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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 4 of 29

Choosing a Kick Drum - DW 22x18 Evans Coated

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

4. Choosing a Kick Drum - DW 22x18 Evans Coated

Lesson Info

Choosing a Kick Drum - DW 22x18 Evans Coated

Normally when I'm doing a session and I know the mikes amusing I'll put my whole signal chain down in the comments section here but because we're gonna be switching out mikes and stuff a lot I'm going to do it in the marker otherwise it'll get confusing because you'll see the kick in track and you'll say oh do you want twelve? But then it'll be like ten different mikes and they'll be labeled in here like which one's which I don't know so we'll put it right here inside mike a k a g d one twelve and then overheads are typing what I'm saying overheads are vintage norman cam eighty four's put your really cool sounding microphones there great on a drum set somewhere sometimes overhead sometimes rooms they're just really cool nike so that's what's going to be on the overhead track for this so you make sure this is my speakers are meeting because you don't want the speakers to be playing back what you're recording otherwise you're going to get kind of a double dip sounds so I'm just going to ...

roll this you wanna give me some nice hard kick its I'll just listen back to this to make sure just to double check that we have what we want just to let you know I am running a little bit of the q on this when we're listening to different mike's I'll take the cue off but I personally never have a kick drum and a mix that doesn't have e q on it, and I I have a philosophy about kicked her mike's that I've talked about before that I like something with a lot of mid range punch that I can actually do drastic e queuing to I don't like pre cued mike's as much because then I don't have as many options, but because I'm using a punchy kind of mid rangy microphone, I want to listen back to my sounds with e u because the e q compensates for the mike I'm not really trying to compensate for the drum itself, just trying to get the drum to sound more like it does in real life through the microphone. So just if you're looking at it like, why does he have any cue on that? You can see my you concur is pretty drastic, it's not crazy, you know there's not more than, uh, five d b boost. I've got quite a bit of a cut around two fifty hertz and I'll leave these plug ins on, too, so you can see that's why I'm using the digit designed stock plug ins are avid um, I'm like eight years behind here, things have changed, I do realize the avid plug ins air fine. Anyone who has pro tools that can open this session will be able to use them. So that's, why he's using him? Normally, I have a lot of other stuff I like to use. I've got a lot of you, lady plug ins and stuff that I rely on. I'll still have a lot of hardware if my studio was back at home, a lot of these drones would be running through analog gear and stuff, but this is just a good way to assess what I'm hearing so that's that kick that we've heard that's inside mike that's, how the overhead sound right now, it's just the inside this's both. So now I want to show you what the same had khun are the same drunken sound like with a different head, not the exact same drum, but a very similar drum. Um, it's, it's the same make same type of wood. It doesn't have as cool of a wrap. This is a very cool looking drums said, um, it, uh we'll have different heads on both sides. So that's the main difference. Another thing that's going on with his drum there hearing right now is that I have what's called a e q pillow inside, um, if you don't, the thing is it's pretty common to mike the inside of a kick drum because that's where you get the most isolation and that really is like part of the classic sound at least in rock stuff indy stuff jazz the totally different game you may want them mike on the beater and like on the back, the show all kinds of different stuff. But for me, like I said before, this class is kind of about my methods what I do and I like the inside of the kick drum to be miked that being said, the drum is a circle and if you know anything herds a cylinder if you know anything about reflections and acoustics, that just means you've got bouncing frequencies in every freaking direction hitting each other, phasing out all of the good frequencies just kind of phase out on the inside of the drum so by putting it a pillow in there, which I'm going to pull out to show you and put in the other drum um breaks up those frequencies and dens. I'm just enough and there's pillows called the q pillows I think that's just what it's called and uh it actually just butts up just nicely on both heads for a little bit of dampening and then it goes down the middle in a thin way you could put like an actual pillow in there but for me, that's way too much dampening someone went through a lot of trouble to design a pillow that actually sounds perfect in a kick drum and that's just what I prefer to go with. I don't think they're very expensive, a lot of drums, like higher in drums come with him now as well. So that's important, just so you know, when you're hearing this stuff, there is some dampening, and I'll show you that pillow right now. I'll show you the microt using too this mike that were listening to is almost halfway into the drum it's, right about here and that's pretty close to where I like it. I'll get more scientific later on when we're testing mikes, and but I just want to give you a reference for what you're listening to in this section, so pull the do you want twelve out here? And I'm gonna try to get it in a similar place for the next drum because that's important also something to note, too. We're using this drum rug that has a little thing right here sewed in that keeps the kick drum from moving, uh, that's a really handy thing to have in your studio, it dampens the kick drum a little bit. But that to me is a way better trade off than a kick drum moving around, which means you're mike is moving around and that's just bound to happen and long sessions like there's no spur that never moves I mean it might move mme or less depending on the drummer and the drum and the type of spur which is this right here it's the foot that holds the kick drum in place but just because you're kicking it forward it will move forward or at an angle when one spurred catches and the other one doesn't. So having a rug like this really just keeps your whole kid in place because the kick drum moves than the drummers like oh my tom's too close or too far away and then the tom moves and then the snare moves and then a symbol moves and then all your mic placement that he spent like an entire day getting perfect just goes out the window so there's a handy little thing you can make something like this to I've made these in the past where you just get a rug and you get a two by four, roll it over and then just screw it down or staple it down basically does the same thing, but I like the pre fabulous because they look nice so here's the pillow other part of the design of this pillow that's really cool because it angles out like this and it's thin it's really easy to get through the small hole on the front of a kick drum, as though where like, if we were trying to get off real pillow that you sleep on through this thing, you'd be ripping the head and just like jamming it in there messing up your tuning. So in a situation like this, where we have one pillow and multiple drums it's nice to have something that comes in in and out of the drum really easy this is all it is. I mean, it's goofy looking is just, uh, you know, kind of an h shaped pillow and some drums actually have velcro inside on the wood, and this has the other side of the velcro so that it stays in one place and you can kind of adjust it and what's cool about that too is you can use the velcro to kind of scrunch it up, so if you don't want to touch the heads, you can push one side forward and or back and we haven't hit the heads more by where you connect the velcro so it's, just a handy little thing should hear what it sounds like without it, yeah, we should in fact, let me throw the mic back in here and you can hear what that's really doing get below here I also another way that I can measure the distance on this and make sure I'm keeping it accurate is that I know that this is butted up against this, so and this is butted up against this, so it'll always be the same distance in just want to make sure I didn't mess it the angle, even the tiniest little bit drastically changed the recording. Exactly little changes can make a big difference, so I'm going to open this and want to duplicate this information before he plays hoops that's not what I meant to do save that duplicate this important and then I'm just going to write, you know, e q pillow, I'll meet my monitors are my tracks on record we can hear that and that's not that's, not a bad sand just for me. No it's, not bad at all and especially like in the room. It's really cool the pillow for me is not so much about the sound in the room it's more about uh uh complimenting the mic inside the drum. We'll hear this back and I'll probably see this a lot throughout the class, even though I have my ways and things that I do, sometimes you do stuff like this, this sounded better without the pillow then just do it without the pillow it's all about the sound everything I'm saying are like ninety five percent ninety five percent of the time this is what I'll do but there's always variables and just like when you're tightening up ahead and for some reason there's a wrinkly spot even though he did everything right just things can be different sometimes and you know, sometimes it can be for the better. So let's hear this back and see what we think. It's a little basketball league for me that's what the pillow does exactly. Yeah so here's with the pillow it's nice and tight without the pillow. He had a lot of frequencies bouncing around kind of sounds like I was called basketball it's like it that's? Not really even a word, but, uh, sounds like a basketball hitting the floor in a basketball court or something, but it's not necessarily bad sound, and if we weren't making the inside, I would probably like that sound better because it sounds a little bigger has kind of a cool sustained to it. It just doesn't work for me for the inside mike, but thanks for bringing that up because that's a really good thing to hear. Yeah, I think it's important to know not just the good sounds but also know the bad and if you hear that sound you miked advocate, you've done everything you like why does my kick drum sound like a basketball? Um, and you go, oh, I didn't put a pillow. I didn't put any kind of dampening it, and that'll just trigger that in your brain catalog. And you'll know now that that sound is not any other reason, other than not having a pillow in it. So I'm going to switch this out because the basketball sounds kind of a foreign sound, because hardly anybody records with that basketball sound. So you ever hear it? Yeah, exactly. It's not something you would recognize or equate to any. And you would have heard on a previous recording.

