Characteristics vary. They vary widely depending on what type of wood you're using. If we were to use a maple kit, we'll say maple is the standard, lots of people, drum manufacturers make maple kits and that is considered the industry standard. So, a maple kit would have a flat EQ curve basically. It has a lot of top, a lot of bottom, a lotta good mids in there. And it's considered a nice warm sound because it's basically a flat EQ curve. When we start getting into birch, you have have the same characteristics except that the center will be scooped out a little bit, giving the appearance of more highs and more lows, but really it's actually a dip in the middle. The volume of birch is a little bit quieter than maple because you're actually removing some of that middle frequency response. Bubinga is a lot brighter of a wood. It's a harder wood. So it has a little bit more top end, a little bit more low end, and the volume is increased a little bit. Ash, which is I know is one of your fav...
And one of my favorites as well.
He's got an ash kit that when we do drum shootouts wins from me every single time.
Yeah, and ash is, the characteristic of ash is similar to birch. Except for it's a little bit punchier, the high end is kind of rolled off at the very top but the articulation right at that, you know, two to 4k area where the ear is sensitive, is nice and punchy. And it's a little bit louder than birch, but is not gonna ring as long. And all of this, the sustain factors are similar to the EQ curves. Like, maple has a nice long sustain to it. Birch has a little bit shorter decay to it. Ash is similar to birch, so it's a little bit shorter decay. Bubinga has a nice long sustain to it as well, cause' it's a hardwood. So all of these factors go into, before you even get to heads, what your drum is gonna sound like. Your bearing head shape, and the type of material it's made out of. So, here today we have birch, walnut, which I didn't talk about. Walnut is very similar to bubinga except for not quite as loud, and not quite as much top end as bubinga has. So it has a similar profile to the ash, but not quite as punchy as ash would be.
A very interesting sustain too.
Yeah, it does have, the sustain characteristics that we noticed messing around with the walnut kit earlier is that, it has a great attack. Like the attack is super big, and then instead of decaying evenly, it jumps down and then sustains at a lower level and decays off at a very long rate. Which is ...
It's almost like a natural compression.
Yeah, it's like almost a compression or a gate if you will. Like it's a attack, within a severe drop, and then the sustain is underneath. And it's kind of interesting.
I'm actually very curious to hear what that sounds like because I feel like for this style of music you want shorter toms.
Right, exactly, and that's the thing we're going for what is needed for the band. So in order to cut through the guitars like you said before, and with the amount of notes that's being played, we're looking for drums that have a characteristic of being bright, nice attack, we want them to sound big, so they need to have some low end. But they don't need to sustain forever. They don't need to resonate forever, they ...
They kinda need to say what they gotta say and get out of the way. And the last kit that we have in this option, which is the one I'm holding, which is the birch-bubinga. So you have this particular kit, has two different types of wood. So we're gonna have the characteristics from both of those types of woods kinda contributing to the overall resonance. There is a difference between sustain and resonance. Sustain purely deals with how long the drum is ... Sustaining! How long is the tone. And that comes mostly from head selection, and muffling schemes and stuff like that. The resonance however is the shell contribution to the sound. And that's where you're gonna find the subtle nuances of character that we're looking for. So looking from, you know, from where we're going for this recording with those types of sounds in mind; we have three different types of selections that all fit into the areas we wanna be. Which is bright, articulate, punchy and loud on the bottom end. But also not sustaining forever, not resonating forever. They have a pretty short, all three of these types of drums have a pretty short decay time to'em, in comparison to say a maple kit.
I should add also that these drums didn't just show up randomly. We talked about this in advance, and anyone who was watching yesterday during the prepros section of this knows that you gotta do a lotta homework before you do an album view. You know, I mean, you could get lucky and everything could go right. If you just, pick whatever you're given or whatever you can find. You know you might luck out, but my experience is that luck shouldn't be a factor. So, I did my homework. Talked to him a lot about what we're working with. And we talked to TAMA and we asked them for some very specific things. Now, the walnut was just given to us. So we'll see, I've never worked with walnut before. But like I said, these are not just here by chance. We asked for these specifically out of what they had available, knowing what we were going to get ourselves into stylistically.
So the selection that they presented us fit into the families of the sounds that we're looking for. I would like to say, like if you're looking to have a drum kit at your studio and you do have the luxury to buy one, when you're looking at what kit to buy think about what music you're going to be doing mostly. And if you're working in a genre such as metal or hard rock, you're going to wanna lean towards something that is going to give you the characteristics that you would like to have ultimately at the end. So if you only have one kit available, or you're looking to buy a kit for your studio take into account what type of music you're doin'. I would not necessarily use a birch-bubinga kit for a jazz record. You know, if I was doin' jazz I would lean towards a vintage, more vintage style kit. And a maple kit or even a mahogany kit, which is a little bit softer. But this is not jazz, we're doin' metal. So we need somethin' loud and aggressive. And if you're doing metal at home, or you're working with mostly metal or rock acts, you should definitely look into that type of drum kit. If you can. If you're just dealing with what the drummer has, then you need to know ahead of time what he has and prepare for that so you can maybe enhance or ...
Replace what he has, later down the road. And a lot of this next section we'll get into with the heads, you can change the characteristic of drum with what type of head selection you're using. Both top and bottom. But having the drum figured out on it's own is definitely gonna help.
Well quick note about replacement is, the reason we're doing this is because the end goal is to not replace these drums. So now, metal's a genre where having samples on drums is, you know, is how it works these days. You don't really hear records these days that don't have them. But what you want is to use them for reinforcement. That's the best case scenario. That's what you should be aiming for. Use the samples for reinforcement so that you can get the drums up to the professional standard that listeners are expecting. But you don't wanna have drums that sound wrong so you just have to get rid of'em completely. That's not the idea. So, you are doing this knowing that there will be samples on. That's just a given. But, again, lemme just make the differentiation that you're not using the samples to fix anything. If you get this right, the samples are there to just help the mix sound bigger and more badass, more modern. They're not there to solve a problem 'cause you picked the wrong kinda drums and they don't work at all in the mix. So, yeah, like he was saying. If you only have one drum kit you can buy, or you know only a few drums you can buy or whatever. Make sure you're getting something right for the style and then you're not gonna have to replace everything quite so often.
Yeah, exactly. I guess we could move on to snare drum selection too. So, snare drums, you can get the snare drums in the same wood configurations which have the same characteristics. Most of the time the bearing edges are cut differently. Just to give the drum a little bit more cut. The average cut on a bearing edge for the snare drum is a single 45 on the outside, which is that more head related type of sound. But it also gives you a lot of crack on the drum itself. We only have metal drums to choose from right now, because of the fact that metal is going, metal drums cut more. They were gonna require less EQ on the back end and they're gonna have a little bit more cut to get through those guitars that we're trying to get, you know, this nice big sound but still cut through the guitars and metal drums are gonna end up in that direction for us. We have a steel and two different brass drums. And the plating and depth are a little bit different on the brass drums. Steel is definitely gonna be the brightest type of metal drum that is made right now. It's very articulate, it's very bright, it cuts very well and it's no ... It's no coincidence that steel drums are some of the most popular recording drums around. Like, they give every, the bang for your buck, so to speak. They're not the most expensive drums but they do sound really great. And then as far as brass is concerned, in comparison to steel, brass is a little bit rounder, a little bit darker sounding, it has a more complex mid-range overtones.