Brian Blade drum sound in Black Dub

Big Swede 75

Junior Member
Hey guys,

I am a new drummer - been playing for a couple months, but playing electric guitar for 16 years, give or take. Anyway, I'm still trying to figure out "my sound" on drums, and a lot of that is just listening and finding sounds I like. I stumbled across this Black Dub video, and I love everything about the drums on this - I love the way Brian is playing, the tastefulness he brings to it, and the sounds he is getting.

Just wondered if you guys have any thoughts on approximating that sound - not trying to rip it off, but just appropriating elements.
Heads? Tuning of the snare and the rack tom? I literally just tuned a drumset for the first time yesterday - so I'm new to this.
Also, looks like the ride cymbal he is using is really big, and also looks like he is using another ride with rivets for his crash - love that sound.

Just for context, I bought a Ludwig Accent kit off Craiglist, mostly because it was cheap and it would give me something to play on and figure out what I like... So I'm going to put new heads on it, and would like to get cymbals that I will keep. When funds permit, I was thinking of selling it and buying a Sonor jazz kit. Sorry for the long post :)


Silver Member
Great taste! - Brian is a phenomenal drummer, and absolutely wonderful to see live. I actually saw him play with Black Dub, and it was one of my favorite live shows I've seen. I've listened to that album so many times...
He uses lots of vintage drums, mostly Gretsch, and sometimes Ludwig. I can't be sure, but I'm betting he's using Remo Coated Ambassadors on all of his drums, or a pre-muffled one-ply head like a PS3 on the bass drum. In this video, he has just a low tuning on the toms, maybe with the resonant heads a little higher than the tops. His snare sounds like a standard medium high tuning, same relationship with head tuning.
Do yourself a favor and search for Bob Gatzen on YouTube, his videos on tuning drums are probably the most recommended 'round these parts. You can use the search feature on this site or just look around, but in the Drum Gear section, there's a Heads and Sticks section. Poke around in there if you ever want to learn more about heads.
His main ride is a Spizzichino - handmade by a man in Italy. IMHO, the best cymbals in the world to ever have been made. I've had the good fortune to play a few owned by a teacher, and they are something special. His hats are vintage Zildjians, and his second ride or crash varies, but is usually a Zildjian K of some sort or another vintage Zildjian. I'm sure you can look it all up. We have an ongoing thread about him here - . The cymbals he uses are usually large, and dark sounding.
If you can rip off his sound, do it. It's a good one! If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


Silver Member
If you like that sound, buying the jazz kit would be a good move. Brian plays a variety of old drums -- here he's playing a Gretsch Round-Badge kit, some of the most sought after and rare -- and tunes open (unmuffled).

Experiment, read, watch youtube videos (search "bob gatzen drum tuning" or "how to tune drums john good" for some good videos), and practice! Tuning is very personal and you have to spend time to develop it to not only get better at it but to find what you like and what works on a drum-by-drum basis. There is a lot of overhead-microphone sound in that drum mix -- they sound like that in the room more than they do up close. In other words, for what you may want to do, that kind of tuning may turn out to be too lively or boingy. As I said, experimentation is crucial.

Good luck, I'm usually not the best at answering questions like this, but I hope this helps.


Anon La Ply

Some thoughts, aside fromthe two very good replies ... the especially great sounds BB gets with his big accents are 1) played as rimshots and 2) there's a fair bit of reverb / room sound in there. You could have exactly his gear but if you don't strike the drums the same way and have a live room sound or added reverb, it won't sound even remotely the same.

That big cymbal of his is very dry (very short decay) - you won't find too many in shops as dry as that. Wouldn't mind one of those either - a Spizzichino?


Silver Member
How to sound like Brian Blade? Ha! Let me know when you find out! Could not tell you what he was playing because I could not keep my eyes off Trixie!