A long overdue 2016 update / roundup.

So 2016 has been a very weird, perplexing year for us all and has been filled with many changes. I’ve been very quiet on here for most of the year because it’s been tough to know just how to comment on what’s been going on.

My work has been no exception to these changes – 2016 has seen the biggest change in my career since 2007 in that October File has come to an end. I’d briefly touched on this development on my Facebook page back when it was announced but there’s not really more to say about it than has already been stated on the official OF page. We simply ran our course, we’d not performed live in over a year and didn’t feel we could take things any further than we already had.

It’s been a few months now since we came to this decision but it does still feel weird somedays to think that we’ll not play any of our songs together again.

There are some positives to highlight from this year though.

Firstly, back in the summer I tracked 4 songs down at the SAE Institute in Oxford for producer Charlie Davies and these are some of the best sounding drum parts I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing! Each song in the playlist covers a different sub-genre of metal as the project was used for Charlie’s engineering/production dissertation. If you’re interested in checking them out you can do so here.

Not long after this session I was incredibly fortunate to find what had become a snare drum I thought I’d never own – a Premier Artist Brass. These are pretty rare given that they were only available with 2 specific configurations of Artist series kits around 10 or more years ago. Essentially only two sizes exist to my knowledge,  14″ x 5.5 and 14″ x 6.5, with the larger being more rare due to only being included in a pack which featured a 26″ bass drum. This particular ebay listed stated that this beautiful specimen was 14″ x 6″ and I assumed it must be the 5.5″ model measured incorrectly. On inspection I discovered that it is in fact 6″ deep and contacted my Premier artist rep – apparently it’s a weird depth that shouldn’t really exist at all and he’s still looking into how it was created and how it got out there. I’ve added die-cast hoops of course and this snare drum is an absolute monster which chews through a heavy mix in a very distinct way that even my Flynn Drums “The Welly” signature model can’t do.

I’ve also caught up with a major session client from last year who popped over for a fleeting visit and jam session to investigate what he thought was going to be his “new sound” – in reality we ended up discovering that this wasn’t the direction he needed to be going in and by complete accident found exactly where he should’ve been heading all along. So far this is only in it’s early stages but with a little luck in our schedules there’ll be further information about this to share around next summer.

Which brings me to my most recent piece of news – over the last 4 weeks I’ve been rehearsing with a new project that I’m really excited about. There’ll be full details to follow very soon but so far it’s been great to push into a new direction with my playing and be really challenged by what I need to play to make this material work properly – it’s most definitely rooted in the modern / progressive metal genre but has a sound very much all of it’s own.



Duallist D2 Double Pedal Review & Endorsement

A little background on the situation…

In recent months I’ve become increasingly frustrated with my Demon Drive double pedal – not through anything in Pearl’s design or through any physical fault of the pedals themselves: they just simply work against the techniques that my body naturally wants to use for playing the bass drum.

The same can be said for just about any other pedal on the market that a player simply doesn’t like the feel of – some of us prefer a super strong feel over a very light feel, others want long/short footboards, offset cams and infinitely adjustable parts and so on. For a long time I thought the Demon Drive was the answer to an old injury that had slowed me down and hampered my control and, in all fairness, it was…for a time.

As I got stronger and redeveloped certain muscle groups I began to find that I couldn’t set the Demon Drive the way I felt I needed it to and the huge number of variables (in terms of adjustable parts) certainly wasn’t helping the situation one bit. I went back to my chain driven Eliminators and although things were a little easier it didn’t change the fact that I was still overwhelmed with variables that weren’t helping me to find the settings I needed.

On many an occasion I found myself thinking about the pedals I’d owned previously to the Eliminators. Once I graduated from my first double pedal (a Pearl P102) I spent 2 years really getting to grips with everything on a Pearl P122 and it was these pedals where I really felt most at home – they were simple and straightforward, there were no gadgets and adjustable parts other than spring tension and the footboard/beater angle on a single adjustment and Pearl’s Powershifter heel which I never tinkered with anyway.

