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Old 05-31-2014, 06:23 PM
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Altar Altar is offline
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Default Recording a great snare sound?


May be doing some recording soon, for the first time. And I am very curious, how do you get a great recorded snare sound? I adore my snare sound - Wood snare, 5.5 x 14, Evans dry snare side, vintage remo diplomat batter, tuned high, with lots of complementary overtones. What I worry is that these overtones may become a bit much in the studio.

To be a little more clear, my snare sound like this one:


But with more ring, and more complexity.

What I don't want to do is use a studio ring. This absolutely kills my snare, makes it sound dead and dull, and doesn't allow for much dynamic. I just worry, that with only one other musician in the project(extended range guitarist), that the overtones will sound out of place in the mix.

Should I experiment with different deadening options? Tunings? Different head? I don't want to use any tape on this head... It would peel the coating off, and this is my favorite head I've ever played on... I want it to last.
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Old 05-31-2014, 11:08 PM
Captain Bash Captain Bash is offline
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Default Re: Recording a great snare sound?

First off, it's very important you enjoy the recording session, don't get overly stressed as this will alter your playing. Ultimately good drumming is more important than worrying too much about actual sounds.

Some of the best recordings ever were done using less than optimal recording gear and pretty standard drums. One mans killer snare sound is another mans rusty old biscuit tin.

Capturing a good recorded drum sound is a team effort. It is a mixture of drummer, drum, room acoustics, microphone type and placement and that's before we get into preamps, eq, compression and the cancellation effects of other instruments and then by know means least the mixing of them. There is no such thing as a natural drum sound, any recording is a modified version of the real sound becuase no microphone hears exactly what our ears do. Sometimes recordings are an improvement over the acoustic sound and sometimes they are far worse- it's all down to a chain of choices.

However here is what I would do :

1) talk to the engineer/producer in a considered rationale manner, play them 2 snare drum examples you like and for point of reference 1 example you don't like. Don't belabour over this it should take 5 minutes tops.

2) talk to your band mates, are they going use the same set-up as usual, do they agree that your ringing snare is right for the overall recording. It's important you all agree, again don't turn this into a huge deal.

3) before your set up your kit for a recording ask the enginner where he/she thinks the optimal spot is for drums; rooms have dead and livelier areas.

4) when in the studio, be prepared for change. you have to be adaptable if you want to get a good sound (your sound), in my experience it's best to go I to the studio with the drums tuned lower then I would normally use and then just tweak them up to where they sound best in the room. This takes 2 minutes tops. Again talk to the person behind the desk.

5) be realistic about what you can and can't achieve in a given time frame. It's far better to have one really excellent recording than four pieces of garbage.

6) concentrate on feel and precision over volume /this isn't a live gig

7) don't go out on the lash the night before

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Old 06-01-2014, 12:33 AM
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cbphoto cbphoto is offline
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Default Re: Recording a great snare sound?

I concur with Capt. Bash. Expect experimentation and exploration. If someone comes in and says "this is the formula" you can expect to sound like someone else.

Here's an excerpt from an interview about recording the drums on Whole Lotta Love:

George Chkiantz: There were two studios at Olympic—one large and one small. Management had installed our 16-track recorder in the small one with hopes of luring rock bands in there and away from the larger 60-by-40-foot space with 28-foor ceilings, where we recorded mostly classical works and film scores. But Jimmy [Page] chose the larger one—even though it only had an 8-track recorder. He wanted the extra space so the drums could be miked properly for stereo.

I was a relative novice then, and what Jimmy wanted was a stretch given Olympic's traditional way of miking drums. So I invented a new way. I didn't mike the snare, since that would have reduced the size and space of the drum sound. Instead, I used a stereo mike on an 8-foot boom above the drums along with two distant side mikes, to give the tom-toms edge, and a huge AKG D30 mike positioned about two feet from the bass drum. Jimmy knew that high-end mikes didn't have to be up against an instrument to maximize the sound.

Mr. Page: For the song to work as this panoramic audio experience, I needed Bonzo [drummer John Bonham] to really stand out, so that every stick stroke sounded clear and you could really feel them. If the drums were recorded just right, we could lay in everything else.

Mr. Chkiantz: To make the drums sound impressive, I placed them on a platform about 1˝ feet off the floor. The floor at Olympic was made of wood, not cement, which meant I needed to keep any drum movement from transmitting rumble across the wood floor to other mikes.
Jimmy Page was a studio rat, and Led's recordings show it. I loved the records far more than a Led show (unless I had a hot date).

Mr. Page: The theremin's eerie sound begged for more experimentation. To get my guitar to sound surreal, I detuned it and pulled on the strings for a far-out effect. I was playing a Sunburst 1958 Les Paul Standard guitar I had bought from [James Gang guitarist] Joe Walsh in San Francisco when we were out there on tour. The Standard had this tonal versatility, allowing me to get a blistering high pitch.

Robert's vocal was just as extreme. He kept gaining confidence during the session and gave it everything he had. His vocals, like my solos, were about performance. He was pushing to see what he could get out of his voice. We were performing for each other, almost competitively.
Hopefully you'll have time to experiment and get a sound & feel your 100% satisfied with.
~ CB
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Old 06-01-2014, 10:57 PM
The SunDog
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Default Re: Recording a great snare sound?

It depends on a lot of factors. In a rented studio situation there won't be a lot of time for experimenting. Be well rehearsed going in. Time spent tracking and finding sounds is time that will come off of mixing which is hugely important. Chose your studio wisely that is how you will get the best sound. Explain what you want in your sound to the engineer and he will gladly work to get you what you want. Mostly just let the drum be what it is. Good mics and good gear recording a good drum equals good sounds. Then all you have to do is play.
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Old 06-01-2014, 11:08 PM
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BacteriumFendYoke BacteriumFendYoke is offline
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Default Re: Recording a great snare sound?

Good gear, good mics, good drums and most important of all good recording and playing techniques will get you a good sound.

Bash has it. It's hard to describe how to get a good sound with limited information. The room plays a big factor and it's important to balance the snare between the close mic and the overheads. It takes five minutes of experimentation usually before you start getting close to what you want - assuming the drum is tuned properly.
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Old 06-02-2014, 01:40 AM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Recording a great snare sound?

Originally Posted by Altar View Post

May be doing some recording soon, for the first time. And I am very curious, how do you get a great recorded snare sound? I adore my snare sound...
Re-read Capt Bash's excellent points, esp #1 & 2.

There is a definite difference between recording drums as solo performance, and tracking them for a song. For a song, you will have a lot less to do with the sound than you'd probably like. Meaning, the snare sound you love may not be the snare sound the artist/producer wants to hear. They will probably decide on the sound, and work with you and the engineer to achieve it. But for a solo recording, you should absolutely have it your way!

Good luck!

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Old 06-08-2014, 04:17 AM
MCM MCM is offline
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Default Re: Recording a great snare sound?

A big room makes a big difference IMO.
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