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

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Skitch said:
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.
I'm familiar with the classic Pat Steward (Stewart?) sounds, I suspect they're also on the Reckless album (I'm away from my CDs right now.)

As with so many recorded sounds we've come to embrace, there's a certain amount of studio engineering that goes into creating that end result. As for Pat's classic tom sound, they sound like medium to large sizes, muffled slightly on top and possibly the resos as well, hit hard, EQd for some extra punch, and with verb. I happen to love the sound as well, and if I were to recreate it I'd use clear 2-ply heads on 13/14/16" toms, muffled to take away most of the resonance so that just the punch/attack remains, and let the engineer take them the rest of the way.

Part of the drummer's job is to know when something is the engineer's job. :)

Bermuda
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
bermuda said:
I'm familiar with the classic Pat Steward (Stewart?) sounds, I suspect they're also on the Reckless album (I'm away from my CDs right now.)

As with so many recorded sounds we've come to embrace, there's a certain amount of studio engineering that goes into creating that end result. As for Pat's classic tom sound, they sound like medium to large sizes, muffled slightly on top and possibly the resos as well, hit hard, EQd for some extra punch, and with verb. I happen to love the sound as well, and if I were to recreate it I'd use clear 2-ply heads on 13/14/16" toms, muffled to take away most of the resonance so that just the punch/attack remains, and let the engineer take them the rest of the way.

Part of the drummer's job is to know when something is the engineer's job. :)

Bermuda
Bermuda, don't you think that the room and mic placement has alot to do with getting drums to sound a certain way, sometimes even more than processing or tuning? I know in the studio that I do most of my session work in, if I muffled the batter and resonant heads of my toms and recorded them, they would sound like crap, or at least crap to me. That also would translate into not being very inspired while playing a crappy sounding kit in the studio, making the session less than enjoyable. I'm not saying that we should have awesome sounding drums 100% of the time, I'm just saying that I think there are other variables to take into consideration in getting a drum sound before you go slapping the duct tape on. I've heard wide open toms getting the same end result as muffled toms due to the mic placement, room ambience, processing, etc. Would you agree?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
cdrums21 said:
Bermuda, don't you think that the room and mic placement has alot to do with getting drums to sound a certain way, sometimes even more than processing or tuning?
Yep - that's the engineer's job. I can't tune the drums to make a room sound... I can only estimate what they'll need to sound like if the close mic and room mics are blended.

cdrums21 said:
I'm not saying that we should have awesome sounding drums 100% of the time, I'm just saying that I think there are other variables to take into consideration in getting a drum sound before you go slapping the duct tape on. I've heard wide open toms getting the same end result as muffled toms due to the mic placement, room ambience, processing, etc. Would you agree?
Not completely, no. As I pointed out earlier in this thread, muffling does more than simply control ring. It accentuates the fundamental (by diminishing the harmonics) and produces a different sound than the same drum, wide open, with the resonance gated out.

Not every drum sound needs to start out open, just as not every sound is benefitted by muffling. I never assume that either is correct until the time comes to decide what sound I'm going for (or have been directed to go for.) Starting from a position of 'toms need to be wide open, and only muffled if absolutely necessary' is a real pitfall. Sometimes the sound needed can only be achieved with some muffling, and those are sounds that cannot be extracted from an open tom... they need to be created with some padding.

With respect to the Brayn Adams tom sounds, the ambience - undoubtedly digital - has more to do with the sound than the tuning. In order to make it work, the toms need to be punchy, not ringy. It's possible that they gated open toms and then added verb, but in that era, gating was used differently (think Tony Thompson & Power Station) so I doubt that's what they did. At least, it's not what I would expect was done given the resulting sound.

I probably should revise what I said about the drummer/engineer relationship. If the drummer and engineer have been working together for a while - like I have with Al's engineer, Tony Papa - and if they respect each other - and we do - then there is a certain amount of suggestions that we can comfortably make to each other. If we were doing a Bryan Adams parody, I might suggest how I think the tom sound was achieved. NOT to tell him his job, but more to let him know why I've tuned the drums the way I did for that track. But I don't do that in cases where I don't know the engineer, or where my opinion hasn't been asked. Sometimes my expertise is requested, sometimes it's not, and either way is fine - I'm there to play the drums, not try and produce the track.