And so the answer became clear – what I really missed was the simplicity of the older pedals I’d owned. Aside from tweaking the springs and footboard/beater angle there was nothing else to it and it was impossible to get bogged down in fiddling with lots of options only to settle on something through not really being able to find the desired positions and feeling.

I set about researching online to see what pedals existed now that would meet my new criteria: whatever I was looking for needed to be as tough as the high-end pedals I already owned and able to withstand lots of playing and lots of traveling, it needed to be smooth to play on both sides (as I often play left foot lead and need both to feel as close to one another as possible), it needed to be well engineered so that it would run silently during recording sessions (this shouldn’t be difficult for top-end pedals but can be much harder to find than you’d assume) and (most importantly) it needed to be simple in it’s mechanical design (as few points of adjustment as possible).

In all honesty, there wasn’t much that came up in my searches as almost all modern high-end pedals have a lot of adjustable parts and gimmicks.

One design had come up several times but testing one had proved impossible as they weren’t carried by any drum shops and I didn’t particularly want to buy anything from my research without the chance to really try it out fully. So I needed to investigate further.

Haven’t I heard of The Duallist?

If you’re a drummer you probably have and you’ve probably got a strong opinion about the company and it’s products based on one or two “controversial” designs that they’re well known for. Many a drummer I know has had a rant about the infamous D4 Pedal, “that plastic contraption” that allows double bass grooves to be played with only one foot and I can fully understand why – many of us have spent years honing our abilities and it’s only human nature that we rebel against something that can give that ability to another player without them having to work for it in the same way.

I can see it being handy for percussion players,  helpful if you want to apply hi-hat ostinatos to double bass grooves and it could even allow those who might not have the full use of both legs on the kit to play double bass grooves themselves. So, relax, it’s not going to take your job overnight – it’s a tool like any other pedal and I’m sure at one point in time we would have all been called “cheaters” for wanting to use double bass patterns in the first instance and I know from experience that there are still people who take that stance.

BUT…the D4 wasn’t what caught my attention: I don’t own one, I’ve not played one and talking about won’t actually change the way in which terrifies some of us.

The important thing is this…

The Duallist make “regular” pedals too!

That’s right, straightforward single and double pedals just like the ones we all use but with a major exception – apart from a few parts, almost everything about the Duallist range is made from ultra-tough / ultra lightweight DuPont Zytel. Basically, these pedals are lighter than anything else (but they’re still sturdy and stay where they’re put) and probably stronger than anything you’ve ever used. They’re actually in use in some seriously high-profile shows but you might not have even noticed – Machine Head, Living Colour, Saxon, Beyonce…heard of those?

So, they had the road-worthiness issue covered and they definitely had the simplicity angle too – the D1 and D2 use linear cams, chain drive and their only points of adjustment were clearly limited to beater length, spring tension and an all-in-one footboard/beater angle adjustment.

On paper this seemed to be the answer I’d been searching for but one problem remained – how would I even try one out to be sure if they would help?

I realised that I was already connected to one Duallist artist via Twitter (the ace Mr Rick Henry) and it didn’t take me long to reach out to a few others (including the fantastic Michael Brush who has been ever-so-helpful) and all the artists I spoke to were very honest and took the time to answer some of the questions I had relating to feel, build quality and so on but there were still some very technical issues I wanted to investigate – I’m meticulous and I’m drawn to details, I’ve owned a range of pedals over 10 years from all levels of the Pearl catalogue and I’ve had the experience of working on most of the other major brands at some stage or other so I know exactly what parts wear out and have the likelyhood of failing on-stage after months of use.

I went straight to the source, I contacted Kevin Mackie, the Duallist designer himself and inquired about where I might find a D2 double pedal that I could look over and test. The answer wasn’t hopeful, as there are almost no current stockists as the company sells directly and of the few I found there were none I could hope to visit.

