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Sound Advice

Killer Kick & Snare Sounds Part 1

By Greg Dawson

Here are some tips on how you can obtain crushing drum tones for various rock styles through a balance of live miking and triggering techniques. My goal is always to get as much sound from the original source as possible. This keeps my drums sounding organic and roomy. Here are some key ingredients for killer kick and snare sounds:

Good Equipment

To get started, use the best equipment available for what you’re trying to accomplish. A quality drum kit, or one which is appropriate to the task at hand, is key to getting the right vibe for the back bone of your recording.

 

Fresh Skins

New skins will almost always have a huge impact on the quality of the source tone. If a drummer goes into the studio and tells the producer, “I’ve only had these skins on for three months,” that’s not cool and it puts the quality of the recording in jeopardy right from the get-go.

 

Triggers

The first thing I do when starting a project is set up just the kick and snare drums, get my mics out, and create my own samples. I have the drummer sit down behind his or her kick or snare and begin recording single hits of each instrument. Of course, I make sure he or she is really smashing ‘em.

 

Smash Your Drums!

Now this one is critical. There is nothing I like better than a hard hitter in the studio. If you want punchy, in-your-face kicks and snares, you have to punish those drums. I’ve had the pleasure of recording and performing with Jordan Hastings (Alexisonfire, Cunter) – now here’s a guy who kills his drums and makes my job easy!

 

Check out the October 2013 issue of Professional Sound for Part 2, in which Greg explains his miking and mixing techniques for recording drums.

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