Ginger Baker 1960's "tom tom sound"

Sticks Of Fury

Senior Member
hello.
i hope this is the right thread on here to discuss this. i'm sorry if anybody else has already asked this question. i've read on the internet, in the past, that baker's 1960's cream tom tom sound, sounds like "cardboard boxes" and whatnot. why is this? i want to get to the bottom of this. to me, those sounds, sound like he's playing single headed toms, but i'm pretty sure that baker always played double headed toms back then, in the studio and live performances. so if it was always double headed toms, were his toms just not tuned right, or was it mediocre recording technology at the time, or both? maybe he had the top heads tuned too high, like jazz style. or was the top head tuned okay, but the bottom head not? i would really like to know. and you guys basically know everything there is to know about drumming(way more than i know). the rest of baker's drum kit sounded fine back then. his snare and bass drums sounded pretty solid. any input would be greatly appreciated. thank you to anybody who can help me out with this.
 

drumnut87

Well-known member
single ply remo coated ambos top & bottom, tuned like jazz drums. most drums back then sounded boxy or cardboard like, the recording techniques and technology of the time didnt help, but it was what it was :) plus we dont know how dampened they were or how worn or old the heads were. and also if it was his kit or a studio kit.

heres and isolated track of his drums from sunshine of your love, and you can hear the tone (or lack thereof).

 

opentune

Platinum Member
One cool thing of Ginger's setup is he played double bass but unlike most used a 20 BD for his right foot, 22 for the left. So the 20 inch is the principal BD you hear in all those great Cream songs, at least parts when using hihat. During solos and extended jams ,or using ride to keep time, he is using both feet. His double bass parts really stand out that way. He has a great wide open BD sound.
 
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Drumolator

Platinum Member
We used to muffle the toms back then, with various things, mostly tape. I remember the first time I saw a picture in Modern Drummer, and there was nothing in the toms or on the heads. I was quite surprised. Peace and goodwill.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I think that sound is a combination of things. Some of it is tuning, but the micing/mixing technique is very dry too. I also think it's hard to remember that toms just kinda sounded like that back before the days of suspension/isolation mounts that gave every tom tom longer notes with loads of smooth and even decay.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I always suspected it was a combination of the way he hit them-- he kind of bangs on them-- plus maybe the plastic heads at that time weren't great for getting a full sound, plus the 60s Ludwigs weren't that substantial. I guess they didn't do the thicker shell and no retaining hoops until '76, and Bonham certainly got a good sound with Ludwigs a couple of years later, so maybe that's not a factor. And apparently he used 7As, which are not going to be great for getting a full sound at rock volumes. Could be corrected on any of that, I'm not a Ludwig/Baker/rock historian....
 

Sticks Of Fury

Senior Member
hey guys. thank you so much for showing interest in this and replying. i appreciate it very much. thank you to drumnut87 for posting the isolated drum track from sunshine of your love. that was interesting to hear. i never saw that video before. listening to that isolated track, it sounds like the toms are "choked" and not dynamic enough sounding. like a little bit too wimpy and small sounding. it kind of sounded like a 1970's tom sound. so ginger used single ply heads top and bottom. isn't the rule of thumb, if you have thin top heads, you're supposed to use thick bottom heads and vice versa? maybe ginger should have used rock tunings instead of jazz tunings. another poster mentioned ginger using 7A sticks. i actually like the 7A's. thin and light and easy to handle, but yeah, they probably wouldn't be ideal for loud rock concert performance. thank you again, guys. you guys are awesome. i hope you and your families are all safe and good. take care.
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
I wouldn't say it's the way the drums were constructed or the recording tech, because other drummers had a better drum sound at the time. Ringo had pretty phenominal drum sounds in 1966 and 1967, and even though it is washed out and indistinct, Keith Moon had pretty decent sounding toms during this period as well. Mitch Mitchell wasn't too bad sounding either.

And this is just the rock scene, jazz drums sounded fantastic 10 years earlier on records.
 

basset52

Senior Member
I played a lot of Cream songs back in the late 60's in a band and so tried to emulate Gingers sound. My memory fails me a bit but I can vaguely remember tensioning the tom heads really low .
 

Jasta 11

Well-known member
I hate his sound on the cream recordings. aside from the cardboard box sound i cant tell if he is hitting a snare or a tom or what on songs like sunshine of your love. their recordings are really bad.
 

BruceW

Senior Member
Unrelated, but related ;) AXS TV is going to air the last Cream concert in Albert Hall in 2005 later this afternoon... I did set my DVR this time! I expect the toms will sound better...
 

Jasta 11

Well-known member
Unrelated, but related ;) AXS TV is going to air the last Cream concert in Albert Hall in 2005 later this afternoon... I did set my DVR this time! I expect the toms will sound better...
His drums sound great at that show, he does a nice solo too. I just never understood anyone liking a poor drum recording and wanting to emulate that sound.
 

jazzerooty

Junior Member
Love Ginger's sound. He makes those toms sound like calf. I used to think they were. But they were just standard heads. My buddy was a great drummer.
 

AudioWonderland

Silver Member
hello.
i hope this is the right thread on here to discuss this. i'm sorry if anybody else has already asked this question. i've read on the internet, in the past, that baker's 1960's cream tom tom sound, sounds like "cardboard boxes" and whatnot. why is this? i want to get to the bottom of this. to me, those sounds, sound like he's playing single headed toms, but i'm pretty sure that baker always played double headed toms back then, in the studio and live performances. so if it was always double headed toms, were his toms just not tuned right, or was it mediocre recording technology at the time, or both? maybe he had the top heads tuned too high, like jazz style. or was the top head tuned okay, but the bottom head not? i would really like to know. and you guys basically know everything there is to know about drumming(way more than i know). the rest of baker's drum kit sounded fine back then. his snare and bass drums sounded pretty solid. any input would be greatly appreciated. thank you to anybody who can help me out with this.
Single ply heads, tuned high, Minimal mic setup for recording.
 
I hate his sound on the cream recordings. aside from the cardboard box sound i cant tell if he is hitting a snare or a tom or what on songs like sunshine of your love. their recordings are really bad.
The thing is, that was engineered by the legendary Tom Dowd. Which indicates that's how Ginger wanted it to sound, for some reason.

I mean, maybe it's just me, but I don't think I've ever heard a Ginger sound I liked, regardless of the genre or context.

 

Supernoodle

Senior Member
The thing is, that was engineered by the legendary Tom Dowd. Which indicates that's how Ginger wanted it to sound, for some reason.

I mean, maybe it's just me, but I don't think I've ever heard a Ginger sound I liked, regardless of the genre or context.

In this (e.g. his solo at 51:35) the problem is the close miking on the toms picking up weird tones only, I bet the drums sounded fine. The mix needs at least 50% coming from overheads, or better close mics/further away
 
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mikyok

Platinum Member
I listened to Fresh Cream a couple of days back, the kit sounds amazing.

I remember a video where he discussed tuning and said both heads were tuned to the same pitch.
 
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