I fielded my questions to Kevin by email and this is where he really surprised me – not only did we spend around 45 minutes on the phone but he addressed every single question I had in great detail and proceeded to offer to send me a D2 pedal to try out (along with an invitation to join the artist roster if I felt it was right for me) when one became available as they take some time to manufacture and no “loaners” were currently in stock. I could hardly say “no” could I?

A few months went by and then a package arrived from Scotland about 6-7 weeks ago. Much to my surprise this wasn’t a D2 that had been out with an existing artist or used at trade shows – this was a brand new, freshly built D2 double pedal for me to experiment with!


JW Duallist


Initial Impressions

Straight out of the box the D2 looked very sleek and fantastic – totally matte black with the exception of the few parts of chromed metal and the silver Duallist logo on the footboard. I looked it over in great detail as you’d expect and was extremely impressed – every part had been painstakingly thought out and assembled and I couldn’t find anything misaligned, loose or wobbly. It was indeed incredibly light but didn’t feel at all weak or flimsy and the connecting drive shaft was chunky and well built. Both pedals had also been fitted with a strip of velcro around the heel area to assist in keeping them in place – if a pedal doesn’t have this as standard I always add velcro anway so it was a nice touch to see it already in place.

It’s worth noting that there wasn’t an included carry-case but this shouldn’t be a problem to source for most of us without spending too much and a worthy investment for any piece of equipment.

There was also a full manual included in the box, two small allen keys, a combi-drum/allen key and a set of Duallist GigGrips which I will test and review at a later date.

And then I put it all together and popped it on the kit.

I was quite honestly blown away by how smooth and direct the D2 felt – far more “direct” than the actual direct drive I was used to. The slave side actually did feel very close to the master pedal and I had no issue with playing left foot lead with it. I only made a single adjustment – I changed the footboard/beater angle slightly to give me a little more “swing” as the D2 is assembled in a way that results in the beater being a little closer to the head than I liked. The only problem now was getting in enough hours to see if it suited me before it had to go back to Scotland as I only had a week if I didn’t want to keep it.

So, for the first hour I was OK with the D2 but obviously muscle memory always craves whatever we normally use even when we don’t necessarily like what we’re using. I packed up what I needed and headed to my local rehearsal studio (Playing Aloud in Lincolnshire) and put in two more hours and once I was properly warmed through the Duallist seemed to be more and more comfortable.

But that was seven weeks ago…

…and the D2 still hasn’t gone back to Scotland.

Within five days it’d already been out on it’s first studio job where not only did it perform perfectly but it also caught everyone’s attention with it’s peculiar “none more black” look and surprising lack of weight – not to mention the super slick slave pedal (which has only gotten better now that the drive shaft is a little run in).

I’ve still not touched the spring tension – all I’ve done is add some rubber to the base of the hoop clamp with some double-sided sticky tape. Did it need it for more grip? Not at all but it’s there for my own peace of mind and to further protect my own bass drum hoop a little more – it’s a personal thing more than anything else, my mind rests easier at the kit knowing that those two little rubber pieces are there.

Overall Impressions

Drums are a physical instrument that involves our entire bodies so no two players play the same way, we all like different sizes, sounds and positions so there really isn’t a “one-stop” anything for any of us. I’m not going to say “buy one of these it’ll make you amazing” because that’s simply not true – whatever is most comfortable for you is what will help to make you amazing at what you do.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in a race to own that single special piece of equipment that’ll change everything and advertising plays us with that: every new pedal or innovation is touted as the “game changer” and for you it might be but it could just as easily not be.

I’ve had some fantastic game changing moments in the last few years with sticks and cymbals to name a few instances and every change in equipment I’ve made has been because I’m comfortable with it and not because I’m convinced I should be before I start – each one of them has been a true “upgrade” rather than just another purchase that I hope makes an improvement.

