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cdrums21 10-13-2006 03:49 PM

More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
It seems that the more experienced one becomes as a drummer, the need for muffling and muting the kit becomes less and less. I know for me, any type of muffling on my snare or toms takes away certain sonic characteristics that I find desireable.... the high end bite of the snare, the attack and full resonant tone of the toms. But, when I was a beginner, I muffled the crap out of my kit to get rid of any excess overtones that sounded unnatural and was perfectly happy. Obviously, becoming a more mature player, an experienced tuner and acquiring a "taste" for wide open sounding drums will lead most drummers to not use any muffling devices whatsoevr, but is there more to it than that? Is it better to not muffle your drums since most more experienced players don't? What are your thoughts?

nitro 10-13-2006 04:17 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
I think more experienced players tend to have better equipment and therefore don't need to battle with crap sounds as much.

I agree, on the tuning elements though - if a good kit is tuned properly, the need for dampening is reduced. Personal choice and genre come into it though.

Auger 10-13-2006 04:19 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Well, sometimes I'll muffle a drum -usually in an extreme sort of circumstance, like going for an effect by draping towels over the drums, that sort of thing. Also, if you don't have a good sounding room (or experienced engineer) sometimes it's necessary to muffle drums when recording. it all depends on the situation, and type of music really.

But, yeah, in general I agree with you. I think you're right about 'aquiring the taste' for an open sound. I think the other part of it is that, with experience, you get better at tuning and learn about different head types, so you don't need muffling to get the sound you're after.

Wile E. Coyote 10-13-2006 04:22 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
My oppinion is that kits are not meant to muffle. You can do whatever you want only with the tuning key. I think that muffling has to be used as a change of sound color.
The more experience you get, the better in tuning you become. And you get also lot better sound because of your stroke.

crumbdrums 10-13-2006 04:23 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
I even had the same experience wih cymbals...I liked short sustain, pingy rides...now I love my quiet, warm, Dark Energy Mark II ride. But about the drums, I definetly agree. I still like to control my snare a bit but I hate almost any tom-muffling.

Sparkletone 10-13-2006 04:29 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
For me, I think muffling is based more on personal preference (much like tuning), than experience level. Seems like plenty of pros out there use moon gels and or similar methods to muffle their drums.

That being said, I'm totally in the same boat your are, personally. When I first started out back in the 80s, I had (...prepare to laugh) folded up paper towels taped to each drum head on my kit—yikes. My drum teacher had showed me this, and so I thought that's what everyone did and how drums should sound.

Despite how "great" they looked (that's a joke), I ditched the paper towels decades ago. It was only recently (about 5 years ago) that I took off all the plastic rings off my kit and started appreciating how great everything sounds opened up—especially snare drums.

I've also learned how to tune my drums with much more finesse now than before, which is possibly why I'm happy to let everything ring out: Nothing sounds worse than a badly tuned drum, open or closed. But to me, nothing sounds better than a drum not only tuned up, but opened up.

Synthetik 10-13-2006 04:29 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Here is the timeline for popular drum sounds:

Up to the 60's: few plies, mixed woods, a lot of fat, resonant, warm sound

70's/early 80's: Dead, thuddy minimal resonance (except for Bonzo) Hydraulic heads, heads taped to death, single head drums etc...

Mid 80's-present- market splits. trends of more resonant shells, and also shells that have a big attack. Very few thuddy sounding kits anymore. A demand for a "More sophisticated/whole" tone from drums.

Generally, drums that don't resonate well are not as widely accepted anymore. Drummers have become very musically aware of the sound of thier kits (much the domain of Jazz drummers in the past) and maximum resonance with some overtone control is the new standard. Sustain is one of DW's big selling points.

Since I lived through the changes, I can say that my taste definately leans toward the original "full" tone with sustain and minimal overtones.

Illustrating the "now": a very inexpensive Gretsch Catalina club outfitted with coated G1's really had a tone reminiscent of the 60's. It was a far cry from entry kits just a few years ago (and some now) that just thud, or have this attack but no presence.

mlehnertz 10-13-2006 04:46 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Now why would we be laughing? EVERYBODY was doing this because this was the sound coming out of the studios.

Let me help you out a little. What you should have been doing was buying 4x4guaze pads and duct tape. What you did was either cut them in half or fold them in half (for maximum thud) and duct tape them to the head. It really sounded cool with my Ludwig silver-dots.

