Choosing Gongs

A question was asked in a Facebook gong group this week:
Can anyone make a suggestion of what may go well with a Paiste 24" Planet Venus and a Paiste 40" Symphonic Gong?

What should I buy next?

I responded that a 28" Jupiter Planet Gong would work well, as I use both a Venus and Jupiter with a 32" Paiste Symphonic, and have had enough experience with various 40" gongs to know that would work well also.

Other people responded that you need to match the astrology/planets/tunings/etc. in order to make things work. I suppose that's alright if you are really invested in that sort of thing. 

When choosing gongs, I use my ears and nothing else. 

This has been my feeling for over 40 years. For many years, I worked in drum shops, helping people find the right gear for them. When selecting cymbals, I always told them to, “just play them and not worry about what type of model it is.” The printed designations on cymbals are just someone else's idea of how they sound, or should be used. Everyone is different and has different needs. I have crash cymbals that I use as rides, and rides that I use as crashes, because they work out that way for me and my music. The same holds true for gongs, bowls, bells, etc.

To me, model designation doesn't really matter. If I like the sound, and it 'does' something to me, then it works for me. When I find the right instrument, it reaches out and grabs me, it moves something in my heart & soul. I also innately know all of my other instruments, because I've worked with them so much, that I know if something new will work out with them or not.

Obviously, asking for input on Facebook, or a drum forum, is just a beginning. Suggestions are nice, but can often cloud your judgement when you get too many different ones. I can recommend things all day long, but the person asking needs to experience things for themselves, because they are different than me. So any suggestions I make are just that, suggestions

My best advice is to read all the suggestions, then if possible, play and hear various gongs for yourself. Don’t worry about model numbers/sizes—go with the sound. If you are serious, it might be important to take a trip to a bigger city where a music store may have a selection of gongs to pick and choose from. If that's not an option, there are some excellent online retailers who have sound samples on their websites to help you narrow down your choices. They also welcome your questions and will be glad to consult with you in order to find what you want/need. 

Here are 5 great shops in the USA that I have had personal experience with:
Gongs Unlimited (Lincoln, Nebraska)
The Gong Shop (San Francisco)
Gongsongs (Boston)
Steve Weiss Music (Philadelphia)
Memphis Gong Chamber (Memphis)

Check them out, and don't hesitate to ask for assistance.

~ MB

Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™


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