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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 27 of 29

Final Thoughts on Drum Tones

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

27. Final Thoughts on Drum Tones

Lesson Info

Final Thoughts on Drum Tones

One thing I want to talk about is it yeah, we have an awesome snare um we've got the player playing the snare correctly as far as you know the dynamic that you want and doing rim shots the way you want but you're still getting a really uneven snare sound and you're still listening back and they're like, well that's not really gonna work I'm still going to have to replace the snare what can I do to not after a place it's there so if you want to just grab that stick and basically show us what it sounds like to hit the snare everywhere except for the center and this is what you'll hear a lot with guys you don't have a lot of studio experience um yeah go for it cool and so you hear something like that you hear that sound you might not know what it is because you're in the other room or something that's just because the person is thinking about the beat the drummers thinking about you know, being on time click track the song what his girlfriend said before he left for the session. You know ...

all kinds of things are going to your brain when you're playing drums so sometimes something that people don't think about is really hitting right in the center of the drum and that's super important because as you just heard that's just really not a usable snare sound play that beat one more time I'm just hit it dead center every time and you can hear that that's an excellent snare sound and all it took was just me reminding someone to play the snare dead center and that's just something you need to look out for something you need tio be mindful of when you're tracking drums because that's what makes a snare sounds alive snare usable is the same with tom's. You know, if you're getting weird clicks or are things happening in the tom's make sure they're hitting dead center something else that can happen a lot of times that I hear that's something that really can ruin a drum track when drummer they're playing and this is this goes for like the best drummers ever uh and amateur guys it's just something that happens all the time and that's symbols that are not tightened down enough I'll just show you how obnoxious overly moving washing symbols comes out, so if you're tracking drums, you got everything set up the way you want yeah, let's take off the felt, adding felt's can make a big difference to tightness. So uh kind of lay into the symbols on this one and play a shoulder this one and that one on the on the side so we can really hear it flop around so this is the way you don't want it to sound who one more time can you ride to be just on this symbol without washing like that and hear how the symbols getting away from him and it's kind of because it's not bouncing in time, sometimes he's hitting it dead on sometimes it's hitting it kind of quiet because the symbols moving and he's trying to hit a moving target, which is really frustrating. Um, and this is exaggerated with players who aren't used to compensating for their environment, which kj has been really good to compensating for, but so we'll play that same beat on will tighten up this symbol because again, you're symbols are so important they're going the whole time you can't really replace symbols that you're writing on like that in a session, so they really need to be consistent play that same beat cool on when we have the symbol tightened up like that, you can hear how consistent it sounds and how there's never you know, the accents are all intentional there's no unintentional accents or quiets thoughts, and of course, you know you can over titans certain symbols and you don't want to do that because that's what wears on them over time, but making sure that they're just not flopping around is really important, something else that I run into that might be a little hard to demonstrate, but it's um well stuart with reid shoulder the ride and, uh, play kind of like here so it's flopping around and get a little bit of ah accidental stick on tough and I'm just telling him to do that because I know he's gonna compensate if I don't tell him the play like a normal drummer and not a super drummer so play that a little bit I want to hear some like yeah, I want something that's supposed to sound like it shouldered on the ride but it's going to get a little top uh peeing in it on accident so you can hear in that example and it's and it's not really exaggerated with k j a lot of drummers if the ride symbols too low or a symbol is too low in general and they're supposed to be shouldering on it, they're going to get like a top ping type sounds and you're really not going to get a consistent washing sound and for rock music that's really obnoxious and really frustrating. So if you hear something like that, don't be afraid to come up and just tighten up symbol first of all and if you don't have room to make the symbol any higher something I always do and it looks ugly so take your pictures first is uh lips just angle this symbol back a little bit because even though it looks weird all we want is a shoulder on it and that's all that really matters for the recording, so play it now and give me, like, a nice, consistent children sound, and you did he did ping it. I guess I'll have to angle it more because it was a flop and oh, yeah, I was flopping too much, which we can fix that I've got another felt here in my hand. And even though I tried one trick, yeah, exactly. We're going to tighten this up because floppy symbols are not our friend. They look cool in a live situation. Oh, yeah, it makes you look like a man symbol flying around like recording basin and maria, no recording is not this, not the time, nor the place. So now we have an angled symbol it's a little bit tighter, and we're going to totally get rid of that pinging sound and have a really nice, consistent symbol sound. And again, even though that looks funny, what? The reason that I like to do that, especially with drummers that aren't quite a skill, this k j is it just takes the drummers mind off of that one little thing, you can angle it so that their natural body movement digs into the symbol in a way that you want a symbol to sound. So you can have that and they can focus on all the other things they need to focus on and not be thinking when I'm on the right I have to lean over and hit it because I want the right to look