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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 2 of 29

Drum Head Replacement and Tuning

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

2. Drum Head Replacement and Tuning

Lesson Info

Drum Head Replacement and Tuning

Right now, I'd actually like to talk about preparing the drums and what needs to be done t get the drums to basically where they're at right now, obviously, new session, new heads, a really important one thing that I think a lot of people don't no as producers most drummer should know, but I think a lot of drummers don't know either, because I know a lot of drummers that I end up having to help change heads and tune up drums properly so real quick. I'd like to go through my method of tuning drums from basically putting on a new taking off ahead the proper way, putting on ahead the proper way and how I get things tuned up basically to how I want them. Um, so let me get a drum ready here. I like to put a towel on the table, and I like to use a table because I don't you know, if you're sitting on the ground, you're going to be hunched over, changing five six drum heads or if you're doing tops and bottoms, you know, times that by two so it's, nice to have a little table, have a seat. I'm g...

onna grab a snare here, so put the towel down. So that we don't scratch the table and so we just don't mess up you know over years you can kind of scrape up the rims and stuff on the drum I just like to keep them as fresh as possible and again take this tuning method with a grain of salt um because everyone has their own way and everyone thinks everyone else's way is terrible so this is just how I do things on dove course when you're taking off drumhead it's really important just like when you're putting it on to go in a star pattern and do little turns I like to do have turns because you can bend lugs and um work the rim depending on the type of room you're using and it's just good tio do a little bit at a time some guys used to drum keys I never got good at the left handed things I just use one we'll just be tuned this we're taking this head off because it sounds terrible and it's been used way too much to use in a session like this apparently was tuned very tight because it's taking a lot of turns to get this off have another key is you you try to do the two handed thing here here we go kj knows how it's done so why would you replace this head right here? Because as you can see it's been played a lot and with the coding worn down on dh I'll show you it actually has divots in it it's going to be kind of con cave and you can't see that when it's tightened up but it really is worn out which means that it's not gonna have the kind of tone you want for a session or that I personally want I like the sound of new head some people are ok with old heads it's also going to be a lot harder to tune after it's been played and tune multiple times because the head won't be even anymore once they get to this point to use your fingers to your loves do you use any kind of tools for tuning or do you normally tune by here? I tuned by area try to get that natural tone cool yeah with those ripples uh it can make that trump sound really dead. Yeah, and it's like the life sucked out of it. Exactly. And we want life that's what it's all about that's what ideal? I play a drum head um until it starts rippling it's time to replace it. And even if you can't tell if it's rippling it's good tio put on new heads before drum session anyways just to make sure yeah, especially this there yeah, sneer is really important that you want that really thirty sound yeah. Then it's. Good for years. One you could get interesting sounds. Get tape on it. Get weird with that. It could be cool. Mrs last loathe this takes a little bit with me. Take this off. And as you can see here, it's also very dirty. You can always just set the this back here for second and you can see that the heads you could see it from this side that the head is totally concave. I'm not sure if you can see that on the camera, but it's really been played a lot and it's just too worn out for a recording session. So that's why we're replacing it like it's something here, and then the first thing you want to do. Just make sure all your bearing edges air good, which is this part right here on the drum. Um, you want to double check that there's? No pitting or any damage or really any dirt. Sometimes when you pull heads off, you can get a little bit of that stick residue and stuff right here. And you don't want that on there when you're putting a new head on, because that will give you weird spots in the head and it will make it break faster and it'll just make it way harder. Because you won't have uneven surface having uneven surface is really important for tuning um so I'm just kind of life in this town with my hand and the other thing I like to do is just turn the drum over since I'm not replacing the bottom make sure there's nothing in it because there is a so you can see a few things falling out and you do not want to put on a head, tune it up, be stoked and then put it on the stand and realize there's stuff rattling around inside the drum that's like probably one of the most obnoxious things that can happen yeah, it was very, very