Let's talk about drums

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redchapterjubilee
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by redchapterjubilee » Sat Dec 26, 2020 5:07 am

Tuning is an interesting process and you can get there in different ways. There’s an excellent video on YouTube of a session drummer testing out three different recommended tuning practices from other videos and all three methods yielded good results. In 30 years of playing and tuning drums I have never tuned a drum to a certain pitch. Like “this song is in this key so I’m tuning the drums in tri tones of that key”. I seat the head, overtighten a bit to crack the glue seal (if I’m using Remo heads and I usually do) then use the star method up top, then in the bottom to match in pitch until the drum rings true. Good drums can take a range of pitches that ring right, drums with bad edges or other issues that cause the head not to seat evenly (out of round, overlarge shell) and the drum may have a single pitch it will ring right, or no pitch at all. I find that “modern” drums with sharp edges have wide pitch zones they will ring out at and older drums with roundover edges will have a narrower zone they like to be tuned in. My guess is because there’s less head/edge contact with sharper edges. roundovers impart more low end and naturally attenuate the head’s vibration by having more head/shell contact. Neither is better necessarily.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by Dok » Sun Dec 27, 2020 10:32 am

You can't go wrong with a TuneBot and accompanying tuning app to save your tunings. $100 well spent if you're a non-drummer like me and struggle to get good-sounding drums for recording. Another thing I've learned is that you shouldn't be stingy with getting new heads if you are getting stymied with tuning and good sounds. I bought a Yamaha Stage Custom for $250 (no cymbals) and that kit is pretty good for my purposes. And +1 on the Acrolite.
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Larry Mal
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by Larry Mal » Sun Dec 27, 2020 11:52 am

There's plenty of inexpensive drums out there. I used to have a Pearl Export set, I think that's the #1 selling drum kit in the world, you can find the drums used for like $250 as a result. The hardware is good with them.

Tama has the Swingstar and those are good also.

If I was buying a kit for myself again, I would buy a Mapex Saturn or the current product in that slot. From what research I've done that seems like the best value for the money I would spend, although it's been a while since I did the research, I probably wouldn't do it all again and I walked out of it thinking Mapex Saturn would be good.

Drum companies have clear product lines also, so if you wanted an equivalent of the Squier J Mascis that would probably be the Tama Swingstar or the Pearl Export XL or something. If you click that link you can see the Pearl drum product lines pretty clearly.

Drums being acoustic instruments it can help to spend more. Buying used is a great idea. You can get by, however, with less than the greatest toms. No need to allocate the bulk of your money there.

You can't skimp on your cymbals, though. Buy cheap cymbals and all your recordings will sound terrible with them. And unlike a snare or kick drum, it's not easy to fly in samples to bolster or replace your original sounds.

The snare is the heartbeat of your music and the excitement also. It's of huge importance... spend money here.

Your kick drum is also very important, and you have to make decisions as to the size of it. You can't change it out later, and if you get a big John Bonham sized kick drum with throbbing lows and booming bass, that's what you have always, whether or not you want that down the road. There are some sizes of kick drums that can cover more ground than others, no single size will do it all, however, but if you are just recording your own drums to your own music then maybe you don't care so much about versatility.

One good thing about drums is that they are somewhat modular... you can spend a good amount of money on the shells, lay them up, spend more down the road on other quality stuff and you don't have to outlay all the money at a single time, although of course you will have limited use with your kit during that time.

Also, our friend Sean here once pointed out to me that if you aren't actually a touring/gigging drummer, that you don't need to have stands that are designed to handle the rigors of that. You don't need double reinforced stands if the drums just live in your basement, you know?

This is the extent of my knowledge and I will qualify myself as not having owned a kit in well over ten years, so take what I say as not being particularly weighted.
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by s_mcsleazy » Mon Dec 28, 2020 12:32 am

yeah. i mean i dont gig as a drummer and i've got to say the stands i have do the job. they're a couple pairs of 80's premier stands. same with my hihat stand.

as for budget cymbals/hihats. i got a solar 22" ride i really like a lot. if you do some looking, you can find them for £30-£40 uk. my hihats are solar as well. i'm looking to replace my crash soon since it's on it's last legs.

i recently tried the stagg cymbals and they're surprisingly good. i tried the SH series which was pretty high quality. same with the DH series. they've got a really nice decay to them which i really like. if you were going to try getting a similar quality cymbal set, you'd be looking at a set of B8's from another manufacturer which will sound quite cheap (sometimes in a good way but often not). honestly i was considering a set of meinl classic custom dark's for my kit until i tried the stagg ones.

