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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 28 of 29

Tracking Drum Parts Separately

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

28. Tracking Drum Parts Separately

Lesson Info

Tracking Drum Parts Separately

Last but not least, I'd like to talk about a couple ways that you can isolate some of the drums either the shells from the symbols or the kick drum from the front, basically the feet from the hands if you think about it that way and this kind of goes along with what I was talking about with working with the player working with what you have on this always isn't. This isn't always a talent thing, but sometimes it can be or sometimes it's just ah, you know, he wrote a drumbeat that's got a really complicated kick drum pattern and it's just not tight enough when you're playing it along with the snare and the toms and the symbols so something to not be afraid of is to just record the hands and then record the feet separately and this way you at least get a really clean sound to work with in the mix because it could be a little upsetting for the drummer sometimes it's a little bit of a hit to the pride, but you just have to remember that what the drummer wants is for the drums to sound awes...

ome. Everyone else wants the drums of sound awesome so you can get a really clean take if you have something that's just really not playable or the kick is there's really sloppy by just having him play all their hand parts and then go back and overdub the kick drum and then you can edit him to work together and that's something I have to do on some some heavier records where there's double kick that's really complicated starting on the left foot a lot on dh their symbol work that's really complicated too so you know swallow your pride a little bit everyone wants things to be as good as possible on dh there's really no shame in that because a lot of times you write new parts in the studio and you just don't have time to practice him so that's a really good way to get around that um and then you go home and you practice the part you play it live perfectly no one ever knows so there's really no shame and doing stuff like that when you really have to I wouldn't record a whole record that way but it can really come out good another reason that you might want to isolate things is for mixing purposes and I've done this on a few records just because I want to really specific drum sound and that would be playing the shells and the symbols separately that way you could get a really cool clear shell sound and then you can get the symbols and you can blend them exactly how you want in the mix on you khun blend them separately and one thing that you can do that's really cool is have the shells crank the room mikes on him and have this massive, frickin sounding drum sound, but there's no symbols coming through it so you can turn the room mike's way up and just get a big splatter e sound, and then you can have really tight, clean sounding symbols mixed on on top, something to keep in mind when you're doing this is doing things that are human, you know, uh, don't play like the snare and the tom at the same time, and also have two crashes going because obviously katie doesn't have forearms, it be cool, he'd probably be the craziest dream of all times that was the case, but that's, not the case. So what we're going to do here is give you an example of how cool you could make drum sound by doing this and something I would like to say before doing this is, I think every sound nuts out there will get really excited about the sounds you can create with this and that's awesome, but don't forget the groove, because one thing that you will lose when you do this is you won't get the same amount of groove because you really do have to edit the drums or play them in an unnatural way to make the shell take, walk into the symbol, take so if you've got a beat that's okay with being somewhat mechanical or you know that you can play each part separately and still haven't come across awesome that's great but if you're playing like a crazy break beat or something that's probably not the kind of song you want to do something like this to unless it aids in the beat itself so we're going to do kind of a rock be here or kind of a beat that kj has where he's going to play the shelves first and so we're just going to record them but I'm still going to record the overheads because that's part of the shell sound and I'm going to give them eight counts before he starts playing ready yep cool so that's the foundation of the beat now what I'm gonna do is I'm going to duplicate the symbol tracks on the room likes that we're using that's all I need to duplicate because which is shift option d in pro tools that's all I need to duplicate because um we don't really need we don't really want to record the symbols through any of the close mikes I'm gonna get rid of the side snare mike to turn up over it's a little bit because that's the focus so give the accounts again to come in with symbols and now we're just going to record the symbols be able to get the drums back, huh? Uh one important thing no no that's that's my bad so one important thing is extra challenge yeah you don't want to do what I just did you want to make sure the drummers headphone mix has the drums in it so he can play along to the beat that you've given drums in there okay, I'll crank it up go a little planning with kicks their solo there oh yeah yeah I think it would be the inhuman thing but of course you plan this out a little more if you're doing this on I'm just going to group the overheads and I've already group the drums just just command g and pro tools and listen back and I'll show you how you can blend these two get really need sounds so here's just the kick and snare tracks which are all the tracks but they're only playing the kicking snare course my soloing needs to be grouped so did you say you copied? Um extra symbol? Yeah I just copied all the symbol tracks I just duplicated him so that I have ah on overdubbed tracks for the symbols now because I don't want to record over my old overheads because I want to hear the snare and the kick and the toms in those overheads so I just basically created a whole new group of tracks for the symbols that's what these green tracks down here are and I'm not going to edit this right now, but you could totally edited it if you wanted to be really tight, or you can leave it, um, a little more natural, so here's the overheads by themselves on both of them together, of course, uh, you kind of have to just by nature, either do a few more takes or or we'd have to tighten it up to make a setting like this work, which is why you don't want to do something that needs to have a lot of groove to it in a scenario like this, but this is cool because I got a really strong kick and snare sound if I want and mix the symbols down, or vice versa, the other thing I can do with that that's really cool second is cranked the rooms on the drums on, then just keep a really close symbol sound on dh that's, that's, what's really need about tracking like that is you give the mix engineer or yourself when you're mixing a lot of options, foo fighters that don't think, yeah, foo foo fighters have done some of that stuff. Um, I think the first time I remember hearing that on a record where I really like the drums was that queens of the stone age songs for the death when dave role played on that, I think a lot of that stuff was tracked shells on maybe that's where why the foo fighters started doing that stuff? I'm not sure, but that's shells and symbols later, which kind of blew my mind, cause some of those beets are actually, like kind of a crazy thing to comprehend as a drummer, playing one part and then the other. And, of course, that goes along with this. If it's just way too complicated for the drama to play that way, don't bother doing it. But if you can, if you can and you want to, and aides to the song it's totally something cool to try.

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.