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cymbal bashers

Post by permanent hearing damage » Wed May 06, 2009 9:27 am

i frequently get these guys in the studio. drummers with huge cymbals - multiple 20", 22" and 24" cymbals all around. i realize this kinda comes with the territory with sludgy hardcore bands sometimes. i frequently tell the drummers to back off the cymbals - being a drummer myself, i can empathize with wanting to bash the hell out of them.

anyway, i normally make do, but i have a band coming in this weekend with not one but two such drummers.

they are a good band and i'm excited to work with them. but everytime i have seen them live, it's just a wash of cymbals.

any ideas? tape can only do so much, no?

i have some ribbon mics i can use for overheads, but they can only help so much and i usually use condensers on the toms. hell, i may not even use the overheads in that case.

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Post by aurelialuz » Wed May 06, 2009 9:43 am

my housemate, whom i've recorded several times is a cymbal basher. he claims the only time he'd had this problem really solved was the second time he recorded with the mogis bros. and what they did was use ribbons for overheads. i find when i record him the best tact is to close mic everything and then throw a ribbon up (260 or 4038) as an overhead and back of of it in deference to the individual drum mics.
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Post by chris harris » Wed May 06, 2009 10:40 am

If you can, just throw up a couple of room mics and record them bashing away. Play it back and point out how the actual DRUM work is washed out by all of that cymbal bashing. Almost every drummer I've ever loved has hit the drums twice as hard as the cymbals. It's always good to at least point that out to them. They may not be able to correct their technique in time for the session. But, at least they will know that there is a problem there and that they need to work on it.

I think short of correcting their technique, you're better off experimenting with different cymbals, sticks and microphones. If they're resistant to the idea of trying different cymbals, just explain that needing cymbals to cut through a loud rock band on stage is completely different than what you need to be able to record a good, balanced representation of a drum kit in a room.

Ribbon mics as overheads and room mics can help. Also, make sure that your close mic'ed tracks sound REALLY GOOD.

Good luck!

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed May 06, 2009 11:08 am

and maybe try going in more from the front with the 'overheads'.

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Post by farview » Wed May 06, 2009 1:34 pm

I find that it isn't so much that the cymbals are too loud, but that the drums are too quiet. most drummers don't realize that they are in charge of mixing their performance while they are playing.

Beating the crap out of a half open mastersound hat set while lightly tapping on the snare drum doesn't cut it...

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Post by rwc » Wed May 06, 2009 1:58 pm

Don't hit the cymbals less, hit the drums harder.

In these situations I often find the drummers are hitting the drums like a [insert stereotypical weak creature that won't offend someone here].

Especially if it's a hardcore band.
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Post by newholland » Wed May 06, 2009 2:03 pm

hoo... always a scruggle, that one.

my recentmost strategy is go glyn johns on 'em... make sure your drums are tuned well, and put cymbals as FAR off axis for your overheads as you can.

ribbons are next...

but i've had a few recordings with brass bashers... brutal. they get set to the back of the mix to alleviate as well.. but it's never pretty with punk rock...

sometimes you gotta record what the band REALLY sounds like... like it or not! :lol:

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Post by permanent hearing damage » Wed May 06, 2009 3:28 pm

agreed on the comments on cymbal bashers often tapping their drums in comparison. however, even hard hitters of the skins can give trouble if they have nothing but giant cymbals that they bash the hell out of.

admittedly, it has been a while since i have seen this band - and it was in a very small apartment that barely fit the band, nevermind the audience. i don't remember how hard they were hitting the drums, but the cymbal wash was just overwhelming.

i told them beforehand to try and keep laying off the cymbals in the back of their mind over the last few weeks as they have been practicing. if it doesn't work out that way, i'll try the "play the room mics back to the drummer" thing. i will pre-emptively set up ribbons for overheads. i have a pretty sweet oktavamod apex 205 i have been meaning to try for just such a thing.

thanks for your $0.02, folks

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Post by Gaz » Wed May 06, 2009 4:31 pm

if only all the bands you recorded had as good of drummers as My Disco, The Red Scare, or...your own :wink:
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Post by Gaz » Wed May 06, 2009 4:42 pm

i got all caught up in my blandishing, and forgot to mention this thread that was really useful to me, especially joel hamilton's compression tip for room mics:

http://messageboard.tapeop.com/viewtopi ... 1b8f725773

the only luck i've ever had with 'coaching' a drummer is by telling them to try and play 'balanced', as if the sound going into the mics wasn't going to be processed. this goes a long with having the drummer to listen to the room mics. however, sometimes loud cymbals don't sound annoying until mix time (since they convey a sense of energy), and the drummer might think his or her tracks sound totally explosive on playback.

good luck.
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Wed May 06, 2009 4:50 pm

omnis as "underheads" (between the toms and undersides of the cymbals).
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Post by Ryan Silva » Wed May 06, 2009 5:14 pm

Snarl 12/8 wrote:omnis as "underheads" (between the toms and undersides of the cymbals).
When you do this do you still try to close mic the toms?
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Post by swinky » Wed May 06, 2009 6:54 pm

have you thought about overdubbing the crash cymbals?

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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Wed May 06, 2009 8:56 pm

Ryan Silva wrote:
Snarl 12/8 wrote:omnis as "underheads" (between the toms and undersides of the cymbals).
When you do this do you still try to close mic the toms?
Not for the last 5 years or so that I used this technique. I think it would be hard to use underheads and obey the 3:1 rule. I don't do the underheads any more really. But I think I'm an OK kit balancer (I'm the drummer).

BTW, I would space them out pretty far. One would be kindof beyond the hihat (from the drummers perspective) near the rack tom and the crash cymbal. The other would be usually right over the floor tom, by the ride. I would measure so that they were equidistant from the center of the snare, for some phase control. It took a while to find the right spot where everything sounded balanced. I'd put them through a stereo compressor, usually. I'd pan them hard left and right. I'd probably still try this once in a while if I had decenter omnis.

Now that I'm remembering when I did this stuff more I'm remembering details. For a while I actually used my cardioid SDC's in the same positions that I found for the omnis. My cardioids are better quality than my omnis. That worked really good too. You can actually control the balance a little better because you have placement AND aiming to control the balance with.

You might try cardioid underheads out on either side of the kit aimed more down towards the toms. If they've only got 2 toms (rack and floor, unlikely for this style of music, I'm thinking) you could put them kinda close to the toms, then you'd have aim, placement and proximity effect all favoring the toms over the cymbals.
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Post by permanent hearing damage » Wed May 06, 2009 9:18 pm

swinky wrote:have you thought about overdubbing the crash cymbals?
with two drummers? definitely not an option. also even as a drummer, the idea seems so crazy to me. though, admittedly anytime i've heard about people doing that has made me curious to try it. maybe next time i record myself for something?

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