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Recording Metal with Eyal Levi: A Bootcamp

Lesson 15 of 74

Drum Heads


Recording Metal with Eyal Levi: A Bootcamp

Lesson 15 of 74

Drum Heads


Lesson Info

Drum Heads

One thing that I wanna just emphasize before we go on into tuning is that all great producers, at least that I know of, work as a team. You hear of CLA and you know of his amazing mixes, right, but you don't know about the guys who prep all those mixes for him. It's not, when he mixes three songs a day, he's not doing every single thing in two hours, there's a whole team working for him, giving it to him so that he can then work his magic, and it's the same in recording. Everybody who you look up to has a whole team behind them, so where I'm going with this is when I first started learning how to record, I decided to learn some instruments that weren't my primary instrument, which is guitar, so I took drum lessons for six months. Learned how to tune drums. All of that, just so that I could understand how to tune and how to communicate with musicians better. However, I would never call myself an expert at tuning or at drumming, obviously, not an expert at drumming, but I'm good enough a...

t tuning to where I can get by, but the name of the game is not getting by. The name of the game is doing great work, and so like I said earlier, my philosophy is, and I know a lot of guys who share this philosophy, is you work with a team, and you hire people that are better than you at the things that you might be deficient in, so that you can focus on what you're great at. That's one of the best possible things you can do, so those of you who can't hire a team yet, maybe you want to partner up with a friend and split your profits, on your $15 an hour recordings or whatever it is, or work for free, or however. Find a partner who can do stuff that you can't do, and through the power of teamwork, your productions will get better, so hence, Matt here. I've worked with a bunch of different drum techs before you and I stopped working with all of them once we started working together, because the quality of my drum productions just literally skyrocketed once we started working together, and again, I'm not working with Matt because I don't know how to tune, I'm working with Matt because he can tune so much better than me. He's an actual expert at this, that it saves me from having to worry about this, and I can do my job, so I just recommend that all of you guys try to adopt that, in as much of a realistic fashion as you can, for whatever situation you're in. Before we get into tuning drums, we have to talk about heads, because we've talked about drums, the shell, the bearing edge, the hoop, and the sticks, but we haven't really talked about what the heads are doing. You basically have two, sometimes there's a couple more options, but the basic two options for types of heads are clear or coated. Within that you have multiple plies. You can go two-ply or single-ply, and the thickness of those plies changes depending on what series of heads and what manufacturer you're using. Just a general overview of what each type of head does. If we're using an EQ graph again, the clear heads I would consider a flat type of response, which means we're getting a lot of articulation on the top end, we're getting clarity through the mid-range, and we're getting a nice, round, and robust low-end from a clear head. This is a single-ply, standard 10 mil, what we, Remo makes, Ambassador Clear. That's the type of response you're gonna get from that head. When you go to the coated version of that, a lot of people use the word warmer. Coated is warmer and there's an actual misconception that you get more attack from a coated head. That is not really accurate. What a coated head does is basically just like a high-pass and a low-pass would do on an EQ, it kind of chops the top and the bottom off of that frequency response, so the same exact head, an Ambassador, 10 mil, single-ply head with coated, with a coating on it, will actually take some of the top end off and some of the bottom end off, which, hence, gets your warmer sound, which is basically just more mid-range. It doesn't really add attack, it actually shaves a little bit off of the top and a little bit off of the bottom, so those are the general ways to think about the types of head. Now, when we get into plies of head, two-ply versus single-ply. Single-ply would be nice and open, in what would be considered, again, once again, flat on the frequency graph there. When we add a two-ply to that, our second ply, most of the time the two-ply heads are two-plies of thinner material, so the single-ply Ambassador head is a 10 mil thickness mylar. When we go to a double-ply, the Emperor, that's two seven mils, so we're adding up to 14, but each ply is individually a little bit thinner. The characteristics of a two-ply head, we will get a little bit more slap. More attack, slap in the area, and a little bit more low-end out of that head, however you're going to decrease the amount of sustain that you'll get, because that head is a little bit thicker, it takes a little bit more energy to move it, so the same hit with a single-ply head will give you a little bit more sustained than a two-ply head will. It kinda slows down and will kinda just decrease that decay. What I have here, before we get into how to tune, is I have an example decoated and coated. We have a Emperor coated, which is a two-ply on the top, and we have an Ambassador coated, which is a single-ply, coated on the bottom. Now, this has been tuned to roughly where our tuning scheme is going to be later on, just so we can have a fair comparison of what coated heads do versus what clear heads do, so before we jump into how to tune, I'm going to just demonstrate what a coated head sounds like. Once again, coated bottom and coated top. You'll notice it has a nice, round sound to it, which means the attack is not really pointed, it's more mellow, and the tone itself is a little bit more round. It's not as clear and articulate as a clear head will be, so here's the coated head. (drumming) All right, so now we have the clear heads on the drums, top and bottom, and it's tuned relatively into the same area. Now we're going to listen to what this sounds like. (drumming) As you can see, the difference between the coated and clear is quite obvious. The coated has a more rounded, top-shaved, top, bottom-shaved off sound, whereas the clear has a more open, articulated attack, and a nice, round bottom to it.

