Studio drummer gear requirements

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
"Oh, your wood snare doesn't fit for these tracks. You should have brought a brass shell." That's mostly forum talk.
You can't make that sound like a fact, when you already stated the level you are working at. It isn't 'forum talk' it is routine.
I have had record producers ask me to use a specific snare batter, let alone a specific snare.
 

JimmyM

Well-known member
You can't make that sound like a fact, when you already stated the level you are working at. It isn't 'forum talk' it is routine.
I have had record producers ask me to use a specific snare batter, let alone a specific snare.
Well I get why commercial and BG music producers may want you to move it along and don't fuss too much about choices, but I always thought it would be a different ballgame when it's a band or a solo artist with specific tastes and a decent budget and you're hired to do tracks for them.

BTW, just looked up your bio...holy cow! It's like a Who's Who of great musicians and songs! Yeah, if Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello wanted me to use their favorite drums, doggone right I'd use them!
 
Last edited:

JimmyM

Well-known member
That right there is the only reason I bother with cutting a hole in the head and keeping the hoop, claws and rods on. I’m rough on my gear and know I’d tear the bearing edge up if I took the head completely off.
Yes, I'm learning what a smooth and even bearing edge can do vs one that's rough, like on my cheapo rack tom that I couldn't get to stay in tune until I sanded the bearing edges smooth and evenly. Don't think I have it perfect but it's much better.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
You can't make that sound like a fact, when you already stated the level you are working at. It isn't 'forum talk' it is routine.
I have had record producers ask me to use a specific snare batter, let alone a specific snare.
I make no effort to present my statements as universal facts. I unequivocally expound that "others might have different accounts" and that I'm referring to my own studio experiences, not to anyone else's. In addition, I point out that I don't serve the most exacting names in the industry. Furthermore, I explain to the OP that his or her recording scenarios will dictate his or her gear requirements. All of those particulars are perfectly clear in my writing. Nowhere do I mislead or paint a warped picture of reality.

Again, in my experience, emphasis on a specific type of snare drum (or a specific type of drumhead) is "mostly forum talk." I've never recorded with anyone who's imposed mandates in that category. That doesn't mean it's acceptable for me to use a snare with abominable tone or to tune in a manner incommensurate with a given track; it means merely that no one has displayed distinct interest in whether my snare is composed of birch or maple or whether my batter head is a Coated Ambassador or a Coated Powerstroke 3. Obviously, your experiences are different. I'd expect variance to prevail in a non-uniform world.
 
Last edited:

Cmdr. Ross

Silver Member
most of the sessions I have done are on a kit that is already at the studio...I just bring my own cymbals, throne, pedal and extra cymbal stands just in case. 99% of the time, the studio kit is tuned to what the engineers like to hear/use.
Most studios I've gone to, this has been the case as well.
Sometimes I'll bring my kit to offer a sound the band or artist is looking for. But 99% of the time, the pre-tuned kit they have is all I need.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
That would be the basics, to answer the OP. I know successful studio drummers who show up with minimal gear, which IS generally a three tom kit, with choice of cymbals and choice of snares.
I have regularly had discussions with producers about changing cymbals out, and definitely alternate snare drums. Drum Doctors exist for a reason and it is quite common for a record producer to hire in a coupe of their favourite snares, no matter what I might bring.
Nowadays a lot of drums are tracked remotely, so it's less abut what you 'take' to a studio and more about what you offer from your home.
I would say about four snares (two metal, two wood, different sizes and designs) is an absolute minimum.
A coupe of hi-hat choices, two or three ride choices. Spare heads!
If I ever get hired for that kind of work then I’ll get that stuff. But ironically throughout my 20s I was ready and nobody ever called for that. Now in my 50s, I’m still not getting called anyway. Considering the amount of schlep, if I did get called now, I’d probably recommend one of my 30-something friends who’s hungry for it 😉
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I make no effort to present my statements as universal facts. I unequivocally expound that "others might have different accounts" and that I'm referring to my own studio experiences. In addition, I point out that I don't serve the most exacting names in the industry. Furthermore, I explain to the OP that his or her recording scenarios will dictate his or her gear requirements. All of those particulars are perfectly clear in my writing. Nowhere do I mislead or paint a warped picture of reality.

