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1. Use two room mics on the kit as well as conventional close mics and overheads - one in front of the kit for a bass drum heavy sound (positioned 50 cm in front of the bass drum at head height - move closer or further as is required) and the other above the drummers head pointing to the snare (for a snare heavy sound.)
2. When recording, try only compressing ambient, hi hat and bottom snare mics.
3. Do not over compress kick drum, overheads and top snare mics at any time whilst recording. Save it for the mix.
4. Remove unnecessary cymbals or toms so as to avoid extra resonance.
5. When using two mics on the snare - (one on top & one underneath out of phase and compressed) make sure you bounce them together. Avoid having the mics too close, the top mic should be 2-3 inches up and out aimed at the centre of the head. The mic under the snare should be aimed at the centre/snare band and no closer than a couple of inches.

When Mic's are placed too close to the head, the Mic doesn't pick up as much of the “crack”, it catches more of a timbale sound and will sound unnatural. Listen to the snare in the room as the drummer is playing - and then listen to the snare on tape - are they the same ? If not, your Mics are probably too close.
6. Experiment with the mic beneath the snare, if the mic is too close to the band it wont sound natural.
7. Use the bottom snare mic as an FX send - (a spring reverb always works for me!).
8. If the snare is buzzing find the cause of it and retune it, usually it's the toms. If that doesn't work try gaffer tape over the snare band (bearing in mind to stay close to the rim).
9. Between 5khz and 6khz is always a good frequency to EQ/boost on snares.
10. Use two bass drum mics, one close to the beater (for attack) and the other just outside the outer skin(for depth).Bounce the two mics together to create one killer bass drum sound (remembering to reverse the phase on one of them)
11. Movement of the Mic as little as a few cm in the bass drum can make big changes. Closer to the inner head results in more definition and less “boom” from the drum. Careful not to get too close to the beater or the mic amp will overload and distort and/or you will damage the mic.Wooden beaters are my personal favourites as they give a good natural definition.
12. If you're recording on 24 track tape - try to keep the amount of tracks to a minimum. If you take care whilst setting up the sound, and by mixing ‘overhead’, tom and room mics together into one big stereo pair - you will be able to achieve great drum sounds and never use more than five tracks - (taking into account a separate track for kick, snare and hats). If you are unsure of your sound/balance you can always bounce once you have your take recorded and you are happy with the sound.
13. When bouncing the toms, ride them up in the fills. Louder is always better - and if later on you find its too much use a compressor (often a nice effect in breakdowns)
14. If the hi hats are too loud in the natural balance (i.e in the live room) try making the drummer use a lighter drumstick (or nylon tipped) on hats and a heavier stick on the snare.
15. If you're using clicks on a sequencer - make a simple percussion pattern and even a bass line/tambourine as opposed to a brain numbing vibe killing blip. (Quantized of course)
16. Get the best sound you possibly can before recording - always think like your mixing and give the drummers a good headphone balance-check and ask if they want or need something louder in their headphone mix.
17. Be adventurous with the low frequency, especially with room/ambient mics and kicks.
18. If possible, quiet cymbals are always best for recording - so the older the better. Raising them high above the kit works better, might look funny and the drummer might complain, but the sound is better as you will have less spill on tom mics. Jazz drummers and Buddy Rich fans will fight you on this one!
19. If like me you like compressed sounding drums but don't like the way it always affects the crash cymbals - overdub them later on and then bounce them into your stereo room/overhead track.
20. Assuming your working on analog tape-record drums loudly and don't be scared to rock the meters so as to guarantee maximum tape compression.
21. If you're working on analog tape with SMPTE (and are in-sync with sequencers) prepare 3 takes for each performance. All three sharing the same SMPTE time (i.e starting from 0 min on each take). By having the same sync/smpte reference you will be able to edit between takes and still be in sync (as long as you replace the same sections from one take to the other i.e Verse 1 on take 1 for Verse 1 on take 3 and your edits have to be clean of course !)