And then we discovered those blue Evans hydraulics.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sparkletone
When I first started out back in the 80s, I had (...prepare to laugh) folded up paper towels taped to each drum head on my kit—yikes. My drum teacher had showed me this, and so I thought that's what everyone did and how drums should sound.


cdrums21 10-13-2006 04:46 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
My original question poses no bias, however, my personal opinion is that not muffling drums is better. I know I might get some guff for this, but a couple of things happen when you muffle a drum. One thing is you lose a little bit of volume. I know if I play someone else's kit that's muffled up, they sound like crap to me and I really have to dig the sound out of the drums. They just lose the fullness and power that I'm used to and I hate it. Also, as I said in my earlier post, some of the desirable sonic qualities are eliminated, which, to me, translates into not getting as good of a drum sound as the drums are capable of...in any room. Now that I have been playing my snare and toms without muffling for a good 25 years, live and in the studio in many different situations, I could never go back to even the slightest bit of muffling. I don't think its that I've gottten used to that kind of a sound as much as that's how I think the drums should sound and anything less wouldn't be acceptable.

Yes, I know it's personal preference, but I think that a younger drummer would benefit from analyzing why most experienced drummers don't muffle. I don't know anyone who started out with a big, full sounding open kit and then over the years, muffled their kit up into sounding like the boxes they came in. It's the other way around and I think it mainly has to do with more experienced players knowing what a good sound is and how to get it.

Synthetik 10-13-2006 04:50 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
There is such a thing as a judicious amount of muffling. Something along the lines of EC2 , or even a small bit of tape to kill overring.

In this manner, volume isn't necessarily lost and there is more punch and perception of focus.

A lot of damping (hydraulics, massive amounts of pillows and tape) does kill everything about the drums.

Buddy Rich (talking to MD): "Taking the bottom head off is just stupid. It kills the drums tonality."

Listen to Mike Portnoys drums. Now listen to Joey Jordinsons. There is a big difference there in damping.

Hex 10-13-2006 06:54 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
I think beginner drummers who don't know how to tune or have crappy kits that don't sound good will be more likely to use some kind of muffling.

But, as others have said, it can also be a product of what drums sounds are popular at the time. Even professional drummers who knew how to tune would muffle their kits back in the 70s and 80s because that was the desired sound.

jazzsnob 10-13-2006 08:20 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
I definitely subscribe to this. I used to muffle the hell out of my drums and now I use nothing. I think it's just developing your ear and learning how to tune. It's also about tone. As drummers improve their technique they are able to achieve better sound they want more sound and resonance, because it simply is more melodic and musical.

Auger 10-13-2006 08:43 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
You know, I was just thinking about this again. I think all the previouly said stuff is probably most of the reason for this, but also I suspect it has something to do with playing ability as well. Until you develop a touch on the drums and a certain amount of technique, it can be hard to feel 'in control' when you've got these singing, ringy drums. You tend to want to pull in the reigns and make things tamer/easier to handle. Then, once you get some command of the instrument, you find you can actually use that tone.

druid 10-13-2006 08:44 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
yep...I am not a fan of muffling either....I used to when I was much younger playing concert toms etc....but I think the more you think about it...a drum should resonate...all other instruments do....you don't tape a piano , guitar, violin...etc...I think it was some weird thing that occured with the advent of close miking in the 70's.....engineers still when I play live miked as me to cut a hole in my bass drum head...nope. I like it to sound like drums. I recently had a sound guy compliment me on my old Remo drums in a live siutation....because he said they sounded like "real drums"....it is all about tuning.

nhzoso 10-13-2006 09:16 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Well this may just be a question of personal preference because you said most Pro's don'tuse em, not all. So I think if you like the sound without muffles or think it's somehow amateurish to use them then thats your preference but I don't think it's a standard. I am a beginner and use rings but I challenge anyone here to use a Sonor 3003 set without em..They sound horrible without those little white rings. : )

And yes I have after market heads on them...well the batter sides anyway.

Synthetik 10-13-2006 09:21 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nhzoso
Well this may just be a question of personal preference because you said most Pro's don'tuse em, not all. So I think if you like the sound without muffles or think it's somehow amateurish to use them then thats your preference but I don't think it's a standard. I am a beginner and use rings but I challenge anyone here to use a Sonor 3003 set without em..They sound horrible without those little white rings. : )

And yes I have after market heads on them...well the batter sides anyway.

Almost all pros use some form of muffling in the studio and live. They often use internal damping that is not visible on videos. There is no equating amature vs pro in terms of muffling.