also, as for the talk of kick drum sizes, i want to say if you're keeping a kit set up for the house or studio, look into something like an 18" kick. a lot of modern small drums sound just as big as the larger drums from days gone by. a smaller kick is always going to be easier to record. in fact, most kits with smaller drums nowadays sound just as good in a recording, the only reason i use the drums i do is because i'm old fashioned and got so used to using bigger drums that i feel like a giant when using something smaller.

edit. so there's another thing i wanna add. this is more of a personal thing but chrome over brass snares, they sound amazing but they can be really tricky to control in certain settings. i've got a COB snare on my kit and it's soooo bright and loud.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by NBarnes21 » Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:02 pm

As mentioned, the Gretsch Catalina series is a great lower budget option for drums. My favorite sizes are 22,13,16 which covers a lot of bases, but 20,12,14 is also great. Bigger drums than that sound awesome in a great big room with high ceilings but can be harder to wrangle tuning wise and won't sound as good in a small room. For a snare you can't go wrong with a 14x5 Ludwig Acrolite! Can be found for $150 or so used on eBay. Dream cymbals are a good mid budget option as well as Sabian XS series, but it's best to buy as nice of cymbals as you can. You can make cheap drums sound good with nice newer heads and good tuning but it's impossible to make a shitty cymbal sound good.

RE: buying triggers to record into superior drummer, I would stray away from that- unless you're doing something like Hard Rock/ Metal where everything hits at a similar velocity level you're going to be bummed with the results, it really doesn't allow much nuance to come through at all, especially cymbals. I would instead purchase steven slate trigger and you can trigger samples via your recorded acoustic drums- and this could be a first step for an improved sound while you learn to hone in your recording skills.

I've got a whole litany of suggestions for getting good drum recordings in less than ideal environments.

#1 most important thing is your playing dynamics and general feel on the drums- cymbal bashers will never get a great sound! General rule for me is keep the cymbals quiet and hit the kick and snare in the sweet spot where it's nice and fat without choking/squashing the drum. A greasy groovy drum beat can sound awesome on shitty sounding drums!

#2 is tuning the drums, this is a journey that can last a lifetime and I'm still learning new tricks on getting different sounds, ha. Tuning all the rods on each head to the same pitch using your ear is what I do (stick your finger in the middle of the drum to kill overtones and strike with a stick next to each rod)- I usually have the bottom head pitched a bit higher than the top but each drum is different and it's best to just experiment and use your ear. After that it's a matter applying the right amount of dampening for the sound you want to get- gaff tape, moon gel, big fat snare drum, O rings, snareweights are all awesome to have around to dial each drum in.

#3 is the room you are in- while a nice big acoustically designed drum room is ideal for getting a great natural drum sound, it's totally possible to get great sounding drums in your bedroom. Deaden the room up as much as possible, and apply diffusion where needed as well. Then get great direct mic sounds (see playing and tuning above)and use a room reverb on an aux to add some space to it (I love UAD Ocean Way for this).

#4 is your mics/preamps/interface. I've had great results with cheaper mics, an sm57 rocks for snare, hat, even toms. Audio technica stuff made in japan like the AT3035 (now discontinued) and pro 37's are great for overheads and pretty affordable, also something like a beta 52 won't break the bank on kick. Nicer mics and preamps obviously will yield generally better results, and an interface with high quality conversion is great. If you can spring for an Apollo then I think that's the best higher end option, but the focusrite red stuff is great at a lower price point- if you have #'s 1-3 sorted out properly then you can get great results with it. The most annoying thing to have to spend money on is cables and stands, but don't skimp here if possible- shitty mic stands will drive you nuts. I like K+M stands and the sweetwater xlr cables, but cheaper on-stage brand stands will probably do the job. Hope that's helpful!

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by NBarnes21 » Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:22 pm

As far as playing resources, my main suggestion is to just play along to records a lot. Also if you get set up to record then recording yourself playing along to music or a click, and then critically listening afterward can teach you a lot about where you're at and what areas of your playing could improve :)
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by Larry Mal » Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:23 pm

Also quicker than doing MIDI triggers, just remember that you can replace or double some of the drum sounds in Logic.

Here is a video on how to do that.

I mean, just save yourself some money on the triggers, you can get MIDI from audio as long as the transients are clear, which is to say it'll work on the snare and kick drum well, the cymbals not very well at all, and the toms might be OK depending on the bleed.

