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Topics - Jaay

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ZenChat / Hi-hats in the mix
« on: November 16, 2013, 11:51:41 AM »
Greetings Tribe!  Wanted to solicit some opinions.

I'm running a TD-9 module as my main sound source, and I've noticed my hi-hats aren't quite doing it for me these days.  They feel a little too loud in the mix, too compressed (not getting as much dynamics as I'd like, all one level) and while the final product I'm hearing on tapes and such isn't BAD, I want it to be better.

I'm running the last gen operating system in my instrument, so setting individual trigger curves is not an option for me.  The other thing that occurs to me is perhaps to take down the hi-hats in my module's mixer but perhaps pitch them a little higher so they still cut through if I want them to?  Input is welcome; thank you kindly.


Tech Help / New options for power; should I avail?
« on: November 08, 2013, 08:34:28 AM »
Greetings all!  I came across an interesting thing today, wanted to share it, get some thoughts.

I was doing research today and came across Pedaltrain's website; they've released a new, portable power supply called "Volto".  The idea behind it is to get rid of the wall-wart in a guitarist's pedal chain; one cable to the guitar, one to the amp.

My main rig is mains-powered (appropriate, huh?), but I do have a battery-powered rig.  Three seperate components (module, amp, and Battery Box), all battery-powered.  I'm wondering if this might be a better option to go with.  Here's my thoughts:

-I could use this unit to power both my main and auxiliary rigs
-USB power supply would eliminate one type of charger I'd need to have in the house
-9 hours of battery life should be enough for most reasonable gigs, especially if I can charge it back up in the car on the way home
-Eliminates battery waste (1 power supply instead of the 12 AAs and 1 9V I currently need)

-Using this for my battery-powered rig would require cabling everything together, knocking out some of the portability of the rig.
-If the power on one goes, it all goes (as opposed to before, when everything was compartmentalized)
-related to the first point; if I just wanted to use one component, I have to mate it to the power supply instead of using the batteries.

So, it seems like the biggest drawback is adding one component to the aux rig, and the biggest benefit is being able to power the main rig.  Thoughts?


ZenChat / Where are these updates coming from?
« on: November 08, 2013, 08:07:46 AM »
Greetings Tribe!

So, I've been away from the forum a while, I'll admit that.  But there seems to have been some developments in Zenland that I never knew about!
I never saw an announcement about the EXP model, for example.  Nor was I aware of new demo videos being put on the main page.  Were all these published somewhere and I just missed it?  Or were they not put on the forums at all?

Secondly, and kind of more relevant to my personal interests:  109, I just saw the "Zendrum Demystified" video... where can I get that shirt?!?!?

Be well all!


ZenChat / It's a Really Good Summer To Be A Zendrummer!
« on: July 05, 2013, 08:12:26 AM »
I know that's awful, but that's why I leave the lyric writing to guys like Mike and Neil. ;)

Wanted to let everyone know what I was up to lately; got a few interesting projects ahead of me this summer. 

I've been booked for a lot of pit gigs in the area, and my ZX is coming along for the rise the whole way!  This month I'm playing an outdoor venue which does have me a little nervous;  I've never done an outdoor venue with this rig before.  Luckily half of the band is electric/electronic as well so I'm hoping that will stand me in good stead.  This was funny how it turned out because I showed up with my Zendrum to the first rehearsal to make things easier to set up.  Everyone liked the stuff I was doing so well that once someone pointed out the show was only about an hour long they started protesting on my behalf that it would be silly to bring an acoustic kit for that short a set!  That was quite refreshing.  Assuming that we can get the sound reinforcement behaving itself, I think it'll work out quite well.

The other gig is another pit orchestra situation, but this is much more high-tech.  The whole band will be wired up, individual headphone mixes, everything.  Covering a few different styles and the band just cooks.  Unlike the outdoor gig, I'll be able to leave my board and effects set up in-between shows which means all I have to do is show up with my Zendrum which is awesome. 

All in all, I'm feeling like quite the well-travelled musician these days and the fact that I don't have to worry about putting drums where they work for me or what they'll sound like makes it so much easier to concentrate on orchestrations and musicality.  I'm digging it hard. 