"Gee Mr. Gadd, your drums sound so dead. You must be a real rank amature!"

finnhiggins 10-13-2006 09:45 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Auger
You know, I was just thinking about this again. I think all the previouly said stuff is probably most of the reason for this, but also I suspect it has something to do with playing ability as well. Until you develop a touch on the drums and a certain amount of technique, it can be hard to feel 'in control' when you've got these singing, ringy drums. You tend to want to pull in the reigns and make things tamer/easier to handle. Then, once you get some command of the instrument, you find you can actually use that tone.

This is right on the nose. It takes a certain degree of control to be able to play single-ply heads tuned wide-open without sounding bad. Thicker heads disguise whether you can play or not, to a degree. That's not to say that anybody using thicker heads can't play, but there's more ability to vary the tone the drum produces with thinner heads and less muffling. So if more experienced drummers use thinner heads it's probably because they can get a wider range of tones from drums with that set-up.

Drummer Karl 10-13-2006 10:23 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
good thread, that`s like "How can can I get rid of that dirt on my T-shirt? Throw it away or make the best out of it and experiment?"
I really never muffled drums, NEVER and I hate it. I hate the sound, this typical "bob"- sound, just awful. I think muffling drums extremly is just like making "make-up" on my face, it just hide the actual problems.
Better way would be to experiment with tuning till you find a good tuning and try out different heads. I think it`s good to explore how the drums react on different tunings, it will make you of course much more experienced. I had this problem a few days ago: My 12" tom sounded hoorible because of an awful lot of overtones...a good friend and guitarist said that I could "muffle away" this problem...just don`t like to do it, I kept up experimenting and reading some tuning guides et voilà: I got a good open jazzy sound.
So, just ask yourself: What gives me more experience? To muffle or to experiment till you find and to read? I guess it`s the second possibility...

Karl

cdrums21 10-13-2006 11:04 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Synthetik
Almost all pros use some form of muffling in the studio and live. They often use internal damping that is not visible on videos. There is no equating amature vs pro in terms of muffling.

"Gee Mr. Gadd, your drums sound so dead. You must be a real rank amature!"

I would say that out of 10 professional drummers that I either know personally or have studied about and talked to via email, and other famous guys like Neil Peart, John Bonham, Eddie Bayers, Kenny Aronoff to name a few, 99% of them do NOT muffle their drums. If anything, a small bit of whatever on the snare drum just to take the "ping" out may be used and that's about it. I'm sure there are exceptions, but if you don't believe me, take a look around this site at video clips or shots of pro drummers playing live and try to catch views where you can see the kit from the driver's seat. More often than not there is nothing on the snare and toms, and I highly doubt that there are internal muffling devices. That whole concept impedes the natural vibration of the head to create sound waves, is flawed and any serious drummer, drum tech or sound engineer should never do that (I'm talking snare and toms). I'm not saying it's amateurish or wrong to muffle, I'm just saying that there must be something to not muffling your drums for it to be so common among professionals. In general, I think drums sound best unmuffled and singing, but that's just me.

Synthetik 10-13-2006 11:18 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cdrums21
I would say that out of 10 professional drummers that I either know personally or have studied about and talked to via email, and other famous guys like Neil Peart, John Bonham, Eddie Bayers, Kenny Aronoff to name a few, 99% of them do NOT muffle their drums. If anything, a small bit of whatever on the snare drum just to take the "ping" out may be used and that's about it. I'm sure there are exceptions, but if you don't believe me, take a look around this site at video clips or shots of pro drummers playing live and try to catch views where you can see the kit from the driver's seat. More often than not there is nothing on the snare and toms, and I highly doubt that there are internal muffling devices. That whole concept impedes the natural vibration of the head to create sound waves, is flawed and any serious drummer, drum tech or sound engineer should never do that (I'm talking snare and toms). I'm not saying it's amateurish or wrong to muffle, I'm just saying that there must be something to not muffling your drums for it to be so common among professionals. In general, I think drums sound best unmuffled and singing, but that's just me.

I don't beleiev anyone records in a studio without some kind of muffling. Damping the head doesn't necessarily dampen the shell. Sound engineers often lament an overly "live" sounding kit.

" I highly doubt that there are internal muffling devices. "

Again, without evidence you are speculating. And I didn't realize that you personally knew Neil Peart, John Bonham, Eddie Bayers, Kenny Aronoff and were present at all of thier recording sessions.

