More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Elvis said:
I suppose my statement was a bit overboard, as I do agree with you, but my point was that the muffling process is an extra step and I think, more often than not, the average drummer eventually finds that running their drums wide open will get the job done.
In terms of the extra step, believe me, I'm all for streamlining the process of using drums. But, sometimes extra steps are required. I'd love to do my gigs with kick, snare and hat, but I usually need a tom or two. Or three. And a perfect crash/ride would be nice & easy, but it usually serves the music better to have a dedicated ride, and at least one dedicated crash. I don't think any serious working drummer can afford to balk at having to set-up an extra stand or attach an extra tom.

As such, I don't view muffling as an extra effort, any more than tuning or changing heads should be considered an effort. It's all part of the 'cost' of doing business as a drummer.

If we wanted it easy, we'd be singers instead.

Bermuda
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Elvis said:
...but why make extra work for yourself, if it's not needed.
That's my point.


Elvis
First, if muffling isn't needed, then no, there shouldn't be any effort.

Second, muffling takes 5 minutes.

Ok, I exaggerate... it takes 3 minutes.

In drumming - in life itself - some things are effortless. Some things are not. Of all the things about drums that take any effort, muffling is the least time-consuming. Try telling a soundman or engineer or producer or artist that it's too much effort to muffle your drums.

I can already guess their response. :)

But I digress. I think the answer to the original question has been stated a few times: if muffling is necessary, do it. If it's not... don't.

Bermuda
 
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Stu_Strib

Guest
onemat said:
My point is, muffling is not always a bad thing.

Matt
I would just like to point out that all of your examples of muffled drumming are over 30 years old. Drums and sound engineering have advanced a lot during that time. If drums were able to sound like they do now back in the 60s/70s I'm not so sure the cardboard box sounding drums would have ever been popular?

But then again, there were a lot of wonky fads and fashions back then so who knows!
 
S

Stu_Strib

Guest
bermuda said:
As such, I don't view muffling as an extra effort, any more than tuning or changing heads should be considered an effort. It's all part of the 'cost' of doing business as a drummer.
Muffling is actually a short cut. Instead of taking the time to get the reso and batter head in tune with themselves and each other, it is easier just to throw a slap of moongel up there. I think this is why some people frown on it, as they see it as a cheap trick instead of learning how to tune. Me, I just don't like the sound of muffled drums!
 

Wile E. Coyote

Silver Member
Stu_Strib said:
Muffling is actually a short cut. Instead of taking the time to get the reso and batter head in tune with themselves and each other, it is easier just to throw a slap of moongel up there. I think this is why some people frown on it, as they see it as a cheap trick instead of learning how to tune. Me, I just don't like the sound of muffled drums!
I agree... And I must also add the lack of time in studio. Sometimes people don't want to take enough time to tune and set the microphones in the right places to not get weird overtones, or just to choose the right ones!
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Stu_Strib said:
Muffling is actually a short cut. Instead of taking the time to get the reso and batter head in tune with themselves and each other, it is easier just to throw a slap of moongel up there. I think this is why some people frown on it, as they see it as a cheap trick instead of learning how to tune. Me, I just don't like the sound of muffled drums!
But muffling isn't only about controlling ring from ill-tuned heads. A tom may sound excellent on its own, but it may not be the right sound for the song/style at hand. Also, muffling helps accentuate fundamentals in a way that EQ at the board cannot. Assuming of course that that's a desired sound. Some genres dictate a wide opne sound, some do not, and others are in-between. The more experienced we become as drummers - as musicians - the more we are expected to know that.

The posts tell me that each drummer has a preference - a sound they personally like - and some even seem to insist on it, critics (and clients) be damned. I play drums in the context of music, not just to hear myself play, and my preference is to have the drums sound the way they sound best for the job at hand. And with "more experience as a drummer" I know up front how to make my drums sound for the job I'm about to do... it's rare that I have to be told. But I would never instist on a drum sound for a project or gig just because I happened to like it. The sounds have to work in context, not just on their own.

Sometimes I muffle, sometimes I don't. The important part is, I know when.

Bermuda
 

druid

Silver Member
Also of course I think miking...head selction...and type /brand of drums come into play alot here as well in deciding whether or not to muffle drums. I know one recording I did I used Remo Mastertouch series drums with a Pork Pie snare with Remo Rennisance batter heads on the toms and Ambassadors on the bottom. The miking we used was not close miking and although up close the drums had some ring and tone from 4 feet away( cathing toms in overheads) ...not as much.In live situations those same Remos have worked well with close miking... My DW drums have alot more tone than those Remos do so depending on how they were miked...the type of music...etc...I maybe would use some minor muffling in that instance. And I can hear the sustain much longer on those toms so if they were close miked...they may require some muffling.