In all honesty I’m really enjoying working with my new D2 and I’m extremely proud to put my name to it – the pedals don’t “make me play better”, they make me feel comfortable and relaxed about what I’m doing because they agree with me rather than fight against me – and that’s what makes me play better. There’s no gadgets or gimmicks in my way anymore, it’s just me…getting on with playing and feeling comfortable with being able to just let my body do things it’s own way again.


John Watt 2 low IMG_0386 IMG_0391


If you’re interested in learning more, check out The Duallist range online and on Facebook.


DrumBeat World Record Attempt & Charity Fundraiser

On November 21st I’ll be taking part in DrumBeat at Event City in Manchester.

The event aims to bring together 1001 drummers to break the current world record for the “largest drumset ensemble” which has stood at just under 900 since 2012.

More importantly is the charity that each participant is seeking sponsorship for: The Brain Tumour Charity. Brain Tumours are becoming increasingly prevalent amongst the under-40s and research receives little funding  compared to other forms of cancer.

If each participant can raise £250 then they can each fund one full day of laboratory research – so if the event is successful we’ll collectively raise 1001 days worth of funds.

If you’d like to take part you can register here and if you’re interested in sponsoring me or sharing my fundraising page around online it would be both extremely helpful and greatly appreciated. Any size donation makes a difference and goes directly to The Brain Tumour Charity if you use my fundraising page.


Endorsement Announcement: Aquarian Drumheads

It’s with great excitement that I can finally reveal that I am now an endorsing artist for Aquarian Drumheads! I couldn’t be happier to be involved with the company and the fantastic products they make and I’m so very proud to be able to say that they support my work.

Over the years I’d settled on one brand of drumhead but often found myself peeking at the Aquarian website and being rather blown away by the sheer scale of the product range – some models come in up to 4 different variations (with muffling rings, coating options, reinforcement dots and so on) and many heads that Aquarian manufactures have  no comparable model with any other drumhead company (they even make a snare head with a fully integrated triggering system). I always talked myself out of trying them as they can be harder to find in the UK but eventually gave in and tested out a Focus X Power Dot snare head – I couldn’t have been more blown away by the ease of tuning, the great tone and the incredible durability: this head has taken a level of abuse that would’ve left my previous choice of 2-ply snare heads “dishing out” in the centre and needing retuning or replacing and yet, after 6 weeks, it sounds as great as the day I fitted it and shows no signs of wearing out anytime soon!

But why does the brand matter? As a session player I place somewhat higher demands on the tools that I use then most drummers might. I change drumheads more frequently to ensure that the kit sounds clear and fresh for every session, I tune more often, I need a new set of heads to sound the way I expect them to based on the last set that were in use, I need them to tune quickly as time is often of the essence on a studio session and I always need them to be long lasting so that they can survive a session or series of live shows without breaking and without any degradation in sound.

With Aquarian I am able to have all of that quite easily – the head design allows each drumhead to sit flat on the bearing edge before I even place the hoop back on with allows for solid and extremely responsive tuning that is stable and the heads are not only incredibly consistent but they are exceptionally resilient to even the hardest of hitters! The drumhead collar also contributes to tuning stability by locking the drumhead film firmly in place.

A common misconception that’s easily found in online reviews is that Aquarian heads don’t sound as good as the other well known brands and this is not true in my experience at all.  The use of a slightly different mylar film creates a sound that is often a fraction deeper or darker than many players are used to and I can fully see why this may make them suspicious on their first try – on changing my tom heads I’ve found that I now have more low-end punch than I ever had before but I still have a focused sound with plenty of attack and even the resonant heads have made a big difference in the overall sound.

