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Author Topic: Recommended snare drums?  (Read 5477 times)

brandondrury

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Recommended snare drums?
« on: May 11, 2004, 02:36:02 am »

Hey dudes,

I've had problems when recording bands, because their gear is simply inadequate.  This weekend I had a fiasco with a snare drum.  I bet we worked on the snare drum for 3 hours.  This was a record drums and bass to 10 songs in 10 hours kind of gig.  Usually, I don't have the luxury of spending that much time experimenting with mic placement and such.

Regardless, no matter what we did, I could never get that snare to sound good.  I'm not great at tuning drums ( I bought a DVD to learn this, but it often gets passed by in favor of catching up late mixing).  

In the end I decided that I can't let my studio's reputation be defined solely by the instruments brought into it.  As a gearhead and guitar player, I have all sorts of guitar amps to make up for inadequate guitar rigs, but I have nothing for the drummer.

So,  I'm looking to pick up a few different snare drums that I can keep in tune.  I'm looking for pro quality and I guess versatility would be nice.  More or less I'm looking for a Les Paul and a Strat for snare drums.  I'm not too concerned about the rest of the kit.  Most of the bands I record want to use their own gear and I usually don't have much of a problem with kick and really can't afford a full kit anyway.

Any suggestions?  Keep in mind that I'm not a drummer and never will be.  

Brandon

drumsound

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2004, 03:10:00 am »

If you're looking for a Start and a Paul of snares the answer is simple.  You need a good wood drum (maple, or birch) and a good metal drum.  Five or five and a half inches deep is a good for either.  If you're buying new, look into the Tama Starclassic wood drums, because they have eight lugs, which I find a bit more open than ten lug drums.  Ludwig metal drums from the 60s and 70s tend to be nice, if they're in good shape.  

Have a drummer friend help you pick them out.  Then have them teach you how to tune your new drums, as well as the rest of the drum-set.

There are many other choices.  But the above will get you going.  There are tons of custom builders making great drums.  My most used snare is a Bison from the Chicago suburbs.  After you have the basics, you can start getting deeper, and shallower drums, exotic woods, wood hoops, several metals, etc...
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kevin cubbins

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2004, 03:25:28 am »

In crazy low-budget "10 songs in 10 hours" sessions like the one your describing, it's my opinion that you have to make do with what you have. Having extra snares lying around included, though. It's always good to have backups for the neighborhood garage bands but that's not really your job, nor is it your job to waste 3 HOURS trying to get a snare sound! I'll assume that you're exagerating.

Anyway, I like to think that all instruments have a place. Pawnshop gtrs hold a dear place in my heart. Kays, Harmonies, Airlines, Hagstrom. They all sound special and different, just like nice Teles and Les Pauls. Same is true for drums, of course. Nasty trashy snares can be fun to mess with and cool in the mix. It's the engineers job, especially in these budget types of situations, to make due and make the best of it, good gear or not.

That young inexperienced drummer is responsible for "his sound." Every bit as much as Bonham was for his. He made conscious decisions for years leading up to the session developing his kit and playing style. Perhaps he's not the dummy you might think he is simply because he doesn't have a snare like the one you heard on a record you liked! On the flip-side of that is bands can't walk into the studio and expect to sound exactly like records of other bands they've heard and liked. It's just not possible.

I try to trust the people I record. That doesn't always work, but part of being a good engineer is to know when to step in, how to affect the situation in a manner that makes everyone happy (for instance you don't want to make a guy used to playing a crappy tele knock-off and pretty much lovin' it play the studio's brand-new Les Paul), and how to not spend 3 HOURS doing it! What a buzzkill for the band, especially the poor drummer, that must have been!

Understanding the fundamentals of drum tuning is a must. I can't  play a damn thing on the drums but I can re-skin and tune a kit in no-time. Just practice it. You'll never need half the stuff you'll learn from doing it but you'll understand the basic rules of the thing and that's usually all you'll need to make quick, subtle adjustments during set-up to improve the sound.

As for back-up snares, check out a bunch of second-hand snares. Buy the ones you like. Any drum can be made to sound good. If you must have something new, DW has a budget line called Pacific, they're mighty nice for the price.

Versatility? Different drummers will all sound different on the same drum. That's pretty versatile!

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Fletcher

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2004, 06:28:26 am »

You can rarely ever go wrong with a Ludwig "Black Beauty"
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch.  
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

josh

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2004, 09:40:21 am »

It depends heavily on what style of music you are typically recording, and snare drums vary as much as electric guitars do, if not more.

I second the recommendation of Pacific drums.  Decent quality stuff for a very reasonable price.  I'd suggest a 14x6 maple drum and a 14x5 steel drum as starters that'd cover most everything.  Of course in my own personal studio, in my own personal drum kit, I don't use either of these.  I prefer the sound, playability and ease of use (tuning, maintenance cost, miking flexibility) of smaller drums like 12x6 or 13x4.

Have you considered renting, or maybe getting to know a decent drummer with decent gear who you could borrow a drum from occasionally?  Maybe a bigger studio down the street has a couple?  My guess is you will very rarely need a backup drum.