Class Description

Recording Metal with Eyal Levi: A Bootcamp will give you access to one of metal’s most in-demand producers and educators. You’ll also get to watch the talented and seasoned performers of Monuments show you how to record flawless takes and how to prepare to enter the studio.

Recording Metal with Eyal Levi: A Bootcamp is the definitive guide to recording and producing metal. From soup to nuts, start to finish, A to Z, you will learn everything you need to know about recording and producing a metal song.

Eyal Levi will take you inside the studio with Monuments as they record a song from scratch at Clear Lake Recording in Los Angeles. In this bootcamp, you will learn how to:

  • Prepare for a session in preproduction by choosing tempos and organizing the session
  • Record flawless drums from selection and reheading/tuning to mic choice and placement to editing
  • Record rhythm guitars
  • Record clean and lead guitars
  • Record bass guitar
  • Record, edit and tune lead vocals, harmonies, and screams
  • Mix and master from session setup to final bounce


  1. Intro to Bootcamp
  2. Purpose of Pre-Production
  3. Technical Side of Preproduction
  4. Pre-Production: Setting Up the Tempo Map
  5. Pre-Production: Importing Stems
  6. Pre-Production: Click Track
  7. Creating Tracking Templates
  8. Intro and the Tone Pie
  9. Drums - Lay of the Land
  10. Bearing Edges
  11. Wood Types
  12. Depths and Sizes
  13. Hoops
  14. Sticks and Beaters
  15. Drum Heads
  16. Drum Tuning
  17. Drum Mic Placement Intro
  18. Basic Drum Mic Setup
  19. Cymbal Mic Setup
  20. Touch Up Tuning
  21. Microphone Choice and Placement
  22. Drum Tracking Intro
  23. Getting Tones and Final Placement
  24. Primary Tracking
  25. Punching In and Comping Takes
  26. Guitar Setup and Rhythm Tone Tracking
  27. Amplifiers - Lay of the Land
  28. Amplifiers & Cab Shoot Out
  29. Guitar Cab Mic Choice and Placement
  30. Guitar Tracking and Signal Chain
  31. Finalizing Amplifier Tone
  32. Guitar Mic Shootout Round Robin
  33. Intro to Rhythm Tracking
  34. Setting Up Guitars
  35. Working with a Guitarist
  36. Final Guitar Tone and Recap
  37. Guitar Tracking with John
  38. Guitar Tracking with Ollie
  39. Final Tracking
  40. Tracking Quads
  41. Intro to Bass Tone
  42. Bass Tone Setup
  43. Bass Tone Mic Placement
  44. Bass Tracking
  45. Intro to Clean and Lead Tones
  46. Clean Guitar Tones
  47. Lead Tones
  48. Vocal Setup for Tracking
  49. Vocal Mic Selection and Setup
  50. Vocal Mic Shootout
  51. Lead Vocal Tracking
  52. Writing Harmonies
  53. Harmony Vocal Tracking
  54. Vocal Warm Ups
  55. Scream Vocal Tracking
  56. Vocal Tuning and Editing Introduction
  57. Vocal Tuning and Editing
  58. Routing and Bussing
  59. Color Coding, Labeling and Arranging Channels
  60. Setting Up Parallel Compression
  61. Setting Up Drum Triggers
  62. Gain Staging and Trim
  63. Drum Mixing - Subtractive EQ
  64. Drum Mixing - Snare
  65. Drum Mixing - Kick
  66. Drum Mixing - Toms
  67. Drum Mixing - Cymbals and Rooms
  68. Drum Mixing Recap
  69. Mixing Bass Guitar
  70. Mixing Rhythm Guitars
  71. Basic Vocal Mix
  72. Mixing Clean and Lead Guitars
  73. Mixing - Automation
  74. Mastering - Interview with Joel Wanasek



I'm on lesson 19! Already worth every dollar!!! Priceless insight! I have already incorporated some of the ideas (preproduction common sense stuff that I never thought of, but damn). VERY HAPPY with this course! ALWAYS LEARNING and looking forward to the next 50 (or whatever) lessons!!! Excellent course! GREAT PRODUCER/ENGINEER, GREAT DRUM TECH, and GREAT BAND!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!


I'm just part way though and I'm blown away by the quality approach Eyal takes to getting the best out of the sessions. I love how well everything is explained and Eyals calm manner is just awesome it really makes you want to listen to the gems of wisdom he offers.


Wow is all I can say. This bootcamp goes in so much depth from tuning drums, setting up guitars, to recording and mixing. I have learned so much by participating in this bootcamp. It has taught me some new recording techniques and signal routing for my mixes. I just want to thank Eyal, Monuments, and Creative Live for taking the time to do this. It has been amazing and I will keep going back to these videos.