So why’ve I moved from a brand that I’ve used for around 8 years? Because in the last year or so my personal tastes in sound have changed due to my increasing session and studio experience – I’ve come to find that certain things that I felt sounded great no longer met my needs or could simply be improved upon to create an overall better sound / voice for my setup. In short, the voice I wanted had changed but my equipment wasn’t capable of letting me achieve it. My cymbal sound is now darker and fuller and less abrasive in the mix and allows me to offer a wealth of sounds to my clients, my choice of sticks gives me incredible flexibility to use just one model for all styles and now my drumheads allow me to offer a full and defined drum sound that can adapt to any situation and still be my sound at heart.


I’ve chosen the following heads for my setup but Aquarian offer many models that I’d love to experiment at some stage:


Snare Drum – at the moment I’m using either the Focus X Power Dot (for a full and defined snare sound) or the Hi Velocity (for even more articulation and durability). The Hi Velocity may well become my go-to head for touring due to it’s increased thickness and extra large Power Dot. The resonant head is the standard Classic Clear Snare Side.

Toms – I’ve started off with the clear Response 2 and have found that they bring out incredible low-end in my drums while still providing plenty of attack to cut through the mix. They’re also very consistent from one size to the next so I’m able to tune each in exactly the same way and be sure of how each will respond. In time I’d like to test out the coated version, the extra punchy Performance II and perhaps even the Response 2’s beefier brother the Force Ten. The resonant heads are the Classic Clear Gloss Black model purely for their visual impact on my white kit.

Bass Drum – I’ve always sought a very dry and defined bass drum tone to allow every stroke to be heard and have chosen the clear Force I as it delivers amazing punch while still having a really full tone that will lend itself very well to dual-mic situations both on stage and in the studio. So far I’m finding that this head, when used with the double kick pad and felt beaters, rivals the punch of my old bass drum head when using plastic beaters and I look forward to letting the plastic beaters loose at it very soon for even more definition. The resonant head is it’s companion model, the ported Force II in Gloss Black.


I’ve already said it but it’s worth saying it again – I’m honoured to join Aquarian and integrate their fine products into what I’m proud to call MY sound!

The fine people of The Music Shipping Company deserve huge thanks for making the introduction to Aquarian, bringing all of this together and for the fantastic level of support they’ve shown me since I joined the Shaw roster last year.


Two new single releases & festival dates

As of this afternoon the very first single from the new October File record is released – the lyric video for “Heroes Are Welcome” is currently being hosted exclusively by Metal Hammer.

Pre-orders for the album are also available via Plastic Head, iTunes and most online music retailers.

October File are also confirmed for festival appearances at both Bloodstock Open Air and Rebellion so far with more to follow very soon.

In other news “Tears of Lust”, the first single for London-based operatic metal band EnkElination, was released last week. I recorded drum parts for the album last August with Chris Johnson of Fractured Sound in Scunthorpe and I’m very pleased with how the finished track sounds. The full album will be available for purchase in the summer.




Endorsement Announcement: Murat Diril Cymbals

So this announcement has been a long time coming and is something I’ve been hinting at since an important meeting at the London Drum Show last October. I can now officially disclose that I’ve signed an endorsement agreement with Murat Diril Cymbals and have joined their family of artists!

Each cymbal is totally handmade from B22 Bronze on the coast of the Black Sea in Samsun, Turkey and I couldn’t be more proud to be incorporating them into my overall sound.

I’ll be heading into the studio and out on tour with the following “core setup”:

14″ Renaissance Hi-Hats

17″ and 18″ Renaissance Crashes

16″ and 18″ Renaissance Thin Chinas

10″ Renaissance Splash

20″ Black Sea Megabell Gold Ride

IMG_2452  IMG_2457

If you’re curious about what Murat’s cymbals can bring to your playing, head on over to www.muratdiril.com

July Update – EnkElination Album Session and More…

It’s been awhile since I last wrote a straight “update” post and quite a bit has happened in that time.

Firstly, I’m proud to announce that next month I’ll be tracking drums for EnkElination’s debut album over at Fractured Sound Studios in Scunthorpe. This will be my first operatic metal session and I’m most looking forward to it – I’ll be sure to take plenty of photos and try to capture some of the session on video if I can.

