Friday, March 22, 2019

Using the Akai MPK Mini MKII for live performance in Ableton Live

YouTuber/Musician, Teatro, put together this awesome tutorial on how he uses his MPK Mini II in Ableton Live. I have one of these myself and really found his videos inspiring and helpful. The MPK Mini MkII is a really nice little controller that is very affordable, and if you map controls intelligently, it’s quite capable for live performance.

Above is the tutorial, then below is the actual performance of he’s talking about in the tutorial. Great stuff!

If you want to pick up an MPK Mini Mkii for yourself you can get one with the link below from Amazon.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Yamaha releases super lightweight aluminium drum hardware!

Many years ago (1990s) I remember a company making some aluminium hardware similar to this, I think it was Gibraltor, I never had some, but I always remembered thinking it was an awesome idea. Then they seemed to disappear and I never saw them again, well until now!

Yamaha has released this incredible hardware pack called Crosstown that is insanely lightweight, but insanely sturdy. Not only that, the design gives them a pretty interesting look.

Why is this idea so good? Well as any drummer knows, stands are HEAVY! If you’re playing gigs, and travelling around, the last thing you want to do is lug a 100lb hardware case up 4 flights of stairs for a gig in NYC. I actually use lightweight flat based stands by Ludwig, and yes they’re light, but not nearly as heavy duty as these, and actually not even as light since they’re still made of metal alloy. The total weight of the Yamaha Crosstown Hardware Pack is only 17lbs in the case!

Very… very cool. Get some with the link below!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

'Low Volume' cymbals and drums suck, build your own e-drums instead

Okay hear me out here before you get tiggered, but I really think this trend of the past couple of years of “low volume” cymbals is really stupid. Yes yes, I get that some people (including me) live in small apartments with neighbors all around who really will not like you banging on full volume drums, but if the option is playing something that looks like a drumset, but sounds like awful garbage, like the example above, I’d rather just play guitar.

I started playing drums when I was 10 years old, and as a kid (and as an adult), the power, loudness, resonance, and tones of the drums, all are part of why I loved playing them so much. If I had something that sounded like cardboard boxes and baking pans, I never would have wanted to play them. So what can you do?

Well, what I do is rent a small room about 10 blocks away from my house in an industrial neighborhood for my drums, but I realize this option isn’t realistic for everyone, so option 2 is build your own electronic drum set. Even though I kinda hate electronic drums too, but at least they’re better than what you hear above. I built my own electronic kit back in 2009, and it wasn’t that difficult, here’s some  pics:

I’ve also made a playlist of youtubers who made some pretty awesome ones:

Or… you can just buy one (which is probably what I’d do now, haha.

E-kits have gotten a lot cheaper and better in recent years. But honestly, I would rather play any of the above than Low Volume cymbals with silent heads. At this point you’re just hitting drum shaped objects that sound like nothing. At least with electronic drums you can record them and have endless options of sounds. Plus they’re STILL QUIETER than LV cymbals and drums.

Anyway, I know this was a bit of a rant, but just had to get it out there ;P

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Dear Developers Of Notation Programs: Drums Are NOT An Afterthought!


Over the past month I have been trying various notation programs to help with my lessons online as well as in person, and one thing I have found in common with all of these programs, is they all seem to treat drums as an afterthought, and many don’t even work at all. This has been incredibly frustrating and causing me much headache.

Programs I’ve tried:

  1. Musescore – Works to some extent but note entry is horrible, correcting mistakes is nearly impossible without screwing up every other note you entered.
  2. Crescendo – Interface is actually better than average, however drum score flat out is not possible. It does not display correctly at all.
  3. Musnik – Absolutely terrible UI. Basically unusable.
  4. Finale Notepad – Another god awful UI, hard to use, but basic drum notation is at least possible, though you’ll be ripping your hair out by the time you get something readable.
  5. Rosegarden – Does not even provide a drum/percussion staff.

I will keep investigating this HUGE problem but at the time being there’s really not a single program I can recommend for drummers. I’ve heard Sibelius works, but haven’t tried it personally. The program as a whole has a reputation of having one of the worst UIs of all time.

At the time being Musescore seems to be the only one that actually works, but it’s literally 100x easier to just write the lessons out by hand than wrestle with this clunky and unintuitive interface.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

This $30 Kick Drum Mic Is Actually An Amazing Tom Mic!

My story with this particular microphone dates back to 2016. I picked it up on Amazon because I was like, wow look, a kick drum mic for $30! Well so I ordered it back then and it got delivered. Then I forgot about it. I actually forgot about it for 3 years and never even plugged it in, since I was quite happy with my CAD Kick Drum Mic, I really didn’t feel the need to even try it.

Then one day I was recording and the mic I had on my floor tom just suddenly stopped working. It was giving me no signal at all and I wanted to finish what I was doing so I saw the Heimu mic sitting there and was like, hmmmm. So I hooked it up to my floor tom, hit record and was quite blown away at the result! Toms were not the intended purpose for this mic, but it sounded so much better than the SM57 I was using before, I just went ahead and ordered a second one to use on my other tom. It has a nice low mid that lends itself perfectly to toms.