frustrating so I've got a new head here I'm throwing this and for me as a drummer and it's really just kind of ah o c d thing I like to make sure the head uh the logo is directly across from the strainer because usually like the majority of drummers play with the strainer between their legs or the throw off I mean um so putting the logo right across from that, um nice and even just makes a drum look good when you're looking down on it it's a good kind of let you know where the center is a swell and also the logo a lot of times is a really good place to start with dampening, but I'll get into dampening a little later yeah, it marks the snap torrisi set up to you exactly. Yeah, sure. He's good kind of knocks and tension rods out, but I'm going to do the same thing I did with the drum under here and just get all this junk out. You could do this with the towel, teo, I don't mind doing it with my hands, but usually that will get pretty coated with dust and sawdust and things from the sticks. Exactly. And you don't want that pushing down on the head when you put it back on. Yeah, I've snapped us several snatch him heads from a tiny little piece of dirt or little rock right on right by the burying edge and then it made end in their crack all the way across the head. Yeah, it's amazing what? Just a little piece of stick or rock or anything can dio she really do want to make sure that it's clean because, you know, it's it's a little bit of trouble putting a head on and yeah, I can avoid raising do it twice. Yeah, yeah, definitely especially you get that perfect drum sound and then all of a sudden it's gone, so now that the rims back on here, I have this logo set the way I want it I'm just gonna get all the lugs finger type which means that are not lugs tension rods, all the tension rods, finger type, and that just means bringing the top of the tension rod right down to the rim says just sitting on it, I don't really want to put any pressure on it, and this is giving us a starting point so that everything's even that all the tension rises even which is where you want to be, so that as you tune up, it stays even. I can't get this one in here for some reason I find that that the drums, the heads and the rams are they're never perfect because you're always beating them with sticks and, uh, send them down. Try to be careful with drones, but they do take a beating. Yeah, and so sometimes there could be something that's. Not exactly a blind. That perfect? Yep. And that's. Something to keep an eye out for, too. Especially if the drums of yours, you know, just keep your eye on it. If the rims were getting bent or something happens in one session, order new rooms, you know. So the next session, you can switch him out and make sure everything. Is working as it should because that's a big part drum maintenance is a really big part of having good sounding drums if you have lugs that air rattling or you know, sometimes the screws inside get loose and if you're trying to play it again, if you've already re headed the drum and then you realize that the screws inside or loose you've got something rattling around um and that's just not gonna work because the mikes we're gonna pick stuff like that up. So remains maintenance is really important. Um, you want to keep an eye on that lawyer going through and re heading and just keeping your ears out for stuff like that in general. So once I have this on and finger type was gonna push this down, a lot of people cringed. It looks horrible, but I just want to crack the glue this's a two ply head, which means it has two pieces glued together on you just want to correct that glue double check the finger tightening here after doing that and some drums have arraignments a little bit bigger than others. So you just want to make sure kind of jostle around till it's centered and that's good the's are all perfect, so the first thing I'm going to do is just tune this up to the point that the head's not you know right now it's just not playable it all you can kind of hear the distortion in the rattling incident blues head so I'm going to tighten this up in a star pattern and I always put my finger on the first lug because it's so easy to start talking to someone or do something and lose your place and I'm just doing half turns in this star pattern but my left hand is on this look and of course there's other ways to mark that and do that but for me that just keeps me focused on where I started and where to end with star pattern because you really do want to make sure that all the lugs get tightened evenly and right now I'm going in a star pattern and not a circle so that both sides of the drum get tightened up evenly otherwise you'll end up with your rim kind of lopsided because this one will be tighter um you know if you start on this side of be tighter than this and of course I may have just lost my place but saying that but I will show you how to compensate for that in a minute and a little slow and tedious but some people will do it to key method that's not me it's really worth the time to properly do this you can really ruin a drum um if the head is on really crooked, then he can actually start smashing the the the, uh mourning the wood yeah, yeah, and it could pull your lugs out and it can strip the uh uh, screw holes, all