Hope everyone else is doing well.


ZenChat / Played jazz today
« on: April 07, 2013, 11:20:35 PM »
Greetings tribe!

So, today I played a gig with my jazz trio and I got to try something interesting.  For the last few gigs I felt like I was playing the same thing all night and I wanted to alleviate this.  So I looked at my setup on the Zendrum and said, "you know, I have a few empty pads; I'll put a second ride cymbal in!"  It's not like I'd be adding real estate to my setup, right??

I decided I wanted something very different from my main ride which is a fairly bright sizzle;  I went with something darker and dryer and for the time being just stuck it where I had a free pad. 

Tonally, it was a joy to use.  It pretty much solved my monotony issue and added so much in terms of color. Kinesthetically it was a little awkward and I felt my hand tiring out at points, but now that the concept is solid I can work on refining it.

This experiment was one of the first times I've messed with a Zendrum map in a while and I loved the results.  Moreso I think the fact that I could make that experiment without adding bulk or complexity to my current setup.  Yet another reason I adore my instrument.


ZenChat / "Do you miss it?"
« on: March 16, 2013, 07:23:32 AM »
That's what my bandleader asked me the other day.

We were taking a break during rehearsal, listening to some random tracks and I was air-drumming along, making motions more like an acoustic drummer than a Zendrum player.  And that's what he asked me; "Do you miss acoustics?"

I don't think I've ever actually been asked that before.  Usually it's "do you still play real drums" or some variant thereof; in the near ten (ten?  really? wow!) years I've been playing the instrument, I don't think I've been asked if I MISS the other way.

I told him no. :)  To be fair, I did qualify it a bit.  I told him I do miss those moments when I could spread out and use the kit to it's fullest, both in terms of orchestrations and yes, volume, but those moments were so few and far between.  More often it was the case where I hve to keep tighter rein over overything I'm playing than Leopold and the gigs were mercenary engagements, not the fun stuff. 

When I've played my Zendrum it's been FUN.  Either the gig itself was fun or if not the gig, than the musicians; if not the musicians, then just looking at the audience and seeing them say "what IS that thing?"  And it's always fun being able to get out the door before the guitar player <chuckles>

So, I guess the full answer to the question of "do I miss it?" is, "not enough to try and find more reasons to play it, and my back doesn't miss it at all!"

This pleasant bit of Zendrum philosophy brought to you by Jaay. :)

ZenChat / How much backup is too much backup?
« on: November 14, 2012, 06:19:46 PM »
Greetings all!

I have been faced with an interesting problem lately.  I've been playing a lot of gigs that are relatively small or one-night shots, and I'm debating on how much of my backup gear I should be taking.  My full tech bag includes a compliment of various cables, adapters, power supplies, some tools, a spare module and a backup trigger-drum to shore up that.  It all fits into the case for a kick drum pedal, but it's an extra package and a somewhat heavy one at that. 

I've been lucky enough to not need half the stuff in there of late, but the times I HAVE needed to tap into it, it was for an obscure item.  I'd like to be able to scale back my load-out whenever possible, but if I encounter a situation I could have avoided had I brought that One Thing, I'd feel like a first-class dipknuckle.

I'm thinking the bare minimum for backup gear would be the following:

-Spare power for the Zendrum
-Spare power for everything else
-1/4" cable
-MIDI cable
-DI box
-(possibly) spare module

Thoughts?  Is that too minimalistic?  Can I get rid of something else off that list?  Input, as always, is appreciated!


ZenChat / Tribal wanderings
« on: November 11, 2012, 08:58:18 AM »
Greetings all!  Jaay here.  I recently finished a gig which had some cool Zendrum moments to it, thought I would share.

I was playing a run of Rocky Horror in Chicago; this is becoming an annual thing for me as it's the fundraiser for a theater company I'm working with.  The band is mostly the same as last year, but several new cast members.  The first rehearsal with the cast was a hoot; I got to the space and was introduced as "our awesome drummer", but I could see people looking at me somewhat askew since I didn't have any drum gear on me. 

