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  #1  
Old 10-17-2010, 06:25 PM
ryanlikealion ryanlikealion is offline
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Default Drum Heads for a "grainy" "vintage" sound

A friend of mine is looking for a "grainy sound" for her drums. She plays an old premier kit and is into using brushes & root sticks. Which skins will suit her sound? Coated ones i'd imagine.
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Old 10-17-2010, 06:47 PM
EvansSpecialist EvansSpecialist is offline
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Default Re: Drum Heads for a "grainy" "vintage" sound

I've never heard anyone describe an acoustic drum sound as "grainy" so this is a tricky one. What kind of music is the kit being used for? What environment is it being played in?

If you can provide an audio example (a specific song with the desired drum sound), I can get a better feel for what you're looking for.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:35 PM
ryanlikealion ryanlikealion is offline
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Default Re: Drum Heads for a "grainy" "vintage" sound

I know, grainy is a funny description! Just thought i'd put it out there. Here's a link to the myspace site with one track on it.

http://www.myspace.com/theraincatchers

Most of the songs have a mellow feel like this. The environment we'd be playing in would be fairly small venues - pubs, cafes, folk clubs at first.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:40 PM
ryanlikealion ryanlikealion is offline
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Default Re: Drum Heads for a "grainy" "vintage" sound

She hits them very softly, but is really creative on the drums. I think there may be a better word than "grainy!" maybe 'old' 'vintage' - i'll have to think of a particular drummer.
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Old 10-17-2010, 09:30 PM
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Default Re: Drum Heads for a "grainy" "vintage" sound

Would actual calfskin be too impractical for her application? There's a sweet sound to be had on real calfskin, but it is a major project getting them and maintaining them.

I would think Remo Fiberskins (the thickest model) or Aquarian has their "vintage" line too.
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Old 10-17-2010, 09:46 PM
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Default Re: Drum Heads for a "grainy" "vintage" sound

Actually, grainy is a great description. I understand. Look, Coated Remo Ambassadors. There you go.
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Old 10-17-2010, 09:48 PM
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Default Re: Drum Heads for a "grainy" "vintage" sound

BTW, I really dig the song!!
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Old 10-18-2010, 02:56 PM
EvansSpecialist EvansSpecialist is offline
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Default Re: Drum Heads for a "grainy" "vintage" sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by KBadd View Post
Actually, grainy is a great description. I understand. Look, Coated Remo Ambassadors. There you go.
Are you thinking grainy as in the coating on the head? I fail to see how you pulled that one together. Of all of the adjectives people use when they describe to me what sound they want to get out of their drums, I've never come across "grainy."
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Old 10-18-2010, 03:27 PM
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Default Re: Drum Heads for a "grainy" "vintage" sound

http://www.last.fm/music/Trey+Anastasio/_/Goodbye+Head'

Check out this song, it's only a 30-second preview, but you can still get the idea. Click on "preview this track (0:30)".

Is that the sort of sound you're going for? In that case, I would recommend a smaller bass drum if you can get one (18" or 20" would work) with only a slightly muffled head like a Remo powerstroke III (unless the front head is ported/the venue requires dampening), and single-ply coated heads on snare and toms tuned wide open (again, unless you need to dampen for the venue). The snare drum tuning is also fairly high on the song I posted a link to, and the drummer plays rimshots occasionally. The snare tension is also set fairly loose, that kind of "wet" snare sound.

Also, perhaps most importantly, it sounds like the drummer is using dark, dry cymbals. You can hear a pretty short decay on the ride cymbal in the preview clip. It sounds like they may be using smaller sticks as well, like 7As, or at least sticks with smaller tips.

One last note-- I think I kind of know how the drums should be tuned for this kind of sound (maybe some of the more experienced drum tuners/techs around here could offer their advice), but even then, a lot of the sound depends on the player as well. I don't know who the drummer is on that track I posted a link to, but they have some very tasteful and dynamic playing. That may be instrumental in achieving the sound you're looking for. Good luck!
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  #10  
Old 10-19-2010, 05:39 PM
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Default Re: Drum Heads for a "grainy" "vintage" sound

I assume this is all singer-songwriter stuff? Sounds like you want to look in that direction for inspiration. First thing I thought of when I heard this album is the Calexico / Iron + Wine album "In The Reins" (sample track)

This is the sort of playing situation I am in mostly. What you're looking for is somewhere between modern and vintage. There are a couple ways to get what you're looking for:
1- Get an old vintage kit. I mean old - pre-war. The sound is not as sharp and the kick drums sound great. Oh, and they have a perfect vibe. I'd consider the sweet spot to be late 30s to early 40s; some 50s kits will get you there. Think Slingerland, Leedy, WFL.
2- Get a new kit with rounded bearing edges (eg DW Jazz or Classics are the ones I know of offhand).

That's the first part, and not necessarily mandatory, but it goes a LONG way to easing back on the harshness of the sound. Re-rings are totally fine *if* your edges are not sharp. (see Radio kings)

Next, heads. On your snare, you've got some options. Best 2 in my opinion are a coated ambassador or a renaissance. Leave it wide open. Tune medium to medium-low. Playing with rods or brushes is a great touch as well. A calfskin head is just a little too dull here. Wood snares are great; you can also try and scout up an old heavy brass drum. There are a few on ebay right now...

Toms - you could do calf, but be prepared to drop well in excess a hundred to head batter side only of two toms. I presume she's gigging so I wouldn't really suggest this route - only if you were about to record (and even then... heads aren't normally stocked, have unpredictable delivery and take about a day or two to dry up and seat). I'd do coated ambassadors top and bottom (or top and smooth white bottom) and just leave them on, let them age in and mellow. Don't change them unless you have to. Vintage As may work here, as would renaissance. Again: leave them on for the long run.

Kick: Coated or smooth white. No hole. Heavy wool felt strip. You want a heavy felt strip (a la ocheltree's old school felts), not those paper-thin things that Danmar and Gibraltar sell. Hit a fabric store and find the thickest wool felt they've got - cut two pieces about 2-2.5 inches wide, put one on each head. This is where an old kick would be helpful - you'll tend to get a much less pointed attack.

You'll be right where you need with the mellow, warm sound vs the sharper sound most modern kits get. As far as cymbals - think older. Either get some great cheap old thin cymbals from eBay or look at the Turkish manufacturers and stay thin. It'll get you that slightly trashy, more legato and less defined sound.
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  #11  
Old 10-20-2010, 07:17 PM
ryanlikealion ryanlikealion is offline
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Default Re: Drum Heads for a "grainy" "vintage" sound

Thanks for all the replies. A lot to think about there, I'll be sure to pass on the info!
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