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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 15 of 29

Choosing Toms

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

15. Choosing Toms

Lesson Info

Choosing Toms

I want to talk about tom's now that we figured out what kick we want to use and which snare drum we want to use for the session, we need to figure out what tom's we want to use. Now. Right now, all I have today are two different sets of tom's that have two different types of heads on him and that's because there's all different types of tom's. I mean, you could have anything from an eight inch tom to an eighteen to twenty different depths. Tom's go for days and a lot of times that's a drummer preference or basically based around whatever you have on hand at my studio. Ah, a lot of times what gets the most used is the twelve interact tom and the sixteen inch floor, tom. But what happens? Mohr instead of changing, tom's is changing. Tom heads and I'd like to talk about how you can have almost identical tom's and get completely different sounds out of them just by changing the heads. So right now I have twelve in a sixteen from my studio with remo pin stripes on him, and then I have a twe...

lve and a sixteen, which are basically, they're both maple that the same would they're from the same brand, but these have remote coded emperor heads on him. So what I'd like to show you is how really similar heads that are tuned pretty similar can have a completely different impact on the sound. So arm these tom tracks, and first, we're going to hear the twelve in the sixteen with the remote pin stripes. It's, the little more acute modern sounding for, uh, head that will demonstrate. So do you just want to give me a little, uh, beat back and forth on the toms, and we can hear how the dynamic sound just on those heads? You had just tom's? Yep. And now that I've shown you how the clear to ply pinstripes sound, I'm going to show you how coded embers sound, which air to ply, but they're a little thinner, and they have a coding, so they get a little more of ah, tone, um, of what you might call a vintage sound, but you can e q and a little harder, which is kind of cool, but they just have a character of their own, so I want to play a similar little tom roll thing for us. Go cool so you can hear that the coded heads have a cool, a cool character to him, kind of a vibe to him, and the pinstripes thin stripes have a little bit more of a kind of ah, full range sound to him a little more highs, a little more lows and that's what makes him cool and there's a lot of heads in between? I just kind of wanted to show you the two different sides of the spectrum with heads like that, you can go a little thinner with the coded heads, but you'd have to tune him up quite a bit higher. Another thing to look out for tom's is I don't like to do tons of deadening on him. You can get really neat sounds with doing a lot of deadening, but I like a little bit of sustained and I can get rid of that in the mix if I need to, um and I'll show you later on. How do you pick mike's based on the the tom sustained as well? Basically on these tom's, we just have a couple moon gels and I'll show you just a little bit of moon gel just like the snare could make a huge difference on the rack. So go ahead and let me arm that track so they can hear it and here's the rack, tom without the tending and it sounds pretty good, but the end of the tom just has a little bit of a nasty ring too, so we'll throw this back on I kind of docked overall more tough and you get a lot of less of that ring. You could add more moon gels to get less ring or tape or anything else you want to. But for me, moon jails control the sustained in the perfect way. Um, and that pretty much concludes tom's. I think for this session, I really want to go with the red and black tom's that have the pinstripes. I'm kind of going for a rock sound, so I think that's what we're going to do, so we'll switch those out and get some simple set up.

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.