The Best Bass Drum Beaters for Wedding Gigs
Playing a wedding is one of the most physically and mentally demanding gigs a drummer can do. This article will help you pick the perfect bass drum beater for wedding gigs by going over some of the most important features to look for.
Playing a wedding is one of the most physically and mentally demanding gigs a drummer can do. Wedding bands usually play three or more sets and rarely stop between tunes. They also cover a wide range of material as the evening ramps up from background jazz to drunken dance-party madness. Through it all the drummer soldiers on, holding the band together and keeping the guests moving and grooving. Once the gig starts, there’s little time to fiddle with gear, so making the right choices ahead of time will go a long way towards helping you get the best drum sound. This article will help you pick the perfect bass drum beater for wedding gigs by going over some of the most important features to look for.
Low Boy artist Rich Stitzel has backed everyone from country music star Miranda Lambert to Joel Hoekstra from Whitesnake, and is the author of four drum books on the critically acclaimed DrumMantra Practice System. As one the most in-demand sidemen in the Chicago area, he also plays weddings and private events for high-powered corporate agency Beatmix Music.
Stitzel uses the Standard Leather Daddy beater as his main choice for weddings. This beater has a medium-heavy weight of 95 grams (as opposed to the 80-gram weight of the lightweight models) and features a flat striking surface which maximizes the contact area with the drumhead. “I use the leather most of the time because on a gig that’s 4 or 5 hours long, you need something to help you a little bit, especially towards the end. It has a little more punch to it. It just feels good to me.”
While it would be great to be able to change beaters for every style of music (you can use this handy Power Switch attachment), Stitzel says that’s not always possible when you’re dealing with so many other variables. “We’re a 14-piece band with a 5-person crew, so I just walk in and play without carrying any gear on me. We play back-to-back songs continuously and I’m running tracks the whole time. There’s literally no time to even take a sip of water!”
While he does (luckily) get a respite between sets, he feels the Standard Leather Daddy beater has enough punch and warmth to cover all musical styles throughout the evening. He explains, “you’re playing so many different kinds of music and if you know how to control your foot, you can feather the beater on a big band tune and kick it hard on a Justin Timberlake song. During the cocktails there’s about a 90-minute segment where we’ll play jazz [we often throw in fun stuff like Chick Corea tunes]. Then while they’re eating dinner, we go into instrumental pop songs and stuff like Beyonce, Tears for Fears and The Police. Then the dancing starts and it’s pretty full-on the rest of the night. We’re playing bigger rooms for 400 or 500 people, so we can really go for it. There’s just something comfortable about the leather and the weight and the throw of it feels good.”
When he’s not playing such a big event, Stitzel is more likely to switch things up. “Besides the weddings, I’m out as many 4 days a week playing with 3 to 5-piece bands. The felt is good for situations where I need it to be a little bit more sensitive, and I use a lot of different beaters in the studio. But for weddings, the felt beater is just a little too soft for the range of musical styles you have to play and the wood seems like it would be a little too heavy-metal or clicky.” He also feels the durability of these beaters is a major asset. “One of the reasons I like it is that I’ve had the same beater on that pedal for 3 years and it’s still in good shape. That’s an important thing.”
The main takeaway is that wedding gigs require a beater with the power and attack to handle loud rock, pop and R&B tunes, but with enough warmth and subtlety for jazz and dinner music. While Stitzel feels the Standard Leather Daddy fits the bill, the biggest draw for him is the special connection he feels from having a custom-made product he can rely on every time he sits down behind the kit. “When I’m playing for 5 hours, I love looking down and seeing the shape of it and knowing it’s a Low Boy. I’ve been using their beaters from the very beginning. I’m a huge believer that it’s all about the people who make the products. I want to play stuff made by people I really like. There’s something artistic and special about it.”
Find Your “Works All Night Long” Bass Drum Beater!
By Rob Mitzner
New York-based session drummer and writer Rob Mitzner has played on Billboard Top-10 charting albums, films, and Broadway shows, performing at Lincoln Center, The Smithsonian, Caesar’s Palace, The Blue Note, Boston Symphony Hall and for President Obama in his hometown of Washington D.C. His book "Drumming in a Band: Stuff You Can Use" was released by Hudson Music in early 2022 and recently entered the top 100 best-selling percussion books on Amazon. Rob has also been featured in Downbeat magazine, Modern Drummer, Drumeo and Drum Talk TV and recorded on over 60 commercially available albums across many genres. When he’s not playing and touring, Rob spends his days at C-Room Studio in Brooklyn cutting drum tracks, shedding funky electric bass and writing articles. Rob holds a B.A. in Music and Political Science from Brown University, and is a proud endorser of Paiste Cymbals, Remo Drumheads, Hendrix Drums and Drumdots.