kinds of stuff it'll sound choked to yeah, it won't. It won't sound good if you're in the room is not even so it is it's important there's gonna be a few things in this class that are going to seem a little tedious and slow, but I'm just tryingto drive home that it's better to take your time now get the drum sounding good from the beginning and you'll end up a lot happier in the end and usually spending a lot less time in the end trying to mix the drums, trying to fix the drums. You know, um, if you're trying to sample replace someone he's playing, you know someone like this guy playing tons of ghosts, notes and crazy little parts that's just a a nightmare and it's to the point where you might as well have just programmed it in the first place, so I don't regret it later, just make sure your drums or good from the start to see where I met you, I'm a little low still think it's cool here, you guys who do this every day like your in and out of snare dems changing has all the times for here that there's not shortcuts like it doesn't get faster and actually gets like so don't rush this process yeah they have drunk ease that have like a little swivel on and stuff and ah there's all kinds of different junkies made for and there's actually even a little ratchet things you can put on a screw speargun and stuff um but in the end I think the best way is to do it by hand if you're tuning like ah hold drum set and you you're like a drum tech and you've got to go in certain speedy tools there are good but in the end you still know that you're properly tuning them yeah and it's not going to war yep and I'm doing this kind of a slow way so so you guys see where to start you can speed it up you can use things like drills later once you're confident and how to do it the right way like you're saying like a drum tech in a live situation you break a snare head he needs to switch it out while you're playing the backup snare he's totally going to use a power drill with it pop that head office fastest possible but he's done it a million times and that's his job and he's used to and I'm just gonna stretch this out one more time drum heads can handle an extreme amount of pressure. You can stand on the drum if you really wanted to his socks on in the heads not going to break. So I really like to put my body weight into it and stretch the head out because otherwise, it's just like guitar strings, you have to stretch him out. Otherwise, once you start playing and get it tuned up all nice it's going to be at a tune within minutes so I just liked it. Poor pressure one room temperature uh, makes a big difference as well. Yeah, definitely and ifyou're tuning drums in one room and taken to another, especially like in a studio that might have a really air condition control room. Keep that in mind because it will change just like a guitar. Any instrument the sound will change. So get into the other room and likewise, what is this loosening up all of a sudden? Or why is it tightening? And just be mindful of the temperature. Do you want to turn on us? I can already tell them I don't have this perfectly even got a little bit of a ripple in the top. I'm going to fix that so jump drum has they're just not as good as the other ones, yeah. Yeah. That's ah, that's another thing to watch out for, though, doesn't happen very often. Well, some brands are better than others. Um, yeah, but most of the main brands you would find at the store. Most stuff that's sold. I think he might find stuff online. That's not worth buying the most stuff you'd find in a drum shop. It's all quality stuff, but from head to head, everyone small you'll just find you'll get a bad head. Yeah, and that's usually pretty easy to tell by kind of a choke to sound or, you know, you can sometimes you can even just look at him in the er the metal part around the bottom of the head is kind of warped. Yeah, and what not? I didn't actually check this one out, but I think the ripple is more of the fact that I lost my place there. So what I like to do once I know I'm in the range just to check my range because I do this a lot and I'm switching out heads and I want to keep them consist. Stanley tuned up, and I want to do it as fast as I can. I like to use this drum dial it's basically attention tuner. So when you set it down on the drum and put it up against the lug has this little space or so you're you can put it in the exact same place every time it tells you the tension on all my drums I know the tension that I like but a good tuning range with the drum dial for a snare drum is anywhere from the numbers eighty to ninety on top I'm not sure if these air what kind of increments these are I think they're just drum dial increments and then about ten below that on the bottom because the bottom heads thinner but I just like to want some tune it up just throw it on a couple of days to see where I met and it's pretty clear that this side somehow got tuned lower on this said I'm getting a lot higher tension I'm getting a reading of like eighty seven on this side on a reading of like eighty on this side so I'm going to find the first look over here that's too low which is this one this one even lower that one's pretty low so I think we're dealing now it's like the natural variables with the june and the head because