Secondly, I’ve got another album session in the works for an old client along with an EP for a duo looking to get their material out there for the first time. So it’s all rather busy at the moment.

Also, I’ll be performing at Candlelight Record’s annual Candlefest with October File on Saturday the 25th of August – tickets are available online for anyone interested.

Additionally, I’ve got space to take on a few more drum students but I’ll write a separate post about that soon.

On top of that, my Demon Drive finally came home from The Netherlands after a trip to Pearl Europe for some maintenance and and replacement heel hinges – everything feels far more solid now and I’m finding them far easier to work with than before.

Oh, and many thanks to those who took the time to read my Tuner Fish Lug Locks review at the start of this month – this blog’s traffic was up nearly 1000% on the day of publishing.

Product Review: Tuner-Fish Lug Locks

( Please feel free to click on the photos, they will enlarge!)

Now I know drum tuning can be a pain, and that’s not just when you’re learning!

Tuning is a big thing for all of us as drummers and it’s something I work on with all of my students as it’s a very valuable and often overlooked skill.

It’s something that some of us spend a long time developing and whilst some of us can tune up a kit in record time there are plenty of us (drummers, technicians and engineers alike) who put in a serious amount of time to make a drum sound it’s very best.

Obviously, it’s a very frustrating thing when that tuning refuses to stay put!

So what causes tuning instability? Essentially, it’s all down to those pesky tension rods finding a way to turn when we don’t want them to! Now that could be because you’re tuned really low, it could be because you play with very solid rimshots on your snare, it might even be that you’re a very heavy hitter or something else entirely but the problem is that, for whatever reason, these tension rods are being loosened by the vibration of the drum itself or by the sudden loss of tension caused by a rimshot.

Now the cause might be something you don’t want to change and you shouldn’t have to really. In my own case there’s several factors that I’ve known about for some time and, of course, these are things I don’t want to have to give up.

As a session drummer I deal with tuning more than most drummers do. Any drummer who’s had de-tuning issues in a studio (or an engineer for that matter) can tell you that it’s a pain: the take is ruined, the drum needs to be re-tuned and studio time (and the artist’s money) is being wasted in sorting this out.

In my own work de-tuning has become a big problem. In my recent sessions I have always had these four problems:

  1. My low tuned toms can creep out of tune over time – the sound can degenerate over the course of an album session.
  2. My workhorse Premier snare has several tension rods that work loose under the stress of consistent rimshots – resulting in a slowly (or quickly) changing snare sound whilst recording.
  3. This same snare also has a tension rod that loosens on the resonant side, directly underneath where my rimshots land – that’s right, it works loose on the underside from the force of my playing on the opposite side. Sometimes this can be loose in under 10 minutes.
  4. The same problems exist on my Pearl Free Floating Snare but with an interesting variation: the aluminium cradle that supports all of the hardware allows the rimshot vibrations to travel to any point – the end result being that it’s very hard to pinpoint which lugs will or will not work loose as any of them can be affected.

I’ve spent money trying to solve this problem on several occasions: nylon washers and rubber grip washers from one drum manufacturer have helped but not eliminated the issues.

The solution has been around a long time – but quite honestly, it’s been a pretty crappy way to deal with it.

Behold…the generic lug lock!


Not very exciting is it?

We’ve all seen these: little pieces of slightly flexible plastic that squeeze onto our tension rods to provide some resistance and prevent them from turning. Whether you’ve seen them looking like this or the more basic “grey rectangle” model there’s one underlying issue – they’re fairly naff and they’re not very nice to look at (especially if you need a lot of them). Not only do they not work for everyone (I’m sure many heavier hitters can attest to this) but they wear out over time and will eventually stop fitting snugly and need to be replaced again.