I will be doing a video on this at some point, but just wanted to share my findings here first!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

How To Play Helicopter Cop On Drums - Advanced Drum Lesson

In this advanced drum lesson I go over a couple of the beats from my song Helicopter Cop, off my album Polybius. The beats are in 7/4 and sorta linear, well at least sections of them are. If you want to download the PDFs for this lesson, you can here See the full Helicopter Cop Vid here
If you want to download a free copy of Polybius, go to and type in one of the codes below. If those have all been used up, and would like to request a code, message me @demonicsweaters on twitter and I’ll send you one.
Here’s the codes:

Private drum, guitar, or software lessons on Skype or Discord:
Skype: justin.robert87
Discord: demonicsweaters#6261
Demonic Sweaters T-Shirt

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Friday, March 1, 2019

Parent's Guide To Buying a Kid's Drum Set

Being a part time Drum Instructor I noticed that I get a lot of the same questions from parents about their kid who is just starting, or interested in playing the drums. They want to know what what set to get their child because drums are confusing, and there’s literally hundreds of thousands out there to choose from. Where do they even start? I thought I would put together this little guide to help out.

In order to determine what type of drum set to get your child, you need to ask yourself one question. Note: the terms ‘drum set’ and ‘drum kit’ mean the same thing.

  1. How old is your child? Well more specifically how BIG is your child?

If they are very young, 6 years old or below, you will most likely want to get them a ‘junior’ set to start playing on. They will not be able to reach the drums and pedals on a full sized kit. The problem is with these, is very few companies make decent quality junior sets. But don’t worry, I’ll post some below. Some parents think they can buy a ‘cheap’ one first to see if their kid likes it or not, but I really  do not recommend doing this. By doing this, you are pretty much guaranteeing they WILL NOT like it and will not stick with it. Cheap crappy Jr. drums often have barely working components, are missing essential parts, and just sound bad.

The fact that many of the cheap children’s sets are missing essential parts, like a floor tom and hi hat, will make it impossible for them to do 90% of every lesson in Hal Leonard’s Drumset Method Book, which is the standard for new drummers.

The above is an example of what NOT to buy your child. Sure you could make this set work if you bought some additional items, but why do that when you can get it all in one shot like the other one below? There are several issues with the one above. First, no hi hat. This is a deal breaker, a hi hat is the two cymbals that have the pedal that is used with the other foot (often the left, if the kid is right handed). The hi hat is used in 99.999% of all of the first exercises a new drummer will learn. Selling a drum set that is supposed to be complete when it is missing this item is outright irresponsible. The other missing item is the floor tom, this is another tom tom drum that sits on the floor and has a deeper sound. Though this isn’t as essential as the hi hat, but is still pretty essential for learning fills on the drums.

The set above by Ludwig is one of the better kid’s drum sets on the market at the moment. Ludwig in general seems to be doing the best in this market. This set is a small enough to be used by small children, but the parts are high enough quality that even once they get bigger, the cymbals could be upgraded and the drums adjusted to keep playing it as a teen. Notice the Hi Hat and Floor Tom are both present. Though you can’t really see the floor tom too well since it is behind the bass drum, but it is there. Ludwig is one of the oldest drum companies on the planet and has been producing quality drums for over a century. The only complaint with the one above is many parents say there are no instructions for putting it together. If you get one and have a problem, I will gladly assist you in assembly over Skype. Just send me a message.

If your kid is over 7 or even a teen, a full sized set will probably work fine for them. But just like above, you’ll need to choose the right set. For adult sized drums, you’ll have to weed though all of the sets that are just shell packs (drums only with no hardware and cymbals) full sets without cymbals (need to buy your own cymbals) or full sets including cymbals. In my list below I’ll include only full sets with cymbals to make it easy for you.

Okay so here’s the list starting with the Jr. Kid’s sets. If you do not see the sets, you may need to disable your ad blocker on you browser.

  1. Ludwig Pocket (this is the kit shown above as the good example, it has everything your kid will need, is built well, and looks awesome!)


2. Ludwig Jr. Outfit (Similar to the Pocket Ludwig, but has one more rack tom, also very cool looking and nicely made)

Now for some full sized sets 

3. Tama Imperialstar Full Sized Set With Cymbals / 18″ bass (this one is good for a adolescent, since it’s a bit smaller than the rest in the list because of the 18″ bass drum, but not as small as the jr. sets)


4. Ludwig Accent Drive (full size set, cymbals aren’t great quality on this set, but the drums are great)


5. Tama Imperialstar full kit with Meinl Cymbals and 22″ bass (this is an excellent quality drum set that could last a long time without needing any upgrades.

Hopefully you found this post helpful, and if you need any help, do not hesitate to ask! Thank you for reading!

Updated drum lesson playlist

It's hard for me to update this website constantly with all of the new drum lessons I am making, so I figured I would make a playlist wh...