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So why is this a schoolboy error? I hear you cry. Well in the case of most drumming we are looking to contact the skin of the drum so the direction of motion/force is perpendicular to the plane of the drum skin. That is to say that the skin is to be hit dead on rather than obliquely. And yes before the uproar of jazz and technical/experimental drummers begins....I said in most cases.

 

So we have a stick contacting the head at as close to a straight line of travel as possible....the maximum amount of energy is then (in theory as I understand it) converted into displacement of the skin. If we hit a drum that is not quite at right angles to the direction of motion of the stick we end up scuffing across the surface and transferring energy as heat energy due to friction.

 

So why am I ranting about angles and skins? Well if you are a drummer just jump over to your kit and sit nice and high with a good back posture. If you aren't a drummer you can do this in the kitchen with a wooden spoon....

 

Bring down your hand with a stick, hinging at the elbow. If you want to use wrist or finger motion this shouldn't really influence the path of motion so go ahead. You are unlikely to extend your stick past the line of your forearm.

 

What do we notice? Well the end result is that the maximum speed of stick for minimal energy investment is achieved by hitting a drum skin that is parallel to the ground plane or just a little tilted. This depends on the kit and your posture.

 

So we see that on a normal 5 piece kit we don't, in general, need to protect the kick from sharply angled toms. That said I have certainly seen a good few decent drum kits ruined by idiot players taking a chunk out of the kick drum finish with every tom fill, as the ill adjusted toms wobble their rims into the top of the kick.

 

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