Gigging without a drummer

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by GSVBagpuss, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. GSVBagpuss

    GSVBagpuss Member

    Apr 11, 2007
    Is it possible?

    Our drummer (and keyboards and bass!) just left our band, which is fine, but it does leave a hole and one that is tricky to fill. Keys and bass can be filled ok but I know no other drummers at all

    Could we live without? Can a drum machine cover enough of the same ground and let us get away with it? We play pop covers, nice and simple 4/4 most of the time. Could a looper pedal help me if we can't find a keyboardist or bassist?

    Anyone do this? I'm clutching at straws a little I know, but curious if anyone else has pulled it off.
  2. Luke

    Luke Senior Member

    Aug 15, 2005
    Hire a drummer
  3. jtw

    jtw Member

    Jul 17, 2005
    Maybe this is just me (and I'm open to that)...but personally I think it's really cheesy to have a drum machine backing up the rest of the band. To me it screams "amateur" with the exception of instrumental jazz standards. I've heard a few guitar and sax soloists that have managed to pull it off pretty well, but that was in a dinner club type setting where they were just wallflowers.

    But for a rock band, no, I wouldn't do it. Hit Craigslist, your local music stores and rehearsal halls and put up "drummer wanted" ads. I think in the long run you will be happier.
  4. GregoryL

    GregoryL Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2008
    Toronto, ON
    I agree ... drum machine = cheese.

    Depending on the material and venues, could you re-work your set temporarily as a more acoustic band?
  5. FlyingVBlues

    FlyingVBlues Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2002
    Virginia & Cortona Italia
    John Mayall did a excellent record called "The Turning Point" in 1969 that didn't have a drummer. This was a live recording at Fillmore East that featured Mayall singing and playing harp, Jon Mark playing acoustic finger-style guitar, Stephen Thompson playing bass and Johnny Almond playing tenor and alto saxophones and flutes. I heard this band live about 2 weeks before the Fillmore recording at a club in New York at they were great. I didn't miss the drummer at all. If you have excellent musicians and the right material I think you can easily get by without a drummer.

  6. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

    May 5, 2005
    Madison WI
    A drum machine? I personally don't like em much but I suppose it really depends on what type of music you are doing and what venues you are playing... it would work much better for Hip Hop or Lounge music than for some other types of music
  7. frankencat

    frankencat Guitarded Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    Tampa Bay
    I used to gig in a band without a drummer. Oddly enough the guy who led the band WAS my drummer in another band but he liked to play guitar so he hired a bass player and the three of us would go into places that didn't like live drums (too loud, etc) and play covers while people drank beer and generally had a good time. We did 8 or 10 gigs as I remember and it was fun. You REALLY have to have your stuff together as far as knowing the songs and arrangements - you have to have them down cold or it ends up in a train wreck. It's much easier to play with a drummer, that is if you can find a good one. Sometimes I would rather play with a machine than some of the guys I have played with around here.... ;)
  8. Tubes and Strings

    Tubes and Strings Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    get a percussionist... drummers are over-rated anyway... ;) Just kidding.
  9. zzmoore

    zzmoore Member

    Sep 22, 2006
    USA, California, 94585
    No drummer?
    Drum machine? Looper?
    It is a trend that will end at your position. Your whole band can be replaced with a DJ, juke-box, get the gist. The job you save may be your own.
    Good Luck
  10. Alister

    Alister Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    'Twixt here and there
    Of course it's possible. Go into a random coffeehouse that features music, private parties, etc., more often than not, there are duos and trios playing without drummers. Often playing cover music that had great drumming on the original record.

    I did it for 3-4 years in a "folk/blues" trio. Just because The Boss didn't like drummers/drumming, mainly. I don't know that most people noticed the difference, frankly. If the songs/singing/playing is fairly pro level, I think the audience just takes it for what it is. 99% of the time, we got booked back.
    When the music is "small," that is. On the plus side, there's more silence and 'space' to play in, as a guitarist, for example.

    When the music is "big," however (stages, venue, audience), then no friggin' way. Also, if you're sharing shows with other acts that do have drummers -- then no friggin' way. You sound lame, and tame by comparison.

    So, "possible" is not the same thing as fun, and it's certainly not the same thing as groove and "pocket" and a lot of other abstract thrills that most of us subscribe to.
  11. shredtrash

    shredtrash Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2007
    Albuquerque, NM
    A good friend of mine has a band with 2 guitars, bass, and programmed drums and it sounds great. I never thought it would be cool at all until I saw them. I don't think I'd want to do it myself but it works for them. There's room for every type of band and music IMO.
  12. Dexter.Sinister

    Dexter.Sinister Still breathing Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    South Florida
    I've played many gigs as a solo guitarist, so, yes, it is possible to do it without a drummer.

    That said, I really enjoy playing with great percussionists (traps or other) that listen well and are not afraid to lead.

    Drum machines with canned rhythms pain me. Unless used (briefly) for ironic purposes (though I tire of that very quickly). Well programmed beats and breaks are very cool. Some DJ folks are so tuned in that you'd never miss a drummer. The guy that recorded our band (DJ Le Spam) is like that and he is so cool...hurts me.

    Don't cheap out. If your music needs percussion, find a way to do it creatively, even if it means hiring another partner. Who knows...could create new opportunities for you as a musician!

  13. minjason

    minjason Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think it depends a lot on the kind of music you're playing. Drum machines can be cheesy for sure especially if you're trying to emulate a real drummer playing behind you...with that said, i've seen many experimental bands do some creative things with samplers, laptops and drum machines in their live shows...obviously, some do it better than others, but it can be done. personally, i wouldn't ever use a drum machine to replace a drummer...i might use one though for ambient electronica type music with layered guitars and synth sounds over beats...the list of artists who've done this successfully is endless - thom yorke from radiohead, bjork, animal collective, imogen heap, etc.
  14. fusion58

    fusion58 Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Murrieta, CA

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