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I’m playing at a camp in northern Minnesota this week, and the environment/vibe of the gig is such that I’m using hot rods for everything. Two gigs today, two tomorrow, and 1 more on Wednesday. So… I bought two pairs of Hot Rods yesterday to be set for the week, and I was surprised to find that Sound Percussion offers a wholesale option on what looked like exactly the same product as the famous Pro Mark models. Actually, the SP rods have a black wrap on the dowels instead of the red, which seems hipper anyway.

Well, I’m 1 gig down and 4 to go, and two of the four sticks are already broken. Unreal. And they’re not breaking in the normal way (with the dowels chipping), but rather the glue at the base of the sticks is releasing and dowels are shooting out the top.  These things suck.  Don’t buy them.

The end.

So I mentioned in the previous post that I’m in the midst of a short tour with Elizabeth Hunnicutt right now. Most of the gigs that we’re doing are in small venues, where the natural drum volume is too loud. Dowel sticks (I use the brand ProMark “Hot Rods”) make this problem easy to get around. But… rods have quite a different timbre and sound from normal sticks – they aren’t just a softer volume. Here’s a few things that I’ve learned when using rods:

1) Buzz rolls, although possible with rods, don’t sound very good.

2) Toms also sound bad, but using rimshots on the toms can make them sound more like normal.

3) Non-rimshot snare hits have a unique tone to them, but they are not just a little quieter than sticks, they are A LOT quieter. If you’re going to use that sound, you have to back way off the cymbals to get a correct blend.

4) Along with the point just mentioned, be careful to note that “crash” hits (cymbals hits with the “edge” of the stick and not the tip) are really the same volume with rods as they are with sticks. So, be extra careful to back off on the velocity of those hits so as to gain a good drum/cymbal blend.

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