I also toss in my vote for the "it's not your job to provide a snare drum" camp.  Most drummers I know would get ticked if an engineer started tuning on their drums or messing with "their sound", let alone telling them to try a different drum.  It's true that the snare drum is the key to many drummers' "sound", but I guess that all depends on the drummer.  IMHO just put a 57 on whatever they brought and be done with it.  Be PRO.

Fibes

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2004, 12:01:51 pm »

I can relate to the bad snare/drum problem. Most drummers that are just starting out couldn't tune a drum to save their life. We have a Fibes(fiberglass), Slingerland(vintage wood), Tama (metal POS) and a custom pinkpearl deep snare called "big gay Al." If the snare ain't happening, the drummer is pigheaded and every trick has been exhausted it's time to do show and tell. Record two tracks of the same song and do a blind taste test for the drummer and the group. Do it in context with the other instruments. You may find out the drummer actually knows better than you or vice versa. Either way you gave it a shot.
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Fibes
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drummertom

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2004, 12:07:07 pm »

Here's some more snare info on this thread:

http://marsh.prosoundweb.com/index.php/t/214/?SQ=8b5abea2302 c6bfaa3dcbc909453b6b7

I agree with Fletcher on the Black Beauty.  You can also find some 60's or 70's Ludwig Supraphonics that are pretty nice.  One snare can not do it all, however.  At the very least try to get a nice metal (brass or bronze) snare (like the Ludwigs mentioned above) and a nice wood snare (Tama, DW).  I'd stick with some sort of coated "ambassador" type head.  I find them easiest to get a good sound with.  Spend a lot of time tuning and recording your snare drums so you'll know how to get the appropriate sound you're looking for.

Of course you might run into a guy who refuses to try any other drums.  If that's the case you just have to do the best you can with what he's playing.  Record some of it and see what the band thinks.  If it really doesn't sound good, the drummer might be open to suggestions.
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mikedaul

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2004, 02:55:45 pm »

Here's the best info I know of for learning how to tune drums: http://www.drumweb.com/profsound.shtml
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kevin cubbins

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2004, 07:10:33 pm »

"BIG GAY AL"!?!?!?!?!?
that friggin' beau-tee-full!

(pabst blue ribbon is spewing through my nose)
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joeq

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2004, 07:30:49 pm »

another vote for an old Ludwig.  I have a supraphonic and it sounds so good, I am actually able to get  some drummers use it on a song or two instead of their own snare.   I think that's saying a lot.  

At the end of the session sometimes they offer to buy it from me.

From my Cold Dead Hands!

prof. sound's drum tuning bible is a great resource!  

I also like the Tama Tension watch.  It is not a substitute for tuning by ear, but it will help you get in the ballpark quicker.  






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Carnac

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2004, 07:44:14 pm »

Not my AOE (area of expertise) but I have a DW Craviotto w/maple shell that seems to handle everything pretty well. That Black Beauty is pricey and I'm sure for that it can crack like a bull whip. (not crap like a bull)
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Cory

otek

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2004, 08:28:39 pm »

Fibes wrote on Tue, 11 May 2004 18:01

We have a Fibes(fiberglass)



But of course.    Very Happy


The old Tama Bell Brass snares, tuned low, will work great if you're after a heavy sound. Yamaha 9000 Recording snares are great. Someone mentioned the Supraphonics which are awesome if you can find one in good shape - I made a bunch of samples of a Supraphonic several years ago which still get used all the time. Bradys are generally awesome-sounding snares, and I also second Fibes choice of a Slingerland.

One of the best all-around recording snares I've tried is the DW Edge. It's sort of hi-tech sounding and may not be for everyone, but it's among the most versatile snares I've found. It's also pretty expensive.... but it's hard to make it sound bad.
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brandondrury

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2004, 07:21:40 am »

Thanks for the help, dudes.

It may not be my job to make sure the band has adequate gear.  However, I don't know how many times I've reached into my guitar toy bag of tricks.  Frankly, I wouldn't be able to live in the studio without my collection of rock guitar amps.  An open back Peavey combo amp from 20 years ago with obviously screwed electronics and enough noise to sink a ship (I'm not sure that that means exactly) is not going to make my job any easier.

I sure can't control the musician's ability, but I have a little control what gear they use.  When a sound isn't happening, I can always talk the dude into using an alternative instrument.

I'm still in the quest for mega $$$ major label sound in a shitty old house with shitty old rooms phase.  I have the feeling that I'll burn out long before I reach it, but I'm not gonna stop trying for this mega sounding recording dream until that day comes.  While it would be easy to meat grind musicians through an assembly line taking a couple hundred bucks each time, I would rather go the extra mile, add a few cool toys to my collection that I can always resell for about the same price, and maybe learn a thing or two.

I really don't want total shit coming out of my studio and it would be nice to make a few dollars from word of mouth.

Brandon Drury

Fibes

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2004, 09:03:06 am »

Ola,

Any chance I could get a few of those samples? Heheheh!
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Fibes
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lyons

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Re: Recommended snare drums?
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2004, 04:18:07 pm »

My personal fave is the Steve Ferrone signature snare. It's pretty similar to a black beauty, except an inch an a half deeper. Very versatile, and you can probably find one for cheaper than a black beauty.

-jl
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