Bermuda
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
bermuda said:
Sometimes you need 6 toms, sometimes you need only one... or none.
Bermuda
This might make you laugh!! Last year, I was doing a double gig day and had to use two sets. The same band was playing the both gigs. The set that I used during the day (we had to load in early for the night gig - hence the need for two sets) was only kick snare and a hi hat. I had to play both Jessie's Girl and Journey's Separate Ways with just a kick, snare and Hi hat. Being the stickler for "playing it a close to the record as possible", I was flipping the snares off and back on every other beat on the Journey song. When the drum breaks came up, the band lost all compusure as the big drum sound was replaced by a "Timbale" playing the figures from the record. Something was then said about Tito Puente and a latin gig.

bermuda said:
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

As the Marines say, "Improvise, Adapt and Overcome."


This thread has reminded of an old MD article on Steve Gadd (July 1982). Rick Mattingly brought up that some drummer complain about having to take off their bottom heads, use tape or change their tuning. He then went on to say,

"RM: I've heard drummers complain,
"Yeah, but if I do whatever the engineer
wants, how will I ever get known for my
sound?"
SG: I never tried to get known for my
sound. I've never tried to do that. I don't
really have a sound. I mean, a lot of the
CTI dates I played on Rudy Van Gelder's
Gretsch drums. To me, I don't have a
sound. I try to adjust the sound for what-
ever the date is."



Mike

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


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

Skitch

Pioneer Member
bermuda said:
I'm familiar with the classic Pat Steward (Stewart?) sounds, I suspect they're also on the Reckless album (I'm away from my CDs right now.)

As with so many recorded sounds we've come to embrace, there's a certain amount of studio engineering that goes into creating that end result. As for Pat's classic tom sound, they sound like medium to large sizes, muffled slightly on top and possibly the resos as well, hit hard, EQd for some extra punch, and with verb. I happen to love the sound as well, and if I were to recreate it I'd use clear 2-ply heads on 13/14/16" toms, muffled to take away most of the resonance so that just the punch/attack remains, and let the engineer take them the rest of the way.

Part of the drummer's job is to know when something is the engineer's job. :)

Bermuda
Thanks for the tips!


Mike

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


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

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Skitch said:
This thread has reminded of an old MD article on Steve Gadd (July 1982). Rick Mattingly brought up that some drummer complain about having to take off their bottom heads, use tape or change their tuning. He then went on to say,

"RM: I've heard drummers complain,
"Yeah, but if I do whatever the engineer
wants, how will I ever get known for my
sound?"
SG: I never tried to get known for my
sound. I've never tried to do that. I don't
really have a sound. I mean, a lot of the
CTI dates I played on Rudy Van Gelder's
Gretsch drums. To me, I don't have a
sound. I try to adjust the sound for what-
ever the date is."
That Steve Gadd guy sounds pretty smart! I wonder if he ever had any success? :)
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
you have to really earn the right and be darn lucky to GET YOUR OWN SOUND. john bonham had his own sound. lucky guy.

but in the modern arena it should be all song first and ego last. once you have been on many albums, are in a huge super group etc then maybe you can get a signature sound. i'd rather be known for my playing than for how my kit sounds. as long as the kit sounds good in the song my job is to make the drumming sound good in the song.

j
 
S

Synthetik

Guest
NUTHA JASON said:
you have to really earn the right and be darn lucky to GET YOUR OWN SOUND. john bonham had his own sound. lucky guy.

j
I think a big part of it is due to how much influence the drummer has in forming the band's sound. Bonham, Gadd, Peart and others have the power to call the shots.

The latest DVD from Peart reveals how he wanted the snare to be mic'd where he liked the sound of it.

I am sure those guys can tell the soundman where to find a new job if they don't like it.
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
bermuda said:
Yep - that's the engineer's job. I can't tune the drums to make a room sound... I can only estimate what they'll need to sound like if the close mic and room mics are blended.



Not completely, no. As I pointed out earlier in this thread, muffling does more than simply control ring. It accentuates the fundamental (by diminishing the harmonics) and produces a different sound than the same drum, wide open, with the resonance gated out.

