Little rant, nothing major

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I picked up a copy of a recording magazine because it had an article on getting a good mix with drums. And given I'm mixing some tracks this weekend, I thought I'd like to get some different 2 cents on the topic.

The article suggested quantizing the drum track, and then using sound replacement software to blend drum samples in with the actual drums. And the article made me think about this thread.

It's gotten to the point that no one cares if the drums are tuned or not, just replace the audio with samples after the drummer has left the room, and wha-la, instant drum tone.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
First off, let me state up front that I agree with your rant and that I prefer my drums almost completely wide open. I tune my toms with a slight doppler effect except for my floor, which I tune the same batter/resonant pitches to avoid the doppler.

Based on past and continuing experience I would like to bring up a point that you didn't mention that I feel contributes to the muffled/no overtone tuning you hear so often on kits playing live. There always seems to be individuals who run sound that don't know how to mix drums tuned with tone/overtones. Wide open drums that have tone and are close mic'd tend to a) feedback, or b) ring like crazy, unless they apply gates, turn your overall volume down, or know how to properly eq your drums. Most sound people's response is - "you need to muffle your drums, I can't get a good sound out of them. They're too ringy". This may be an alternate reason behind the lifeless drums as they're very easy to close mic.

I know that if I play a gig where the stage volume is low and no mics are required for my kit, I'll tune them as open as I can get them to ensure they carry out into the crowd.


This being said, I wonder if the sound techs at my church will notice if I take out the oversized pillow muffling the bass drum and let the heads resonate freely? The drums are in a soundbooth and mic'd. I'm wondering if the particular sound tech I had a row with a few weeks ago will wet himself when he realizes he can't cheat anymore?

We're starting rehearsal 30 minutes later this Sunday because we are only playing 2 songs, so if I get there early enough I can pull this off.

I'm wondering if I should "ask permission" first, or just do it and see what happens? I should preface this by saying the only muffling on the snare and toms are one moongel each, so I'm wondering why on earth the kick is so muffled?

To keep peace on this side of the planet, I have gone out of my way to compliment a few audio techs these past few weeks. Too bad the guy I had a row with hasn't been in the booth. I would have humbled myself and complimented him too, no matter how much I was lying....
 

SAINTDRUMS

Senior Member
Question. How do you mix a drum tuning with tone? This happens to me all the time. I tune my heads to the same pitch so I get good sustain and no doppler. When my floor tom gets miked they always ask me if I have moongel or an o-ring, and I don't want to use those. What do I tell them so they don't crap on my mix?
Unfortunately that's a catch 22. That soundman is asking you to make your drums dull and lifeless because he's having a problem mixing it. It will no doubt make his job easier to have you muffle your tubs.
I always watch youtube videos and programs like Palladia and take notice that a certain percentage of drummers I've seen will use one moon gel to "take the edge off the ring", but not much more than that. A capable soundman should be able to give a properly tuned kit a good sound. How many pro drummers slap duct tape, etc. on their kits?

Maybe one of the pro drummers on here could give their input.
 

wsabol

Gold Member
First off, let me state up front that I agree with your rant and that I prefer my drums almost completely wide open. I tune my toms with a slight doppler effect except for my floor, which I tune the same batter/resonant pitches to avoid the doppler.

Based on past and continuing experience I would like to bring up a point that you didn't mention that I feel contributes to the muffled/no overtone tuning you hear so often on kits playing live. There always seems to be individuals who run sound that don't know how to mix drums tuned with tone/overtones. Wide open drums that have tone and are close mic'd tend to a) feedback, or b) ring like crazy, unless they apply gates, turn your overall volume down, or know how to properly eq your drums. Most sound people's response is - "you need to muffle your drums, I can't get a good sound out of them. They're too ringy". This may be an alternate reason behind the lifeless drums as they're very easy to close mic.

I know that if I play a gig where the stage volume is low and no mics are required for my kit, I'll tune them as open as I can get them to ensure they carry out into the crowd.
Question. How do you mix a drum tuning with tone? This happens to me all the time. I tune my heads to the same pitch so I get good sustain and no doppler. When my floor tom gets miked they always ask me if I have moongel or an o-ring, and I don't want to use those. What do I tell them so they don't crap on my mix?
 

SAINTDRUMS

Senior Member
First off, let me state up front that I agree with your rant and that I prefer my drums almost completely wide open. I tune my toms with a slight doppler effect except for my floor, which I tune the same batter/resonant pitches to avoid the doppler.

