micing for pubs (bars)


Junior Member
Hi All,
I have done a few outdoor gigs and gigs in fairly large spaces as well as indoor gigs and again these have been mostly quite large indoor spaces.

I have not really been involved in micing up my drums much, but do have mics if I need.

In the large outdoor spaces I have had sound engineers micing the kit up for me. In the indoor spaces I have often not bothered with micing up the kit, except for sometimes the bass drum.

It looks like I might start to get some smaller pub gigs and wonder what my approach to micing should be. I want to get a nice balance and clarity for all my drums. I want clarity on my lovely DW toms.

I am wondering whether to only mic the bass, toms and snare and not bother micing the cymbals; I believe that cymbals will cut through all the other sounds and so are the last thing to be mic'd.

Or perhaps not bother at all and just mic the bass up?

There is also the issue of the hassle of setting up. Overheads mics are a pain, and on small stages have often been impossible to place which leads me to think of not using OHs at all and just micing the snares, bass and toms directly.

Any advice welcomed.

Indie/Motown covers is the genre.
My first choice would be bass drum & one overhead, but I understand that placing the OH is a pain.

Have you considered the Yamaha EAD10?

If not that module, perhaps an omni mic in that same position (between bass drum, snare drum and floor tom) ?
If by 'smaller pubs' meaning less than 60 patrons or so I'd say you need only mic the bass drum. Larger than that you might want an overhead, it may also depend how loud your other band members are amped up at.
I can't imaging needing to mic drums inside of a pub (kick aside, and I personally wouldn't even do that)...if your band is playing loud enough inside a pub that people can't hear your toms, then you are damaging people's hearing and just should turn it down. My two cents. Otherwise, the kick and one overhead makes the most sense.
Those are interesting responses. So just kick and one over head.

Or just kick.

That makes sense. If I can get an OH on stage I'll do that. But basically don't stress about micing them up.
I always run mics no matter the size of the venue. In smaller pubs I run kick, snare, and one OH.
Get the May Internal Mic system. Your drums are then always mic'ed and positioned, and only takes seconds to plug in a mic cable. No setting up or hauling stands.

Dialing in just a little bit of drums to the mix adds presence and clarity, without adding volume. Something elusive to many non-audio folks is that direction of the source of sound and clarity need to be addressed. If all the sound of a band is coming from main speakers directly pointed at an audience, and the drums are just heard acoustically, the drums will have a relative muffled sound in mono while the rest of the band is clear and present. That creates a non cohesive sound and makes the band or drums stick out.


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I have been thinking about putting the mics in the drums. I was chatting with a drummer who does this and thinks it's great. This kinda of led me on to my OP.

But back to one of original questions; I think that cymbals cut through the sound more than toms so if I did do any of the configurations described above I can focus on just the drums?

So if I did do a single OH then point it in the middle of snare,tom, floor tom? And not worry too much about cymbals.
All depends on what your PA can handle. If you haven't got a sub and it's underpowered don't risk blowing it!

I mic kick and snare as standard nowadays. Toms and especially cymbals cut through no problems. If you want to send a basic picture of the kit through the PA swap the snare mic for an overhead.

Be prepared to bring them and not use them and get some o-rings and gels. You'll play some rooms with challenging acoustics shall we say!
I wouldn't spend the money on internal micing for small gigs. Personally I wouldn't mic anything, but if anything it would just be bass drum.
Do pubs and there like have PA systems. I done hundreds of small bars and pubs and typically there was just a tiny two speaker system for the vocals, no one else was mic'ed or in the PA.
For small clubs, I only mic the bass drum. It doesn't need to be loud or overpowering; just to add a little bit of warmth to the mix. Cymbals and snare always cut through just fine. Toms can sometimes get a little lost, but not enough to mic them.

As for overheads, they're nice to have but not worth the effort or stage real estate on a small stage. I actually find that my vocal mic and other mics on stage actually pick up a bit of the drum sound anyhow.

At my level of playing (part-time, hobbyist, bar bands), it's not necessary for me to mic everything. Those times when the band asks me to, it actually causes more problems than it solves.
- doubles my set up time.
- complicates the job of mixing the band.
- cable spaghetti all over the place

Again... The many professional drummers on this forum might think I'm slacking by only micing the bass drum. And if I were doing this for a living, you'd probably be right. But at my level, I think I can easily get away with a simple mic rig.
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Again... The many professional drummers on this forum might think I'm slacking by only micing the bass drum. And if I were doing this for a living, you'd probably be right. But at my level, I think I can easily get away with a simple mic rig.
You're playing smart, no slacking about it! I used to lug an old cricket bag full of drum mics and cables and a mini mixing desk, hardly ever used them! Backpack with snare mic, kick mic and vocal mic now.

Everything involving mics is entirely dependent on the PA you're going through. Realistically you need a big FOH system and appropriate sized venue to accommodate everything being miced up and a sound engineer. Most of us bring a couple of tops and one or 2 subs which fit in a car and try to get a good sound blending in the PA with the backline.
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I rarely even needed the kick to be mic'd and controlled the dynamics with my playing, stick choice, rim shot exclusion etc. The amplified guitars would have to be cranked up pretty good for the space for me to need any more than that.
Maybe a mic in the bass drum. The bars that I've been in didn't need microphones on drum kits. Remember you are inside, the sound reflects off the walls and doesn't escape. I don't want to be too loud.