Drumming with plastic buckets

Share on social media

Behind every great band is a great drummer… literally, in fact, if you imagine the usual set-up on stage. Led Zeppelin had John Bonham; The Who had Keith Moon. Even The Beatles had Ringo, although as Jasper Carrot once famously quipped: Ringo Starr the best drummer in the world? He’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles!

Certainly these names are amongst the finest drummers the world has ever seen – the best hitters of things since Mohammed Ali last stepped into the ring. Their kit is likely to be made by Pearl or Zildjian and run into thousands of pounds. However, we have an ingenious solution here at H&O… and one that is only going to run into… well, pounds.

We recently had a visit from the Guildford Bucket Drummers who have taken H&O’s buckets and turned them into a kit that sounds every bit as impressive as traditionl kits, particularly when these lads get going on them and “bucket drumming” – or “street drumming” – has now been identified as a genuine music form… no less a figure than The Groover From Vancouver – Bryan Adams – included a street drummer on a recent UK tour.

As with many such crazes, this one drifted over the pond from America, where street percussionists have been found creating urban soundtracks with their plastic bucket kits.

So It really is as simple as it sounds – simply construct your kit from upturned H&O plastic and metal buckets… and get drumming!

If that’s drummed up some enthusiasm, here’s what you need:

1) Cymbals and hi-hats

Let’s start with the high-notes and work our way around the kit. The cymbals are the brighter, crashing sound of any drum kit, usually adding a shimmering echo to the main eight or 16-note drum pattern, whilst also marking (usually) the end of a drum sequence. For your cymbals, turn a metal paint can, or metal pan, upside down. Give them a bash and you should be able to approximate that crashing, bright sound.

2) The snare

Usually the second, and then the fourth beat within a standard 4/4 bar, the snare is the “crack” sound you might recognise, again at the higher frequencies. You can replicate the snare sound in your plastic bucket kit by using an appropriately sized bucket, or smaller metal pail.

3) The toms

Moving down the scale you need a tom – the mid-range drum that fits perfectly between the snare and the lowest drum, the kick drum. Here you’re looking at a mid-sized bucket, perhaps one of H&Os 10-litre range.

4) The kick drum

Moving on to the kick drum, this is the beast that sits at the heart of any kit. It’s usually played with your foot tapping the pedal that hits the drum, creating the lower frequency beat that really drives the track… the heartbeat of the band. To capture that deep, resonant sound, chose a big, deep plastic bucket; perhaps our largest at 25 litres in capacity. The kick drum usually carries the band’s logo, so why not go all out and put yours on it as well?

Now you’ve got all the right drums, make sure they are easily transportable – and perhaps even fit inside one another. And why not make them colour coordinated? Then when you’re in position and ready to play, arrange your buckets in the right layout for playing (check a usual drum set-up for inspiration). You’ll basically want to have the kick drum and snares easily accessible for your arms, with the cymbals and toms arranged beyond that (as you will only want access to those intermittently).

And then… simply bash away, rhythmically celebrating the exact point where H&O meets Zildjian.   John Bonham’s roadie can only wish life had been this easy!