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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 8 of 29

Choosing a Snare - Tama Monarch 14x6.5

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

8. Choosing a Snare - Tama Monarch 14x6.5

Lesson Info

Choosing a Snare - Tama Monarch 14x6.5

Now that we have decided on a kick drum and our session and we've gone with this twenty two by eighteen green kicked room way, the next thing you want to decide is the snare because that the two main drums that that really impact the music to me impact the feel of the music are the kick in the snare so there's a lot of different options with snares there's a vast, vast world of different snare materials sizes different bearing edges again different head types which they're way more snare had different types of heads for snares than there are for kick drums. Um there's really it's it's really almost endless and can seem a little intimidating, but I just today I think we'll narrow that down a little and try to make it a little less crazy seeming tio um so we're going to go through a bunch of different snares and talk about what makes them sound the way they do. They're all tune just a little bit different some have similar heads. I'll be pretty specific with all that stuff. What the main...

goal right now when going through all that stuff in your session is to find the snare that fits the song or the or the snare that you like or the snare that the drummer likes playing, but obviously we'll also translate in the recording the right way again you know if you're going to be doing a bunch of ghosts, notes and stuff you don't want to super loose low tune snare because it's not going to be responsive for the player if you're playing you know anything in my opinion you don't want a super crank snare even though it could feel really good it'll get choked and just sound really high pitch and it'll be out of the tuning range of the of the snare itself on the tuning range of the snare is where it really resonates, which I was kind of showing you guys earlier when I was saying eighty to ninety on the drum dial that's what most snares most like five and a half two eight inch deep snares tune well within but each near has its own tuning range and that's why I didn't tune all the snares exact same tuning I've tried to get them where where I feel like they really sound good so instead of being like a straight comparison of materials or heads, I'm doing a comparison of the whole package of how the drum sounds really good to me and the different drums that you can use to get different sounds so there are a lot of things that affect the snare sound um size and material is one of the biggest things I'm a big fan of fourteen inch snares um I really don't like thirteen's I don't like fifteen I really don't like fifteen too and I'm talking about the width of this near that's just too big of a snare to me it's like marching drum territory it's awkward to tune it's hard to get a normal snare sound out of he almost never see him anyways and there's a reason for that because they're not that cool in my opinion if a drummer has one and that's a sound that's awesome I'm down to use it but for my own thing I'm never pushing a fifteen anyone I don't really I don't have a problem with thirteen's per se but I do find myself running into problems with productions where I've used thirteen they're great sounding snares they're awesome for live and they're cool for certain beats and effects but the one thing to keep in mind that you could really back yourself into a corner with with a thirteen inch there is in my productions I often end up doing a little bit of sampling to back up the drums I'm not replacing the drums of samples but I do have specific samples that I recorded that I like to blend into the harder hits or the softer heads depending on the beat. Most of my samples air fourteen inch drums most of the samples you'll find out in the world are fourteen inch snares, so if you record with a thirteen and snare thinking that you're going toe slide in a sample with it make sure you have samples of thirteen snares and that's why I tend to not use them because my go to samples of my go to methods are really based around a fourteen inch snare um because blending of fourteen to snare sample with a thirteen inch you'll run into really weird resident problems and it really won't blend and for me when I get in the samples I wanted to blend I don't actually want to hear the sample I'm just using it as dynamic support on dh that's not what happens when I blend of fourteen and sample with a thirteen inch snare I just start hearing like any time the samples not hitting or when it's hitting it's like you're hearing two drums at once and for me that's awkward so even though that's little into the future of what we're doing right now that's why I didn't bring any thirteen and snares and that's why I kind of stay away from because I think you can get most sounds you would ever want out of a fourteen inch snare and control your pitch by the type of material and the depth instead of the with that's that's that's my school of thought yeah but again you know twelve inch popcorn snares little things like that are really cool for effects for aside snare like I would never say no to something like that just for your like your main snare sound I'm a fourteen inch their type of guy yeah even for a really high pitch snare there's piccolo snares that still have a fourteen inch head yeah still at the fundamental update three hundred yourself yeah exactly with still having the girth of the fourteen inch exactly exactly so you can keep you know you can keep the head types consistent um they'll blend with any other fourteen inch drum in the mix if you want but you can get a super high pitched drum um but still get a blend herbal drum by doing a shallow piccolo snare or anything in between like a metal piccolo snare give you super bright cracking sound or you know a wood piccolo snare would give you more of that mid kind of that late nineties type of crack e snare sound yeah yeah totally that's what I think I was like all that super tricked drum stuff