Upping my percussion recording skills

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JES
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Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by JES » Sat Feb 29, 2020 9:13 am

Since the vocals thread was helpful, we are now on to hand percussions overdubs.

I’d love your favourite tips for recording:
Tambourine
Shakers (eggs, but other kinds too)
Hand claps
Spring drum

I can record in a large “live” room with 9.5’ ceilings, or a deader, smaller room, or a very dead studio space.

This is not really a great question but since it will doubtless come up: I own Avenson STO-2s and an AT4050 mic which I could use, but was thinking about renting some ribbons to try out, especially for shakers and tambourine to see if I can get something a little less crispy going to digital. I will go in through a Great River 500NV into my RME Babyface.

One other question with ribbons: can anyone report on the “trick” of putting some absorption behind it to make the back of the figure 8 less pronounced? Useful? Or better to just go with the figure 8 for this application?

TIA.

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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by drumsound » Sat Feb 29, 2020 10:14 am

Percussion can be tough. One thing to keep in mind is don't worry too much about level. It often cuts without a ton of 'heat."

I've gone to often using an overhead placement for percussion. There's less crunching of the transient that way. I have the mic around a foot higher than the players head, a little in front of them, and angled down. Both of your mentioned mics should work, but be careful of transients. A mic I LOVE on percussion, and is readily available of the used marked for cheap is the EV 635a omni dynamic. I've used 4050 a ton too, and they can work really well.

Using figure 8, don't be too close to the opposite wall. Then the back will pick up nice, diffuse, ambience.

You mentioned 3 spaces, and they all might be useful. In the live room, don't be too close to a wall. If you're going to use a figure 8 (ribbon or the 4050), stand closer to the wall behind you than the wall in front of you. Tambourine might be hardest in that space. The dead space might work for tambourine, but it might be terrible. The small room will be a crap shoot for tambourine. Hand claps will sound very different in each space, and probably will work in each. If you are wanting the sound of a group clapping, but don't have a group of people available, record several passes with the mic in one spot, but the clapper standing somewhere different each time. Be random about it. Leave in slightly late or early claps, which ill give it more of a group feel as well.

Shakers are often easier. They don't often have the supper sharp accent transient that tambourine does (unless you're recording caxixi). You can probably get good sounds in all of the spaces. Just choose which is best in the track.

Sorry, I've only seen the Spring drum on a wall at a music store so I can't comment.

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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by vernier » Sat Feb 29, 2020 10:28 am

I'd probably go with the less lively recording space. As for mics, audition what you have, and pick what makes the shaker sit well in the mix.

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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by vvv » Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:05 am

Re tambos I can almost never get what I want/can use with out a lot of compression; I therefore prefer a kinda dead space and add reverb after - like a small plate ...

I kinda do the same with eggs and claps, but less compression and they can use more room.

I HPF all of'em, too and gate the tambo (sometimes) and claps (always).

I usually use whatever vocal mic/pre/compressor is up. If not, I like dynamics.

I have never even heard of a spring drum before.
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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by joninc » Sat Feb 29, 2020 12:58 pm

don't record too close in a dead space - no one wants a shaker right beside their eardrum - a few feet back is good. 3 feet approx.

ribbon is great on tambo. if using a condenser keep the input gain down so you don't crunch on transient hits...

sometimes roomy works great - kind of song/style dependant. is it a tight and dry type song? or more ambient and dreamy...

i don't compress percussion too much and never use gates on it... having a few different options for pitch in shakers and tambos is really key as well to pair the right one for the song and key. I have a brass tamb with a lower pitch which often sits on the mix more nicely than higher pitched nickel.

hand claps are tricky. i used to think more was better... the flam sometimes is what makes it work but often recording only a few takes of a single clap in a dry space is enough... too much room splash can make it washy. you don't want it too bright either or it sounds like snap/slap...
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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Sat Feb 29, 2020 6:08 pm

One of my go to moves ( if you’ve been tracking drums) is to sit on the throne and use the overhead(s).
Be conservative with levels. Shakers and tambourine can have transients that will clip the converters without ever metering in the red.

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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by JES » Sat Feb 29, 2020 6:35 pm

Thanks. These are all great tips. Much appreciated. As for spring drum, it just sort of happened in one song. I will hpf all the perc when mixing.

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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by vvv » Sat Feb 29, 2020 6:44 pm

I looked "spring drum" up - pretty cool - ordered one. (Remo, US$12 on the Ebog.)

I'll try and post a link when I use it because ...

... spring drum. :twisted:
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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by losthighway » Sat Feb 29, 2020 8:36 pm

Also with hand claps:

If you need it to sound like more people and you're short on time/people, copy and paste the part from verse 2 and slide it into verse 1. By grabbing other performances from other sections you get all those tiny differences that add depth.

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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:50 am

JES wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 9:13 am
Since the vocals thread was helpful, we are now on to hand percussions overdubs.

I’d love your favourite tips for recording:
Tambourine
Shakers (eggs, but other kinds too)
Hand claps
Spring drum

I can record in a large “live” room with 9.5’ ceilings, or a deader, smaller room, or a very dead studio space.

This is not really a great question but since it will doubtless come up: I own Avenson STO-2s and an AT4050 mic which I could use, but was thinking about renting some ribbons to try out, especially for shakers and tambourine to see if I can get something a little less crispy going to digital. I will go in through a Great River 500NV into my RME Babyface.

One other question with ribbons: can anyone report on the “trick” of putting some absorption behind it to make the back of the figure 8 less pronounced? Useful? Or better to just go with the figure 8 for this application?

TIA.
Once again, I recommend you stay far, FAR away from ribbon mics for this stuff. Percussions can be deadly to ribbons.