As Mr Bemuda said though...I do not think muffling is an excuse to not tune your drums properly. and I think given all the other variables the decision to muffle or not is not a sign of not being able to tune.

I just know personally what I like is something more alive sounding but of course well tuned also....just like a flat boxy sound is not my thing...I don't like an open sounding drum that is poorly tuned (ie: noisy) either.

Also if you are recording something with your own band or some solo effort you obviously will have more control over preferences than when working for a client who may or may not have very specific ideas regarding sounds for the drums. I think this is what Mr. Bermuda is saying...and he is right.
 

Elvis

Silver Member
bermuda said:
First, if muffling isn't needed, then no, there shouldn't be any effort.
I think the answer to the original question has been stated a few times: if muffling is necessary, do it. If it's not... don't.
Bermuda
That's all I was trying to say.

Elvis
 

infinitehex

Junior Member
I haven't read every single post within this thread, but I'd like to mention what I'm doing with my kit on this subject and a few other thoughts. First of all, I use a Remo Controlled Sound head with an Aquarian dampening static-cling ring on it to make it close off and stop ringing instantly (it works like a charm) and I also have a 42-link snare chain on it to get extra crackle and snappage. For all of my toms (12", 13", 16"), I use Remo Emperor Weatherking Coated's on the batter side and Ambassador Clear's for the undersides to control tone and stuff, but that's it - no dampening rings are needed and the sounds that come out are sweet so I let em sing. On my kick, I use an Aquarian (22") SuperKick II that has an internally glued-on foam ring around the edge and then an Aquarian Regulator (that has a 4 1/4" hole and inner circle glued-on foam ring in the center of the head) for the non-batter side. Everything sounds perfect to me. Just thought I'd share. Another really nice-looking batter head I've seen lately for toms is the Evans EC2 head. It's two-ply with a inner dampening ring that looks like it's some kinda super, super-thin piece of silver plastic. I might try them after my current Emperors die. I've taken them and the EMAD bass heads out of the boxes and the tom heads look great, but the EMAD bass heads are pieces of crap in my opinion.
 

RudimentalDrummer

Pioneer Member
cdrums21 said:
It seems that the more experienced one becomes as a drummer, the need for muffling and muting the kit becomes less and less. I

But, when I was a beginner, I muffled the crap out of my kit to get rid of any excess overtones that sounded unnatural and was perfectly happy.

Obviously, becoming a more mature player, an experienced tuner and acquiring a "taste" for wide open sounding drums will lead most drummers to not use any muffling devices whatsoevr, but is there more to it than that? Is it better to not muffle your drums since most more experienced players don't? What are your thoughts?
Yeah...I notice my Drum Instructor doesn't muff his drums too and when he play, it sounded so nice. On the other hand - I muff all my drums to get rid of over-tone. I once took it out, then after a few minutes, I put it back on...overtones.....I am using Remo e-rings & Evans Dampers

I asked my self ... should I muff or not muff my kit - I still don't know the answer till now. My guess is that - Maybe at home where my place is small (I need to muff them, no sound-proofing, open space not in a room) - On the other hand, if I were to bring the same kit out and play in a big space where it is very open - I might have to take out the muffling.

I went to see a few clinic, those people like soundman and such...takes a long time I guess making the drum sound right - There is no muffling...so I guess it's a long & tedious process of tunning. Maybe muffling is a short-cut - but don't look so nice??? At the Music shop they muff their drums somehow using e-rings to make it sound better (a short-cut to tunning drums rather than tunning so many set that they don't have the luxury of time I guess).

If I know & could tune well, maybe I really don't need to muff - but muffling has it's disadvantage too - When I do a Press-Roll, of course it will sound so much better & easier without an e-ring on my snare...right?
 
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Skitch

Pioneer Member
When I was starting out, I used Remo Pinstripes and Evans Hydraulics on the toms of my Ludwigs. I currently use ambassadors on my DWs.

I think it all depends on the sound that you are going for and the genre you are playing. For instance, jazz and fusion tend to allow for the more open sound and this may be due to the fact that most of these gigs are more acoustic in nature (not a lot of close micing), while rock and pop gigs seem to lean, but not to the exclusion of open sounds, to more muffled sounds, due to more close micing. For most country from the last 10-15 years, the sound is more muffled and lots of reverb and usually everything is triggered with some overheads to catch the ambience of the drums and cymbals to give the mix more life and snap. Currently, on the projects I have worked on, the more open sound is in fashion and there seems to be a more tolerant attitude of open sounding drums. That being said,

Here are a couple of points I would like to make:
  • Microphones hear differently than we human beings. A microphone doesn't care what kind of head is on the drum. A microphone can only represent and reproduce sound.
  • Microphones do not like toms.

