Back to Blogging… Drumming Education #47 – Carter Beauford

It’s been quite a while since my last blog as the summer has caught up with me a bit and I have been training for a half marathon. Having said that I am still drumming every day and my weekly lessons have been going really well. I have replaced all my drum heads and have been working hard to get the snare sounding the way I want and I think I am finally there.

Today I just wanted to get back into blogging so without any further delay I would like to talk about Carter Beauford. Carter is the drummer for the Dave Matthews Band and he in 2010 was ranked 10th on Rolling Stone Magazine readers poll of greatest drummers.  Carter was born November 2, 1957 (57 years old)Carter in Charlottesville, Virginia and the story goes that when he was 3 his father took him to a Buddy Rich show because he couldn’t find a babysitter and Carter started playing drums the next day.  His completely ambidextrous style came about from years of practice in front of a mirror trying to emulate his favorite drummers. Insane!

He started his professional career at age 9 and later joined Secrets a Richmond based Jazz Fusion Band and later Blue Indigo before joining up with Dave Matthews Band. At the time Dave Matthew was a bartender at a bar that Carter would perform at regularly.  In his career Carter has also collaborated with numerous artists including Carlos Santana and John Popper.

Carter in 2003 won Modern Drummer readers poll for both Best Pop Drummer as well as Best Recorded Performance for “Dave Matthews Band: Live at Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado.

I have two videos for today: The first is him performing Tripping Billies from 2012 and the second is a crazy video he did with GoPro performing a solo.

Thought I Knew Comfort

I have been doing micro adjustments on my drums since the day I got them and to be completely honest I was really happy with them and had basically left them alone for a few weeks with and when I got the two new toms I basically just added them in and again I was really happy and comfortable. That is until a good friend of mine who has been drumming for I believe around 30 years asked to see a pic of my drums as he hasn’t been able to come over yet. The first thing he called out after telling me how awesome the drums look and how happy he is that I am finally playing was that the drums looked a little stretched out. Again I was very comfortable with my drums and just thought it was because I am mostly upper-body with shorter legs. Then came Wednesday night, when I went to his house and he asked me to sit behind his kit and get some ideas about placement for myself. WOW! What a difference and I was way more comfortable. It was like being laid out on a couch vs being in an airplane seat. Since sitting behind his drum set and taking some pictures for reference I overhauled my kit yesterday and I can’t believe the difference it has already made. Not only am I more comfortable but it is already noticeable that I am faster and cleaner.

I know many of you have been drumming for a long time and know exactly how you like things but for me this was almost mind blowing. I basically set up my kit on four criteria when I started – What kits are set up like in store, basics for setting kit properly found online and in drum books, advice from my teacher based on what we did on the lesson kit, and finally just little things that made me comfortable. Again I will say that I was happy with my set up and thought I was comfortable.

Since Wednesday I raised by seat and my snare quite a bit, drum_mainpic2lowered all of my tack toms and even moved them off the bass drum (all of my toms can mount to bass or to stands including the 14″) which was because I was able to move them closer together as well as lower them and allowed me to but the ride exactly where I wanted it, lowered and tightened my ride cymbal and bring my double bass pedal and high hat in close to three inches . The final result allowed me to move around the kit more freely even though from an overall floor print I had actually brought the drums in a lot closer.  The convenient coincidence is that with the drums lower and everything closer together my girlfriend can enjoy them a lot more without having to make as many adjustments.

One of the final pieces of advice my friend had for me which I would like to share with you is to video yourself playing.  If you film yourself from a couple of angles just playing anything you will have the opportunity to see where you might be able to improve your set up. He suggested having someone who is knowledgeable observe you play and help out but some of us are stubborn or they may have biases to how they set up so it may be better to just observe yourself.  My teacher was already doing this with the practice kit and while it felt good it is no where near my home set up now.

It has now been just over three months since I bought my kit and just over two months since I started lessons and I have to say that I am really happy and proud of my progress.  I am starting to be able to play what I want to hear out of the drums and I am confident playing basic rock beats and quite a few songs.

Stay Tuned!