Getting the best kick drum sound

Hey guys, I've been trying really hard to get the best kick sound I can, I use a 26x14 kick drum and I'm currently using the John Bonham felt strip technique, which has helped considerably but I still feel like there could be more boom. Any and all suggestion appreciated!


Platinum Member
I am no expert but heres what I do- batter head on my 26 is a couple turns up from JAW. Start low, even up the lug tensions, and go up in 1/8" turns until it sings and then set the tension for the pedal feel you want. After that raise the batter the same way until you get the sound you want. If you cant get what you want you may have to start over and tune the batter to a different tension and then bring the reso up again. Repeat until you like it.

I think the most "boom" will come from an un-ported reso and playing off the batter (dont bury the beater). Hope I have helped...


Senior Member
Keep in mind, the Bonham boom is all the mics. Physically, he tuned his drums like a big band kit. A lot of ring, and a lot of tension. He cranked the reso heads on every drum. And then he cranked the batter heads to just a pinch or two lower than the resos. One of Bonham's techs recalled flicking the reso head of Bonham's 26" and claimed it sounded like a tympani.


Silver Member
Are you talking about acouetically or miking?

Personally I think one o the problems is thr size of your bass drum. I just don't think 26" bass druns ever sound good.
24"s oush it for me.

I use a 20" which is ridiculously wimpy for metal but, I find them punchy and easier to make sound big than making a big kick sound small.

Just my opinion.
I'm actually starting to think its just the miking situation, because I do tune my drums the exact way you've described. And as for the size I love my 26, I may even go up to a 28.


Much of his sound came from the way his kit was miced. Usually the resonant head was miced with an Electro Voice RE20, and sometimes the batter head was miced with a U 47 for extra definition. It also helps to use room mics and high overheads to capture the big sound. Just keep in mind that distance creates depth.


Silver Member
I'm actually starting to think its just the miking situation, because I do tune my drums the exact way you've described. And as for the size I love my 26, I may even go up to a 28.

It more than likely IS the miking situation. Just remember that even if you are happy with the sound acoustically you may have to make a few adjustments to get the best sound amplified. Mics don't really hear things like we do, especially not ones you'd use on a bass drum so, therefore they won't reproduce that sound only louder.
The good thing is the sound pressure levels bass drum mics can handle lend themselves to a better sound than the acoustic one in my opinion. But again you may have to tweak.

You say you like the boom? You'll have to tone that down a bit for the mic, you'll get plenty of boom even with more dampening. You'll have too much leaving where it sounds good acoustically.

Do you have access to any effects like compression, gates or reverb?

You shouldn't need them really but it's an option. I'd just say dampen the drum more, you won't like what you hear at first mind so, maybe have someone sitting at the desk helping you so you're not running backwards and forwards.
It WILL.sound massive and sustained when miked, even dampened to the hilt. Trust me.
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Platinum Member
I run an emad on my 26 and tune it without the foam ring until it sounds the way I want it then put the ring in and it usually just gets better.

No talk here of what heads you are using...

Ian Ballard

Silver Member
I got a KickPort and it definitely improved my bass drum tone. Put a good BD mic about an inch from the hole and it's an incredible, powerful sound. I don't stuff anything in my drum, use an EMAD on the batter and the KickPort itself muffles the front head a big from its weight. Both live and in the studio, I get that wonderful combination of a big, full, breathy sound and the punch and definition necessary in modern music.

I generally tune the batter side the lowest pitch that the drum shell and head resonate together and I tune the resonant side just a hair higher. Theoretically when you hit the drum hard, the pitch, due to the head stretching from impact, goes up. When you hit the drums hard the resonant and batter ring together and you get a more full tone at those higher volumes. When you hit the drum softly, the higher pitch of the reso side compliments the tone by adding depth.

Occasionally I use a ribbon mic like the CAD Trion 7000 in addition to a dedicated bass pattern mic. I put the ribbon a few inches in front of the solid part of the bass drum head to capture the boom and overtones. The ribbon mic gets a smooth and even detail, whereas bass drum dynamic mics scoop the mids and are unidirectional, great for punch. The ribbon has a figure 8 pattern which picks up ambiance behind the mic too.