Assemble Your Gear
We're going to talk about assembling your gear first uh we are taking into consideration that you already made the tough calls we talked about before either fired or hired the drummer you uh decided whether or not you're going to use real kicks or not you're good to go with er the line up for the recording and it is time to assemble your gear so first thing you're going to do you source it all that means is do you have the gear you need uh if not where you're going to get it from your going to rent it from s I r like we rented this drum set that audio hammer we have like five different drum sets that we choose from what where is it coming from? What microphones do you need like say when I went to do black dahlia ever black we didn't have enough microphones at that studio so I had to bring a bunch of d sixes in a four twenty ones and came many force with me they had everything else though and for instance here I think I added unosom eighty one now and a d six to the to the equation so a...
ssemble your gear and know what room you're in and uh choose your drums that's ah that's the big thing here it's okay to mix and match you're always going to and one thing I got to stay two drummers is do not make it personal just because it's your first drum kit or just because your girlfriend gave it to doesn't mean that it sounds good or that I want to use it um we're going to go with what sounds the best you should always go what sounds the best and in order to find what sounds the best you need to shoot out your drums and know what you've got so first things first is have the drummer set up the kit oof I guess at this point uh this whole section what I would do since we're describing a process is I would just sit back and observe uh there's really nothing to do I know some guys are all about efficiency and would be my king it up while he's setting it up and doing this and doing that but I think that that's a totally incorrect approach you need to see what your mic ing and so if it takes the drummer while the mic it you're gonna be sitting there for a while and just deal deal with it on but it is nothing more annoying been having guys all around doing stuff when you're not set up right because you have to tell them no now move that you did that all for nothing and you wasted my time and I'm on my end as well there's it's really annoying to have to move everything once I set it up s o step one is set the kid up step two is mike the kit don't confuse the steps don't mike it before it's set up or try to make it before it set up and uh there's also another reason for this before the drum kit ever gets miked it needs to sound right and uh it would be super dumb for me to go ahead and mike this up before I know exactly what that's the tom we're going to use that's the crash that's going to change everything and uh let's uh talk about the tone pie some more so don't buy it always go back to the tone pie if you guys are just tuning in now tone pies basically a metaphor that fin came up with for describing that tone on an album for any given instrument or an album is a hole is a collection of subtleties rather than one big magic bullet that changes everything uh it's a collection of subtleties and so as relate did drums it's your shell size you shell thickness, the depth, the material, the interior the baring edges in the hoops didn't miss anything it's pretty comprehensive I think yeah, I mean those air those all make up small percentages of the tone but for instance maybe the mountain maybe the mountain yeah b but nowadays most drums have these rubber isolated things but you know yeah, but like, for instance, if I say you had a maple drum with a die cast hoop, be a completely different tone than a birch drum right from metal drum. Yeah, exactly. So all these little details make a big difference in the end and ah, is basically if you want to look at it this way, tone pie within a tone pie. Uh, so let's, talk about this kit. How similar is this kit the kit you using cynic? If this is literally my setup, okay, down. I mean, there might I might do a couples bride changes, but this is basically it down to the type of wood. Um well, the drums on playing now are birch dominga, so they're a little bit warmer than these. These air birch they tend to have a brighter sound to it on dh maple's a little warmer. Bobbing has got this really interesting. I want to say boxy, but that's not a good word for for some reason in a studio boxy tone, but the combination of the birch and about being at this very unique it almost like it's it it's an in between a mabel in a birch, almost kind of thing. How would you describe the maple maples? Just darker it's warmer her tone um and and again it's such a to me even to me it's such a subtle difference on dh then it it it also depends on the heads you usa's well absolutely those are the colors would be like how do how do nines gage string sounds versus thirteen's you know and I mean that the thickness is going to add you know a different you know maur tone to it that makes a huge difference though I find that head selection is one of the biggest factors in a drum tone next to the drummer uh selecting your head's so don't actually go around the room and ask you guys starting with you when you're getting drum sounds how often do you choose heads like is that your choice of their drummer's choice and do you even think about it ah it's almost always been up to the drummer just based on time constraints you just go with what our dicks yeah what about you? Um I try to make sure it's my decision to make I will jump on drummers before they come over to make sure that they have at least new ish heads that's crucial um sometimes I'll change our heads if somebody comes over with something that I don't like like what? Like maybe a floor tom that's gotta really dead head and it's not resonating anymore so a furrow like lately I've been really digging the evans level three sixty heads president, you're familiar with