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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Fletcher => Topic started by: brandondrury on May 11, 2004, 02:36:02 am

Title: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: brandondrury 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.  

Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: drumsound 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...
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: kevin cubbins 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!

Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: Fletcher on May 11, 2004, 06:28:26 am
You can rarely ever go wrong with a Ludwig "Black Beauty"
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: josh 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.
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: Fibes 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.
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: drummertom 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.
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: mikedaul 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
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: kevin cubbins on May 11, 2004, 07:10:33 pm
"BIG GAY AL"!?!?!?!?!?
that friggin' beau-tee-full!

(pabst blue ribbon is spewing through my nose)
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: joeq 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.  

Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: Carnac 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)
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: otek 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.
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: brandondrury 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
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: Fibes on May 12, 2004, 09:03:06 am

Any chance I could get a few of those samples? Heheheh!
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: lyons 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.

Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: Duardo on May 12, 2004, 07:14:21 pm
I'd second the idea that one good wood and one good metal...probably maple and steel...would do a great job for your Strat/Les Paul comparison.  If you just want one drum, though, I'd probably go with a maple drum...although a brass drum will often give you a sort of compromise between a maple and steel drum...brighter than the wood, but not quite as edgy as the steel.

I think it's a very good idea to have a few drums around.  Especially since you say the main problem you encounter with many of the bands you record is inadequate gear...chances are those drummers aren't using the drums they use because they're what they want for "their sound", it's because it's all they can afford.

Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: John Ivan on May 13, 2004, 10:47:59 am
I've had great luck with the old Lude`Vig acrolite {?spelling}. 5" drums. My first snare was a Ludwig acrolite and I love them. I can tune though and it might just be that I've gotten used to these drums. All the suggestions so far are great. You should have a wood drum, a metal drum and I would also look at having a piccolo drum too. I swear though, The Ludwig 5" I've had for ever is very versatile. I guess most drums are quite versatile if you dive into tuning. As stated by folks here though, No one drum can do it all.
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: CA on May 18, 2004, 08:38:33 am
Fletcher wrote on Tue, 11 May 2004 11:28

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

Being a drummer/engineer I completely agree,really good all around snare...if you can't find one, yamaha has a "Manu Katche" model snare that will get you similar results.
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: ted nightshade on May 18, 2004, 02:06:44 pm
I have a really sweet copper snare, but could really use a nice wood one. Interested in all the suggestions here. Only Black Beauties I've seen have been crazy expensive... Interested in new stuff that compares, although really I'm going for something different than RAWK and don't want to hijack this worthy thread.

I think you have the right idea wanting to have a drum on hand that you KNOW you can get to sound good without a lot of experimentation.
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: ctmartin on May 18, 2004, 09:35:05 pm
I second the recommendation of a DW Craviotto.
Title: Re: Recommended snare drums?
Post by: special agent Stu on May 19, 2004, 10:01:15 am
Loove the " Chad Smith "...and the "Mapex Power hit".
Run the shitty snare through an old "Rat" Pedal..or one of your stomp boxes..a DBX 160 or some other smash box and Presto! Great sounding snares can be the snares you thought didnt sound great. I get those sessions and It sucks when your searching for gold but get less to work with. Chances are the drummer will walk away and realise his sound sucked...but loved your advice about how to improve it, and your patience. It may mean he will come back next time..after spending some dollars on a decent snare...
OR just trigger a good hit!