that cuts through the mix really well because it's a really thin snare I didn't didn't bring anything quite that small today because I don't oniy drums like that because I've never got the chance to record dave matthews band don't work with a lot of bands like that although I totally would um david you're out there watching my class on drums uh or carter um uh but but did bring some shallower drums right now the drum we had set up in the beginning it's one of my favorite drums it's really cool it's kind of unique, and I often use it as a starting point and it's unique because it's two different types of wood and six and a half by fourteen but it's got three plies of maple and then three plies of being a and then three more applies and maple well, which kind of bridges the gap between a maple snare and a darker snare, like a building or a bird snare, and I'll show you those sounds, but because this is kind of the middle for me, this is what I what I want to start with, and it also is a good snare to demonstrate some different things that affect the snare sound. Besides, the material itself is also the different rim types. Yeah, the two basic types of rim's you'll find on snare drums are triple flans and die cast, and this snare has tripled flan troops, which you're going to hear it's going to give it a little more of like a sustain e splatter, you sound like a high end kind of rings out it's really nice die cast hoops will have more of a more of ah mid range attack and focus sound, so we'll demonstrate the difference there. Another thing, obviously, is the heads uh, this particular drum has a remote control sound on it. A few others that have a remote control sounds you can hear the same head with different drums. Um, I have this one tuned on the drum dialled to an eighty six on top and a seventy six on the bottom. Just for reference, if any you guys with drum dials out there and that's not only specifically to for the drum dial it's. Not like a frequency. No. Yes. Definitely not. Definitely not the frequency. Seventy six. Just just just the drum dial number. No, that would be very weird. Almost impossible. Yeah. Kick trump's there. Um, yeah, maybe throws their head on the floor time anyways, um, this also has a moon gel on it, and I'm just going to leave it on there for a minute. That's dampening that's. Another big thing that affects the snare. You really control the sound of a snare with different methods of dampening. And we'll get into that, too. And then the other thing that this has is if you want a lift it up and shows them strangers the snare itself, I believe, has a peer sound thirty on it. Um, and this will make a big difference to the type of metal of the strainer. And the size of streaming will make a huge difference and I have some drums that have really small strainers here and some stairs that have super fat ones that are even bigger than this and you'll hear how how drastic it not only affects the scariness, but it really affects the the sound of the drum as a whole the brighter the strainer, the brighter the drum is going to sound it's kind of like it's like it's almost like mixing in some high and nick you under the drum um, you know, yeah, and then a thinner, thinner one will have less high in and one that's just a straight steal will actually be, I believe it's still, I'm not totally sure what they are, but I will show you have ones that are just they're brighter and they're not brass like this and there are a lot brighter like they're brighter and color, but they're also a lot brighter and sound, so yeah, I know you're no, you're no the snares on dh what's on the drum because you can really change even if you just have one drum and you want different sounds different strangers could totally change morph that one drum into something different I was going to give that more snare of sound yeah versus and more like a tom sound yet exactly and this has pretty thick reinforcement rings which is the ring that holds the drum and keeps it round as you can see inside and uh that also affects the sound quite a bit some drums that also you don't have reinforcement rings and what that does for the sound is it just means more wood in the drum on means there's like there's more residents it's going to be a little bit denser in certain ways depending on the type of would that the reinforcement rings were made out of this also has a fairly rounded bearing edges in the drum and a rounded bearing edge is going to give you a little more of like a tone and a note well I mean you're gonna get a note no matter what but it's going to give you a little more of like a uh controlled sound as to where a super sharp bearing edge which I'll show you is going to give you a little more ring and you can actually get more snap out of a drum with a sharper bearing edge but that's just something to keep in mind when you're looking at a drum and buying a drum or using a drum for a session all those things will change the way the drum sounds so it's still this back on and well here I'll make a little note here getting in a snare drum's this is the tomah monarch fourteen by six and a half we have a remote controlled sound, which is a thicker head. The controlled sound emperor exes, evans jin eras, engineer drives. Um, all have dampening built into the drum. Kind of like the mad on the kick or the gym mat on the kick. Like we were showing you some drums. Really? Some surgeons really benefit from having extra dampening on the snare head for me, at least I prefer that I have a couple that are single ply and do apply with no dampening that'll show you as well, which gives a little more life. But it brings the pitch up in general. And the overall frequency range will well, kind of sound higher. Um, so I like to use those heads for drums like that. I think a little denser drum like that requires a little bit denser of ahead. So it's, a remote controlled sound on top. I'm not going to write down the bottom head because every single one of these snares has a remo ambassador hazy snare site head. So just keep that in mind and that's the same as, like a what is that in evidence is like it's, like a g one resident, some