Not every drum sound needs to start out open, just as not every sound is benefitted by muffling. I never assume that either is correct until the time comes to decide what sound I'm going for (or have been directed to go for.) Starting from a position of 'toms need to be wide open, and only muffled if absolutely necessary' is a real pitfall. Sometimes the sound needed can only be achieved with some muffling, and those are sounds that cannot be extracted from an open tom... they need to be created with some padding.

With respect to the Brayn Adams tom sounds, the ambience - undoubtedly digital - has more to do with the sound than the tuning. In order to make it work, the toms need to be punchy, not ringy. It's possible that they gated open toms and then added verb, but in that era, gating was used differently (think Tony Thompson & Power Station) so I doubt that's what they did. At least, it's not what I would expect was done given the resulting sound.

I probably should revise what I said about the drummer/engineer relationship. If the drummer and engineer have been working together for a while - like I have with Al's engineer, Tony Papa - and if they respect each other - and we do - then there is a certain amount of suggestions that we can comfortably make to each other. If we were doing a Bryan Adams parody, I might suggest how I think the tom sound was achieved. NOT to tell him his job, but more to let him know why I've tuned the drums the way I did for that track. But I don't do that in cases where I don't know the engineer, or where my opinion hasn't been asked. Sometimes my expertise is requested, sometimes it's not, and either way is fine - I'm there to play the drums, not try and produce the track.

Bermuda
Good points and well said and explained. I can see why you hold the position you do. :eek:)
Thank you for being so informative and replying to these threads.
 

bigbang

Pioneer Member
bermuda said:
I'm familiar with the classic Pat Steward (Stewart?) sounds, I suspect they're also on the Reckless album (I'm away from my CDs right now.)

As with so many recorded sounds we've come to embrace, there's a certain amount of studio engineering that goes into creating that end result. As for Pat's classic tom sound, they sound like medium to large sizes, muffled slightly on top and possibly the resos as well, hit hard, EQd for some extra punch, and with verb. I happen to love the sound as well, and if I were to recreate it I'd use clear 2-ply heads on 13/14/16" toms, muffled to take away most of the resonance so that just the punch/attack remains, and let the engineer take them the rest of the way.

Part of the drummer's job is to know when something is the engineer's job. :)

Bermuda
Yeah it's Pat Stewart , also played with" the odds" and does session work.
I remember reading how this sound was achieved in a modern drummer issue from the 80's
He used big drums ( power toms , large sizes ) and if I'm not mistaken there were 3 mics on the snare drum ( one on top , two underneath ) and all toms had 2 mics on them ( one up top and one under). Everything else Bermuda mentioned sounds accurate.
Interestingly, Pat also had a similar sound going with " the odds". I don't know if they recorded in the same studio , with the same engineer or if it's Pat's way of recording drums.
 

RudimentalDrummer

Pioneer Member
Hi everyone

I was just wondering if this Muffling thing has anything to do with the drums. Yesterday I bought New Evans J1 Batter for all my Snares.

I tune all the snare at my Living Room similarly....Funny thing is I find all my snare drums sound better with the Ring...except for one Snare...My Old 1970s Ludwig SuperSensitive Snare (My Instructor gave me) which sounded so nice without any muffler.....I mean..It's the oldest one I have there.....what a surprise - I love this snare.
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
bermuda said:
That Steve Gadd guy sounds pretty smart! I wonder if he ever had any success? :)
Bermuda,

Here is the issue that I face and maybe some of the other drummers here as well....

Since I play in a cover band most of the time, the music spans decades and, therefore, it can be downright impossible to recreate the exact drum sound for each era, short of triggering. What do you suggest?



Mike

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


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

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Skitch said:
Bermuda,

Here is the issue that I face and maybe some of the other drummers here as well....

Since I play in a cover band most of the time, the music spans decades and, therefore, it can be downright impossible to recreate the exact drum sound for each era, short of triggering. What do you suggest?
I face that on the very gig for which I pride myself on specific sounds when recording each song. And while I'm a prime candidate for triggering in concert, I don't prefer it for a few reasons. But that's for another thread.

