Essential reading for any amateur drummer Ever wondered
why some drummers kits sound amazing and others sound terrible?
Want to make your drum kit sound sweet on the live stage? What
follows is what i think are just a few of the things you need to
do to have a glitch free gig with a great drum sound that blends
in with the rest of the band.
Drum Matt – The first thing you need to remember when
packing the van and heading to the gig is a drum matt, something
to put the drum kit on to stop the kick drum sliding across the
slick wooden floor of the stage. This can be a piece of old
carpet or a professional one from any of the big hardware
suppliers, the later will cost more than the old carpet you
might find in the cellar and so I recommend you save your money
for more important items and use some old carpet.
Well Tuned Skins – Buying new skins for your kit on a
regular basis is important part of having a quality sounding
kit. I would recommend re-skinning your kit before every
recording session or every 3-4 months (depending on how often
you play/can afford). Buying the correct skins is also very
important. Don’t just buy the cheapest in the shop, do some
research in to the different types of skins and how they sound.
Think about who your influences are and see what skins they are
using try and pick a model that suits the style/sound of your
The tuning aspect of the kit is as important as the choice of
skins. There are plenty of articles online explaining how to
tune a drum kit so I’m not going to go over it hear. Just
remember if you want your drums to sound big and slappy or high
and ringy on record and through the PA the engineer cant do that
from the mixing desk, you must make them sound like that. If the
kit sounds the way you want it to before its mic’d up it will
sound amazing when its going though the PA.
Cymbals – For me cymbals cause the biggest problems when
mixing a band in a small venue. In a standard rock band drums
are the only thing that cant be turned up/down, therefore the
volume of the other instruments must me mixed around the volume
of the drums. The issue i have is that allot of cymbals are
played so loud that it becomes impossible to mix the rest of the
band around them without puncturing everyones eardrums or worse
blowing the PA! This means that most engineers have to mix the
band with the cymbals much louder than anything else.
If your not sure wether your cymbals are coming across too loud
and masking everything at your gigs try asking the engineer or
an experienced friend (who isn’t going to lie and tell you
everything sounded great) if they think you play your cymbals
too loud and they covered the sound of the rest of the band. Now
i cant simply tell you to play quieter, non of my articles will
will ever tell you to change the way you play. There are a few
things i think you can do to take the volume of the cymbals down
to a reasonable level for a small venue.
1 – Try and avoid the big expensive Zildjian, yes all the big
bands use them and they do sound great on a recording but Im
talking about when your playing in the upstairs room of a small
bar to thirty people. Buy some Sabian Pro Sonix or Paiste, they
still sound good and wont completely take over the sound of the
2 – If you still find that the cymbals are too loud try using
some hotrods. They do change the sound of the kit slightly (and
other drummers may think its uncool) but they also lower the
volume of the drums and cymbals making the experience for anyone
in that small venue much more enjoyable (and more likely to
stick around and watch).
Finally – There are plenty of other tips Ill be writing
about in these hubs in the future as i think of them and as they
crop up at gigs. I do lots of live href=”http://www.onionaudio.co.uk/”>PA & Engineering work so
whenever I see a good idea on the stage ill pass it on to you
guys hear to please subscribe to my feed.
If you have any other ideas of thoughts on what ive said Id like
to hear them as i havn’t put these ideas to many drummers so
would like to hear what you think.
About the author:
Daniel Williams works in the live sound industry and frequently
works in small venues with local amateur bands who struggle with
there sound in the small venue.