After over 20 years of touring clubs, theaters, and arenas, there was always one constant issue. Dealing with overwhelming cymbal wash on stage. I've played over 3,000 shows alongside 15 drummers in my career and whether they had technical or slamming styles, my group and I always had issues with cymbals blasting on stage or rehearsals. Over the years, I've also heard and seen many sound engineers fight to isolate cymbal bleed out front. All of this lead me to the invention of The Cymbal Shield.
My quest truly began in 2014 when my group entered the world of in-ear monitors. It had always been an issue but this intensified it. Every night at least one guy in the group complained about having nothing but cymbals in his mix. That would in turn lead to the same old discussion with our monitor engineer explaining that he did not put over-heads in anyone's mix. So it was imperative that we find a way to decrease the volume of the cymbals on stage. The struggle went on for about a month until we narrowed it down to the four downstage vocal mic's picking up the cymbal wash. Eventually, we only had our personal vocal in our ear mixes. Unfortunately, this is not what you want when singing four-part harmonies. Personally, I would only have my vocal up just enough to get by during this time. This somewhat solved the cymbal issue for the time being but still didn't allow me to hear what I truly needed vocally. This is when I started searching to solve the problem.
In 2016, our front house engineer convinced us to try out a full drum shield in an effort to solve our issues, along with his. Having fans yell at him to turn the vocals up was not how he wanted to spend his nights. Because when he did, along came the cymbal wash out front. None of us were into the idea of a full shield, aesthetically, but tolerated it knowing it was necessary for a clean mix out front and to help with our mixes. We used it for months, despising it most of the time. The vibe on stage was lacking as well. It alienated our drummer, you could barely feel the drums, and some of the cymbals were still above the top of the shield. We tried placing the drums on far stage right or left, but ultimately, none of these situations worked for everyone. Around this time, we saw a video of Butch Vig (famous producer & drummer for the band, Garbage) using a half drum shield that left the kick and toms exposed to keep the vibe onstage. It also eliminated the feeling of being closed off on stage and cleaned the cymbals up in the downstage mics. At the same time we were touring with Nickleback, Daughtry, Theory of A Dead Man and following that, with Three Doors Down. Their drummers had similar shields in various sizes for cymbal issues. The shields they used were not full-size but were still too big for what we wanted to deal with every day. After speaking to each band and crew, it was clear it was a mystery as to who actually made the shields. The one thing we knew was that they worked and that's why they were using them. We searched and searched to find anything like it, but nothing was out there.
In the fall of 2016, we returned home to take some time off and start a new record. I was determined to figure out how to make a shield that would work for us before we went back out on tour. I've owned an ATA music gear case company for many years, so fortunately I have great knowledge of design and building concepts. However, I ruined a lot of acrylic before making the shapes and sizes I wanted and learning how to melt it properly. My goal was to create something that was light yet sturdy, quick and easy to set up, and that traveled well. Eventually, after months of audio testing and failing, I believed I had created a design that worked. I sent a few shields out to some friends on tour and a couple to drummers at local churches just hoping for advice. The feedback was nothing short of inspiring. They thought the design was perfect, the shields took out the attack, reduced the stage volume, and the drummer was no longer alienated. The word spread quickly and orders came flooding in from many professional musicians from New York to LA. Feeling there was an obvious gap in the market and with overwhelming sales from my prototype, I was off to the races in manufacturing and patenting.
If you're having the same issues with cymbals and not wanting to invest in or deal with a large drum shield, I believe this product will work well for you too. My goal now is to help my fellow musicians create the best possible sound and save their hearing! Customer service is what I'm all about so please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.
Owner, Smokin Ace LLC.
Bassist, Shaman’s Harvest