Based on past and continuing experience I would like to bring up a point that you didn't mention that I feel contributes to the muffled/no overtone tuning you hear so often on kits playing live. There always seems to be individuals who run sound that don't know how to mix drums tuned with tone/overtones. Wide open drums that have tone and are close mic'd tend to a) feedback, or b) ring like crazy, unless they apply gates, turn your overall volume down, or know how to properly eq your drums. Most sound people's response is - "you need to muffle your drums, I can't get a good sound out of them. They're too ringy". This may be an alternate reason behind the lifeless drums as they're very easy to close mic.

I know that if I play a gig where the stage volume is low and no mics are required for my kit, I'll tune them as open as I can get them to ensure they carry out into the crowd.
 

B-squared

Silver Member
I realize that there can't be just one definition of good sound.... but the 70's tone...I didn't even like it then!
Amen! I graduated from high school in '78, which was just about the time drums and drum tuning took a turn for the worse. The "in" thing was to have 6 or 8 toms without resonant heads, tuned dead and miked loudly to sound like muffled gunshots. The demand for huge kits meant that drum manufacturers had to supply much larger kits without doing too much to the price points so they would sell. Something had to give and unfortunately, it was the construction quality. There was a lot of junk on the market then. Then came spandex, mullets.....OMG!!! That wasn't the best time to be a drummer.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
Speaking fromt the southern part of the country where we fry up any and everything and serve it with gravy, or BBQ the living daylights out of it, Duck Tape has been known to fix just about anything except maybe a tooth ache. I was poking fun at my own kind using Duck Tape on everything. :)

I played a gig about 2 years ago where I used another drummer's kit. Nice tobacco fade on the shells. Come to find out - after putting my stick through the floor tom head, he had it ducktaped together. The head was actually split in two, he tried to fix it by ducktaping it together whole. That lasted all of maybe 30 minutes before it broke again. LOL

There are plenty of uses for it, but muffling drums ain't one of them! I tend to agree with LarryAce and let my drums ring freely. But mine's a used kit I bought off some dude pushing a shopping cart down the street....
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I believe someone once said "It dont mean a thing if it aint got that ring".

I think it was something like that.

.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Concert toms, dead sounding, taped to death, boxy sounding toms is what I'm referring to. All those guys you mentioned had good tone.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I realize that there can't be just one definition of good sound.... but the 70's tone...I didn't even like it then!
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I don't understand why anyone wants to control the overtones on toms.
Because if you don't, you can't sound like Aynsley Dunbar! Seriously, there are a lot of hipster drummers going for that '70s vibe and for them, wide open anything would void the authenticity.

I was listening to a recent live recording by The Cure just today and had to shut it off because the snare drum was tuned up tight and crispy on a morosely ambient song. It got me to thinking that the wet soggy thwack of a snare drum sound (as on the original recording) can really darken the mood of a song in an interesting way. But I would NEVER tune my snare that way because I like tight and crispy... unless I was doing Cure covers.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
What I said wasn't exactly accurate. Less expensive drums have the same amount of overtones as a more expensive kit. A drum is a drum. The head is where the overtones comes from. You don't muffle the shell, you muffle the head. If you close your eyes, a well tuned mid grade drum is just as good sounding as an expensive kit.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
That's all fine and dandy if you can afford the high-end kits, but many of us can only afford sets that cost a thousand bucks or less.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I don't understand why anyone wants to control the overtones on toms. Controlling overtones = hamstringing your tone. I bought my high end drums specifically for those wonderful overtones. People talk about them like they are an annoyance. I guess they just don't get it yet. They spend thousands on high end kits, and then muffle away the part of the tone that make the toms come ALIVE. Give me lively ringing toms full of rich harmonics. That's the tone that carries to the back of the room instead of stopping short. But go ahead and muffle your hearts out. It just makes me sound better by comparison.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
All opinion but as far as tuning goes, "good sound" can vary as many people you ask. I have also been around people who would swear up and down they have the best tuned drums in the world and I'd beg to differ. These same people don't particularly care for my sound. Neither are wrong - just different...

Bottom line, since tuning drums isn't like tuning a pitched instrument, I'm not sure you can't say one is wrong and one isn't. People all hear for whatever reason different sounds in their head and that's what they have within their own mind to obtain. Hence, the wide vast array of different kinds of heads, different muffling aides to put on and off the heads, and various tuning gadgets. Style of music being played and what you are influenced by also plays an important role in this as well. Lastly, the way you play also influences the sound of the drum as well. Two people can make the same set (drums and cymbals) sound different....
In my humble opinion, this is the best comments on the subject so far in this thread...

What the saying? ....Beauty is on the eyes of the beholder....
 
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