Again, in my experience, getting bogged down in musings on a specific type of snare drum (or a specific type of drumhead) is "mostly forum talk." I've never recorded with anyone who's imposed mandates in that category. That doesn't mean it's acceptable for me to use a snare with abominable tone or to tune in a manner incommensurate with a given track; it means merely that no one has expressed distinct interest in whether my snare is composed of birch or maple or whether my batter head is a Coated Ambassador or a Coated Powerstroke 3. Obviously, your experiences are different, as are those of other drummers. I'd expect variance to prevail in a non-uniform world.

I don’t do many sessions at all, but I have done sessions where we’ve gone through six or seven snares, in order to find “the one” for a given track. And these were indie/low-budget occasions.

And if the producer or artist isn’t picky, then the engineer probably will be! It’s good to have a few options, snare-wise, at any level. I’ve also found that many engineers are looking for similar sustain across the toms. If one tom rings out longer than the others, it’ll get mentioned. So tune those toms for similarity if and when you can.

And I’ll get picky about the cymbals myself, if there’s time. Nothing worse than a thick, loud ping on a track that should have a light ride, and vice versa. If I can I’ll ask the producer or artist to specifically name a band whose sound they like, which gets me in the ball-park, gear wise.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I don’t do many sessions at all, but I have done sessions where we’ve gone through six or seven snares, in order to find “the one” for a given track. And these were indie/low-budget occasions.

And if the producer or artist isn’t picky, then the engineer probably will be! It’s good to have a few options, snare-wise, at any level. I’ve also found that many engineers are looking for similar sustain across the toms. If one tom rings out longer than the others, it’ll get mentioned. So tune those toms for similarity if and when you can.

And I’ll get picky about the cymbals myself, if there’s time. Nothing worse than a thick, loud ping on a track that should have a light ride, and vice versa. If I can I’ll ask the producer or artist to specifically name a band whose sound they like, which gets me in the ball-park, gear wise.
This must’ve been one of those $250/hour sessions? 😉
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I don’t do many sessions at all, but I have done sessions where we’ve gone through six or seven snares, in order to find “the one” for a given track. And these were indie/low-budget occasions.
That's your prerogative, which you have every right to pursue if resources permit -- or if a client or engineer demands it. I've never found myself in such circumstances. No one has asked me to try seven different snares in an effort to find a distinct sound, nor have I ever felt the need to.
And if the producer or artist isn’t picky, then the engineer probably will be!
All good engineers are picky in one way or another, but pickiness manifests itself variably. What one engineer is a stickler for, another might not be. Engineering is as unique as drumming. Expectations vary, as do the scope of projects.

And I’ll get picky about the cymbals myself, if there’s time.
The preposition "if" is paramount here. Yes, securing the right sound is always important, but being content with a workable sound is pragmatic and efficient. I've never had much leisure to experiment once things have started rolling. Any adjustments have been quick.
 
Last edited:

JimmyM

Well-known member
I don’t do many sessions at all, but I have done sessions where we’ve gone through six or seven snares, in order to find “the one” for a given track. And these were indie/low-budget occasions.

And if the producer or artist isn’t picky, then the engineer probably will be! It’s good to have a few options, snare-wise, at any level. I’ve also found that many engineers are looking for similar sustain across the toms. If one tom rings out longer than the others, it’ll get mentioned. So tune those toms for similarity if and when you can.

And I’ll get picky about the cymbals myself, if there’s time. Nothing worse than a thick, loud ping on a track that should have a light ride, and vice versa. If I can I’ll ask the producer or artist to specifically name a band whose sound they like, which gets me in the ball-park, gear wise.
As someone who only has a ping ride at the moment (I just wanted a ride that sounds good when you crash it but I'm done looking for a double duty ride and I'm making my ping ride a glorified crash), I can certainly understand that statement. My Diril ping ride was the only one in their demos that caused feedback :D
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
As someone who only has a ping ride at the moment (I just wanted a ride that sounds good when you crash it but I'm done looking for a double duty ride and I'm making my ping ride a glorified crash), I can certainly understand that statement. My Diril ping ride was the only one in their demos that caused feedback :D

Yeah my advice would be to avoid the “one ride to rule them all” and get a heavy one you like, and a light one you like. If you want to add a dry ride, or a flat ride down the road, those are nice colors to have on the pallet.