99%? where did you get that statistic?

cdrums21 10-14-2006 01:48 AM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Synthetik
I don't beleiev anyone records in a studio without some kind of muffling. Damping the head doesn't necessarily dampen the shell. Sound engineers often lament an overly "live" sounding kit.

" I highly doubt that there are internal muffling devices. "

Again, without evidence you are speculating. And I didn't realize that you personally knew Neil Peart, John Bonham, Eddie Bayers, Kenny Aronoff and were present at all of thier recording sessions.

99%? where did you get that statistic?

You obviously misread my post. I'll guarantee you that many recordings are made with no muffling on the kit whatsoever, aside from the kick drum. I am a session drummer and I record just about all the time without any muffling. As far as them not having internal muffling devices, it's not speculation, it's fact. The drummers that I personally know, Eddie Bayers, Owen Hale and some other top Nashville session drummers use no muffling whatsoever on many of their recordings and have no internal muffling devices whatsoever. In corresponding with Anton Fig, Frankie Banali and Tommy Aldrich via email several times, I can tell you that they too related that their recordings and live work are mostly done wide open with no muffling at all. In the case of Frankie Banali, sometimes not even the kick drum.

As far as you stating that I personally knew Neil Peart, John Bonham, etc., come on dude...if you go back and read the post, you will see that I said 10 drummers that I personally know, AND OTHERS LIKE, meaning that I obviously don't know them personally but was merely referencing them as other drummers who have either stated they don't use muffling or have been filmed playing wide open kits. And last but not least, 99% is just a rhetorical number, not an exact one. get the picture?

Synthetik 10-14-2006 01:58 AM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cdrums21
As far as you stating that I personally knew Neil Peart, John Bonham, etc., come on dude...if you go back and read the post, you will see that I said 10 drummers that I personally know, AND OTHERS LIKE, meaning that I obviously don't know them personally but was merely referencing them as other drummers who have either stated they don't use muffling or have been filmed playing wide open kits. And last but not least, 99% is just a rhetorical number, not an exact one. get the picture?

No see, you are trying to support your post with speculation and assumptions. If the "no muffling" were the case, they why are people reluctant to go to the studio with just any kit, and especially not acrylic? Because some kits are too "live" sounding and they like a controlled sound. This is why kits like the yamaha RC exist. That's why pinstripes and ec2's exist. To achieve "that studio sound" which is not as resonant as possible. Even Bonzo's kit had a felt strip on the kick.

I am sure that some recordings are made with single ply heads tuned just right and not a spot of muffling anywhere...but I really doubt that's the rule and not the exception.

Here is a novel idea: I'd like to ask a pro like Bermuda to chime in here and I'll go with whatever he has to say. That should end the speculation one way or the other. If I am wrong, I am wrong.

bermuda 10-14-2006 04:05 AM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Oh... hi....*chime* :)

I think a lot of good points have been covered, and whether a particular drum sounds better wide open, or with various degrees and types of damping, is largely dependent on the production value trying to be achieved. A wide open tom may sound great, but may not work for a particular song or mood. Same for a muffled tom. Same for snares... and bass drums.

One extremely important thing to remember is that we tune drums with our ear 18-24" from the head, and room abience also comes into play with the overall sound. But with drums being mic'd a few inches from the head, or inside the drum, or with overheads a few feet above our ears, it's not really possible to know how the drums will track. An open tom may sound good to the ear, but really howl into the mic. To attempt to argue with the engineer and producer about how well you've tuned the drums, can only result in that being the last session you do with them.

As has been pointed out, there are musical styles and eras that have a propensity towards muffling, just as certain snare sounds and digital effects are the hallmarks of certain eras and styles.

Is muffling right or wrong? It depends. A good musician knows how & when to make his drums sound a certain way, and also knows that the engineer or sound guy out front has the final say in how the drums need to be tweaked for the best sound. Leaving toms and snares wide open and relying on the sound guy to 'gate' them to control overtones just means the drums won't sound as intended.

As for 99% of sessions being done with unmuffled toms & snares, that hasn't been my experience at any time during my 30+ years of recording. I can't recall ever leaving a tom completely wide open. But about half the time, I've got some sort of pad or loop of tape on the snare. A lot of the snare sound (in the mix) depends on the drum ringing out a little, but again, it really depends on the song/style/mood at hand. It's crucial for a working drummer to be versatile and flexible.

Don't know if that answered the question, but those are my thoughts.

Bermuda

dunkerton12 10-14-2006 04:09 AM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
I can't speak about many pro drummers, but I do know that Portnoy muffles his snare and his toms.