Now I’ve tried using these on my problematic lugs for some time now and whilst they’ve been “ok” for batter heads they do have a tendency to fall off the underside of my snare. On top of that, they can be pretty pricey too if you’re planning on building up a stockpile.

So if these aren’t working either….what are you going to do about your tuning?

A Little History…

I’d spent many hours searching for lug locks that might function more efficiently than the ones I was trying to use and I was fairly sure I’d found what I wanted to try. This was a product designed for a man who could defeat all existing lug locks, was known for being a seriously heavy player but finally had a way to reliably keep his drums in tune.That player was Mark Richardson (of Skunk Anansie fame) and I agreed with everything I read on the subject – if they worked for him and could stand up to that level of punishment then surely they could sort out my tuning issues.

There was a catch, not only were they expensive and hard to find but different online retailers seemed to have very different opinions as to availability, packaging and available colours – which concerned me as it seemed that perhaps these were old stock from a product no longer in production. So needless to say, I was pretty sure I’d found the solution to my problems…right when it didn’t seem to exist anymore.

Last month (namely, the start of June 2013) I was out in Spain for two Sonisphere Festivals and was still relying on the crappy black lug locks pictured above. Luckily I didn’t have any tuning problems despite the heat and rimshots but it doesn’t change the fact that I was very much concerned about it the whole time I was there. Once I’d let the heads and shells acclimatise to the temperature and re-tuned them I still had no guarantees that they would stay in tune on stage.

On returning, I’d acquired a new follower on Twitter which bizarrely seemed to be a re-branded version of the product I’d been considering buying some months prior. I was informed by Ian, the chap that ran this account, (as well as Mark Richardson himself) that the company was about to relaunch it’s product with an improved design and that I’d be able to order some by the end of the month. We spent the next few weeks discussing the product and my problems and concerns with existing lug locks and as the end of June rolled around I was informed that they were finally available to order.

The results have been fantastic and my tuning issues are most definitely gone!


IMG_1500   IMG_1491  IMG_1498

So here they are, a hard plastic fish shaped approach to the classic lug lock design that promises to completely eliminate any de-tuning issues caused by tension rod rotation.

Instead of a hole that needs to be forced onto a tension rod the Tuner-Fish has an 8 pointed star shaped hole. This allows it to be better positioned for a secure fit and most importantly means that, because you’re not forcing the tension rod into a hole it doesn’t fit in, you’re not wearing out the Tuner-Fish’s ability to stay in place. The choice of a hard plastic also increases it’s longevity.

There might be the need for some minute tension rod adjustment on fitting to make sure that the Tuner-Fish’s tail is as close to the hoop as possible but this shouldn’t involve turning your tension rods enough to affect the tuning that’s been established.

But why is it fish shaped?

Well that’s the most important part of the design: the tail makes the Tuner-Fish much longer than a standard lug lock and allows it to provide a higher level of resistance by way of basic leverage principles. A long spanner is easier to turn that a tiny one isn’t it? That works in reverse too – the added length gives the Tuner-Fish a considerable advantage over it’s predecessor.


Here’s the conventional lug lock and the Tuner-Fish positioned with their holes in line – that’s a lot more resistance!

This added resistance and stability has eliminated my old tuning problems entirely. I’ve already worked on a session for 3 days straight without having to re-tune, find my lug locks on the floor or (worst of all) go looking for the tension rod after it’s fallen out altogether. I’ve not even fitted one to every lug on my drums so far – just the ones most likely to be affected (namely the tom lugs closest to me and the obvious problematic snare lugs on the top and bottom) and my tuning is rock solid.

So how do they work on the underside? In very much the same way but with a little added security.

Included in your pack of Tuner-Fish are some elastic bands – there’s a variety of methods for attaching them (personally I’ve tried two completely different ways so far) but as long as you’re wrapped around your tension rod and the band is clipped into the indentations on your Tuner-Fish then you should be good to go.


