Category Archives: Tutorials

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!

 

AFTER WORKING 8 HOURS

5 Ways To Stay Creative After 8 Hours Of Work

AFTER WORKING 8 HOURS

Okay, so this is a touchy subject for a lot of us. Many people feel like when they work all day and get home, they just don’t have the creative energy or ANY energy at all, for that matter to work on music or other creative projects.

You’re definitely not alone in this, I would feel this so much when working 9 to 5 it would drive me pretty crazy. That being said though, I still found ways to get stuff done. I though I would share my secrets of doing so for all of you who are interested.

  1. Cut out all unnecessary activities other than ones needed to survive and creative ones.
    This may sound a bit extreme, but this is part of the key to success in being productive with creative projects. How much time are you spending on social media? Delete all of your social accounts unless they are being used in a way to benefit you. I deleted my Facebook account over a year ago and this not only made me more productive, it improved my general sense of wellbeing being disconnected from all of the negativity that exists on that platform. I still have Twitter and Instagram, but twitter is used only as a marketing tool for my YouTube channel and website, and Instagram I only keep around to connect with family who are distant from me geographically. I follow very little people on both of these platforms.When you get home from work, what do you do? Are you staring mindlessly at the internet? Playing video games? Some people will claim they need to do this stuff to ‘unwind’ but I will argue these activities do nothing of the sort, and actually just wind you up into endless meandering until you wear yourself out then finally go to bed (usually far too late) without having actually accomplished anything.

    Don’t misunderstand and think that I am saying to cut out spending quality time with family and partners, this would count as a ‘necessity’, and one of the things that improves the quality of your life and can actually inspire creativity. It’s the pointless ones, like the ones talked about above, or going out to party or hang out with friends are the ones to drop. How much do these activities contribute to achieving the goals in your life? If the answer is none, then cut it out now and forever.

  2.  Be creative in the Morning!
    One great way to use your creative power to it’s fullest, is to harness it before others have a chance to suck it out of you. Start waking up 2 hours earlier, before anyone is awake and get to work. Working early often has the ability to give you ideas and energy you wouldn’t have at any other time. I do some of my best work as soon as I wake up and always have. Dreams can be a good source of inspiration too, and they are often clearest in your memory when you first wake up.
  3. Be covertly creative at work.
    The mind is an incredibly powerful thing and can process many things at once. What I mean by being ‘covertly creative’ is using your imagination to work on any creative projects you have going on inside of your mind. It is quite possible to do this while working on something completely unrelated. Don’t believe me? How many times have you worried about something all day, yet still managed to do your job? I bet a lot. Worries are nothing more than brain power being used, and not in a very constructive way either. You can detatch to some extent from your present situation (day job), still do it, while planning overdubs to a song, video shots, or production ideas all within your head. Visualize them and practice them internally, then when you get home to actually work on them, you have clearer ideas as to what you are doing.
  4. Reset and restart after work.
    If you can’t work in the morning and your only option is evenings, or if you want to do mornings and evenings, find a way to ‘reset’ before you get back to work on your creative projects. Come home, put down your phone, don’t go on your computer, and sit quietly for 15 to 20 minutes and do nothing. After this you can take a shower, and drink a cup of coffee or tea, so it is like a second morning. You had a period of rest, and refreshed and now it’s time to get to work.
  5.  DO NOT WAIT FOR INSPIRATION!
    Inspiration is bullshit, discipline is the key to creativity. Remember this is your job, your REAL job. Creative work inspires others, and is a noble and important job. What would the world be without sunsets, flowers, starry skies, and rainbows? A bunch of shit, that’s what it would be. You’re helping the world be more than a bunch of shit. So get to work, and do it every day. You’ve got an important job to do, now do it. Create regardless of inspiration. Waiting for it only leads to meandering, procrastination, and falling back into the same patterns of none goal affirming behaviors.


Maestro, A Great Music Notatation App For Android

I’ve been getting more into music composition lately, and trying out various tools and programs to do it digitally. One of the easiest and best things I’ve found so far is this app called Maestro http://bit.ly/2X2RdQM. I’m running this on a Fire HD tablet (with google play installed) learn how to put google play on your Fire Tablet http://bit.ly/2DCi3WU. You can also pick up a Fire Tablet here https://amzn.to/2E8PDp5 and a stylus here https://amzn.to/2X2Xn3i

Maestro is great for learning and has a ton of pro features like:

  • Notes, Chorded Notes
  • Rests, Measure Bars and Repeat Bars
  • Articulations and Note Relationships
  • Tie, Slur, Triplets, Accidentals, Dynamics
  • Octave Up and Down and more
  • Change Clef, Tempo
  • Change Time Signature and Key Signature
  • Play your Masterpiece Instantly
  • Set Playback Section and Repeat
  • Supports Multiple Instruments
  • 127 MIDI Instruments
    Piano, Organ, Violin, Cello and other Strings
    Guitar, Brass, Leed, Pipe and Drums
  • Name the Title, Subtitle and Composer
  • Export to Image Files
  • Zoom In and Out to draw more or fewer notes in one line
  • Save as image file as you see on the screen
  • 100% free for all features
  • Supports Tablets and All Size of Device
  • Host your music at the Concert Hall and see if others like it
  • The Concert Hall is where you can post your music or listen and see other maestro’s work
  • It is another fun way of learning how to write the various musical notations and symbols
  • Get some new inspirations!

As you can see it’s pretty amazing. I’m using it on my Amazon fire tablet and it works really well.


Transfer Vinyls To MP3 With Audacity

Yes I said “vinyls” lol :p In this video I walk you through how to transfer vinyl from your turntable into Audacity. It’s super easy and fun. Here’s some of products I’m using and talk about in the video:
Sylvania USB Record Player: https://amzn.to/2UPNzrq (Sound Burger Style)
Behringer UFO202: https://amzn.to/2SJn5KI (this is if you are using a regular analog turntable, do not confuse with UCA202!)
Velvet record cleaning brush kit: https://amzn.to/2I2jbZi
Pfan-Stat record cleaning solution: https://amzn.to/2WW072v
My vinyl album, Manasota https://anthillrecordings.bandcamp.co...
If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to ask!

Using Microsoft Paint 3D and Photos to Make 3D Titles For Free!

Pick up a sweet Windows Surface Laptop here https://amzn.to/2SceHmW and my 180g vinyl LP, Manasota here https://anthillrecordings.bandcamp.co… In this video I teach you how to make cool looking and fun 3D animated title screens in Windows 10 using nothing but Paint 3D and the Photos app. Both are free and part of windows 10! This is a powerful and fun tool!