etc. It is embarrassing for the players. Such is life in a “hobby band”. I would not expect pro players to have a problem with it.

For all the wonderful advantages of working with BIAB or other backing track software, the disadvantage is that you get used to practicing with a perfectly timed groove with predictable, repetitious, and perfectly tuned accompaniment patterns. This does not happen in the real world, and that is one reason we get frustrated with our human band mates.
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Barry Blackwood


Post  Posted 6 May 2019 9:11 am    
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Quote:
All you can do is suggest the drummer use a click track, and wait for the reaction.

Laughing
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 9:24 am    
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Haha! Yep.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 6 May 2019 10:20 am    
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Matthew Walton wrote:
My favorites are the ones who don't seem to realize that tempo and volume aren't intrinsically linked.

It amazes me how many times over the years I've heard not just drummers, but others too say "the slow bit" when they mean the quiet bit.
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Ben Edmonds


From:
Greenfield, Massachusetts, USA
Post  Posted 7 May 2019 2:55 am    
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Your drummer is fine- the rest of the band is ahead of the beat. 😁
I come from a jazz background and was always told that the time keeper is the bass not the drums and I tend to feel the same way. Playing behind the beat only works if the rest of the band is hip to that otherwise it's a literal drag. I agree that there is a time and place for it but it requires good musicians all around.

Metronome is God's greatest gift to all of us, I like others didn't start using one until I realized that I thought I could play a tune up to tempo but got right down to it and couldn't. It also develops much better technique
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David Nugent


From:
Gum Spring, Va.
Post  Posted 7 May 2019 3:34 am    
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Watched a documentary recently about the 'Sound City' recording studio which according to the program was where anyone who was anyone in Rock recorded a few years back (Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, etc.)One fact that I found interesting was that they stated that the drum tracks were always recorded first and the session did not proceed until they were perfect.
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Jeremy Threlfall


From:
now in Western Australia
Post  Posted 7 May 2019 3:53 am    
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Someone told me once that rock drummers play ahead of the beat, jazz drummers play behind the beat - and country drummers are supposed to be right on the beat
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 7 May 2019 5:37 am    
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On that evidence, I'll stick with country.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 7 May 2019 6:01 am    
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I hate groove assassins.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 7 May 2019 8:50 am    
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Mike Neer wrote:
I hate groove assassins.

Sounds like the title of a Dire Straits tune - The Assassins Of Groove. Or maybe the name of my next band.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 7 May 2019 9:17 am    
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In my experience it is best to keep quiet about other musicians faults while playing with them. It just causes tension. If a drummer doesn’t know how to control his feel or tempo it’s pretty hopeless. What I do is practice more and try to move up the food chain where the good drummers live.
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Joachim Kettner


From:
Germany
Post  Posted 7 May 2019 9:55 am    
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Jim Keltner would be a candidate Cool
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 7 May 2019 10:08 am    
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Joachim Kettner wrote:
Jim Keltner would be a candidate Cool


Jim makes everything sound and feel better. He never drags or rushes, but he knows how to split the atom. He’s the best.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 7 May 2019 10:17 am    
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Hey, if it's just a bad drummer, that's one thing. If you can find a better drummer, do it. But this is often heavily tied up with the style of music being played. Playing on top of the beat on a blues/shuffle is (to me) just as bad as playing way behind the beat on a bluegrass type breakdown. A good drummer versed in a lot of styles will know the difference and be able to define the pocket and execute appropriately. Then there are some drummers who are pretty limited stylistically but good at one or two styles. Then there are just poor drummers. And the same for bass players. And guitar players. And steel guitar players. And ...

But my experience is it's not always the drummer's or even the overall rhythm section's fault for playing the 'wrong' feel. Some bands (and/or band leaders) feel music a different way than, let's say, the original way a song was done. In this case, the rhythm section really has no choice but to go along. My worst nightmare is doing a hard shuffle with a band that insists on playing it completely squared off and on top of the beat. Been there many times, just looked over at the (good) drummer trying to reel it in while the rest of the band doesn't go with it, and then look over at me and shrug his shoulders.

Other thing is that some good drummers I've known over the years just get bored playing simple, straight rhythms. How do I know? They tell me that. My attitude is they shouldn't take the gig if they won't play the bag, but it doesn't always work out like that. They may need the gig, or the band maybe can't find a better drummer. The best drummers are usually real busy playing in the bands making the most do-re-mi most places I've been.
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