we made sure tio kind of properly evenly two in the head from the get go but it's still pretty uneven so that's just the natural yeah rebels yeah and that can happen because it is just uh you know was a piece of plastic that you're tensioning over a wooden drum so yeah it's not perfect and as you wear it in, you know, it'll change a little bit too, so what I'm doing which probably looks crazy to some people is just tightening up lugs there clearly are the parts of the head that air clearly to lose compared to the rest of it and I can tell that by just smallest tension tuner on there about eighty five they're a little too hard on this so I know thes three you're just way too so I'm going to back them off just a little when I back it off I do a little bit of a turn but after going down because if you just go down like any screw in any application if you ever done construction or anything if you loosen its crew will just continue loosening so you just kind of want to dig the thread back into the love a little bit um to make sure that it doesn't continue to drop so it stays where you want it is getting closer on this drum I'm going to shoot for eighty six all around and this is a, uh coded emperor it's just a two ply head um with no dampening built in or anything and all I'm gonna get in their heads a little bit later some music drummed out to get these other thing that's important about the drum dial eyes don't try to do big moves if you're eighty and you want to get to like an eighty six or something, don't just turn one love from eighty to eighty six I go about one increment it a time, this one to highs trouble back up got change my morning here, I think instead of an eighty six will go for an eighty seven that's what I'm closer to on that's a good tuning range for the strong and of course, like I said, I think a lot of people would frown on the fact that I'm going in a circle now, but I don't feel that bad about it because I've already done the bulk of the tensioning, and I'm just trying to get around doing the little things, so this really isn't going to throw the rim out of whack and it's easier to keep the lugs relevant to each other with the drum dial when you're going in a circle, listen the way format with things just tune that down to bring it back up because it was a little too high it's easier to tune up and down and that can happen even if you get everything perfect, you know, perfectly finger type and that's why you want to get things finger tied and even because it with how often is now if I hadn't done that in the first place it would be so off it would be really hard to get things right at this point it takes a few times around the drum because with everyone that you tighten loosen it changes the rest of them. So I just want to be sure also with the drum dial, you have to lift it up and drop back down every time because attention isn't sensitive enough to really see the change while you're tuning the look so I just that's one lifting it up every time and dropping it back down and you want the butt of this that says rim here to touch the rim because if it's not you won't beat, you won't have you won't be testing attention from the same distance of the lug all the way around other thing that's cool about the drum dough, which is a little bit outside the scope of this class, but if you're a drummer who doesn't have a drum tech and you have to change ahead while another bands playing and there's no green room and you're just on the side of the stage and you obviously can't be playing the drum, the drum dials a good silent way to get your drums tuned up yeah, and they're confident that you know that they're gonna be really close when you get on stage on dh same goes for the studio you know there's a lot of noise in the studio um a lot of people hitting drums guitars you're trying to do pre pro and stuff the last thing I want to hear is like someone hitting drums for three hours so it's kind of it's kind of relaxing on might use to use something like this professional drummer etiquette yeah when someone's miking up the kit or talking really good idea you did not hit the drums loud yeah or at all yeah, if I'm about if I'm adjusting and mike and someone hits the snare or something and I don't have your protection on you're not going to like me yeah it's like you know, as for for for anybody, you don't want to hurt their years, but for an engineer that's like their life blood and if my years ago than I've got nothing and if you're playing the drum three inches from my head, I'm gonna let you know feel about it so I'm really close on this just gonna do one last check that's all looking good and again I got the towels liken spin this drum around just what I should be doing this whole time instead of crane in my neck, so once we get this really close, I'm gonna finish it by here because even though this does really well and gets things really close sometimes I've had some times where I played it and it was just perfect if it just worked but other times you just have to make little moves on a few of the loves to make sure that your drum is perfectly into and I normally tuned drums to kind of a mid range tuning I don't like drum super crank because they get choked and I don't like drums super low unless they're big drums I just