On his snare he has a huge piece of black tape, and the batter heads of his toms are pinstripes, which have built in muffling rings. To top it off, his snare head is also either a Controlled Sound head or an Emperor X, both of which are designed to muffle. So his snare has a muffling head and a piece of tape on top of that!

I think it has to boil down to personal taste. Sure, one should get better at tuning with time, and one should have a better touch on the drums as he/she gets better, but this doesn't necessarily translate to, "I think I'll stop using muffling now." I think it's just what the drummer likes. I've been playing for some time now and I still muffle my snare with 1/2 piece of moongel. I just like the way it sounds and it has nothing to do with my tuning abilities as I never muffle my toms, they sound great with a coated ambassador, which, BTW, has a coating and therefore, will muffle some. The more stuff you do to a drum head the more you lose the high and mid ends. This is why muffled heads or very thick heads seem to sound deeper when in actuality the lower tones are just more pronounced because the mid/high have been dampened. But I digress.

In short, it's about what sound the drummer wants-period.

Auger 10-14-2006 04:39 AM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
wow, people really are passionate about this, huh?

Anyway, I think that when talking about recording, we also should consier the recent rise of home recording. -not making demos with a 4-track, but honest-to-album home recording.
Sometimes in this situation, you might have nice drums, mics and recording equipment -maybe even a pretty knowledgable recording engineer if you're lucky, but you've only got the room that you've got and some rooms just don't record drums all that well, so it becomes a bit of a struggle. I've had a few in-home recording expreinces like this and, despite the fact that I prefer the way my drums sound open in most cases when I'm by myself, they just didn't track well that way. Someone's living room might really accentuate unfavorable frequencies (not always ring, or high frequencies either) even if the drums sound great just standing in the room, or from behind the drumset with no muffling. If you've only got a weekend and no other rooms to work with, it's like Billy Ward says: you've got to be a marine: improvise, adapt, and overcome. Excepting the live tracks, The songs linked to in my signature file were all done in a home studio(s). Some were in a basement, some were in a living room with all the furniture pushed to the side, that sort of stuff. Sometimes I had to muffle, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I had to take the front head off the bass drum. It's all about the circumstances. If putfile is in a cooperative mood, you can hear what kind of results I got. They're not all great, but sometimes you've just got to work with the best that you can get in that circumstance.

...now my playing, on the other hand ...well ...home studio's no excuse for that, hahaha...

Also, thanks for responding to synthetik like that, bermuda! That's very cool that you took the time to contribute and share all you experience on this one!

Synthetik 10-14-2006 05:13 AM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
I want to give a big thanks to Bermuda for responding!!! It put everything into the correct perspective. Your participation here means more than I am capable of expressing at the moment. You are THE MAN!

bermuda 10-14-2006 06:47 AM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dunkerton12
In short, it's about what sound the drummer wants-period.

Most often, it's about the sound that the artist or producer wants.

Only a handfull of drummers are known for their sound, and that's usually in a limited context (Bonham with Led Zep, or Bev Bevan with classic E.L.O. for example.) But the majority of pros aren't known for a specific drum sound. The artist or producer dictates how their drums will sound on a track.

Bermuda

bermuda 10-14-2006 06:50 AM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Synthetik
I want to give a big thanks to Bermuda for responding!!! It put everything into the correct perspective. Your participation here means more than I am capable of expressing at the moment. You are THE MAN!

Thanks, and you're welcome! I don't always have the definitive, final answer on everything, but I've been in the business a while and am happy to offer my thoughts if I think it adds to the thread.

Bermuda

Mediocrefunkybeat 10-14-2006 10:36 AM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Synthetik
...more post etc etc.

I am sure that some recordings are made with single ply heads tuned just right and not a spot of muffling anywhere...but I really doubt that's the rule and not the exception.

Here is a novel idea: I'd like to ask a pro like Bermuda to chime in here and I'll go with whatever he has to say. That should end the speculation one way or the other. If I am wrong, I am wrong.

I don't know. I'm more of the opinion that you'll need more muffling if you have thin shells.

cdrums21 10-14-2006 12:08 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Bermuda, you have made some very good points and your post was well written and respected. If you read my posts, I'm not disputing anything you say. I didn't say every recording is done with wide open toms and snares, I'm saying that alot of them are that I know of and alot of pro drummers play their kits live wide open. If you read my post carefully, that's what the 99% comment pertains to, live work, not studio, and 99% just meant alot..I didn't mean for it to be taken literally. When reading articles about certain drummers or conversing via email with them, they have stated that certain recordings were done "wide open" to get a certain sound, but certainly not all recordings. Take Frankie Banali of Quiet Riot. He said the song "Cum on feel the noise" was recorded with a vintage 3 ply Ludwig kit "Bonham sizes", tuned and recorded completely wide open. You hear how the drums sound on that song. Processing and miking techniques, whatever was done makes the drums sound great for that song, but they might not sound good in another situation.