This is the recommended way to attach your Tuner-Fish with the supplied elastic band

Colour options

Tuner-Fish come in a range of colours – you can order them in black, red, yellow, blue, green, orange and clear. I opted for clear ones because I didn’t want them to detract from the white finish of my kit – the photos below show just how invisible they can be if you want them to be.

IMG_1509  IMG_1521  IMG_1516

What if I only need a few?

Tuner-Fish are available in small packs of 4 and 8 and go right up to packs of 24 and 50 lug locks. Obviously, you’ll make quite a saving if you purchase a larger pack which would leave you with spares if some go missing or you really want to lock down every lug on the kit for a recording session.

Time for a verdict…

As someone who’s battled tuning issues for quite some time, Tuner-Fish are an absolute godsend and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. My tension rods are locked in place and I don’t have to worry about them finding a way loose during a recording session, rehearsal or gig.

Most importantly, I’m no longer afraid to take my Pearl Free Floating Snare to a session in case it completely de-tunes!

In all honesty, I’ll be recommending these to my drummer friends and my students – these lug locks are a worthy investment for any player looking to keep their drums sounding the way they want them to.

I’d like to stress that I have not received these lug locks for free and there has been no incentive for me to write this rather sizable review other than my desire to raise the profile of what I feel to be a fantastic product that deserves more exposure.

I’d like to thank you all for reading this lengthy piece.

For more details you can email: staytuned@tunerfishluglocks.com

Or follow the brand on Twitter: @tfluglocks or Facebook: facebook.com/tfluglocks


An additional note (added October 14th 2013)

Having used Tuner Fish Lug Locks for many months now I’ve noticed an important detail that I feel anyone using these lug locks should bare in mind.

On some tension rods (as they are not all made to the same dimensions by different manufacturers) you may find that your Tuner Fish feel a little loose or rattle – I’ve discovered that with some very minute tweaking of the tension rod’s position (literally by a few degrees) that you can find the “sweet spot” where the locks will fit snuggly and securely into place.

Sonisphere Spain Report

I’m officially back from October File’s pair of shows at Sonisphere Spain.

It’s been a rather surreal experience playing mainstage in venues that are very different to anything I’ve encountered before: Madrid’s Auditorio Miguel Rios is a full-blown amphitheatre and Barcelona’s Parc Del Forum is not only right by the sea but also attached to a watersport arena from the Olympics.

Madrid saw some technical issues at the start of the set (with fantastic emergency assistance provided by Newsted’s technicians) but Barcelona went off without a hitch and was met with a great response.

These shows were also the first proper test for my Shaw 5B sticks and they’ve proven themselves to be very durable (I used the same pair for both shows with no issues), able to handle considerable temperature changes and handle with a very nice balance – they’re available over at the Music Shipping Company.

There’s some great photos already up online and the first fan video has already appeared on YouTube.

A view from the very top of the Auditoria Miguel Rios as Iron Maiden’s stage was being built the night before the show.

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All set up in the sun, ready to be wheeled onto the stage (Madrid)

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…and again in Barcelona.

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Facing the stage from the Sound Desk (Barcelona)

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Looking out behind the Sound Desk (Barcelona)

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So I’m back to work on several sessions now with some additional October File shows that will be announced very soon.

New Live Dates Announced

A few weeks ago October File were officially confirmed for Brutal Assault in the Czech Republic – the festival runs from the 7th – 10th of August and is held in an old military fortress. The line-up looks to be pretty good but sadly there’s no running order for the festival as yet but I’ll be posting more information on Brutal Assault as and when I receive it. You can check out the line-up here.

There’s also a new booking for Sacrilegious Throne – the band are booked as main support to Wodensthrone on June 15th in Cambridge at The Portland Arms venue. Again, details are sketchy at the moment but more information will be available very soon hopefully. There should be some brand new and unheard material being aired on the night.

In other news, I’ve been working on some demo tracks for a new progressive project that will hopefully have some material to release reasonably soon once parts are finalised and recorded properly.