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  1. Registered User

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    Default "Dave Grohl was never a Tama artist"

    Recently I saw this comment in relation to the Dave Grohl DW signature snare:





    It got me thinking about how odd it was, the relationship between Dave Grohl and Tama. Clearly there is evidence that he was an artist of Tama at least during 1992 or 1993, and one of the most famous drummers to the general public.



    There is the famous endorsement add from Tama during his time with Nirvana. Pretty much from when he joined Nirvana in 1990 with his Yellow Tama Kit and during their entire run either using Tama backline kits (like the White Tama Artstar II pictured from Japan tour), Tama Rockstar kits, or his most famous kits, the Tama Artstar II.



    I don't think it ever occurred to Dave, that his Tama Artstar II kit was our generations equivalent of the Ringo Ludwig black oyster pearl. Everyone wants that Tama Artstar II kit. What is so interesting about it, Dave seems to have gotten it as early as Jan 1992, but it must have been "new old stock" even then, as the black painted toms imply it was manufactured well before 1991.



    It was pretty much Dave Grohl's main kit in Nirvana from that point on:




    And he had it shipped to New York for the post Nirvana SNL appearance in November 1994, I believe the last time we see him play this kit live:



    Dave actually had two Tama Artstar II kits, the second one appears late in 1993 and then he plays it on literally every Nirvana show until the end of the band:


    Nirvana ends, all their gear is shipped back from Europe, and he still brings it to his first post Nirvana performance in June 1994 (Backbeat band live):




    Taylor Hawkins also makes a specific point of mentioning that he used the Tama Artstar II 18" floor tom from Dave's Nirvana kit on "There is Nothing Left to Lose" during 1999:
    Last edited by ZeroKick; 07-10-2021 at 06:47 AM.

  2. Registered User

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    We know Dave must have kept his Tama Artstar II kits at Studio 606, the kit he donated to the EMP for display wasn't his Nirvana kit, it was the Tama Rockstar kit from his endorsement:




    he is pictured here *not* at a Nirvana show, it is possible he actually only ever played this kit at one other live show with Nirvana:



    What is so odd about all of this, Dave is happy to get his DW Signature Snare in transparent blue, it does look cool and he can do whatever he wants, he is the man I guess:



    But, really I don't think he has ever discussed that his live snare sound was actually really a mid-80's second hand Tama Superstar in birch. He had it from at least 1991 all the way to the end of Nirvana, it's there, it can be seen:


    And from the famous picture we have all seen of the side shot (note the backup Superstar Birch in Cherry Red in the background, present and used as a backup on all remaining Nirvana live shows and their last TV performance)


    What is so odd about the whole thing, during his prime Dave Grohl gave the impression in interviews that he wasn't a gear head during his time with Nirvana, ironically at the time where is sound was most prominently "his" style. Watching him play the blue DW kit with Them Crooked Vultures, the kit looks cool as hell, but it just sounds like "any drummer" now, its like a facsimile of the real thing - he has lost "that" sound. I have often wondered if the actual sound is just the physicality of Grohl in his 20's, that most of the sound is about cardio and his muscle twitch, clearly he was doing something different in his heyday technique wise.

    Do those in the know either with Dave Grohl or Barret Jones could ever discuss it with them? They have previously made themselves available on Reddit AMA, so it's not like they are completely inaccessible, it just seems like they would talk at this point due to contractual endorsements with DW.
    Last edited by ZeroKick; 07-10-2021 at 10:42 AM.

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    So when looking at this between the two videos, obviously there is 25 years difference between them, but what was dave "doing" different back in 1994 to get the sound, on his DW kit in 2018 he sounds like a guy covering Dave Grohl on a "normal" kit, he doesn't get that bombastic sound - is it age, the kit, or the way they were processing audio in those days?
    Last edited by ZeroKick; 07-10-2021 at 06:43 AM.

  4. Registered User

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    2018 DW kit:
    Last edited by ZeroKick; 07-10-2021 at 06:27 AM.

  5. Registered User

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    1993 Tama Kit:

  6. Dalmi Joedi - Jedi

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    I blame that comment purely on DW. They made a big step in marketing and they are trying to justify it.

    Kurt Cobain must be rolling in his grave about that signature drum.

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    I think 2002 was really the cross over point for Dave. It was around this time I think he started to become a "caricature" of himself, where he became self-aware of a "Dave Grohl" persona or something, maybe 20 years of being famous does it.