I set up my board and pedals and plugged in to the PA, and as soon as  I unzipped the gig bag, boom:

{whispered} "Dude, what the hell is that thing??"
 "Oh man, it's the most awesome thing ever, you'll see..."

Run through a couple of passages to check my PA status, I'm up, and jaws are down.  Hee hee hee!!!

That happened to me several times throughout the rehearsal season, and I honestly think it's starting to become my favorite parts of the gig!

By the time we got to the actual venue the band was pretty much obscured by the stage and actors so I didn't get it as much, though several times during our preshow jam sessions i could see people pointing to the stage .  I've gotten to the point where I think I can lip read "what is that thing?"

One thing i did differently this year was to take a cab to the venue a few timesinstead of the subway, mostly when I knew I'd have gear to haul.  I've heard lots of stories about jazz drumemrs in New Yor (both past and present) who tried to fittheuir gear into cabs and while I could definitely see it with some of these bigger ones, I shudder to think about getting even a cocktail kit into the trunk of a Crown Vic!  Wasn't a problem with the Zendrum thogh; all auxiliary stuff in the trunk and my instrument with me.

All in all I had a great time.  I'll post some links to viedos or audio when it becomes avialable.  Be well!


ZenChat / Gig notes!
« on: September 03, 2012, 08:18:42 AM »
Greetings Tribe!  Thought I'd share some field notes from the gig I played last night.  

   This was a variety show fundraiser for the theater company I'm working with, using the same five-piece band as for oterh shows (2 keys, gtr, bass and me). The music was mostly stuff from other shows we've done, including parodies of theater standards.  We only had one rehearsal and although I made what I would consider some very glaring mistakes in some performances, it was understood that *we only had one rehearsal* and we were praised for our sight-reading rather than criticized for our mistakes.  On the spot we decided to do "bumps" for oncoming acts with materials from other shows.  Some went better than others but the fact that we could do it even haphazardly went over really well with the audience and performers.  

   As with other quick-gigs I've done, I didn't have a lot of time to put into composition so I went with very simple patterns and minimal fills, and when I did transitions it was all stuff I've habitualized over time.  I don't feel bad about either but in future practice routines I'm going to try and expand some of those habits.  

   One interesting thing that happened was a sight-read performance of a 20-minute musical called "Spa Fire: Children of the One Percent"; I've never seen a whole show crammed into a whole other show before.  That was kinda cool.

   Gear-wise the gig went very smoothly.  We used the house PA and all went direct; setup went so quickly that the bass player and I looked at each other when we were done and thought there must be something we forgot.  I brought my EQ pedal in case I wanted to tweak the tone but the bandleader said I sounded fine.  I actually didn't use any of the pedals I brought with me, but it wasn't a huge inconvenience for me to do so.  The venue was nice - we were in the back room which was very spacious; we were kind of crammed into the corner but still had good sight lines to the audience.  The PA was pwoerful enough for our needs without being overbearing; I think wiring the guitar player into the system with the rest of us helped a great deal with that.  

   At one point we were having some trouble with the guitar tone; the 1/8"-1/4" cable I brought was determined to be the culprit; it was changed out for a guitar cable with an adapter.  I highly doubt my cable was actually defective but I might consider keeping that adapter and having the guitarist use his cable from now on just to reduce the amount of gear I loan out.

   I stayed with my trapset-heavy Zendrum program the whole night; I'm still very much enjoying the Patch-changing options I have now from the Zendrum directly instead of using the pedals.  I continue to marvel at why it took me so long to come to this conclusion.  I stayed mostly with my Tama all night - one of the singers did some slow jazz stuff and I really loved playing slow quarter notes on that ride cymbal.  

   My boost pedal saw some use as well, mostly as a mute switch between acts.  I have to remember to look down and make sure it's turned off before the next song though!  I got caught with that at least twice.  

   Breakdown went very smoothly though I think my teardown routine is getting sloppy; practice and thoughtfulness will fix that.  I had one trip out to the car and I was done.  

   Overall, this was an incredibly fun gig.  Everyone was laughing, there were songs that had people stomping, clapping and singing along.  Definitely high on the feel-good rewards.

ZenChat / Looking for chord recogntion software
« on: July 27, 2012, 08:47:51 AM »
Greetings Tribe!