What I do is tune to the most average, normal sound possible. I realize that's very subjective, but what I mean is I stay away from extreme tunings and sounds - no specialty cymbals except for a China, the snare is not high-pitched or overly pronounced, the kick is slightly muffled, not too poppy and not too boomy, and toms are very round and tuned right in the middle of their tunable range, maybe a little towards the low end.

My drums are thin fiberglass (Impact) and when I say they sound very average, it's meant as a compliment. They sound like... drums. Maybe somewhere between a resonant '60s kit, and a slightly tighter '70s kit. Just kinda normal... maybe even kinda "eh" to most ears. BUT, it's the non-descript sounds that work for more music than the specific, extreme tunings.

Also, in concert, sounds are a bit more forgivable than on a CD. To an extent, there's a consistency and certain energy in having the kit sound the same on every song, as opposed to triggering sounds and really duplicating the production of the recordings. We're perfectionists, but we're also a real live band.

So, short of triggering, the best that can be done is to find a middle ground tuning-wise and know that it will work well over more styles/eras than a tightly or loosely tuned kit.

Bermuda
 

bonzolead

Platinum Member
Synthetik said:
Here is the timeline for popular drum sounds:

Up to the 60's: few plies, mixed woods, a lot of fat, resonant, warm sound

70's/early 80's: Dead, thuddy minimal resonance (except for Bonzo) Hydraulic heads, heads taped to death, single head drums etc...

Mid 80's-present- market splits. trends of more resonant shells, and also shells that have a big attack. Very few thuddy sounding kits anymore. A demand for a "More sophisticated/whole" tone from drums.

Generally, drums that don't resonate well are not as widely accepted anymore. Drummers have become very musically aware of the sound of thier kits (much the domain of Jazz drummers in the past) and maximum resonance with some overtone control is the new standard. Sustain is one of DW's big selling points.

Since I lived through the changes, I can say that my taste definately leans toward the original "full" tone with sustain and minimal overtones.

Illustrating the "now": a very inexpensive Gretsch Catalina club outfitted with coated G1's really had a tone reminiscent of the 60's. It was a far cry from entry kits just a few years ago (and some now) that just thud, or have this attack but no presence.
The thing I hated about the 80's snare sound is when the snare would sound like a floor tom with some snare wires underneath. makes me cringe.Blah,and like you said about the 70's drum sound (concert toms) they kinda sounded like Rubbermaid garbage cans Blah also

Bonzolead
 
S

Synthetik

Guest
bonzolead said:
The thing I hated about the 80's snare sound is when the snare would sound like a floor tom with some snare wires underneath. makes me cringe.Blah,and like you said about the 70's drum sound (concert toms) they kinda sounded like Rubbermaid garbage cans Blah also

Bonzolead
Yeah I remember that. That was also an era of hydraulic heads on top and bottom(!) Something about putting a drumhead as thick as a trashcan lid on a snare that just doesn't do it for me.

I have decided that my personal favorite drum sound has to have thick midrange presence. That type of sound generated by 1960's Rogers drums, or modern stuff like DW Collectors, Tempus, Mapex Saturn and so on. I prefer that nearfield warmth to something else that may have reduced midrange in favor of attack.

I enjoy that throaty resonance and sustain. The 70/80's had it's sound and that's fine. But nothing like that rich, punchy (mostly) open sound. I do wonder what some of those artists would sound like if the same tune was recorded now. Wait...overproduced and ruined.. :p
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
bermuda said:
I face that on the very gig for which I pride myself on specific sounds when recording each song. And while I'm a prime candidate for triggering in concert, I don't prefer it for a few reasons. But that's for another thread.

What I do is tune to the most average, normal sound possible. I realize that's very subjective, but what I mean is I stay away from extreme tunings and sounds - no specialty cymbals except for a China, the snare is not high-pitched or overly pronounced, the kick is slightly muffled, not too poppy and not too boomy, and toms are very round and tuned right in the middle of their tunable range, maybe a little towards the low end.

My drums are thin fiberglass (Impact) and when I say they sound very average, it's meant as a compliment. They sound like... drums. Maybe somewhere between a resonant '60s kit, and a slightly tighter '70s kit. Just kinda normal... maybe even kinda "eh" to most ears. BUT, it's the non-descript sounds that work for more music than the specific, extreme tunings.

