Drums! What You Need to Know and Bring-
Updated: Aug 14
First off I have to let you know that drums are probably my favorite part of the recording process and to me the most important thing to get right. A poorly recorded drum sound or bad sounding kit will not yield a professional polished recording. That being said it is recommended to the highest degree that you invest in your drum sound and follow these guidelines if able-
In almost all situations you will bring your own kit. The reason being is that brand new heads on all drums before recording is a must! You cannot put a bad drum sound into the mics and get an incredible sound out even with the most expensive gear in the world. It is important that we capture the sound correctly at the source.
New drum heads are the key to achieving a pro sound. New heads are louder and brighter. Brighter drums mean less eq, meaning less cymbal bleed and an overall much better drum sound. Louder drums mean less cymbal bleed into the close mics and less cymbal bleed means we can actually use your real drum sounds instead of relying on sample replacement.
To drive that home a little further and in my experience, I would much rather record a $600 drum kit with brand new heads than a $6,000 drum Kit with old heads. One other point worth noting is that in "the big leagues" they will replace drum heads after recording just 1 song and professional touring bands replace their heads every night before each show. Now I will say- that can be a little overboard depending on your budget. But hopefully it will illustrate a little better as to why new heads are so important. The difference in sound really is astronomical.
Now I hear you, purchasing and replacing drum heads is by no means cheap or convenient. If you are on a tight budget at the very minimum replace all the batter heads and leave your resonant heads (Unless they are over a year old). But the difference is one you will be grateful for in the long run plus you'll have an awesome sounding drum kit to keep playing in the months to come.
Below is a list of drum heads I would recommend but you are free to use whatever you love as well!
-Aquarian Super Kick II
-Remo Powerstroke 3
-Remo Coated Controlled Sound
-Evans Heavyweight Reverse Dot
-Aquarian Hi Velocity
-Aquarian Performance II
-Evans EC2 SST
You should put your heads on about 0-2 days before the session and make sure you are happy with the sound and are able to get them tuned up and sounding great. It's very important that your kit is tuned to the best of your ability to have an ideal drum sound. If you are not confident in your drum tuning abilities be sure to STUDY and learn how to do this. Drum tuning is a skill that you as a drummer should know and breathe just as a guitarist knows how to tune their guitar or a vocalist knows how to sing in key. Practice on your old heads and get familiar with the process and then apply what you have learned to your new heads. Below are some videos I would recommend- Please study & practice these to become an expert.
Also check out Rick Beato's drum tuning workshop:
Also you will want to make sure you have a port hole on the side of your kick drum head at least 4-5 inches wide for the kick in microphone. They sell rings you can put on your kick drum and then cut around the ring. Or you can purchase a kick drum resonant head with it already built in. Either option is great. See links below for purchase options.
New sticks are also a must and make a big difference in your drum sound. It is also good to note that different sticks have different sounds and using 2 separate sticks will yield an uneven sound. Make sure you have a fresh pair for the best results!
Along with new sticks bring some "Moon Gels" to help reduce the resonant and annoying frequencies. These can be purchased at almost any music store or online at this link- https://www.amazon.com/Moongel-RTOM-Resonance-Pads/dp/B00GXNZP80/ref=sr_1_4?crid=2QZ3J3DY5EVJD&keywords=moon+gels+for+drums&qid=1579735936&sprefix=moon+ge%2Caps%2C191&sr=8-4
Last but not least feel free to bring your own over ear headphones or earbuds. However if you do not have any you are welcome to use ours.
Thanks for sticking with me and reading through all of this! The more you adhere to these suggestions the better your drums will sound and the happier you will be with the outcome. There is a reason people do this over and over and take the time to make sure their record is top notch. By following these steps you are setting yourself up for success and having one of the greatest sounding drum recordings possible!