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Rack verses Traditional Hardware


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Hey, Another thread raised a good question, so I thought I would start a thread specific to this question:


What do you prefer, a rack or traditional hardware?

Anyone with experience using a rack over traditional hardware?



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Well, most drummers I know and like are old school types with 4 piece kits and traditional hardware. They never even considered racks. However, even though Stan Lynch fits this description he agree to try one for one tour because he got it free on his endorsement deal, and he really liked it. Reason being, he tended to knock things over and/or they would wobble a lot otherwise, even with really good hardware, because he beats the crap out of his drums. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif Racks solved that problem so he became a fan. But I think Felix is right, if he'd had to set up his drums himself he might not have thought it worth it. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif



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Hey, Guys:


I actually think we all fall victim to current trends (I say this with all love intended)


We started in the 60's with light-weight, flat-bottomed stands and moved to heavier single braced hi-tripod bottomed stands in the early to mid 70's. Then in the late 70's and early 80's with the invention of the memri-lock, everyone got on the bigger is better kick!


Late 80's and all through the 90's saw the advent of double-braced, multi-tiered, modular, ... you name it, ... we've seen it!


The development of the rack actually started in the 30's and 40's as some manufacturers used "racks" to hold temple blocks over the bass drums. This actually developed into a real rack in the late 50's and early 60's by a company out of England called Trixon. The rack was a curved tube that exited the side of the "oblong" bass drum and wrapped around the top of the bass drum, supporting the toms, and then attached to the opposite side of the bass drum.


The new version of the rack came out in the late 70's with companies like Tama and Hipercussion introducing rolling racks! That's right, the entire kit was on wheels! (even double bass kits!)


Then in the early 80's, due to the rigors of touring with Toto, Jeff Porcaro worked with Pearl and they developed the "square" rack.


I actually had and toured with one of these racks and love the ease of use, but never cared for the look and the square clamps were limited at the time in their flexibility.


Then in the late 80's came the current-day tubular rack and rack clamps. These units allow you to build your own rack design by utilizing different tube lengths. My last rack was one that I custom built using this stock tubing and clamps. I cut the tubes to the desired length using a large pipe-cutter. I liked the ease of use and the cool minimal floor usage, but it posed problems in travel. It would fit under the bus OK, but to get to the bus was a problem unless I broke the rack completely down. At that point it became as difficult (if not more) than using regular stand. (which I have since reverted back to using)


Now companies like DW are re-introducing improved minimal stands. Single-braced and flat bottomed!


You have to decide what works best for you. I always thought that Buddy Rich played as hard and fast as anybody ever has, and he used single-braced, flat-bottomed stands. They seemed to work for him.


Just goes to show ... Skinny ties (single-braced stands), ... wide ties (double-braced stands). I think it is how manufacturers keep us spending out money!


And that is probably more than you ever wanted to know about racks!





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I don't care what they look like, they are easy to use and I will actually be able to place everything exactly where I want it. I have been battling with this for years, I don't have very long arms and I have 3 rack toms (one floor) and 5 assorted cymbals and I like them all in very close and that is very hard to achieve.


Yes I can do it with traditional hardware but I have bought huge amounts of that over the years and every time a make a little change (which I do fairly regularly) it normally means I have to go out and buy some more and often I can't quite get it right. The problem is that everything at the moment affects everything else.


eg I have one cymbal stand that has two toms and two cymbals on it, I recently added the second cymbal to it and couldn't quite get it in the right place so I had to move the other clamps down one space to get this one on the top. With toms that's a lot of adjustment (and I didn't like it when I finished)


With a rack everything will be fitted to a bar by itself and can be adjusted without affecting something else.


So any of you ex rackers got one gathering dust???