Class Description

Drums are one of the hardest instruments to record, because in reality, a drum kit can be upwards of 20 or 30 instruments being played by a performer at one consistent time. Each drum head plays a huge role in determining the overall tone. The range of frequencies is broader than any other recorded instrument, with sub-kicks extending down below 60 Hz and hihats and cymbals with presence and ring above 16kHz. The dynamic range can include subtle ghost hits and flutters to pounding snares that fill a room, and yet somehow all of this is supposed to fit inside a mix without getting lost in a sea of guitars.

Kris Crummett has over a decade and a half of experience recording bands like Sleeping with Sirens, Issues, Alesana, Further Seems Forever and Emarosa. Kris will walk you through every step of the process to capturing killer drum sounds.

Which Drums to Use?

  • The size and type of the kick drum is a good place to start, and will largely dictate what kind of tone you end up with when you get the final mix. Do you want a modern sounding kit with a big low end and a bright punch or a more vintage tone with a rounder, softer low end punch?
  • Snare sounds can often define the tone of an entire record with a range of sizes, head choices and tuning options. How much ring is left in the resonant head can be deceiving when listening to an drum kit on its own, but can often be lost when blended in with the rest of the band. From maple and birch full bodied and nuanced tones to aluminum or even brass bodies, the snare drum can have one of the biggest impacts on your final track.
  • Drum heads can also have a huge impact on the transients that you capture when recording. Coated heads can offer a punchier, thicker sound while clear heads are a bit brighter. Tuning the top head and the bottom head to resonant together is an essential art that takes practice and expertise.

Which mics to Use?

  • There’s no right or wrong way to mic a drum kit, from the famous ‘When the Levee Breaks” 2 microphone room tone to modern metal drum production with 30+ mics in place.
  • Deciding when to use a condenser and when to use a dynamic mic is dependent upon the style, the drummer’s playing style and even the room in which you’re tracking. What sort of room mic techniques can give you that big open kit sound? What about a tight, small room trap kit sound?
  • Kris is prepared to walk you through all of these choices, with examples from his storied career and tips and tricks that only years in the studio can earn you. With legendary guest drummer KJ Sawka, you’ll have an experienced team to guide you through how to overcome the biggest challenge for a home studio engineer, the drum kit.


Kevin Howard

Kris is methodical and goes over everything related to drum recording in great detail. He covers heads and even how much moon gel he uses for damping the heads, Mic placement, shell choice( size, wood etc ). Listen to Dance Gavin Dance to hear some of his work. I found this class to be super informative and very practical in it's approach. Thank you Kris !


this is a great class! i play drums personally, and i love percussion! he also teaches well


This is an amazing class! Kris is a very scientific instructor. This really opened my eyes to the drum recording process. Take Notes!!!! There are about a thousand unique facts and techniques that you should know. This will help you to record drums correctly at the source so that you can minimize the amount of digital destruction you will do later and thus get a "Professional" sound.