Had a fantastic day today playing the drums and listening in on a talk at the The Recording Conservatory of Austin.
The talk progressed through several stages. Act 1 featured Drastick’s drummer Ryan Henderson and his contemporary drum set. Towards the middle of the talk sound engineer Dwight Baker used my kit to demonstrate a few different classic recording methods, culminating in the Motown method. Drummer Ryan Henderson’s Black Beauty snare was used instead of my regular Ludwig Supraphonic. Ryan’s snare is beautiful, of course it’s a Ludwig Black Beauty; one of the best snare drums ever made. It’s 14″ by 6.5″, deeper and oopmhier than normal. In addition, we used an extra snare head, all slack, laid upon the beater side of the snare drum. This focused the sound very low. Dwight said it realized the sound of the lower octaves of the drum. It sounded uncanny in the engineer room. It sounded unfamiliar, but deep and thudy, in the drum room. It should go without saying that when recording a song, the engineer’s booth knows whats sounding good. This is also why, when seeking to record, you should spend some money, so you can have an engineer with ears you’re confident in.
The Motown method involved a few other angles. Literally angles. Some aspects of recording engineering really flew past my head. I am uninitiated and it was meant for an informed audience. A very large cardiod that had been the above mic in Glyn Johns’ position was moved to 1-2″ above the end resonant end of my bass drum. Imagine if you will, a traditional Glyn John’s. Maintain the triangle but move the mic above the drummer to a point near the resonant side of the bass drum, 2″ above the apex of the shell, within 1″ of the rim. I don’t know if there was a bass drum mic or not. I don’t know if the engineer Dwight Baker used all tracks, or what tracks he used. I want to highlight somethings:
- My bass drum was essential to this.
- My tom’s were essential.
- Ryan’s Black Beauty was essential.
The Black Beauty was nonstop, the go to snare drum the whole time. Think about how many times you hit a snare drum in a session. No matter what condition, the Black Beauty was the drum of choice. It’s made me reconsider my long time middle of the road Supraphonic.
The snare had a Shure 57 in a pretty normal arrangement. There was a stereo mic, that looked like a cardiod, between the bottom of my snare and the bass drum. Dwight said that to increase the bass drum’s sound, turn the mic more in it’s direction, or vice versa to get more snare. The mic helped achieve an even level of thud between the bass and snare in a 70′s vinyl manner. In that style, the bass drum and snare drum thump the sound spectrum in equal manners.
On my toms he placed English Tea Towels. English Tea Towels in particular. They were of a light quality, and I had not yet touched towels like these, so I know I will have to order them specifically on the internet. He then close micced these with Shure 57′s or something similar. The recording sound had a magical quality. Listening back, we achieved an awesome sound. I want to make a million records in this method! You just hear it and know the sound quality is awesome!
I want to add that as in the Glyn John’s, there was a cardioid like mic above my right shoulder. It was also arranged in that poignant triangle that prevents phase effects. It was also a good day for me playing.