Let me ask: What are the ARRANGEMENTS for the songs you are going to put this percussion on? Are they lots of tracks? Or a sparse arrangement? This is extremely important in considering how to record anything for the songs.

Generally, I have recorded percussions for two general categories of song arrangements: sparse (less than 5 instruments), and full (any number of stuff, usually a full drumkit, usually at least 12 or more instruments, including electric guitars et al).

My approach to recording percussions for these two categories is different:

For the sparse arrangements, I use a large tube condenser (think U47), and always am about 3-5 feet away from the instrument. Typically, the musician will move about, so I use the omni pattern. Sometimes, when the percussion is the feature (Airto Moreira, as one example), I then use a Stereo arrangement with two AKG 414s. I make sure we can HEAR the artist moving within the Stereo space, as this is very important in this type of arrangement.

For the fuller arrangements, where the percussion is an accent piece in the background, I will use a small pencil condenser, typically a Neumann KM184, an AT 4051b, or similar, and use only a single mic. Again, 3-5 feet from the source, unless it is an egg shaker, or other percussion that does not have giant transients.

Spring drums do not have crazy transients, depending on how they are played, but still keep them 3 feet or so from the mic.

As with any instrument, spend time listening to the artist practicing their playing before deciding where to place the microphone. Walk around them, place your head above them, below them, etc. Until you find the best sounding spot in that room.

Have fun!!!

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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by vvv » Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:20 am

losthighway wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 8:36 pm
Also with hand claps:

If you need it to sound like more people and you're short on time/people, copy and paste the part from verse 2 and slide it into verse 1. By grabbing other performances from other sections you get all those tiny differences that add depth.
I do this kind of thing all of the time, and on other things like backing vocals, even rhythm guitars ...

Another trick is to flip left and right sides as you go to seem like different performances.
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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by digitaldrummer » Sun Mar 01, 2020 9:47 am

I use ribbon mics with shakers and tambourines all the time and they are great because don't always accentuate the transients like a condenser will. I agree that you don't want to do it too close, but I've never had any issues, and it usually sounds best 2-3 feet away anyway (proximity effect). shakers maybe more like a foot away. just don't place ribbon mics where you're going to get a blast of air and you should be fine.

That said, I used a very nice U47 (clone that is on loan to me) the other day for a shaker track and it was really nice. About 1 foot away. The large "LP Session Shaker". super smooth.
Last edited by digitaldrummer on Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:06 pm

If the shaker (or any misc perc) is played right it can be very, very up close in the mix.

Capturing the moment with percussion is all about transient management. Either capture them as pristinely as possible with your fastest mics and preamps placed correctly and maybe padded or smear them and smack 'em down for a more compressed sound. Mixing the two approaches can work in a song to give depth and texture as well.
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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by cgarges » Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:02 pm

I generally record tambourines from either kind of far away (a few feet) to "really far away" (other side of the room). These days, I generally love Coles 4038s for the kind of close stuff and a condenser for the farther stuff. And I've had a lot of luck with relatively inexpensive condensers. I love Oktava MC012s and MXL V67s, weirdly enough. These can be pointed at the ceiling, a wall, or placed on the floor. As far as the ribbon (close-ish mic) goes, I think it's important to use a ribbon with a smooth mid-range. Coles, Beyer M160, M500, etc. I'm not crazy about Royers, etc. I also generally compress tambourines with something that will do a SUPER-FAST attack time to kind of tame as much of the transient as possible, sort of like what tape does. Distressor, GML, SpectraSonic, etc. Not hitting it hard (although blasting the "across the room" mic can be a cool effect), just grabbing the top of the loudest peaks. And Tony's right. You do not need to print that stuff very hot.

This is also gonna sound really snobby, but I've been fighting getting a really "weighty" tambourine sound for over twenty years. I've bought probably fifteen different tambourines over the years and although I use all of them for different things, I was never totally satisfied until I lucked into a ridiculous deal ($35) on a $200 Vaughncraft tambourine. This is a case where the instrument can make a HUGE difference. You don't NEED one of those, but the tambourine itself does make a difference. (The LP Cyclops with the dimpled brass jingles is a second favorite. Meinl makes some really nice ones, too.)

For shakers, I general record a little closer. Usually, I have a Coles up for general mono percussion, but if I'm setting up a mic for a specific shaker overdub, I'll match the mic to the shaker and the track. Does it need to be a "chunky" shaker sound, like a caxxixxi or a rainstick turned sideways? I'll probably use a ribbon. Sometimes a dynamic can be cool for that, too. Does it need to be crisp? Probably a small-diaphragm mic. Or in a pinch, whatever might be up for a vocal. Sometimes shakers can be cool in stereo, too. I'll usually either do an x-y pair or a close mic and an ambient mic.

I've done all kinds of stuff for handclaps. Miking reflections off a wall or a music stand can be really cool, but honestly, I usually get a bunch of people around a Blumlien pair (4050s, 414s, etc) and maybe double it, triple it, etc, depending on what the track needs. There's also that awesome mixing trick that was used heavily on old funk records where you send the claps through a gate that is triggered (via external key input) by the snare. That way, none of the "early" claps make it through and the snare and claps sound super-tight.

For spring drums, I always like the idea of movement, so I usually record them with an x-y pair and have the player go to town with the stereo movement.

But honestly, you can just record any of this with the drum overheads, vocal mic, or whatever is set up and it's totally fine.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Upping my percussion recording skills

Post by drumsound » Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:41 pm

cgarges wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:02 pm
But honestly, you can just record any of this with the drum overheads, vocal mic, or whatever is set up and it's totally fine.

Hope this helps.

Chris Garges
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I believe a mutual friend of ours calls that Proximity Effect, as in use the mic that is in closest proximity to the person who is about to be recorded.

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