Feb 17, 2009

Edith at Woolly Mammoth Sound and a Lesson Learned.

I spent the weekend at David Minehan's Woolly Mammoth studio in Waltham, MA working with local Boston band Edith and drummer Scott Rogers. We used the studio's Gretsch Reknown 22x20" (!) kick and 16x16" floor tom, my 13x9" Eames rack tom , a 14x6.5" Yamaha Sensitive Series snare drum, my 14x6.5" Pearl Steve Ferrone snare, and a 14x5" "Raw Brass" snare that I built.

We A/B'd 3 different bass drums and to my surprise ended up using the very deep 22x20" Gretsch, which goes against my predjudice of favoring shallower kick drums (14", 16", or even 12") in the studio. I have had to revise many of my preconceptions over the years, because for every rule I have about recording drums there is always an exception that makes me look stupid. Deeper kick drums are a relatively recent innovation designed to deliver a powerful attack by pushing air down a long cylinder. My experience has been that these drums are all attack with very little of the round tones that define a great bass drum sound. But here's the kicker (pun intended): on any given day, in any given studio, with any given drummer, and any given set of mics, and any given engineer, you are going to get different results and that's what happened Saturday. We tried other traditional size kick drums and they just didn't sound as good as the Gretsch. Once it was miked up it of course had great attack but it also had a nice round tone and was in balance with the rest of the kit. In other words it didn't sound like I expected it to. If I didn't know better and just listened to the results I would have sworn it was a 14" or 16" deep kick drum. So the lesson learned here is to keep an open mind and be prepared to drop your preconceived notions about what works and what doesn't. Sooner or later you will be humbled by the truth.

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