Sticking With Triggers

By Jerry McBroom

Until relatively recently I had never seriously considered "triggering" my drums electronically before. Mainly due to a disappointing experience with a Simmons 5DS-7 back in 1985, I had become jaded regarding the idea of electronic percussion.

For one thing, they weren't dynamic enough. Also, the sounds didn't completely emulate the real drum sounds. And the difference in the "feel." All in all, they were just too weird!

I play in a band the one that happens to be featured on the cover of this issue of Louisville Music News, as a matter of fact. Since we are basically a straight-ahead hard rock band, I didn't have the need for all of the strange effects and sounds that the electronic "gizmos" produce. What I did want, however, was a huge acoustic sound, which was when (and how) the triggering opportunity presented itself.

Bride does periodic recording to submit to our record company our ideas for songs for their approval and critique. (Of course, approval is preferred.) We always record quickly, usually in one or two takes p1aying "live" where the whole band plays at the same time in order to save money.

(In a recording session you become acutely aware that TIME IS MONEY.) We work with Howie Gano because, as a producer, he understands what we want and knows how to get it fast.

The last couple of recordings we have done have been recorded straight to Digital Audio Tape (DAT) to further save time (and, yes, money). This means that the band plays while the vocals are sung. Meanwhile, Howie is simultaneously recording and mixing. Keep in mind this is not necessarily the best way to record because you can't "fix it in the mix" except to have the whole band re-take the track. Also, you can't overdub other parts later. It just saves time (and money).

Despite this rather restricting method of recording, I was interested in Howie's new drum triggering gear. I wanted to give it a shot on tape. Since he told me that it had been successful for him in past sessions and that I wouldn't even be able to tell that the drums were being triggered anyway, we went for it. He tweaked the settings while I played the drum.

When I heard the playbackl was floored! The drum sound was fantastic! They had the same sound I had been hearing on the ratio and MTV. This was the secret to getting the great drum sounds that I had been hunting for. And it can be done live, too.

We have a drumset that we've triggered here at work. The sound is incredible and it' s extremely dynamic. The soft notes aren't "lost." The tracking is also very sensitive all the fast sticking is precise. Just as important, instead of feeling like a practice pad, it feels like the "real thing" because it is the real thing.

If you're looking to fatten up your drum sound, come and see (and hear) for yourself and find out what triggering is all about.

(Jerry McBroom is a drummer with Bride and Drum Department Manager at Mom's Musician's General Store.)