don't like the feel myself and I don't really like the sound of thirty drums I like the drums that have a little bit of life and I don't mind a little extra ring I'd rather have a drum that has a little bit of ah bucket to it and a snap and a little bit of a ring and then dampen it instead of tuning it to be basically ring free which means like tightening it too much or dropping it down I like the drum that have a little bit of life and then I like to be able to control that life with different methods of tuning so after I've done that got these all even I'm just going toe tap the around by the tension rods and listen to me oh drum overtones could be a little deceiving something I feel like I've spent my whole life during the master and I still had not got in there but we're real close it was multiple notes and frequencies going on simultaneously. Yeah yeah and they're not complimentary necessarily yeah, so it's gonna be a mess of your brain a little bit but this one's actually pretty close crisis that's pretty much where I wanted to make sure the stranger is good so that basically gets me where I want to be I'm ok with that amount of ring myself it's not a ton just a little bit of an overtone and that's something you can dampen out you can tell you can tell if your drums going to dampen well, just by lightly setting your thumb on it you know sometimes of the drums out tune right or your room isn't even if you put your thumb on it, you'll get a little like a barrel sort of sound so you either have to tune that out or, um reconsider using that drum or or that uh tension rod so I'll basically do the same thing with the bottom and I'm not going to bore you guys that stuff, but I do want to show you a little trick just in case you think that you might have to take the whole strainer off to tune the bottom because obviously the drums upside down and even with the throw off, you're still getting snaring sounds so what? I do this as ah strainer tension on both sides you guys can see this someone loosen this up all the way on this side and I'm gonna loosen it up all the way on the other side, which is where the throw office this kind of a weird dog should be listening on, then there's gonna thiss up and I'm gonna throw a stick right? There could be another stick and that's just a little trick. So now you can tune the bottom head without hearing the snare without going through the trouble of taking this all the way off, which sometimes need to do if you're replacing the head it's already going to be off that's fine, but if you're just tuning up an old head, I probably changed bottom heads every two or three sessions, I don't feel the need to change them every session depends on how much the drums you're getting played and whatnot, but I feel like bottom heads due out, but not quite as fast his top it's because they're not getting direct impact but also don't just leave your bottom head it's on for years because or or months really, even because they do get a lot more impact than you think, yeah, you could start just sounding really dull, yeah, exactly, and they get a lot harder to tune, especially snare bottoms because by nature they're really thin head and they get tune pretty high, so if you're messing with the tuning a lot, they just start to wear out and they start to get really hard to tune. Yeah, get uneven. You also want to just check the bottom and make sure there's no pitting or anything it's really easy tow accidentally set a snare drum on something and get some sort of david, and that will just make it impossible. A tune as well, it's a little, but I'm not gonna worry too much about this room. Plenty of drums, plenty of drums to go through. So, um, thiss one is good for me right now, then just don't forget to tighten back up, and if you're putting a snare for the first time, you want to make sure that when the throw offs off that this side is a little bit closer to this side because because you can't really test it with throw off, um on, well, these aren't tightened because obviously it'll just slip right out. So loosen this up to make sure this sides closer so that when you tighten this up, this is centered because because it is really important for the snare to be centered snare wires, you want to be careful with this near wise tio, you've been one of those incan they can ruin the whole sound of the stair oh yeah, you can rattle tio um, so you want to be careful with that? Yeah, you can do this stick trick I showed you, but don't just shove it in there, make sure that it's got you know you're holding it and being gentle with it because like you said, even just a little bend or increase in a wire or if one breaks or anything, you're just gonna have fight the weirdest rattle the sounds on dh sometimes if the bends in the right place that can make the bottom had ring in a weird way because you'll get the snare wire lifted up a little bit, it'll be pushing on one side of the bottom head and if you start using tape in various things, then you're you're muting the most important like chris penis? Yes said, and then that were just real in this name sound way don't want ruins there so now snare is the life of the drum sit that's, a good serving sneer so that's basically all I'm going to do as faras tuning goes, a zafar is actually