I have some MIDI files I'm looking to make into lead sheets for a small group I'm working with.  Unfortunately, there's no chord symbols attached to the transcriptions and my theory is not strong enough to do it on my own.  Several fruitless days of searching have left me very frustrated.  I'm looking for a program where I can import a MIDI file, play it, and the software will fill in the chord symbols for me.  I know such programming exists; can anyone point me to a source?  Thanks!


ZenChat / New Roland modules don't have MIDI IN jacks!
« on: June 19, 2012, 04:11:35 PM »
So I just looked at Roland's website to scope out the new TD-15 and -11 modules.... lo and behold, no MIDI IN, just OUT.

This worries me.  I'm assuming the USB port on the back is the new MIDI IN, but how is that supposed to work for a Zendrum?  USB-MIDI interface going the other way? 

Makes me wanna shake my fist and tell some kids to get off my lawn....


White Noise / What do you call yourself?
« on: April 20, 2012, 08:54:50 AM »
I'm currently playing a pit orchestra gig with my Zendrum.  Before the show opened, I was asked how I wanted to be credited in the program: drums, Zendrum, percussion?  Something else?

I settled on Percussion, though I think next time I'll choose Zendrum, because that's what I'm playing. 

It got me wondering though what others choose to title themselves as on a Zendrum gig?  Do you call yourselves Zendrummers or drummers or something else entirely? 

This is a topic I've pondered off and on over the last few years.  I really don't play traps anymore if I can help it, and with my discovery of the cajon two years ago, I can help it more than ever.  Personally I think I still consider myself a Drummer because I think in terms of drumsets, kick/snare patterns, etc.  I'm curious to know what others think.


White Noise / And haven't we all wanted to do this sometime....
« on: April 15, 2012, 12:04:53 AM »
Found this on another forum.  Thought you all would enjoy!



ZenChat / Injury
« on: April 13, 2012, 09:40:46 AM »
Greetings Tribe!

Last night, for the first night in nearly 8 years of uninterrupted playing,my Zendrum suffered an injury.

I put the instrument on her stand, left the bandstand, heard a thump and a cymbal crash where none should be and saw my Zendrum face-down on the stage.  I screamed, checked her out thoroughly.  Everything seems okay except for a cracked trigger housing in C2. 

I admit that it threw me off my game for the night; everytime I touched that trigger I felt the rough edges of the crack and it scared the hell out of me.  I've never had anything like this happen before, and what I'm worried about is that even though she played fine for the night, I'm hoping that I haven't knocked something loose inside that'll fail on me later.

I have another gig tonight; I'm going to try and ignore the flawed trigger until I can get it fixed.  Anyone had anything similar happen to them?


Tech Help / Battery advice
« on: March 11, 2012, 09:59:04 PM »
Greetings Tribe!

I'm looking for advice regarding rechargable batteries. 

Right now I have a few different sets that I use with my various gear: some Radio Shack brand AAs, mixed mAH-capacity Duracell AAs, and the Enercell/Radio Shack rechargable 9V.

Frankly... I don't really trust my batteries anymore. I have no idea how long they last in my devices, and no indication as to when they'll putter out on me.  It occurs to me that I don't recall the last time I bought new ones, so maybe it's just that those batteries are old and I've used them up past their functional lifespan.  If that's the case I'll just recycle them and get some new ones.  It's not a major conern of mine at present for much more than my field recorder since I'm motly mains-powering my Zendrum and rig anyway, but I don't like having that gap in my tech.

I'd also like some way to test them--it was recommended to me that I get a multimeter; those passive "battery testers" are pretty well useless in my experience.  Problem is, I'm not sure how to read the multimeter.  I know a 9V doesn't always have to read "9" for it to be useful, but I forget how long I can go before needing to recharge.

The one requirement I have is that I need to be able to use those batteries in the universal charger I have, I'm not getting rid of that.  I remember that Inspector 109 recommended a 9V rechargable but said it came with it's own charger--that puts it out of the running for me.

So, should I just get some new rechargables?  Is there a better brand than Enercell I should be looking at?  Advice welcomed.


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