I have been an advocate of cocktail drum kits for a few years now. I love how compact they are, but really love the uniqueness of these kits. They offer a different stage setting while giving the drummer special attention as he/she stands to play.. The drummer is no longer tucked away in a corner or in back of stage. The drummer is now able to stand out front as part of an ensemble due to the portability of these drums.
Over the past 2 years I have talked to many drummers on various forums evaluating their thoughts on Cocktail drums. Why haven’t these kits been popular over the years ? Why wouldn’t any drummer want a portable kit that gives them more space at their smaller gigs. Why wouldn’t any drummer want to get special attention due to the uniqueness the kit brings to the stage ?
Despite some of the negative feedback I decided to look further into these kits.... I felt that if enough interest or buzz started about these kits, maybe drum vendors would listen to past complaints and possibly make these kits popular again. I talked about the history of cocktail drums as well as challenging drummers to try something new and different I put my money where my mouth is and purchased the Trixon Cocktail Kit. I made a video and wrote several articles and reviews. As I began to talk to drummers, I observed the pro’s and con’s of these kits. Unfortunately there were more Con’s but I also began to see a trend in interest with these unique kits.
Compact/Portability for smaller venues/tight rehearsal spaces, etc. The drummer no longer has to compromise by using less pieces at smaller venues.
The drums are generally quieter for the smaller type venues.
Drums can be fully packed along with hardware in 2 bags.
Customization/Versatility – Drummer can add and mount accessories such as cowbells, blocks and cymbals due to built in brackets.
Allows a different stage presence and the drummer is more visible as well as giving the audience something cool and unique to see.
Although these drums are used typically in jazz settings, the cocktail kit can be mic’d and used in any style music setting. With some creativity, a band can use these kits to create a unique show.
Although the kit is compact, initially the set will require some tweaking. Drummers must find options to muffle the sound as well as trying out different types of drum heads to get desired tones. For example, the kits that utilize the floor tom as the bass drum, drummers find it difficult to tune the drums in which there is a distinction between the two.
The hi-hat is mounted on a small bracket, therefore the drummer has no way to control the up and down action of normal hi-hat usage. The drummer must hit the mounted hi-hat on different angles in order to get different sounds or dynamics. Another option is using a remote hi-hat, but correct mounting can be challenging.
Not having leverage or flexibility while standing. The drummer becomes tired much quicker, and the response of an upside down foot pedal takes time to master. The drummer experiences some lack of dexterity while adapting to the feel of cocktail drums. It requires some conditioning. (I personally used a high stool in order to get a break from balancing on one leg while attempting to play at gig)
Well…I’ve got Good News !! If you’ve had reservations about the cocktail kits due to the limitations while standing, this kit may change your views. It was featured at the 2014 NAMM event. Take a moment to view video below.
Denise believes that musicians create sounds that go deeper than the eye can see. Music reaches the soul. Every aspect of life is centered around rhythm. When you think about it.... Everything that has life.... has Rhythm..