Gigging with drum machine

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by MikeVB, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    I have a great pro bassist that will play all the gigs I can get. But I'm tired of the acoustic, bass, and me on solo vocals sound. Unfortunately, he can't sing well at all.

    If I had a drum machine I think we could really expand our sound by me playing electric and playing more/better sounding solos. Solos are just very limited on acoustic unless it's bluegrass which I also play, but in other ensembles.

    Unfortunately, I don't know enough about playing drums to feel comfortable programming in a cover song with the right timing for fills, chorus changes, etc.

    Are they're any good drum machines that can just "listen" to a song we want to cover and program itself? I realize this may be a stupid question.

    Also, could you start/stop it with a pedal?
     
  2. dporto

    dporto Member

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    A laptop running a drum sequencing program (with premade/recorded drum sequences) would probably be the way to go. Although I don't have any specific suggestions, I know there are a few of them out there. I don't know about the "listening" thing...
     
  3. Testudo

    Testudo Member

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    This is the answer. EZdrummer would do the job if what you needed was a fixed length drum track. In other words, you'd program your song and it would be 100 bars every time - no stretching it out for solos. You could program a pedal to start and stop it, however.
    It is possible to program a keyboard or other controller to trigger patterns but unless you are good at that sort of thing I think it would be too much work. It's beyond me, that's for sure.
    If you needed a flexible system where you were able to trigger drum patterns and start, stop, and change them on the fly, that sounds like a job for Ableton Live. Again that's a more complicated (not to mention expensive) option.

    I do recommend EZdrummer. It comes with hundreds of useful MIDI patterns and is pretty simple to use for building tracks, with no drum knowledge required, and is very customizable with respect to sounds, mixes, styles. It can run standalone or as a plugin.
     
  4. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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    I later gigged with another guitar player doing mostly traditional country in small bars and clubs, who was very tight in using a decent foot controlled drum machine. I was very skeptical at first but agreed to back him when we met at a music store and he heard me playing. But I thought, why not? It'll get me out of the house a couple nights a week and the break might do me good. I was very impressed how well and coordinated he was at managing 3-4 sets an evening without dropping a beat or missing a cue, complete with appropriate drum fills, had to give him credit for pulling it off, but he'd been doing it for years. So it's not just a matter of having a real sounding rhythm machine but also becoming proficient in using it. Later he added a bass player and drummer, which meant instead of splitting the door two ways we split it four ways, which meant we had to find bigger venues to make it pay our expenses plus a few bucks and a couple beers. I liked better the way it started out. We played every hole in the wall, many which never could afford live music, plus we had fun doing it. Corny, sure, but we had a pretty good schtick going and the smaller crowds never seemed to complain. We received a small guarantee and usually a full tip hat.

    I used to do the solo acoustic gigs back when, and sometimes with a bass player friend. We mainly showcased clubs in NY, which was a whole other thing. I would not have used a drum machine in that environment.

    So it really depends on what your goal is, and if you do go with a machine, you have to program it and not fiddle around with it on stage. It has to be tight.
     
  5. Birddog

    Birddog Member

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    And I know THIS may be a stupid question, but why not get a drummer?
     
  6. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    I'll tell you what I do/have done. I'll craft drum loops from various sources, like EZ Drummer, my Alesis SR-16, and a few other sources. I'll craft the loops and record them to my DAW. Then I'll mix and eq the loop to my liking. Then transfer it to my looper. That way, I can play the loop as long as I wish. With the drum recordings on a lap top, there's not a loop function where the playback will continually loop the playback. So if you go that route, your drum "songs" will be of a set duration.

    While I haven't tried it, some have stated the Boss DR-880 is THE machine to use for live. I know the Alesis SR-16 is NOT very good for live. You still have to program both machines to play back drum "songs", so there's no getting around that programming part.

