In this, the first part of this new series on De-Puzzling Drums, James Ivey of Production Expert and Dax Liniere of Puzzle Factory Sound Studios talk about the all important subject of tuning your drums ready for recording. Dax shows his methodology for tuning Snare drum and Tom Toms and talks us through so neat tips and tricks for getting a great natural drum sound.
After a short introduction to the series, James and Dax get to work making James’ Drum Workshop (DW) Design Series Acrylic drum kit sound as good as it can in the room by spending some time tuning it. Now I totally agree that this is something that should be addressed by the drummer, but as engineers and recording professionals having a good working knowledge of how to tune drums and get the best out of them is a must for anyone working with a live drummer. You might (or might not) be surprised at how many drummers have no idea how to tune their kit or treat it to get a great sound in the studio.
In this series, James will be recording two very different songs so he is going to be using two different snare drums. The first is by US drum company SJC. This is a 14”x 6.5” maple snare with an acrylic centre ring. It’s a big sounding Rock Drum which will fit the track nicely.
The second snare is a 1958 Ludwig WFL. This brass shell drum will be the perfect match to the second track which is much more laid back and more retro sounding.
Dax shows how with a couple of neat tricks and a very handy gadget by Rhythm Tech called a ProTorq drum key he can quickly get the drum almost into tune without evening hitting it.
James and Dax them move on to talk about tuning the Toms and Dax shows how he half mutes the head to get match the pitch of the drum lug by lug. As any of you who have ever tried to get a great sound from a poorly tuned kit will know the Toms can make or break a drum sound so knowing the basics might save you hours in the mix stage with the next band you work with.
This series will help you master the art of recording real drums. In future videos, James and Dax will cover setting up the kick drum, drum damping, microphone and preamp choice, microphone positioning and mixing.