good it doesn't matter how it looks just make sure that they're playing it correctly you have to angle the symbols back or forward it's the same thing with the snare if you have a drummer who's playing rim shots all the time but you really want a non rim shot and sound just angle the snare over and I'll do that right now don't be afraid again it's an ugly thing but actually I'll let you angle it a little bit forward I don't need to get in there it looks a little amateur to do that but you know those are the things that you need to do to get the sounds you want and uh and that's more important than the way things look stand is foreign andi this in, you know even more than snares this goes for rack tom's I prefer my rack tom kind of straight I know he does put if you have a drummer that's hitting the rim on iraq tom a lot instead of getting upset or being like stop hitting the room just angle the tom you know, uh it's not a photo shoot just just ah dude, you have to do to make things sound the way you want and we'll have to move the mike a little bit toe compensate for this so this whole time where he's been hitting rim shots a lot and of course he can lift his wrist but basically the opposite of what I had daniel do if I wanted someone who's really just like a rim shot type drummer, but I don't want them to play room shots I'm just going to angle the snare because then they don't have to change their playing style because playing like this like a rim shot and playing a non room shot like this is a big difference in how your arm moves and how you play, so in order to have them to not have to really change their style as much, I'm going to just move this there so they can do that same our movement but the sticks not going to hit the rim where it normally is and the vice versa goes for rim shots if I couldn't have gotten daniel to play that room shot if he was still playing higher like this, I would have just tilted the snare up a little bit so he could lock into that room shot with his natural stance um yeah, go ahead and play first real quick and show us I'll get out of line of sight and show us uh how well an angled samerican keep you see now he can play hard and you can play with force like he would if he was doing a rim shot but we just have the snare angled so it gets that different sound ondas you can here back in the video it's a totally different sound between a rim shot and a regular snare hit and there's really good examples of that in the second section that's about snares where he's hitting two non rem shots and then to rim shots teo show how the snare sound with those different sounds um is there anything else you want to add about things that drummer should know going into the session um or engineer should look out for her drummers well, um there's a lot of jumpers who who mainly just play the drums and they don't know much about recording and a lot of times don't even know much about tuning. Yeah, so if they're paired up with a producer mix engineer who don't who looks to the jumper two to two in the drums and stuff then you might kind of being a predicament yeah, yeah exactly so it's nice to have at least one of the guys understand uh turning the job yeah, definitely andi I worked with a lot of really good drummers that don't have uh they're really great with timing there right amazing beats but their technique or they're tuning ability might not be up to par so you can use tricks like this to kind of bridge that gap on guy think as a producer or a drummer it is your job to know those things but if you don't that's ok because everyone starts somewhere and not everyone gets through the path as fast as other people so part of this class if your producer is to learn how to do those things eso if you get the drummer that he's talking about that housing tune drums that hasn't um recorded in the studio very many times you can help him and make sure he can be the best rumor he could be in the studio and same with drummers that are watching this you know take these techniques know that when you go into the studio and you're recording with a guy who's all about guitars and he's saying he's just going to replace your drums you khun go well you know what I know how to make my drum sound awesome I know how to play him so that you can use them and I learned how to do all this stuff and uh I would like you to give me a chance so that's kind of both people's responsibility but at the same time it's good to be prepared for the other person to not know that responsibility yeah there's a billion other things too but another really important one is ah mic placement and knowing that uh where your ranges because ah there's plenty of times where the tom mike's air just to close on dh if you have if you think that you might hit it, you probably are going to hit you when you get really into it and what do you think that you might hit it? You're not going to play like you normally play that's right? I'm going to give a full performance because you're going to play afraid of hitting someone's expensive or inexpensive microphone that's right? Yeah so the more you record, the more you get used tio visually looking at the mic placement of your own drum set like that that's that's pretty close yet exactly and it doesn't hurt if your drummer at home to just set up you know whatever microphones you have in your practice space or in your house and just put him around the drum set and get used to the feeling of being crowded if you're no, you're going to be going into the studio and also producers engineers, you know, making the drummer comfortable is really important on like I said before don't walk in thinking that the drummers and idiot and you know he's a cave man because that's a stereotype that I hear all the time and I I can't think of a drummer. I worked with that. I mean, I worked with drummers that, you know, they may not have life together, one hundred percent. But I've never worked with a guy who just couldn't play the drums or was actually an idiot, like anyone I worked with that had a trait that I wasn't one hundred percent happy with left, knowing how to fix those problems and not in a negative way, but in a positive way. And that's, what you're there to do is the engineer producers. You're not just there to record her there, to make the band better. So, you know, take it, make the drummer comfortable. Um, you know, a little bit of small talk, but telling the truth and tell him what you want to change, and he'll go along with you.

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.