Category Archives: drums

Sticky Wicket is Becoming My Favorite YouTube Drummer

If you haven’t seen Sticky Wicket yet, you are really missing out. The YouTube Channel, Next Level Chops Has been featuring a series of videos with drummer, Sticky Wicket, who has an amazing collection of real vintage drums, and is a master drum historian.

Their Sticky Wicket Playlist has many great videos of Sticky giving drum history lessons, showing his old timey drums, as well as amazing demonstrations such as the one above. They are a true joy to watch and I highly recommend them!

Aquarian’s Answer To The Classic Black Dot Drum Head (Classic Clear Power Dot)

So many great drummers swore by Remo’s C.S (Black Dot) drum heads over the years such as Tony Williams, Alex Van Halen, Steve Smith, and many more. But these days Remo’s quality sadly just isn’t what it used to be, thankfully Aquarian makes an alternative that is the same concept, but in a far more durable and consistent head.

I recently replaced my tom heads with these and made a video about it. Check it out below.

Recording Multi-Channel Drums With Limited Inputs

 

from one of my vids

Recording drums is an art-form, and there’s many ways to do it. In today’s era of cheap home recording equipment it’s easier than ever to record yourself. One problem though when it comes to drums is many commercially available and affordable computer interfaces have a limited amount of audio inputs. Most commonly 2 or 4.

When this is the case you have some decisions to make. You can either use less mics, by going for a more distant miking technique, or you can use a mixer to combine signals into less inputs. With this tutorial I chose the ladder. I wanted a more closely miked sound on my interface that only has 4 inputs. I used a small inexpensive mixer from Amazon, and my Behringer UMC404HD and combined some channels to use all 4 channels with the maximum amount of options to use later on in the mix.

In the video below I show you how I recorded kick, snare, overhead, two acoustic toms and two electric toms using only 4 channels, and still having the ability to adjust quite a bit of levels in the mix.

How to recreate the Alex Van Halen Drum Sound from 1984

Van Halen’s 1984 is one of the most classic rock albums of all time, and was the first LP by the group recorded by them in their own studio, 5150. One of the most distinct sounds on the album is Alex Van Halen’s awesome and unique drum sound. Song like Jump, and I’ll wait have some of the most recognizable 80s drum sounds next to Phil Collins’ famous concert tom sound on In The Air Tonight.

So how can you recreate this sound today? From extensive research into the way 1984 was recorded, as well as Alex’s drums and tastes, it’s actually not as hard as you’d think to get a relatively similar sound as 1984, though it might take some time to get all the pieces put together if you don’t already have similar things.

Part 1 – The kick drum

This is actually one of the easiest parts to accomplish. Why is it so easy? Because believe it or not, the bass drum sound on 1984 is not an actual bass drum, but a Simmons electronic drum pad. Though the picture above shows the kit Alex was playing in the video for Jump, he did not actually use the sounds of these crazily huge kick drums, but instead recorded with a fully electronic kick drum.

You may be thinking, how the heck is that easy? Simmons pads are rare and expensive these days! True, but you don’t need a real one, just the sound. You can download some samples here.Then you can use a drum replacer plugin like MDA BeatBox, or something similar to trigger the sample with your kick drum track. If you have an electronic kick that lets you load your own samples, you could do that as well.

Part 2 – The snare drum

Alex played Steel Ludwig 6.5×14 steel snares, as well as a 6.5×14 rosewood Tama snare, but he always used Remo C.S. head (black dot) on them. So the actual snare type isn’t as important as the head and tuning. He would use a regular clear Ambassador on the bottom, and tune them both medium high. Occasionally he would also put some gaffer’s tape on the snare, but not always. Alex played large 2B sticks, which actually had quite an effect on the sound of the drum. So I recommend playing some large sticks like these to increase the chances of a similar sound.

Part 3 – The toms

Alex’s tom sound on 1984 are simple…. Roto Toms. He used several different size roto toms, with a standard Ludwig floor tom with the resonant head removed. Roto toms are cheap and easy to obtain. However, he would use Remo CS heads on them as well. Also, I would look for larger roto toms, like 12″ and above. But if all is you can find are the smaller ones, you can still make due. For the floor tom, just take your bottom head off your floor tom and muffle it a bit with gaff tape, tuned medium tension. On a few songs on 1984 (such as Hot For Teacher) Alex also used Simmons toms (in addition to the roto toms). If you really want to find these too, you could use any electronic tom, then use a Simmons sample, or even some of the newer Simmons drums have the classic sounds built in.

Part 4 – Cymbals

Alex has always played all Paiste Cymbals, and in the 1984 days he was using a very pingy ride, which was most likely a Paiste 2002 Power Ride .He also used an assortment of Paiste 2002 crashes and chinas, plus 15″ Sound Edge Hi Hats. However, these are all pretty damn pricey. So you could substitute the Paiste PST5 Rock line which comes with a 20″ rock ride, 16″ and 18″ rock crashes, and 14″ sound edge hats, all of which sound great and have similar tones as the more expensive Paistes. You could also pick up a PST5 China to complete the sound.

Part 5 – Miking

Your kick drum mic isn’t going to matter much, since you’ll be replacing the sound anyway, but the snare, a regular old SM57 should suffice. The same should work on the toms, and try to put a bit of distance from the drums to the mics, 1 foot away or so on the roto toms especially. For overheads, use your favorite condenser mics. If you have the room and channels for it, place at least 1 ambient room mic in the room at some distance away from the drums, then mix it in as a natural ambiance.

Part 6 – Mixing

This will have to be dependent on your ears, but but don’t be afraid to put the overheads louder than you normally do. Alex’s cymbals are usually quite loud. The rest is up to your ears and skills!

I hope you found this post helpful and educational. I’d love to hear your attempts, feel free to send them to me!