showing you about tuning goes because like I said, you can get online and find tons of different methods about tuning and you can figure out what works best for you a good thing to do is watch videos on tuning if you're not really experienced tuning and really pay attention to where the drums end up because there's a lot of information out there and it's not all good information so make sure you're hearing the final product in the tuning videos and if the drum sound like you want him that's probably good tuning method to focus on on dh that's why I'm showing you this is because this this is my tuning method for snares um and if you like the way these snares down then you know it's it's a good way to go as faras kick drums go I like to actually to the front and the back pretty similar I'm not goingto put on any heads and I'm going to bore you with that stuff uh these are all pretty new heads freshly tuned um I like to tighten up again in a star pattern and I'd like to get the kick drum head just aware it's tense enough that it feels good and then dial it in by ear from there and if you're having trouble dialing that in a really good tool to use which I don't find it particularly useful on snares but it's pretty cool on kicks and tom's is this tune bought and it will actually tell you um the frequency that each luck is that and I don't know if you can see this and almost show you on the front of this kick that if I just hit this but again because sometimes it jumps anoc tive, which is a little deceiving, but you can see that I tune in the front of this to seventy three hurts um and that's pretty useful tool and again don't try to use this from scratch definitely get the drum tuned as close as you can because this is one of those things that's super touchy and you can get way lost and that's something too that you need to be willing to admit to yourself because I still do this in session's if you're fighting a drum no, the point in which you just need to start over if you found yourself loosening, doing drastic loosening and tightening things on different lugs and you just can't get it there and it's not where you want stop fighting it loosened up finger tight start over a lot of times just you might have missed the lug or you just get to off base starting over really we'll go a lot faster and it will just end up working the second time and that's something that I think it was hard for me to learn in the beginning I would just like, fight it and fight it and fight it and then I finally realized just stop and start overnight I even had to do that yesterday when we're turning some of these snares I got to one and I just realized that I was all over the map with it and it wasn't there I started over I probably had a tuned in about seven in ten minutes it was super fast on the second try you could be super good at tuning drums and know everything about drums and still a certain drum congest take forever to tune and there's some sort of variable that's just not mashing together yeah it's ah there's kind of a mystery science too drums and drum tuning that it's not always this cutting drives you would think not not like guitars where you know you just turn up the e and the a and the c there's ah no see depending entertaining but anyways drugs are just a lot different in that sense and uh just don't just don't be afraid to start over and admit one things aren't going well because it happens um and as far as the tune bought goes it's excellent for tom's two and with tom's we'll get into that and I'll show you how my tuning sounds but for me I like really big tom's that ring again kind of like the snare like I like sustained in my time so I can control that sustained um I don't really like to tune him so high that, um that they get dead I like to have the top on the bottom to actually be the same note, which, again, some people I know are into that, but for me, that's how I get tom's to sound really big and note oriented, and I know I can actually, like hit a note because it's a lot easier when you're doing, like, top lower or top higher than the bottom it's a lot harder for me to find the note, you know, because you're working, you're like, tuning this in between a note there, turning this in between a note to achieve a note when I do top and bottom the same I know I'm just hitting a note and that's important for me, and I'm not saying that you have to have your drums tuned exactly like the guitars and whatnot, but you want them to be musical within themselves, you know you want if you have a twelve and a sixteen, you want those to be a musical intervals so when you hit him together, it sounds nice kind of like a cord, and when you go down the line it's really clear which drums which drum is which because in a recording, you know, you don't get to see the drums, um, and you don't always want to pan him left and right all the way, because then that leaves pitches the only indicators to which tom is which and I'm not really into tom's that just sound like a big thud like I really like the toms to be defined, but I also don't like him to sound like octo bonds or some high pitched doo doo doo sort of thing unless a recording a track like that most of time that's not my motive so chris, how much are these tools like? How much is a team? But if somebody