Yes, a good engineer should be able to work with anything, theoretically. But the real world isn't theory. And I have all too many times run across the guys who think because they own a PA, this makes them a soundman. And some people are only used to working with what they have always worked with and can't handle anything else.

One of my favorite tom sounds that I would love to copy is the tom sounds on the Reckless album by Bryan Adams. Maybe Bermuda can let us in on how to get this sound.


Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
http://www.dominoretroplate.com


http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=drummermikemccraw
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
bermuda said:
But muffling isn't only about controlling ring from ill-tuned heads. A tom may sound excellent on its own, but it may not be the right sound for the song/style at hand. Also, muffling helps accentuate fundamentals in a way that EQ at the board cannot. Assuming of course that that's a desired sound. Some genres dictate a wide opne sound, some do not, and others are in-between. The more experienced we become as drummers - as musicians - the more we are expected to know that.

The posts tell me that each drummer has a preference - a sound they personally like - and some even seem to insist on it, critics (and clients) be damned. I play drums in the context of music, not just to hear myself play, and my preference is to have the drums sound the way they sound best for the job at hand. And with "more experience as a drummer" I know up front how to make my drums sound for the job I'm about to do... it's rare that I have to be told. But I would never instist on a drum sound for a project or gig just because I happened to like it. The sounds have to work in context, not just on their own.

Sometimes I muffle, sometimes I don't. The important part is, I know when.

Bermuda
Can you give us an example of the context of which you speak? This would be extremely useful! There seems to be so much misinformation out there and can be found anywhere from music videos (which should be viewed as entertainment anyway) to the marketing of studio rings as "Studio Rings".


Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
http://www.dominoretroplate.com


http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=drummermikemccraw
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Heya Mike!

Couple of examples of drum sounds being in (and out) context:

Bonham - perfect for Led Zeppelin, not good for funk. Or jazz. Or pop. Or most other rock for that matter.

Classic Joe Morello - perfect for Dave Brubeck, not for Led Zeppelin. Or most pop or rock.

Classic Jeff Porcaro (think Boz Scaggs' "Lowdown") - nice tight sound, great playing, but not suitable for much outside of 70s studio pop/rock.

I could make a really long list of drum sounds thatappeal to a lot of us, but - for better or worse - are stereotyped for certain genres and even bands (Led Zep is a prime example.) It's all well and good to be a pioneer, to take chances, to be a visionary, to think outside of the box with drum sounds... but they still have to sound good with the music in question. If a rockin song had a thin jazz-tuned kit in it, the song wouldn't work, no matter how ell everything was played, and how perfectly tuned the kit is for jazz purposes.

The matter of what's 'right' is very subjective of course, but we all have a sense of it and follow certain rules. Nothing to be ashamed of or try to fight the feeling, it comes with experience. And we all exercise the concept of what's 'right' in many ways and to varying degrees. Simple example we can probably all relate to: when we sit down at a bop kit, most of us start playing jazzy or drum & bass licks. When we sit at a big rock kit, we play some obvious rock beats & fills. When we sit at a classic Simmons kit, we play Thomas Dolby's "Blinded With Science." Well, a little exaggeration perhaps, but the idea is, drums make a lot of different sounds, and those sounds have certain genres and production values where they work best, and other genres where they don't work at all.

Experienced drummers know what sounds/drums to use for particular styles. If a drummer plays only jazz, they're not going to use a Bonham kit. And a drummer who plays only death metal is not going to use a Yamaha HipGig.

Bermuda
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
bermuda said:
Heya Mike!

Couple of examples of drum sounds being in (and out) context:

Bonham - perfect for Led Zeppelin, not good for funk. Or jazz. Or pop. Or most other rock for that matter.

Classic Joe Morello - perfect for Dave Brubeck, not for Led Zeppelin. Or most pop or rock.

Classic Jeff Porcaro (think Boz Scaggs' "Lowdown") - nice tight sound, great playing, but not suitable for much outside of 70s studio pop/rock.

I could make a really long list of drum sounds thatappeal to a lot of us, but - for better or worse - are stereotyped for certain genres and even bands (Led Zep is a prime example.) It's all well and good to be a pioneer, to take chances, to be a visionary, to think outside of the box with drum sounds... but they still have to sound good with the music in question. If a rockin song had a thin jazz-tuned kit in it, the song wouldn't work, no matter how ell everything was played, and how perfectly tuned the kit is for jazz purposes.