For this technique to work there are a few simple things to be aware of :
A. make sure the drummer plays the same arrangement on each take
B. choose the best take and then replace relevant sections (don't be anal about it).
C. use natural places to edit from - snares, the start of fills etc. Try and avoid downbeats (especially if your playing/recording with other loops that are being triggered on the downbeat).
D. set your sequencers SMPTE page correctly - most have a sensitivity threshold that can be adjusted (if your edits are clean you shouldn't have any problems). Some software/smpte synchronisers are more sensitive than others so experiment.
E. as you are recording make notes - as you have three takes you can make sure you get exactly what you need. If you've got it in two takes let the drummer know and let him go mental on the third take - you might get something extra.
22. Record any clicks/loops or guide music to tape before you record - so you don't have to wait for sequencer to catch up if doing any drops and to minimise any sync problems (especially if using Ataris or drum machines - sync it back up when you have finished recording).

If your clicks/guide music are on tape, you can experiment with the vari-speed whilst recording. If the song is too fast for the drummer try slowing it down as it may help them achieve a better feel. I do this a lot as I like the way it affects the sound and helps to iron out any laziness in the delivery.

NOTE - Spend time making sure the tuning of the drums is as good as possible. If the drums naturally sound good then getting them recorded is a breeze. Once you have a rough sound together record a minute or so, then play it back whilst vari-speeding both faster and slower, so as to check whether the sound of the drums are better up or down in pitch.


1. Detune drums all the way down. Yes, ALL the way !
2. Tape Gaffer tape in a criss cross fashion over all the toms.
3. Take off the bottom skins on the toms and place the mics inside.
4. Take out inside padding if you have any in the bass drum-try using a small cushion or bits of soft foam instead of pillows.
5. Use wooden beaters.
6. Try and find old and big hi-hats.
7. Try and use both wooden and metal snares at least 6“ deep-preferably old and dirty.
8. Replace your skins with Calfskin - expensive, tedious, but worth it.
9. If you want a fat snare sound, keep the bottom skin low pitched - regardless of the pitch of the top skin.
10. If you want a more cutting snare sound, tune the bottom skin up in pitch and keep the top skin lower in pitch than the bottom.


1. For bass drum look for punch (2-3 KHz boost) as well as depth (100 Hz boost)
2. For snare drum look for presence (4-5 KHz boost) as well as depth (500-800 Hz boost)
3. For hi hats look for high top end (14-16 KHz) for Hi-Fi and RnB sound
4. For dub/King Tubby sounding hi hats try filtering top end off or boost midrange (1.5-3-Khz) or find some nasty old hi-hats.
5. Try not to share/equalize the same frequencies on each track-find the sweet spot for each drum/microphone.
6. Turn up the overheads and room microphones on fills for extra dynamics.
7. Try taking a mastering approach when sub-mixing drums.
8. Instead of individually compressing everything try just a stereo compressor or EQ on the sub mixed drums.
9. Use different combinations of room / ambience in the arrangement, e.g. more ambience in the chorus of a song can help in dynamics / energy.
10. If in doubt turn them up-too loud is always better than too quiet as far as I'm concerned (watch compressor settings).
11. No room or ambient tracks? Send sub mix of drums to an amp or speaker and find desired ambience texture by microphone selection/placement, try a ribbon microphone, fuzz pedal or some crazy compression to impress your friends!
12. Try radical compression and EQ on the input of reverbs, FX etc
13. Don't over mix reverbs-usually the snare and overheads are enough for subtle production values
14. Want to go crazy! Compress or filter FX returns-make them pump and scream!
15. The bass drum and bass line need to work together but should not share the same sound- i.e. if the bass is very low/sub sounding the bass drum typically will have to have some attack or you will lose energy / movement. The opposite will also apply, if the bass is bright or melodic try a lower sounding EQ or tuning on the bass drum.


1. Look for interesting sounds by experimenting with the tuning, different beaters, sticks and skins.
2. Look for cheap old drums and cymbals, military snares or toys etc.
3. Don't be scared to experiment!
4. Apply your mixing experience to your drum recording.
5. Don't be scared of drummer's. Let the drummer know your looking for a good drum sound, most players will be co-operative.
6. Record and play back the first take so as to let the drummer hear the sound, check the feel etc. If it sounds good the following takes will be better.
7. Learn how to edit for extra freedom but don't over-edit performances. If you have a ”Fix in the Mix!" approach you will never be a Jedi!
8. If a drum track needs a lot a work it means its not good! Push for the perfect take,
9. Energy and vibe should always be at the forefront of your objectives,
10. Listen / discuss the other instruments to record / overdub for drum tuning choice.
11. In the grand scheme of things remember that the snare tuning defines the sound of the drum kit more than anything else.
12. Keep a high standard! If it sounds like just another drum kit you can do better!!!