Tracking Drums

One thing that I learned many years ago is that drums can be very difficult to record. There are four fundamental requirements to getting a great drum sound: a skilled drummer, a great-sounding kit, a decent room and the appropriate equipment to capture the sound.

I spent about ten or twelve hours over the week-end getting a Yamaha Maple Custom ready to record.

We had the drummer come in to do the final checks and I thought that we had the kit well in hand. But the kick drum produced an odd noise. A sonic artefact at around 8 or 9 kHz. So, I had a decision to make. Treat the symptom with EQ or try to troubleshoot the problem.

I went through the process to ensure that there was not a technical issue. I switched out four different microphones and tried them in a variety of positions both inside and outside the bass drum. I also ran the signal chain through different cables and preamps.

No resolution from that perspective.

Up close and personal with the bass drum, I noticed that the skins were very loose and I am convinced that the high freqency sound issue is related to tuning and dampening rather than microphone choice and placement. The outer skin is definitely flapping. I will suggest that we either take some time to further tune the kit or just be content to deal with the sonic issue with corrective EQ or resampling the bass drum in mixdowns.

I prefer getting it right at the source.

The rest of the kit sounds wonderful and it is a shame that the kick drum is causing some grief.

Maple Custom

2 replies
  1. Stephen Meyer
    Stephen Meyer says:

    I find a lot of drummers forget that their bass drum is, infact, a drum. This leads to loose, non-resonating heads. Personally I think it’s terrible. Hope the sessions go well.


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