    But it was around this time for his live tour with QOTSA that we see the last of the real greatness. He kills it every night with technique, but something is different, his sound is more of a normal drum sound now, like an "everyman" sound.




    What is usual about it, at this point Dave is worth about 100 million dollars from Foo Fighters, but he is using stock backline kits from Tama during this period, like they are shipping him fresh kits to use once and return, even with stock heads:


    Even using a stock Starclassic Birch with a 26" kick:




    For the bulk of the QOTSA 2002 tour he is using a Ludwig kit, so maybe it was around this time Tama wasn't a thing for him.

  8. Registered User

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    Dave jokes about his Nirvana kit here, at face value. Its likely he knows exactly where it is and has kept it.
    https://youtu.be/aJrD4EZ-aj8?t=240

  9. Unban nik12

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    As a huge Dave and Tama fan, I love this thread and I appreciate the time and effort you've spent documenting Dave's gear during the Nirvana days. I have no clue why DW would say that Dave was never a Tama artist because he clearly was, and was definitely one of the bigger names on the roster at the time. I do agree about Dave's playing, it doesn't have that magic to it anymore, probably due to both getting older and less physical with his playing as well as the production methods used in the early 90's. Nirvana was and still is a hugely influential band for me and the drums were a huge reason for that. I remember hearing the fills in In Bloom and Smells Like Teen Spirit and was instantly drawn in to how simple the drums were but how powerful they made the song feel. Dave was on some next-level playing whether he knew it or not, but it definitely makes sense that he wasn't a gearhead during the Nirvana days. I'm sure you've seen this website where Dave's techs go pretty in-depth about his gear during that time: https://www.livenirvana.com/equipment/dave.php

    I love my DW hardware and my old DW Performance kit was an awesome set of drums but part of the reason for getting rid of them was because I feel like pretty much all DW's sound very similar and lack a little something. The consistency is great but they just lack a little special something to them. They're super resonant and very clean sounding but I always felt like they were lacking in the low end and weren't quite as fat sounding as I would like. I would never spend the money on his DW snare because it's essentially just a standard DW maple snare with the cool finish, but I've always wanted Tama to do a special snare with Dave even though I'm sure he has no interest in doing so. All of this to say, I'm sure his choice in drums now has played into the "everyman" sound you mentioned on top of the aging and production methods. Even the videos of him playing that 26" kick Tama Starclassic with QOTSA is some incredible sound and playing.

    He's definitely still a legend and a huge influence of mine.

    Thanks for this thread!
    Black Lives Matter

    Tama Starclassic Maple

  10. Registered User

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    Dave very much chose Tama Artstar here, during the Foo Fighters live tour circa 2001 this Tama Artstar Custom kit followed him around the world for the drum duel part of the show. He specifically chose a Piano Black Tama Artstar Custom, we can see this as Taylor is using a Tama Starclassic, Taylor was endorsing Tama at this point, Foo Fighters could have whatever they wanted.

    It is definitely deliberate choice for Tama Artstar, when Dave pulls off his Signature triple, "that" sound is still there, although his Snare Sound is already gone, for some reason Dave drops using the Tama Superstar birch immediately after the end of Nirvana, and is pretty much seen with Bell Brass Snares and 6.5 snares live post Nirvana.




    Even during the mini Nirvana reunion tours at RRHOF a few years ago, Pat Smear uses his 1993 Nirvana Blue Stratocaster, Krist is using his Gibson signature reissue base and they even have one of Kurts Marshall cabs on stage. Dave is on the DW, for some reason he just isn't a Tama guy anymore, its hard to makeout though, but it looks like he is using a Tama Bell Brass terminator reissue snare here, as he would have done at Sound City:


    Last edited by ZeroKick; 07-10-2021 at 11:16 AM.

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    I like Dave Grohl; Nirvana played a massive role in my childhood. That DW snare however, with his face on it, is horrible. I mean, ultimately, I don't care about it as it's not something I'd choose to purchase, but I thought it was a very tacky choice. :P

  12. Dalmi Joedi - Jedi

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    Quote Originally Posted by NickSchles View Post
    I like Dave Grohl; Nirvana played a massive role in my childhood. That DW snare however, with his face on it, is horrible. I mean, ultimately, I don't care about it as it's not something I'd choose to purchase, but I thought it was a very tacky choice. :P
    100% agree.

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