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DJ hit the nail on the head, yes what a tangled web we weave! I used a Tama tower power system comprised of two sections of stainless tubing set up as an inverted L for lack of a better description. Negating the use of 10 or so heavy duty stands made my cargo much lighter and enabled precise and consistent placement with every set up over a three year stint of playing just about every Saturday. The sweet and sour of drum stands, as I recall is; cymbals fell over in the sixties until Atlas came out with a single braced, ideal weight stand in the late 60s (I still own about 7 of these). The boom boom of the 80s got out of hand, some of them resembling weight lifting equipment (still have about 2 of these, trashed the rest). Going back to lightweight, assumedly better quality and engineered stands is refreshing, but I digress- back to racks. My set up time with the rack vs. stands was the same, cant say it made setting up any faster, at least not for me. My band mates always tried talking me into leaving the rack assembled and throwing it into the truck, which would have saved time. Ive always taken good care of my stuff and couldnt do something callous as that. Too much love and respect for my kit even though they are only working man Ludwigs I had purchased in 71. Or at least this is what a fortunate man with a beautiful set of Gibson Slingerland called them (and still am not sure if his statement was a compliment or a put down)! Although the Tama system was beefier than Gibralters at the time (early 90s) ala larger diameter stainless steel tubing and better built clamps, apparently were not as popular and are no longer produced, or so Ive been told. One thing that wasnt beefier was a tubing memory lock they unfortunately made out of plastic. I had an excessive amount of weight on one of the sections and broke this piece. I have recently started gigging again and miss not only the lighter payload, but the looks of the rig seemed to routinely impress people judging by their curiosity and comments. Hey, your presentation is part of the entertainment, am I correct? Other pluses were not having to deal with two sets of floor tom legs, easy attachment of mics, and using a tom holder to connect the kick drum to the rig made the total rig rock solid- also great for scaffolding when painting ceilings (seriously). If I cant find a replacement lock (or preferably locks) from Tama, I will fabricate something myself! In the mean time its back to lugging all those heavy stands again (my aching back). I wouldnt say rack systems are strictly better suited for larger sets, or whose time has came and went. I rack two shell toms and two floors along with six cymbals (not including H/Hs), and would use it in some configuration even if I only used two toms. When I get this thing up and running again, I will probably rack the snare also. Who knows, on a dare may even do the hi-hat! Thats my take on racks.


DJ, this may interest you. At my local music store there is of all things a set of Trixons the store owner originally had sold in the early 60s for what he thinks was about $650. He took them back in trade sometime in the late 70s. He has them set up on a balcony in his shop, and despite a half-inch layer of dust appear to be aqua sparkle. As you mentioned, tubing connects into both sides of the kick and wraps over the top of this lazy egg shaped spectacle which hold five single headed toms, perhaps 6, 8, 10, 12, and 13 diameters. There is a separate tube attachment for the snare, however the snare is missing. The floor tom is self-standing and looks to be a 14. This is the thing that really blows my mind. The bottom of the kick has a flat shape so two bass pedals can be attached (lets not forget we are talking 1964) thus the peculiar shape. The bass heads are calve skin and no doubt irreplaceable due to the shape. The owner is older, ready to retire and looking get $1400 out of this kit, which seems pretty reasonable for what I would assume to be rare blast from the past! Anyone have some storage space along with some dusty money!



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I'm only now getting into using a rack system; I'm a day late and a dollar short.


My reasons for wanting to use a rack is the consistancy I can achieve with my set-up. Stand placement has been a real hassle; using a rack really opens up the space. I have used what I call a "spanner bar" for my rack toms which allowed me to get the weight off my kick drum. The kick really opens up when you don't have 50lbs of tom toms resting on it. The rack system will replace my spanner bar.


When I have to travel from studio to studio, set-up time is crucial. The rack makes it easy for me get set-up quickly, with the drums EXACTLY where I want them. I don't have to sit there for 20 or 30 minutes, slightly moving things here and there, trying to get that "right" feel so I am free to create while I play. (By the way, I haul and set-up my own drums).


The other advantage a rack system has for me is my hi-hat. I am using a remote cable system so I can get the hi-hats up in front of me; finding the perfect placement for me ergonomically. I'm not limited by where I can place things. I really hate having to place a piece of my drumkit in a particular position, solely because it won't work any other way.


These are just my thoughts and opinions (obviously), but to me, I am very happy that I have finally gotten around to getting a rack system; even if I am behind the times a bit.


P.S. Depending on the venue and type of group I'm playing with, I may or may not use the rack. Besides my Yamaha Recording Customs, I have a 4pc Gretsch Kit (c. 1968) that I use as well. Basically I find the right drumkit, the right snare drum, and the right cymbals for the music. They are just my tools with which I can communicate my thoughts and ideas. At times, the rack aids me by providing flexibility within my set-ups, thus freeing me to explore and create musically.





Bart Elliott

Drummer Cafe - community drum & percussion forum
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