Synthetik, I don't really understand your comments about acrylics and yamaha RC's and all that stuff. I know what you're getting at about the studio sound, but the point is being lost. It's simply this.....there have been recordings made without the use of muffling. That's a fact. It may not be the norm, but a fact none the less. Many, many drummers play their kits wide open in live situations. Many are adamant about not using any muffling in live situations. I've seen it first hand working as a tech. That's it.

As Bermuda said, he usually uses some form of muffling on his kit for recording and doesn't know of many cases where some form of muffling hasn't been used. I'm sure that is the case. I agree that whatever the song or music calls for is what should be done...whatever works. That's one of the keys to being a working session drummer. I'm just saying that sound is subjective, there is no right or wrong, and that wide open, unmuffled drums are recorded and played live with great success.....Seacrest..out!

finnhiggins 10-14-2006 12:38 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
This is a remarkably huge debate over quite a simple issue. Different music calls for different instrumental sounds - there's little disputing that. It's not really a question of "better" vs "worse", more one of "appropriate" vs "innappropriate". I wouldn't like to try recording a 70s-style disco track with Bill Bruford's snare drum sound.

Not only that, "muffling" is a bit of a wierd concept. It's not about "muffling" as something you add, it's all about the weight of the head. An unmuffled coated Emperor or Pinstripe is going to sound a lot more dead than most muffled Ambassadors. So do we make the unmuffled clear Ambassador the definition of "wide open"? What about the Diplomat? You can always make a thinner head. It's not always going to sound better - the thinner the head the easier it becomes to hear inconsistencies in tuning and in playing technique. So for any player there's a point where thinner heads just make you sound worse.

Now, you could spend years trying to get really good at controlling that sound. Some players do - typically jazz drummers, who tend towards using thinner heads and having better understanding of how to play them to get a lot of different tones. Or you could just go "No, I like the range of sounds I have available with muffling" and stick with that. I'd tend to consider it the mark of a good drummer to make some kind of effort to learn to play well on thin heads, because you may have to play music where it is appropriate - and if you can do that then playing on thicker heads is a snap. But that doesn't mean that "wide open" is somehow better than the whole Steve Gadd muffled thing. It's just a harder sound to control.

As for studios, generally I'd tend to agree with Bermuda. I use more muffling when I record, for the simple reason that it's very easy to add sustain to drums in a studio environment using compression (to boost the existing resonance) and reverb. It's much harder to remove sustain. So in the interest of having a bit more control I'd tend to favour muffling a bit beyond the sound I'm after, because you can usually dial it in and get it back. Not that relying on processing is the ideal, but it's a rare studio environment that IS the ideal - usually things are rushed and stressful, and you quite simply don't have TIME to spend ages trying different microphones in different positions to get a clean and clear representation of what's going on in the room. So you get the best you can, and then fake the rest.

Chip 10-14-2006 12:46 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
I use muffling on my floor tom. I swear the head (pinstripe) is somehow defective. I have tuned other pinstripes (usually a warm, fat, slappy sound) before, but mine is very, very ringy, and its not a good ringy, either. It goes straight from the detuned buzzy slap to this ringy crap in an eighth of a turn[of the key]. Its a bad ring in that there is hardly any definition. I will see next time I get new heads. I'm most likely going to go for Aquarian coated 1-ply. I'm not very happy at all with Remo... Except for the PS3 bass batter, its good.

Everything else is practically free from muffling. Currently I'm employing a 4-piece, and the high tom has a little bit on the reso head, I will most likely take that off. I'm definantly starting to enjoy the ring of the drums (when I heard Joe Morello, it all changed), especially the snare with the wires disabled, I'm a sucker for that ring. As opposed to when I started, I had tape all around the heads. Ughhh...