similar is something like that, yeah, they make. They're they're great too I just ended up with remotes for this specific session but evan makes evans makes the exact same thing they're called hazy actually aren't there's like three hundred daisies or something but great head sound really good so I'm not going to bother with writing that remote controlled sound um this sample has won moon gel that I have cut in two thirds so that's a little less than a third of them until but basically third and we're using a stock some fifty seven and I say stock because I'm gonna show you a modified one later I'm a snare on the top and what one we're auditioning stairs I'm just going to do the top because when I actually do this session I'll do the bottom but I really the top defines the sound of the stair for me so when we're going through snares I'm just going to stick with the top and the overheads and we're gonna have and will be playing the kick dramas well and we'll have the kick drum like going because like I said before to assess a snare sound, I feel like you really have to have that kick sound in there too because you have to have some kind of frame of reference and the kick is a perfect frame of reference the other thing I have here for this test that's important to me is the high hats having the high hats going well, you're playing the stare and the kick for figuring out what snare is right is really important because you're almost never hearing the snare just played by itself most beats there's some sort of symbol going along with it so the high hats are the perfect thing to have tio to decide um what snared a user what mike to use because you can have enclosed and hear the snare sustain really well, but then you can also have them open and hear how the symbols can mess with the sustaining the snare and that's really important so I can't tell you how many times I've just set up a snare and played it into a mike and then like all this rules, I love the way this sounds and then you get the symbols going you're like, oh my gosh, this doesn't work at all because there's like tons of symbol bleed the snares not loud enough to compete with your super loud symbols you know, depending quieter snare with quieter, thinner symbols, louder symbols you probably want a louder snare in order to compete that's just something to keep in mind, so having the high hats there gives us both types of symbols the tighter symbol and the rainier symbol so I'd like to record this way can you play a play beat with closed hats and then open hats right after and something repeatable that we can do with all the snares and there's a little more scientific method to this that will get into with the mikes. But for now, we'll just have you played b perfect and that's exactly the type of beat you want to hear for me. I mostly want to hear those forte notes, you know, the rim shots or the super loud hit, depending on what kind of snare sound you want and that's. Another thing that we'll get into later is that you can really get drastically different snare sounds based on the way the drummers playing when shots or not, even if they're the same velocity is completely different snare sound, but we'll get into that more tomorrow because I have a whole section based on playing styles and how that that will affect the sound in the end. The sound you want to get so let's, hear this back real quick. First off, just make sure nothing's funky with the mikes set up. No let's do that one more time because snare mike is peaking just a little bit and that's this is something that you will run into in every session that you ever do ever do with every drummer that the first of the day. You'll get levels, you think you got him right about where you want and then once the energy level picks up and you know, people are waking up and the music's there and they're really feeling it, you're probably going to turn all of your mikes down a little bit, so I did try to compensate, but I got a little too far with this stare, so that's ah, definitely something to not to be prepared for not be like what happened in my levels, you know? Because if it happens every time so let's do that same be scheme one more time, I've turned the snare down on the mic pre, which controls the level of the microphone. Merkel sounded good when you're that back presently, I purposely didn't play to ram shots, and then I purposely played to amjad school so we can hear the sound of the rim shot and not non room shouted snare yeah, cool somebody cue because I'm boosting frequencies is also boosting volume, so when you saw a clip there that's, not the actual track that's the cue so I'm going to pull this down. What do you have scooped out there? Just a little one case, I, uh I have a tendency to pull someone k out of snare drums, which is why I have this going a little bit of what about one fifty? I usually boost a little bit of one fifty or two hundred I like some thud in the snare and usually boosting some five to ten k and I'll show you with them without the cue and when you get this session you can you can decide if you want to listen to it with or without for me this is just helpful because right now I'm not focusing on the microphone I'm just kind of doing a quick end product to hear how the different snares sound with my um normal tendencies so I'm gonna I like this part I was gonna just over heads a little bit since we got the snare involved I want to hear a little more overheads on the kick I didn't want to hear a lot of the room sound because you don't end up hearing a lot of the room sound from the overheads at least in most recordings for the kick unless everything is clean but if you're dealing with big distorted guitars, you're not going to hear a lot of the actual tone of the kick and the overheads so I had to pull back but now because we will hear snare in the overhead is going to bring him up a little bit sorry for that weird look I've got my monitors on my side it's a little bit of a odd thing to hear the stereo field so that's where I want it for now. So that's, the monarch, um, which is a would snare.

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.