    There is a new pedal due to be on the marketplace later this year that sounds interesting. It's called the Beat Buddy and it sounds like it maybe ideal for you.

    http://mybeatbuddy.com/
     
  7. mattball826

    mattball826 Member

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    extra man to pay
     
  8. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    I just saw the Beat Buddy after starting this thread. It does look ideal, but I'm hesitant to pay $259 for something that isn't shipping working units until August and I've read they shut down production due to sourcing problems.

    Which looper do you use? I have a Ditto right now for home practice. Had a Boomerang for awhile, but sold it for some reason I can't remember now.
     
  9. 335guy

    335guy Member

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  10. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Supporting Member

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    Check out the Alesis SR-18 ... It's a great machine.... Simple to use..you can have footswitches trigger fills and alternate between pattern a and b....and it sounds like real drums....way easier to deal with live than a friggin computer.... I bought mine on EBay like new for $125 . Best $$ I have spent since the Kemper
     
  11. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    Thanks. I'll definitely check that out.
     
  12. Old Black

    Old Black Member

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    I do the same thing - make loops with EZ Drummer in ProTools and then add them as various loops in JamMan, via the SD card. This works really well. I used to use an SR-16 and the programming on the pad drove me nuts. Also, most of the drum sounds are really cheesy reverb stuff from the '80's.

    I am a novice drummer, so programing in EZDrummer is not too difficult, especially when starting with someone else's MIDI files. But I also have a mesh-head electronic drum set that I make MIDI files from.

    Something else to consider with this approach - it doesn't have to be just drums. You can include loops with bass, keyboards, guitars, etc. For example, I sometimes gig with a couple of other guitarists and a bass player (but no drummer) and we use loops with just drums. When the bass player is not around, we use a nearly identical set of loops but with bass mixed in. Works pretty well. And loops can be a single bar or an entire song. You can change the tempos without affecting the pitch.

    I think the key to looping while gigging is having a PA system that can make those sounds sufficiently "real".

    Something to think about.
     
  13. Birddog

    Birddog Member

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    I may be the lone voice on this thread, but it's not an "extra" man to pay. It's a musician that you "need". You need drums? Why not get a drummer? Employ a fellow musician. I hope they don't ever come up with a guitar machine....
     
  14. andybaylor

    andybaylor Supporting Member

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    They have. They're called D.J.'s
     
  15. ksandvik

    ksandvik Member

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    Also check out IReal Pro, you could program the whole song in and just use the drum section that adds in fills and so on and actually sounds pretty good with the exception of the brush snare jazz sound which me thinks is harsh. But it's kind of cool that you could program the chord changes in and the program synthesizes the drums and bass lines based on styles.

    And the program is really for keeping track of song chords and for practice purposes.
     
  16. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    I would greatly prefer a real drummer, but we live in a relatively rural area other than the local large town. Drummers (at least good ones that aren't already locked up by other acts) are scarce here. And by good I mean able to keep steady time and can play more than 4 patterns. My best drummer was my son who moved away to college two years ago.

    I tried that out, but asked for a refund as it's just not the best app for my desires.
     
  17. Digitalman

    Digitalman Member

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    I'm about to delve into this. I have an SR-16, and a HR-16 before that, so I'm no stranger to programming drum machines and playing shows with a foorswitch. But I got a MacBook around '08 and bought Addictive Drums and have been writing music and using Garageband since then. I recently bought Logic Pro X and have been reading up on using Mainstage. I know that I could dump my beats into a looper, or even just use an MP3 player for them. But I like the idea of hooking a midi footswitch up to the MacBook to not just trigger my drumbeats, but any other sample I want. I could loop a guitar riff and play soft synth as well.

    Ultimately we'll have a drummer sitting behind us at some point, but right now it's just me and a bass player. It's empowering to know that I could perform any of my songs live, triggering sequences and creating live loops, as opposed to just playing along witha backing track.
     
  18. BigGee

    BigGee Member

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    I've played in a 3 piece (two guitars & bass, vox from all) and we used a boss drum machine. Two pedals controlled it. one to start & stop the loop, and the 2nd pedal to trigger the fill/pattern B. It worked , but the idea of a rock band using a drum machine didn't go over very well.
     

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