Quote:

I think more experienced players tend to have better equipment and therefore don't need to battle with crap sounds as much.
There is truth in that. You can get a bad kit to sound good, but its harder.

cdrums21 10-14-2006 01:49 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by finnhiggins

As for studios, generally I'd tend to agree with Bermuda. I use more muffling when I record, for the simple reason that it's very easy to add sustain to drums in a studio environment using compression (to boost the existing resonance) and reverb. It's much harder to remove sustain. So in the interest of having a bit more control I'd tend to favour muffling a bit beyond the sound I'm after, because you can usually dial it in and get it back. Not that relying on processing is the ideal, but it's a rare studio environment that IS the ideal - usually things are rushed and stressful, and you quite simply don't have TIME to spend ages trying different microphones in different positions to get a clean and clear representation of what's going on in the room. So you get the best you can, and then fake the rest.

I guess I'm in a unique recording situation in that the studio I do work in is very friendly to live sounding kits. For me, it's not a matter of sustain per se, but more one of tone quality. I know that the resonance has alot to do with tone quality, but if I muffle say the toms, I lose certain aspects of the sound that can't be added back electronically. I recorded a soundtrack for a company called MusicQ, which specializes in selling tracks of different styles of music to be used as background for film production, TV, etc. I was doing a country CD and we started out muffling the toms a tad. We ended up taking off all muffling (just some tape) and the toms sounded awesome with a much improved tone quality that we just couldn't get with electronic enhancement on the muffled version. I recorded all of that CD that way with the exception of some muffling on the snare for a slow ballad type tune. It worked in that situation, but as you said, I may not have liked that sound applied to a different style of music.

bermuda 10-14-2006 05:53 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cdrums21
I didn't say every recording is done with wide open toms and snares, I'm saying that alot of them are that I know of and alot of pro drummers play their kits live wide open. If you read my post carefully, that's what the 99% comment pertains to, live work, not studio, and 99% just meant alot..I didn't mean for it to be taken literally.

True, I only skimmed over the thread, saw 99% mentioned a few times, and then addressed the original statement: "It seems that the more experienced one becomes as a drummer, the need for muffling and muting the kit becomes less and less."

With respect strictly to that, I'd say instead that the more experienced one becomes, the more they understand when and how to muffle, rather than abandoning it over time. I've done many things to muffle my drums, the most counter-productive (and often unspeakable) methods of which occurred while I was younger and inexperienced.

One thing I will add is that in an acoustic situation - no mics - I am more likely to leave toms wide open, use only a little padding on the snare (maybe just a light touch of the internal muffler if present) and may use little or no extra padding in my kick (although the Evans EMAD tames a wide open head just right.) But as I mentioned in an earlier post, the sound the drummer (and audience) hears from a distance is devoid of the unwanted overtones that a mic hears and which muffling corrects. That is, the problem that muffling is normally intended to correct, isn't an issue in every situation.

But, apart from just controlling overtones, muffling the edge of a head also enhances the fundamental note of the drum's tuning. However, only a mic interprets the effect well. In an acoustic situation, and even though the drum may sound rich and punchy when sitting right above it, the effect diminishes over distance and the audience, even just 20 feet away, will hear it as overly-dead.

So yeah, there's a simple basic answer to the question of muffling: do what's right for the situation. But there are so many facets and variables to the concept of what's 'right' in a given situation.

Bermuda

Stu_Strib 10-14-2006 10:00 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Jeezus stop the love fest already Synthetik ;-)

Bermuda is a pro, good for him. Unless I read wrong, so is Cdrums (skimming, so maybe I messed it up).

In any case, Cdrums points are very persuasive.

On a side note, I could care less if Portnoy tapes, muffles moon gels and pinstripes. His music requires that. He is a staccatto style drummer with lots of single short notes. It isn't very musical (to me) but it does sound cool, and most importantly, fits the music.

The way I look at this issue is that resonant drums and dark cymbals are an acquired taste that come with experience and maturity. Just like when I was young I didn't like coffee, beer or wine, but now those are three of the finest pleasures.

finnhiggins 10-15-2006 01:33 AM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Synthetik
Your points were TOTALLY lost (99% eh?) when Bermuda chimed in. You should admit you were gravely wrong in most ways and move on.

Oh, quit being so tiresome. This is a discussion, not some kind of measuring chart for your manhood. Put it away...

The point itself is well-made, and Bermuda has covered it nicely. There are many aspects of drum sound control that affect different points in the room. The first time I heard a Yamaha MCA (just after they came out) I heard it with factory heads from maybe 10-15m away, played by Ralph Salmins. It sounded *phenomenal*. Then I played it, later in the day. From behind the kit it just sounded absolutely nasty. A few days later (this was a school kit) I got to go through the same process (watch from in front, then play) after the heads had been switched out to Evans G2s. The sound had reversed - the sound that I was hearing from the back of the room with the stock single-ply heads was now happening behind the kit, but from out front the drums had no tone and sounded bangy and frankly rather naff.