Bonus link here's young Larry playing his Pearl Export kit back in the day. I was still a pretty rudimentary drummer at that point, I became pretty good later, though. I'd like to get into it again myself.
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by mbene085 » Tue Dec 29, 2020 3:33 pm

Those are great suggestions, thanks. I'm busily reading up and watching videos based on everything everyone is saying here. Thanks to everyone who's contributed so far and feel free to keep tips big and small coming! Lots to learn and so many considerations especially re: how to interact with my DAW. Replacing acoustic hits with samples works well on the drums but adding some triggers to the cymbals might be the way to go. Or letting an acoustic kit be acoustic and building a separate one for triggering if I find I really need that. I'm trying to figure out how to balance my desire for something fun and good-sounding to play with something that's easy to record. My experience with e-drums has left me with an intense desire to bash something proper and real.

I've got a couple months before moving in to my new place and setting up my studio so I've got time to consider all these options. I feel like there's going to end up being no real bad option, anything that gets me playing and recording is going to be a big win compared to not having a kit and not playing drums at all for these past three years.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm not looking for the best available option. I'm keeping an eye on the used market for the stuff people have been recommending. I'm not in the biggest city and the Canadian gear market has its own quirks in terms of gear availability and pricing so some stuff is much less likely to be encountered than others (Mapex and pearl seem to be abundant so far).

But like someone said, sometimes people are highly motivated to be rid of an undesired kit so I've seen what looked like some crazy deals but lacked the knowledge to jump on them confidently (I didn't want a large volume of crappy drums, even for a good price).

I'll keep reading, keep looking out, and keeping looking into the options everyone here is suggesting.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by Larry Mal » Tue Dec 29, 2020 5:50 pm

Good point on the MIDI trigger idea for the cymbals, somehow that genuinely hadn't occurred to me. That really seems like a great and obvious idea there.
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by mbene085 » Tue Dec 29, 2020 5:59 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Tue Dec 29, 2020 5:50 pm
Good point on the MIDI trigger idea for the cymbals, somehow that genuinely hadn't occurred to me. That really seems like a great and obvious idea there.
There are some really cool things I've found like these that install by just placing the two magnetic pieces on opposite surfaces of the cymbal. Pretty clever and seems like a super quick and easy way to get MIDI trigger signals out of a cymbal without any kind of destructive installation.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:59 pm

70s Ludwig

3-ply maple, clear interior.

For my money, some of the best drums ever made (if you like traditional/vintage styled drums). They'll be less valuable than their keystone badge equivalents, because Ringo or whatever. But they're better-made drums and I think they sound better.

For snare, it's hard to go too far wrong with an Acrolite. Also cheap (though not "two figures" cheap like they once were). I feel like I could record pretty much anything on an acrolite.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by Telliot » Wed Dec 30, 2020 7:23 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:59 pm
because Ringo or whatever
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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Dec 30, 2020 9:36 pm

Haha I think Ringo is the fucking greatest. What an incredible, influential player of parts and songs.

But vintage drum fanatics pay insane amounts of money to have drums as close to his drums as possible, which I don't really relate to.

He's important to mention in this context: because of his stardom and influence, production really ramped up from 1964 and they were just throwing drums out the door. Once I opened a '66 floor tom and instead of large washers, the legs were mounted with tambourine jingles! Original; still stuck to the white interior paint that was probably still wet when the drum was assembled.

But those 70s drums... they'd gotten it rolling and quality control was top notch. Bearing edges are superb compared to the 60s drums, etc.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by mbene085 » Wed Dec 30, 2020 10:07 pm

That's super interesting. I love learning stuff like that.

Also, I think I have to get an acrolite snare because literally everyone is telling me to get an acrolite snare. That's been the most frequent piece of advice on this thread so far.

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Re: Let's talk about drums

Post by Larry Mal » Thu Dec 31, 2020 12:43 pm

There's an Acrolite from the 70's for sale on Craigslist here for a couple hundred at the moment. My drum teacher used to swear by the Ludwig Black Beauty and I thought it sounded great. Never owned one, though.

But, the world of wooden snares is also pretty exciting. You'll see people making snares out of wooden staves, also by using laminate to form the hoop and here is an article about some solid wood snares, also.

We are way beyond anything I can intelligently discuss but I have also been wanting to get a kit together again, and have been kind of considering options in my mind for when the day would come.
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