those? I don't know. Maybe it is that you're okay those things rule uh, so I definitely try to make sure have some amount of control over that. Good. I like you. Um I leave control completely up to the drummer. Usually if they want to put towels or anything they want, you know, usually I get experimental with it. I let them do it, but a just using my years, I guess you know. So then I would say pay attention right now. Now, now is your time teo, to change that well, that you well, you are the drummer say I'm the drummer, so I leave it up to myself, which heads? I'm going to use I typically you know, I know what sounds good on my kit. I'm usually use those evans heads as well on my tom's the snare. I've got a a few different snares and I might swap the type of head I'm using on the snare out a little bit more based on the snare sound I'm after, but what? What? Uh, what do you lean towards? Well, if it's if it's more of ah heavier type song, you know, I'll go with a thicker head, maybe centre daughter, something that's going to do that, but if I'm plan something with more ghost notes and stuff I'll go with something that's a little bit lighter so that that so sensitivity comes increases well what about you what's your thought um I think it's a combination of things for me it's what the drummer likes and then making sure that they prepare in the sense of a they buy lots and lots of drum ets when they come and then be you know it's okay for you to say to them hey why don't you try give me three different kinds and bring him in because sometimes it just takes showing them the sound different between the two for them to realize okay well you know maybe with my planes down this does sound better I mean I think a lot of times drummers don't want to switch drum heads or sticks when it comes to recording because they just they don't know well that goes back to being not getting person I think that I think it's a good point actually I mean drums or one of those things that it's not like piano or guitar where there's a standard tuning it's so subjective and you know there's you know there's no rights or wrongs but there are certain guidelines to go about and it's kind of the esoteric thing you know it by experimenting or you know having a good teacher or somebody who's gone through that who can kind of explain what's going on I think there's just a lot of ignorance in the drum community about tuning and heads and, you know, what's appropriate for what? So that that's definitely, you know, I would say teo drummers experiment with with head combinations, unfortunately, they're very expensive and, you know, sometimes it comes down to a money thing, but, um, you know, like, bill said it's, you could be pleasantly surprised, you know, and the way it sounds affects the way you play so you might end up playing better because you're responding to something that's more responsive to you? I think there's a lot of value to what sean just said, I agree there is a lot of ignorance in the drum community about drum tuning and drum heads uh, one thing that I will say to internet world right now before we get into this, we are going to give you guys some guidelines for tuning we're going to get into that, but worked with a lot of drum techs and a lot of drummers at this point, and I can tell you that the best drum text didn't inundate me with technical nonsense. They just made it sound good and that's, what you're going for, the physics of it doesn't matter if it sounds like crap, so always be listening I think that that's where the ignorance comes from or where I experienced the most is either one side of the fence or the other completely. Either a guy knows way too much about it and doesn't know how to make it sound good, or they just come in with heads that air four years old, the same heads that came on the drum set. And I think that we're trying to rip them off or something by saying, get new heads and we're changing heads every song or every two songs or something. So, uh, what's up and the head selection. Do you find that, um, you handle that completely before the kid is miked or sometimes do you get the kit sounding it? But then when you put the mikes on, the recorded tone calls for using a different head. Both, uh, we try to get it sounding as good as possible before ever putting a mic on it because the another cliche, garbage in garbage out. But that said, it always sounds completely different when you put a microphone on it. So there it's some esoteric gray area where it sounds like crap. It's probably going to sound like crap might if it sounds good in the room, it will sound different might, but probably good. Um, and one of the skills that you need to develop a cz an engineer is to know the characteristics of every microphone that you're using and what it's going to do to the tone and also the angle their miking at versus the heads and what what is going to happen? So you need to be able to hear into the future rather than seeing into the future on dh sometimes you can't do that and that's why it takes a long time that's, why you will sometimes sit there for five days changing our heads. So I'll say that, like I said, earlier steps three and four of setting this up sometimes go on an endless cycle, like fine tune track, a little fine tune, some more tracks, not like real tracks, rough tones, fine tune some more back and forth, back and forth until you're happy, and sometimes it happens in one day. Sometimes that happens in five days. There's no real science to it. You just have to do it. And I'm emphasizing this point because I'm sure that a bunch of you out there want me to give you the five steps to tuning your drums well, or ten easy steps to having a perfect drum sound and that's. All bullshit like that doesn't work ever, and every drum tech I've ever had who's come in with. That kind of attitude hasn't ended. Ended up coming back. So, uh, the best drum techs are the guys who have the best years. That's. What you want to be developing.