does have a tune I price range probably around one hundred bucks ok, they're not very expensive the drum dials cheaper yeah on day work hand in hand as well you can use the drum dial to get your tom's really close and then finish it up with that tom's or more note oriented so that's why I use that tool but it might seem a little pricey but it's a tool it's going to last a really long time and really save you a lot of time on and it's and it also helped me personally learn how to do here when the drugs were out of tune because like we were saying before it's a little tough to hear through the overtones sometimes because there's multiple notes going on so when you have a tool showing you what you know what's right and what's wrong it's kind of like we're training and it helps you figure out where the drum needs to be in it having those tools has helped me be able to to work without the tools if I'm in that situation in a more efficient way or just work with the tools faster because my ears more trained now after using those and that's going to conclude the tuning part of this class so I will just get this out of the way awesome sounds good so for when you're tracking an album will you two and specific to song or just for the general feel of the album I tune it depends on there that's kind of a two part it's kind of a two part question that um because some albums you know, if you're doing like a punk rock record or something you know a metal court record every song is and drop a there's a good chance that the drums are going to be the same across the board but I work with a lot of bands where all the songs are different songs or in different tunings the mood is different drastically different tempos so I break that down and instead of just tuning for the album all tune per song and part of pre production is categorizing your songs so say you have like two slow songs that you want a big fat snare drum for um and three fast songs that you want to really high crack e snare drum for but you decide that the same snare drum is good for both you just want to do different tunings you want to figure that stuff out before hand that way you just track the two slower songs while the snares tuned down and then the three faster ones while the snares tuned up on dh that way you're not like oh dang it I totally wanted that low sound now we have to go find that again and go back it's a part of being efficient is categorizing that stuff in preproduction and getting it figured out beforehand and as faras tuning to the key of the song I like to keep tom's in mind for stuff like that snares I'm don't really subscribe to that school thought that you know the songs and e so my sneer has to be two new knee the snare to me is more of a mood the kick drum similar unless it's like a dance track where the base in the kicker locked all the time and it needs to be in key with the base. The kick really just needs to hit me and I'm more concerned about what note that drum is and less concerned about what note what key the songs in and of course you can match a drum if you have plenty of drums that matches the key of the song I'll do that sometimes but specifically was snares more about matching the emotion that you're trying to get unless about the key because you don't really hear snare a snare a za note value it's more of ah sudden sound a snap in a emotion. Any other questions about tuning stuff? Cool all right like there too? If the toms are tuned to the key of the song, sometimes you khun can get muffle their buried inside the mix too, because there's so many incidents that are sharing that same frequency so if they're if they're out of key, then usually nothing is going to be inside that real fine for concede the fundamental of it yeah, exactly and that's that's kind of part of why I don't concern myself too much with the actual note of the drums, according to the song, but one thing that is going to do get your guitar scratch tracks or your keyboard scratch tracks and once you have the drums close to where you want him and you know what drums you want to use for the track, play along with the track is like he's saying, you know, it's, you don't want them to blend in too much, but you also don't want tom's that like every time they hit the time you're like, what is that note? You know? Yeah, so be mindful and just listen to it in context like everything, it has a context, so so you're able toe judge, if you're doing the right thing or not, yeah, based on how it affects you, just like all the all the instruments, it's vibe is really important, and if it sounds good and measures with the other instruments, then it really doesn't matter what the note is, I think, even for kick, too, especially if it's a short kick. Yeah, you're not really hearing the note. You're just feeling the punch. Yeah, what not. And of course, you don't want to get married because the kick is the heartbeat and that's, well kicking snare for me, or like the two most important drums. Yeah, definitely in most music.

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.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Kris Crummett - Syllabus.pdf

Kris Crummett - Pro Tools

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


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.