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whorwood 04-02-2015 08:26 AM

Blues Cymbal Set Up
This might have been discussed before (sorry if it has) I have an interest in 50-60's Chicago blues, Sam Lay, Willy Smith etc. does anyone know what cymbals they used, sizes, type etc., also maybe some of you blues drummers might suggest what you think is important to have (cymbal wise) there seems to be information on Jazz and Rock drummers but I can't seem to find much written about Blue's Drummers (Chess era)

Dardrum 04-04-2015 02:08 PM

Re: Blues Cymbal Set Up
Come on guys,,,I too am lost on this subject.

Purdie Shuffle 04-04-2015 04:33 PM

Re: Blues Cymbal Set Up
Being a long-time Blues drummer, I wish I had the cymbal set-up I have now, back when I was gigging. I'm 66 and chances of my getting into another working blues band are slim to none, but if a situation comes up... I'm ready and loaded for bear!

22" Zildjian ping ride, 20" thin crash, 18" crash, 15" New Beat hats. All hollow logo Zildjians. The -PERFECT- set-up. Wish I'd had it before... but I do have it now!


eamesuser 04-04-2015 04:33 PM

Re: Blues Cymbal Set Up
As far as what the pioneering chicago blues drummers played,I have not seen a lot of info on that,and I have looked,my favorite genre of music is blues,and I have studied the blues players and have played in some blues bands. Most of the info and discussion and interviews of these players has focused on playing style, ways to approach a shuffle and what some of the blues greats wanted from a drummer.

As far as equipment goes what makes it even tougher to research is the fact that most of the best concert footage and photographs that exist were from Europe,they had a much greater respect for this music and therefore it was filmed and mixed/recorded much better,but in these films and photographs the drummers looked to me like they were using locally sourced back line gear,so you see a lot of Sonor,Premier and Trixon kits,and probably the same goes for the cymbals,but in the 60's the cymbal companies were not using the huge inked logos that they use now.Most of this footage is from the 60's,so a few years after the classic recordings were made anyway.

I could only guess what type of cymbals these cats used,but since most of the major drum companies were were based in that area with the exception of Gretsch,who were based in NYC,and had the distribution rights to K Zildjian cymbals by the way,I would assume they used a lot of Zil's,because Paiste did not have a big Market presence here in the mid late 50's,but being Chicago was pretty big music town I would imagine the drummers had access to a lot of the gear that was made,either new or used,so I am sure they used whatever they could get their hands that sounded good, but I am betting they used Zildjians mostly,and I would guess A zils because they were more available,and because Chicago Blues is one of the first places that electric guitar took hold,so I would think that A zils being brighter would compete better in a higher volume scenario.

When I played in Blues bands I used a variety of cymbals,as far as rides went I occasionally used an old A Zil rock 21 with the couple of bands that were pretty loud,but started using a 20" K heavy after I got it because it still had enough muscle to cut through but I liked the way it sounded with tube amplification.Later I got a 20" UFIP class heavy that I used occasionally that worked well but I still used the K most of the time.As far as hats went I used a late 70's set of new beats,they just seemed to work well,and later I got a set of Sabian HH dark hats,they were darker and lower pitched but for some reason actually projected a little better than the NB's,go figure,but I switched them out about evenly.As far as crash cymbals went I started with 70's era thin A's,then used some thin A customs,both worked well,and in my opinion a nicely matched set of A's or A customs works well for just about anything,but I ended up using modern era K zil dark crashes most of the time,I felt that the darker dyer tonality suited the tube amplification best. I also found a Bosphorous regularly lathed traditional 18 " crash that was really dirty yet musical that worked nicely. I would switch the crashes occasionally and every once in a while the band members or leader would say they really liked the A custom crashes,same with the K heavy ride,I don't know if that was because of the tonality or because the K heavy was a sweetheart, because I positive got comments on it no matter what genre I played.

I sum I would say use whatever sounds good,and that leaning to the darker dyer organic side worked best for me so you might consider anything that fits that criteria, Meinl Byzance, Bos and Istanbul offerings.

whorwood 04-04-2015 06:46 PM

Re: Blues Cymbal Set Up
Thanks guys,
I was starting to get worried that no one would post an answer or suggestion(s) Its kind of sad that there isn't more information about the drummers and their equiptment (cymbals) from the early 50's and 60's (blues guys)
It would nice get some more info, thanks again to posting

Purdie Shuffle 04-04-2015 11:15 PM

Re: Blues Cymbal Set Up
> It would nice get some more info,

Do some homework on your own and see what you come up with! Maybe you'll learn a few things that you can then share with us. Sometimes good questions only get answered when the person asking persists in finding that information. The more you dig, the more you'll find. Don't stop looking for an answer only because you failed to find one here. :p


vintagemore2000 04-04-2015 11:27 PM

Re: Blues Cymbal Set Up
Here try this web site ?

whorwood 04-05-2015 08:56 AM

Re: Blues Cymbal Set Up
In the book (the cymbal book) Hugo Pinksterboer has a chapter, composing a setup, there are about twenty drummers (unfortunately no older blues drummers) there are however a number of older Jazz drummers, if we minimize their set ups they all have 14" hats, 20-22" med rides, 18" med thin crashes. Their cymbal of choice were Zildjians from what I'm seeing. Zildjian Avedis maybe ?
Fred Below was at one time the house drummer for Chess also a member of the aces, jr wells, little waters. Mr Below's was schooled as a Jazz drummer. Might we assume that his minimal set up would be 14" hats, 20-22 ride and 18" crash ?? Therefore most drummers from that era would have at least had a 3-4 cymbal set up ?
I couldn't find any really good pictures of Muddy or Wolf's band playing or Chess records studio pictures with the artists playing.
Lot's of question ??

vintagemore2000 04-05-2015 09:36 AM

Re: Blues Cymbal Set Up
Here is a good article on Sam Lay from Drum magazine,

vintagemore2000 04-05-2015 09:39 AM

Re: Blues Cymbal Set Up
Here is a good source also Sam is featured in this,

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