William F. Ludwig, Sr., and his brother, Theobald Ludwig, founded the Ludwig & Ludwig Co. in 1909 and patented the first commercially successful bass drum pedal system, paving the way for the modern drum kit. It was the golden age of drum building for many famous drum companies, with Ludwig introducing... "The ornately engraved" Black Beauty Brass Snare drum; Slingerland premiered its Radio King solid-maple shell; Leedy invented the floating drum head & self-aligning lug;& Gretsch originated the three-way tension system of the Gladstone snare drum". Wire brushes for use with drums and cymbals were introduced in 1912. The need for brushes arose due to the problem of the drum sound overshadowing the other instruments on stage. Drummers began using metal fly swatters to reduce the volume on stage next to the other acoustic instruments. Drummers could still play the rudimentary snare figures and grooves with brushes that they would normally play with drumsticks.
In piano lingo, “action” describes the way the piano keys feel when you press on them. With a digital piano, the closer the action is to that of an acoustic piano, the better. Semi-weighted action uses a spring to create the resistance felt when pressing a key and its rebound when you lift your finger. Hammer action uses a hammer mechanism like that found in an acoustic piano to replicate the feel. Graded, or progressive, hammer action takes that a step further by increasing the weight of the action as you descend to the lower notes on the keyboard. Using a keyboard with weighted action is beneficial for multiple reasons. It helps build finger strength while practicing (a spring-based action will only minimally address this), and it allows for more variation and musicality in the way you play a note. While a piano keyboard might look like nothing more than a bunch of on/off switches, in reality there’s a range of volumes and timbres that can be achieved depending on how quickly or strongly you depress the keys. Hammer action best replicates those possibilities.
Although these kits may be small with respect to the number of drums used, the drums themselves are most often normal sizes, or even larger in the case of the bass drum. Kits using smaller drums in both smaller and larger configurations are also produced for particular uses, such as boutique kits designed to reduce the visual impact that a large kit creates or due space constraints in coffeehouses, travelling kits to reduce luggage volume, and junior kits for very young players. Smaller drums also tend to be quieter, again suiting smaller venues, and many of these kits extend this with extra muffling which allows quiet or even silent practice in a hotel room or bedroom.
The fretting hand—the left hand for right-handed bass players and right hand for left-handed bass players—presses down the strings to play different notes and shape the tone or timbre of a plucked or picked note. One fretting technique is a finger per fret, where each finger in the fretting hand plays one fret in a given position, giving the advantage that full chromatic scale of over an octave and a half can be played with no up-down wrist movement. Also, the double bass-style technique can be used for fretting. This technique involves using four fingers in the space of three frets, especially in the lower positions (i.e., the fretting positions closer to the nut, where the space between notes is the widest). When considering the spacing between notes, this is a comfortable distance for the average person's hand size, however it requires more up-down hand movements. The main advantage of the "four fingers in three frets technique is less tendon strain, leading to a diminished likelihood of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The image below (of a bassist performing tapping) shows the four-in-three.
Bass drum Muffling the bass can be achieved with the same muffling techniques as the snare, but bass drums in a drum kit are more commonly muffled by adding pillows, a sleeping bag or another soft filling inside the drum, between the heads. Cutting a small hole in the resonant head can also produce a more muffled tone, and allows manipulation in internally placed muffling. The Evans EQ pad places a pad against the batterhead and, when struck, the pad moves off the head momentarily, then returns to rest against the head, thus reducing the sustain without choking the tone.
Sample-based digital pianos do have limitations on the faithfulness with which they reproduce the sound of an acoustic piano. These might include the lack of implementation of harmonic tones that result when certain combinations of notes are sounded, limited polyphony, and a lack of natural reverberation when the instrument is played percussively. They often lack the incidental acoustic noises associated with piano playing, such as the sounds of pedals being depressed and the associated machinery shifting within the piano, which some actually consider a benefit. These limitations apply to most acoustic instruments and their sampled counterparts, the difference often being described as "visceral". On an acoustic piano, the sustain pedal lifts the dampers for all strings, allowing them to resonate naturally with the notes played. Digital pianos all have a similar pedal switch to hold notes in suspension, but only high-end models can reproduce the sympathetic resonance effect.
The keyboards all came in to our Los Angeles office. After unboxing them and setting them up, I invited Liz, Jack, and Brent to come in and try them out. I asked them to rate the key action and the sound of the piano and to evaluate features from the perspective of a beginner. After playing through all of them over a couple hours, we talked through the pros and cons of each keyboard, and they gave me their top three choices.
An acoustic piano produces reverberation in its soundboard and in the room where it is played. Digital pianos often have a feature to electronically simulate reverberation as well. Other digital pianos may have additional reverberation options such as a "stage simulation." Some also have chorus, tremolo, and phaser effects, all of which are generated by digital signal processing.
Drummers often bring a carpet, mats or rugs to venues to prevent the bass drum and hi-hat stand from "crawling" (moving away) on a slippery surface from the drum head striking the bass drum. The carpet also reduces short reverberation (which is generally but not always an advantage), and helps to prevent damage to the flooring or floor coverings. In shows where multiple drummers will bring their kits onstage over the night, it is common for drummers to mark the location of their stands and pedals with tape, to allow for quicker positioning of a kits in a drummer's accustomed position. Bass drums and hi-hat stands commonly have retractable spikes to help them to grip surfaces such as carpet, or stay stationary (on hard surfaces) with rubber feet.
At Sam Ash, we offer digital pianos for any type of budget. Premium models will offer features like weighted keys, LCD menus for simplified setup, and more after effects such as reverb. With weighted keys, the lower keys feel heavier and the higher keys feel lighter, just like you would find on acoustic models. Higher-end digital pianos will even offer keys made out of wood for a real premium response. Another specification to consider when it comes to choosing your piano is how many notes of polyphony is offered. Polyphony signifies the maximum number of notes that an instrument can produce at one time. If you are interested in layering notes, complex chords, and playing over accompaniment tracks, you should consider a model with higher polyphony. The amount of voices or different types of sounds and the quality of those sounds are also critical features that differentiate digital pianos. These days, most digital pianos offer more than just a traditional grand piano tone. Less expensive models will include four to five presets including strings, harpsichord, and drums. The top-of-the-line digital piano models can offer hundreds of different sounds spanning any genre of music you can think of. Other advanced features on today's best digital pianos include built-in recorders, compatibility with iOS apps for playing along with your favorite songs, and effects that simulate settings like lid positioning and performance venue. Be sure to check out our extensive Digital Piano Buyers Guide and our Digital Pianos: Everything You Need to Know article for further guidance on selecting the perfect digital piano for you.
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