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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 3 of 29

Choosing the Right Drums

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

3. Choosing the Right Drums

Lesson Info

Choosing the Right Drums

So this next segment is about choosing the right drums for the player and for the song on when you have a whole bunch of different drums to choose from and different songs in an album that's what we're going to be talking about next? Yeah, exactly. So I brought today a bunch of different drums to kind of give you an idea of how the different drums will affect the song and that you're working on or the album that you're working on as a whole and just kind of give you an idea of what different drums do for the mood of the song, just the mood of the of the playing in general and I've I brought a few different kick drums, a bunch of different snares way we've together brought a bunch of symbols on a couple different tom options, and I want to talk about the the different things that make certain drums sound like they do and it's really important to make sure you have the right drums for the song that you're working on or the album that you're working on. You know, I you heard this kid earl...

ier, it sounds really good. But it might not be the right thing for for what you're trying to do, you know, if you're trying to do a big rock song, you might want a bigger kick drum if you're trying to do kind of a throwback type rock song where the kick needs to be a little looser, you might want to even bigger kick drum, but something a little more shallow that almost gives you that marching zeppelin kind of feel if you're doing something really fast and tight, you want might want a smaller drum that or that might be the perfect drum, so I'm just going to show you some different drums and, uh, kind of the different sounds, and we'll go through him and this is kind of for your brain catalog, so the next time you're planning a session and you're like, I want this sound and I saw this twenty six inch kick that would be perfect for this song let me find one or rent one or something, you know, so so you don't necessarily have to do what we're doing today yourself during your session on your client's time. Of course you can if they want to do that, but it's just good like for me as an engineer, my brain catalog is like my best weapon, like I know what every mike in this room sounds like I know what every market guitar center sounds like for the most part on a lot of different sources I obviously don't know everything, but in the ten years of ten, fifteen years of recording stuff, I've catalogued a lot of sounds my brain so part of my class is for your brain catalog and fill that out a little bit and what we'll get on the mikes and stuff tio for that so like I said, you want to keep in mind the music that the drums are for um and you kind of want to know what the drums are made of to know the tone because also like I said, size is really important that's a maple drum uh if it was birch and the exact same dimensions, it sound completely different to be a little more dead and a little more knocke but it would have kind of a cool focus sound in its own way maple is a little more live slightly quieter most of the time obviously plies matter as well um, but a maple drum like that is for me kind of the quintessential drum sound for kicks and tom's but I'm going to go I have a couple other different woods here to show you and some different stuff, but er knowing that stuff can help because you know if you if you know that you have ah someone coming in with a thomas starr classic performer you should know that that's birch and you know what the birch is going to sound like if if you've got someone coming in with a regular thomas starr classic you know that that's maple that stuff's good to know because it really does make a big difference in the sound um in your in your experience do you play maple drums? I have a maple a couple from maple kits I think they're a little brighter light on the top in um and then ideo I have ah birch probing uh no star classic and that's little darker on like he said sometimes you give them or punch out of it you know, like in the middle range I guess yeah there's more mids that there's kind of a scoop to maple yeah, yeah and both in the right setting you know, our great exactly there's not really a wrong drum. You just have to know what's coming in and what's going to work for your session like that's near that we used is actually it's ah tom a monarch that's maple the bingum able so those england's is what kind of give it that unique sound on I'll get into snare drums more later, but when you're choosing the right drum things things that are really important are, um, knowing where the tone of the drum comes from the wood and stuff also the head is really important because just like the wood, different heads, two ply single ply, all that stuff, going to make a huge difference on every drum, and I found that certain drums really like certain heads, they just work better with those heads. Yeah, and that's something that you want to know and figure out if you need to what heads air really right for your drums? Um and that depends on if it's a kick drummers there or tom's, the other thing that makes a really big difference is the player. So, you know, like I said, if if you've got a guy who's playing a lot of fast stuff or, you know, I know guys playing like death metal stuff where the double kick is just insanely fast and response is really important, I'm not going to put a twenty six by twenty six kick drum in front of them because it's like hitting a wall or something there's just no give you know that that's kind of guy you might want a twenty by eighteen or twenty two by eighteen like that that that right there is a twenty two by eighteen so know your player don't think you're going to use a massive drum with a guy you know who needs to play really fast and a guy who's playing slow big beats don't think you're going to use a tiny old drum knowing knowing who's behind the kid is really important as well as knowing the sounds you want because you of course always have to work within your means giving a given a guy like that a twenty six inch drum is like giving a you know, a guitar player in eight string guitar who's playing an open standard tuning and just yeah, what is all this extra stuff? This doesn't make sense to me, so this size of king drum on and it being maple could work for metal uh real tight kicks out or big rock sound and then you might just choose a different head or choose a different kick drum pedal. Peter uh especially with metal into real snappy, yeah, exactly and I'll get into the beater too, because the beater is really important. Yeah, so as far as the kick drum goes, you know, the kick drum is the heartbeat of this song, and I've said that before it needs to punch you know it needs tio lay down the foundation for the song when I'm doing a mix, a lot of times I start with the kick drum when I'm tracking um I like to start with the kick drum because that's like the basis you have to have some kind of grounding when when choosing drum tones because obviously they all have to work together you have to have something that is your starting point and for me that's the kick drum because it's the easiest to attach to a song by itself because you know it's the it's the thumb be beat it's the downbeat most of the time um and so I can choose a kick drum on its own and be pretty confident that that's the right kick drum for the song and then you build from there what snare matches that kick drum that you've chosen for that song? What tom's math um you know and another thing er well, actually I'll get to this in a little bit, but let's start um let's just hear this kick drum. Let me get a get this recording because I want to document all this stuff I've already pre set up these mikes like I said before, they weren't really scientifically placed, but for auditioning the kick drum, we're going to listen in a little bit through the overheads just you can kind of hear the ambiance of the kick drum, but you're mostly going to be hearing the a k g d one twelve that's inside the kick drum and it shows that might cause it's pretty neutral on day it's a good starting place as faras microphones go there's way more mid rangy mikes and there's way more scooped pretty cute sounding like so the dealing twelve for me is a good starting place plus I've been using one for like fifteen years and I know it very very well so it helps me no what we're hearing which will help you know what we're hearing so I'm just going to make a marker here I really like tio keep everything organized and names I don't need this snare track from it it's not important yet it will be I'll just put these together gonna make a marker on we're gonna call this w twenty two by eighteen green because I have another one this size with different heads that I wantto show you guys a difference of a similar drum with different heads and how big of a difference head heads make and there's kind of two schools of thought for me on kick drum heads um so I'm going to write down here that I've got a remo power stroke three on the batter said if you're working with different drums, multiple drums and the recording session is really important to keep these notes exactly yeah if you don't keep notes like this, you'll never get back to where he started you've no idea what I always get lost keep notes on paper to but pro tools it makes it really easy with markers and common sections in the tracks, which I'll show you to do this. So write down remo power stroke three batter, which is a two ply head that's kind of thick and for me, that's kind of the natural side of drum heads that air still rock. Um, the other head I'm going to show you is ah evans ji mad, which is kind of the other side of amore pre cued pre didn't head that also sounds awesome. Killer had there's a lot of great heads out there. Obviously you khun go thinner, but mostly music I record is rock a little bit more hard hitting, so I like to keep to ply head or a really thick one black head. And then I'm just making sure I've got a evans e q three on the front. So we're going to write that down so you we'll always know, and I will always know what I'm using.

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.