Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tour gear rated

C'est indispensable
I want to take a moment to mention some pieces of gear that distinguished themselves one way or another on this trip:

20" Paiste Sound Formula Full Ride with six rivets
This cymbal subs for my 22" 602 Dark Ride, and it turned out really nice. Since their sound from cymbal to cymbal is pretty consistent, and you can get them cheaply on eBay, I would not have been crushed if it had gotten stolen or lost, as I would've been with the 602. I highly recommend using a 20" when flying— my cymbal bag fit into the overhead bins on every leg of our trip. When I was schlepping a 22" I would have to sweet-talk a flight attendant into putting it in with the garment bags, risking them forcing me to check it if they didn't feel like helping me with it. Read my earlier semi-full review of this cymbal.

20" Sabian Jack Dejohnette Ride (original line)
Using two medium-weight 20" rides was a pretty unusual choice for me, but it worked well. This very dry cymbal is a nice contrast to the long and lush Paiste, and it has been working really well for me on the left side, especially when playing softer. It responds much like a drum, and has a nicely finished, clean sound when used with drums that are also pretty dry. One instance where it failed utterly was at CafĂ© Belga in Brussels— a large room that tends to have listeners close to the band and a lot of talkers in the back. There this cymbal just died.

Sonor drums - 70's, 9 or 10 ply mahogany Phonic line, I think. 12", 14", 18"
Loaned to me by a great Brussels drummer, Teun Verbruggen. These are some of the best drums I've ever played. Sounded great tuned low in the studio and on our one rock gig, and on all of the jazz gigs as well. I would love to get a set of these if I could find one for less than $3000. Hardware is typical Sonor overkill, with the plate for the tom mount weighing ~5 pounds by itself, otherwise they're not ridiculously heavy.

Sabian cymbal bag
Their heaviest-duty bag. Or their most expensive, anyway. This is the same one I had to sew up on my own because it was falling apart after a couple of years. It (and my sewing job) survived the trip, despite being jammed on flying days with two medium 20's, 16 and 18" crash cymbals, hihats, my stick bag, and my snare drum stand.

Chop Busters by Ron Fink
This is the one book I took along for grabbing a few minutes of pad practice here and there, a purpose for which it is extremely well suited. Read my original review for it here.

Some essential non-musical items after the break:

Not sure what model I have; I bought the phone in 2009. Has a built in true GPS which should be very handy for staying oriented at all times when walking around a strange city, while not looking like an obvious tourist for dragging out your map and puzzling over it. You could be checking a text from your mistress for all the people around you know. But has the nearly deal-breaking drawback of relying on a data connection for nearly all of its features to work, which is absurdly expensive overseas. With a wifi connection you can attempt to pre-load Google maps for the day's excursion, or you can buy maps that work without a data connection, but for the amount I pay for my data plan I should not have to do that. And neither solution was very satisfactory; they only made it so the "fone" could operate as a fancy electric map that gives you your current location. I could never get it to actually give me directions. Short battery life can leave you utterly screwed if you let it.

Paris Classique Par Arrondissement
The ultimate street atlas for getting around Paris on foot. The favorite of locals, so pulling one out does not instantly single you out as a tourist. Pocket sized and extremely well organized. Somewhat outmoded thanks to the cell-phone GPS, but very easy to carry around and the batteries never die because it's a book. I found a ~5"x7" atlas of Brussels (the other big city where we spent significant time) by Michelin which looked comparable, but it was a little too big and too expensive for me to bother with.

US Navy issue pea coat
You can get very cold hanging around western Europe in the late fall— it tends to be about as chilly and rainy as the US pacific northwest, where I am from, and interiors tend to be somewhat under-heated. The pea coat is warm and looks great— it's part of the Paris uniform that never goes out of style. My military issue coat has wider collar and lapels and deeper notches than most department store coats, so it's clearly not a designer item, but it still looks great, and the collar better serves its intended purpose of shielding your face and neck from wind and rain when necessary. I suspect mine is also warmer and more wind proof. Use with a scarf and learn to make a Parisian knot.

Shoes by Born, Mephisto
I've been wearing a lot of Borns the last few years, but they ended up hurting my feet after a few hours of walking around Brussels, so I left them at Olivier's when we went to Paris, where the Mephistos served admirably during our ten-ish hours of walking around every day. I would definitely be tired by the end of the day, but my feet were always ready to go after a few minutes rest thanks to the Mephistos. They go for ~$300/pair, but cheap bastard that I am, I got them used on eBay for 80. When they get worn out, you can send them to the factory to get refinished and resoled for about $100. Very stylish and very worth the money.

Other items that proved to be near-essential: Drum Dial tuning tool, Conair portable garment steamer, silk long underwear.

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