In one session (or series of sessions) I used a flat ride one time on a ballad, and it worked so well.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
If I ever get hired for that kind of work then I’ll get that stuff. But ironically throughout my 20s I was ready and nobody ever called for that. Now in my 50s, I’m still not getting called anyway. Considering the amount of schlep, if I did get called now, I’d probably recommend one of my 30-something friends who’s hungry for it 😉

Same. I see other musicians posting pics of themselves on sessions all the time. You don’t usually get to hear the music. And when I do, I’m underwhelmed, to say the least. But the photos look cool.
 

petrez

Senior Member
At the moment I only really do metal (thrash) in the studio, and I feel I have it nailed pretty much in terms of what gear I need, for what I want the end result to be. I prefer as much of an acustic sound to the drums as possible, so mainly no triggers at all. In an ideal situation I would bring my own kit, but last time (and for the upcoming studio session in January) I did record on the studio kit (Mapex Pro-M) which worked out pretty good, to be honest. Thing is, the studio is in another country, and even though we drive all the way, it's a big hassle to bring too much expensive gear in and out of another country, so I feel it's best to use the kit provided. However, with my own snare and cymbals, of course. A deeper bronze (or brass) snare, a mix of Paiste 2002 and RUDE's (15" SE Hats, Rock Bell Ride, larger crashes and a couple of chinas and efx's), and I'm pretty much set.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Same. I see other musicians posting pics of themselves on sessions all the time. You don’t usually get to hear the music. And when I do, I’m underwhelmed, to say the least. But the photos look cool.
They look very cool. And as a kid I was always so impressed. And then I grow up and realize that yeah, I’m busy today, but there’s no guarantee that I’d be busy tomorrow, and the bills are racking up to get paid. Nowadays I love having health care and the ability to go on vacations (touring with a band does not count as “traveling” to me) and basically enjoy the disposable income lifestyle. Sometimes the whole musician thing is for the birds.
 

JimmyM

Well-known member
They look very cool. And as a kid I was always so impressed. And then I grow up and realize that yeah, I’m busy today, but there’s no guarantee that I’d be busy tomorrow, and the bills are racking up to get paid. Nowadays I love having health care and the ability to go on vacations (touring with a band does not count as “traveling” to me) and basically enjoy the disposable income lifestyle. Sometimes the whole musician thing is for the birds.
Feast or famine, my friend.
 

Juniper

Gold Member
It really depends on the circumstances

I've done recording dates where I've shown up with one of my own kits, I've demonstrated it to the engineer and he's asked me to use the studio kit due to the room, which is fine.

One session I turned up with an expensive ride cymbal purchased for the session in question, I was told it was too washy and I was asked to use the studios vintage and dry Zildjian ride.

Over the years I've tried to accumulate as wide array of sound options as possible and I now turn up to any recording session with as many snare and cymbal options as possible, to cover all angles. For example I'll now show up with three ride cymbals due to that above experience, I'll setup with the one I think is best but if it's required to be swapped for a different sound? No problem, I've got options.

I've also spent ages trying oumultiple snares ahead of even recording a single drum part, I brought five different snares to my last recording session (Maple, Steel, Brass, Aluminium & Mahoganny) and the engineer made me go through them all, along with his own C.O.B Supra and 402 Supra.

It's better to have options and not need them, than need them and not have them. I've done as many sessions where I've solely used the gear I intended beforehand. It really depends on a lot of variables.

Would recommend speaking to the engineer beforehand if the situation allows. Try and see what works for the studio equipment and/or room and just be prepared to be flexible, on the off chance.

But you do need sound options if you're to do it regularly.
 
Last edited:
Top