So if you're recording in a high-quality room and have plenty of time to play with room mic positioning and phase then you're likely to be able to do a lot more with a wide-open sound, taking much of your recorded sound from further back in the room. But if you're recording in a cheap project studio and have to live with the close-mic sound then you may well be much better off muffing a bit to boost the tone of the drum in relation to the overtones.

I think the initial statement could be turned around to refine its accuracy a bit, though:

"The less muffling you see on a kit the more likely it is to be being played by an experienced drummer"

That doesn't mean that a muffled kit disqualifies anybody from the "Experienced drummer" class, it just means that the majority of people you see playing wide-open kits are people who have had some time to learn to play and tune them so they don't sound bad.

Wile E. Coyote 10-15-2006 10:16 AM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by finnhiggins
"The less muffling you see on a kit the more likely it is to be being played by an experienced drummer"

That was politically correct finn. I buy it!

Stu_Strib 10-15-2006 12:25 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by finnhiggins

"The less muffling you see on a kit the more likely it is to be being played by an experienced drummer"


Well one thing is for sure, the opposite is pretty true. "The more muffling you see on a kit the more likely it is to be being played by an inexperienced drummer". Which kind of takes us back to post #1.

You rarely see anyone that is considered a great, tasteful drummer with lots of experience having lots of duct tape and o-rings and muffling, but you can see an inexperienced basher playing with little or no muffling.

nhzoso 10-15-2006 12:43 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
Hmmm, I think the best statement on this thread was it really depends on the kit being played and the type of music and the acoustics of the room.

cdrums21 10-15-2006 08:18 PM

Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
 
[quote=Synthetik]
Quote:

Originally Posted by cdrums21
Synthetik, I don't really understand your comments about acrylics and yamaha RC's and all that stuff. I know what you're getting at about the studio sound, but the point is being lost. It's simply this.....there have been recordings made without the use of muffling. That's a fact. It may not be the norm, but a fact none the less. Many, many drummers play their kits wide open in live situations. Many are adamant about not using any muffling in live situations. I've seen it first hand working as a tech. That's it.

QUOTE]

Your points were TOTALLY lost (99% eh?) when Bermuda chimed in. You should admit you were gravely wrong in most ways and move on. "There have been recordings made without muffling" is a LONG, LONG way from 99%. The reason I asked Bermuda here is so that a professional with a vast amount of real experiance could shed light , not heat on this topic. I trust his experianced, factual expert input, not your (backpeddling) speculation.

In case you missed (zing) the reference: a kit like a Yamaha RC, designed for the studio (eq) sound, would not likely need as much muffling as a brittle, live sounding acrylic kit. And a DW collectors kit would likely need a lot more taming than a Gretsch kit. And again, the sound they are after (the engineers want) is the goal, not the type or amount of drum or muffling.

Dude, can you freakin' read? The 99% part is pertainig to live work, not studio. And of the 10 pros that I personally know or have talked with, 9 of them play LIVE without muffling toms or snare, so I guess that's 90% if you want to get freakin' technical. I understand completely what you are sarcastically zinging me about with the yamaha rc's and the brittleness of the acrylic kit and all that stuff. No "zing" needed. Maybe the RC would need as much muffling as an acrylic kit in a particular situation and maybe not. It's whatever the situation calls for. That's not the point. The simple point that you don't seem to be getting, and what my original post you began to bash is referring to, is that there are alot of recordings done with no muffling. You disputed that and you are wrong. There are many drummers who play live with no muffling and no internal muffling devices. You disputed that as well and you are wrong.

For whatever reason, you have become agressive and disrespectful towards me in your posts and I don't appreciate it. If I was wrong about what I wrote, I would gladly admit it and apologize for my mistake and misleading comments. However, that is not the case. You have made the comments, and I quote, "Almost all pros use some form of muffling in the studio and live. They often use internal damping that is not visible on videos." That is speculation that is backed up by nothing on your part. My comments were based on fact, straight from the mouths of some very famous professionals. I'm not commenting anymore on this subject. I think that those who are reading this banter between you and I can figure out what is fact and what is speculation.

And to Stu Strib and Finnhiggins, thank you for your support, it means alot :o) I'm sorry to have participated in such a mean spirited post exchange...shame on me.


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