Also, in concert, sounds are a bit more forgivable than on a CD. To an extent, there's a consistency and certain energy in having the kit sound the same on every song, as opposed to triggering sounds and really duplicating the production of the recordings. We're perfectionists, but we're also a real live band.

So, short of triggering, the best that can be done is to find a middle ground tuning-wise and know that it will work well over more styles/eras than a tightly or loosely tuned kit.

Bermuda
Again excellent information!


I have a 15" rack tom ( I am a floor tom aethiest) that has mondo resonance. I was thinking of trying out a remo PS3 on it just to tame it down. But the funny thing is, is when there is a competent soundman on the gig, it never a problem. But when it someone who isn't a very good soundman, usually band member running sound form the stage, there is usually a problem of feedback. I run across this problem frequently when playing in country bands (a staple gig in my parts). The typical soundman on this gig wants a flat dead compressed sound with lots of reverb added to it. Listen to Gary Allen's version of "Runaway", a worthy remake to say the least, and you'll have an idea of the drum sound I am talking about

Anyone else run across this?


Mike

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


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

Tim Wingham

Junior Member
I'm no professional and I do sometimes muffle my snare with a mylar ring, which produces a fantastic fat sound. (Good enough for Gadd good enough for me!) The joy of using a ring is that you can take it off and on as you please. A ring can make such a difference on a steel snare. Virtually gives you two drums in one.

On toms I always try to have batter and resonant heads tuned exactly (and I do mean exactly) the same.

I think sometimes people overly muffle because they are only listening to the kit from behind - ie where you are playing from. Get someone else to hit your drums while you stand in front and listen. (And not necessarily too close). That's where the sound is going. What might sound excessively ringy behind can be far less in front, especially when playing live with other amplified instruments.

However, Steve White does use a Moon Gel in the studio at times, - he told me - and they don't come more professional than him.

TW.
 

Acronomic

Member
I know that I've developed a better taste in sound over the few years I've been drumming.
At first, I didn't know what I wanted from a drum, but I think I tried to get very little resonance from toms, bass and snare. When I progressed, I bought moongel, used Hydraulic heads, taped the heads, tuned them dead.

I still favor a relatively short tom sound, but as I said I've developed a better taste IMO, and I want the toms to sound more lively, so I'd sooner choose single ply heads than double or muffled heads.

I also think that having a better kit encourages tuning instead of muffling... personally I've never owned a semi-pro or pro kit, but I don't think I'll often muffle my drums once I do get a pro kit. *Especially* when it comes to the snare.
 

mikejames

Senior Member
I've been playing since 1964, and think it's fair to say that I've tried pretty much everything mentioned here. My dad was a drummer too, so he impressed upon me the idea of playing a decent instrument. It doesn't have to be the "best", (and that's subjective, anyway) but it should be good quality. (heads, sticks, cymbals, etc. too)

It's really this simple, from OTHER people's point of view:
If people like your unmuffled sound, they will call it "resonant". If they don't, they'll call it "ringy". And of course, how the instrument is played makes the biggest difference of all. You can always muffle a drum, on a moment-by-moment basis, using your technique, but you cannot ADD resonance to a muffled drum. So to me, muffling limits the "vocabulary".

But, certainly recording the drums with a mic 1 inch from the head, in a small studio booth is a different deal. We often go through all kinds of convoluted things, to achieve a live, resonant sound. Muffle the drums, then add reverb to the sound, and possibly gate it. That's not what I like to do, but it certainly has been a popular method for many engineers. I would think the main reason it's popular is that it's easier than waiting and hoping that the drummer can achieve the sound acoustically, in their particular room. Time is money for these guys, and they often have a formula they want to use. You either adopt the philosophy of pleasing the producer, or avoid that kind of studio work.

Personally, I prefer resonant drums.
 

druid

Silver Member
One other aspect to add to the "debate" as it were...I think there is a HUGE difference between a soundguy who requests muffling because they have a definite idea of what they want to hear rather than some sound guys I've dealt with who are just used to one thing and frankly act like they don't want to be bothered. I have worked with both and the second type is pretty annoying usually spends very little time working on sounds at all.
 
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