The matter of what's 'right' is very subjective of course, but we all have a sense of it and follow certain rules. Nothing to be ashamed of or try to fight the feeling, it comes with experience. And we all exercise the concept of what's 'right' in many ways and to varying degrees. Simple example we can probably all relate to: when we sit down at a bop kit, most of us start playing jazzy or drum & bass licks. When we sit at a big rock kit, we play some obvious rock beats & fills. When we sit at a classic Simmons kit, we play Thomas Dolby's "Blinded With Science." Well, a little exaggeration perhaps, but the idea is, drums make a lot of different sounds, and those sounds have certain genres and production values where they work best, and other genres where they don't work at all.

Experienced drummers know what sounds/drums to use for particular styles. If a drummer plays only jazz, they're not going to use a Bonham kit. And a drummer who plays only death metal is not going to use a Yamaha HipGig.

Bermuda

From what I have read here, Bermuda, it sounds as if you are saying we shouldn't fight the evolution of drum sounds. For instance, in the era of motown's golden age, the drums were basically a jazz sound but recorded from a distance since close miking hadn't been refined yet. The point is that the drum sound should be "in character" with the genre.

Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
http://www.dominoretroplate.com


http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=drummermikemccraw
 
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Synthetik

Guest
I am not sure there is any completion to this topic. But I will make a short list of the points made so far.

1) Following the genre/what the music calls for...(IE no Bonham sound for funk)

2) Following your taste, (or the engineers taste)

3) Generally speaking, skill has little to do with amount of muffling inasmuch as genre does. (IE it is generally common practice that modern music demands more drum resonance and less muffling than they did in 1976.)

4) Wide open sans muffling: as is mention the mics repeat what they hear. If wide open works, then it is good. According to a few of the videos I have been watching, many drummers don't have any visible muffling.

5) With better drums, better electronics than 30 years ago, it's probably easier now to use less muffling anyway.

6) Using tuning and drumheads to achieve overtone control.

I hope that sums up the salient points thusfar.
 

Freddie Freeloader

Pioneer Member
muffling drums isn't a bad thing. i mean, try to imagine what the beatles or the stones or many of the earlier jazz drummers recorded on the equipment we use today. they'd sound terrible. i mean, they'd still probably be playing the same way.... but sound on their recordings wouldn't be what it is.
its all about context. sometimes muffling works for the music, sometimes it doesn't. if some of those fusion guys like weckl and bissonnette or whatever muffled their drums, they'd sound horrible playing their cutting edge music with those sounds.
everytime time i've done any kind of recording in a studio, i've had engineers tell me how drums are supposed to be tuned, muffled, and even played. but there simply can't be a 'norm'. every drummer is different and every drummer hears sound (his own sound, or otherwise) differently. when i finally got to do my own thing at home, i dampened my drums sometimes and often put absolutely no dampening on my drums other times. all depending on the music i was playing.

i find it hard to believe that 99% of studio guys don't dampen their drums in studios, like someone said above. there will be occasions when they have to because recording rooms vary and make drums sound very different.
 
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Synthetik

Guest
I have to concur with Freddy. I find it diffacult to understand that every live or studio situation can be handled wide open, without muffling. Overtones have to be a bear in certain rooms.

I know that jazzmen like thier kits close to a specific note, or at least a full, resonant open tone.

Incidentally, I still enjoy 70's music (like Mark Craney with Gino Vanelli) and his sound.

I have seen 70's acts, and they aren't as dead sounding as on record.

Also, I'd like someone to address the rumors I keep hearing about how problematic DW's are in the studio. I have heard that Gretsch have been substituted in. (IIRC Hal Blaine mentions this in his book from back in the day.)
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Skitch said:
From what I have read here, Bermuda, it sounds as if you are saying we shouldn't fight the evolution of drum sounds. For instance, in the era of motown's golden age, the drums were basically a jazz sound but recorded from a distance since close miking hadn't been refined yet. The point is that the drum sound should be "in character" with the genre.
Exactly.

For those who don't like certain drum sounds, they would do best to simply avoid playing those musical styles (rather than insist on an inappropriate sound just because they happen to like it.)

Sometimes drums will be muffled, sometimes not. Sometimes they're tuned high, sometimes low. Sometimes you need 6 toms, sometimes you need only one... or none. Drummers who know when and how to do what, and who are willing to evolve and grow, will enjoy success. Those who are too rigid will have a difficult time getting ahead.

Bermuda
 
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