How does your band record drums tracks?

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by spectorbass83, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    I just wanna get an idea of how the majority of bands record when they are laying down drum tracks...

    Does your drummer play along to only a click track? Or does he play along to the guitar or bass? I suggested to my drummer that when we record drum tracks I want him to play along with the guitar or bass because I notice he is tighter when actually playing along to an instrument, not just the stupid click. I think drums should be recorded with both a click track and the guitarist or bassist playing along....whats your take on this?
  2. Marcus

    Marcus Guest

    Dec 26, 2004
    NYC & Vancouver, BC

    It depends on how tight the click track is in all honesty.

    Recently at a recording I did, the click track came out great so the drummer had no problem pulling the same job while listening in on headphones.

    Again though, there are always exceptions.

    There are certain tunes that just need to be captured "live."

    I believe the entire Franz Ferdinand this, or at least the self titled, was entirely "live" and had a really distinct mix.

    Give all possibilities a try though and see which works best in your situation.
  3. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    I avoid click tracks with my own band. We don't play to one live, and in my experience they impart an overly-stiff feel to a track. Most music breathes, it speeds up, it slows down, and part of "tightness" is when the band "breathes" together. I've recorded my drummer with other projects, using a click, and since he wasn't used to it, you can hear his parts speed up or slow down very un-musically to keep up with the click.

    If the drummer was used to a click, or we were recording dance music, I think it'd be different. Since we're playing rock, the band (sans singer) gets together, and we DI the guitar and bass while recording the drums. Even doing overdubs etc, the feel is still natural, and sounds more solid, even though it can vary +\- 10-15 bpm over the course of the track.
  4. I like to have the bass and a lead instrument play scratch tracks along with the drummer. A vocal scratch can also provide vocal cues if the drummer needs them for changes. There is no rule, do what the drummer is most comfortable with and whatever gets the best take.
  5. I don't use click tracks, though I have been tempted. I keep the drum recording effort simple, while trying to cover the kit as well as I can. Lately I have been using a simple 3-mic technique:

    SM57 on the front bass drum head, through the hole if possible

    Large diaphragm condenser at snare level, pointed at the snare/hi-hat region

    Large diaphragm condenser as on overhead on the floor tom side of the kit.

    My favorite LDC's at the monent are a pair of the stupidly cheep Studio Projects B1. I also use an AT 3035 on the snare because it has a pad and a low end rolloff switch. I will use the pad and then do my roloff in post prod if it needs it. As long as I don't have a lot of leakage it sounds fine. I really love the sound of a drum kit, and am not into the sound of a close-mic array. I do have a decent set of drum mics and clips but I usually opt for either a second snare mic and/or a mic on the bass drum beater if the track needs that ultra-percussive hit.
  6. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Drumkit From Hell - that's right, a drum machine, albeit the best out there!!!

    Why? Well, my band is sick of dealing with getting a studio quality recorded drum performance. It really is a case of the weakest link - if not the tuning or drums, it's the mics, or the mixing, or the drummer ;) . Not to mention, we're all busy and don't have hundreds of hours to deal with recording one instrument.

    Plus, our drummer is excellent, and has no major ego problems about not playing on our upcoming demo/album. He just wants to program as much of the drums as possible so it'll still sound like him. (real sounding fills are possible with this program fortunately!)

    Another main problem we used to deal with was bleed-thru from headphones or accompanying guitar when we recorded drums - I really wouldn't recommend doing a live guitar scratch track with the drums unless you both have excellent time-keeping abilities and enough sound isolation to keep the recording pure.

    With that said, if we were recording lighter music, real drums would be the only way to go - my jazz band had great results with us recording in a live room with a fully miked kit. Also, a pop rock band I was in a few years ago got good drum tones from 2 overheads and a kick mic! But, with this band, we want the drums to punch through with ferocity, not sit back and provide a beat.

    Bottom line - If you're recording the whole band simultaneously, DON'T use a click. It really lessens the musicality and forces you to not respond to the music or rhythm.

    If you're recording individually, I would highly suggest using a click. If parts of the music are designed to change tempo - I dunno, go without or program different click speeds?

    Good luck - recording drums is a bit of a hassle IMO....
  7. Tash

    Tash Guest

    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    +1 I've given up on drums and drummers. If I join a band with a drummer ever again it'll be their job to get their drums sounding good. I've wasted tons of time and money trying to get great sounding drums on various projects and its almost always a wash.

    Lackey you should probably consider investing in some good sequencing software and checking out a program called Battery. Its a sampler plug in for Mac and Windows based audio programs that lets you build custom kits out of almost any kind of audio file. I use it for all my drums, and it really blows away any other drum machine I've ever used. It has no sequencer funciton though, so you would need to pair it with something like Logic or Cakewalk. However the results would definately be worth it if your drummer is willing to spend the time learning to use the MIDI editing capabilities of your software.

    You could also get a set of triggers and just record him playing in real time, sending the MIDI data to a sampler program to generate all the sounds.
  8. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Battery ey? I'm actually not the main gearhead - our guitarist/singer is. He might already have it actually. We're just gonna use Drumkit From Hell tho, it's real good! Meshuggah created it and used it to record Catch 33.

    I wouldn't mind creating a drum machine myself someday, I've got some ideas running round my head.
  9. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    The most successful approach for me:

    AKG D112 (or similar LF mic) about 18" from front skin of kick drum, 15" off the floor, pointing straight at skin.

    Large diaphragm condenser about 3'6" away from rack toms, level with rack toms, pointing straight at them.

    The condenser gets most of the drum kit sound. The D112 adds extra bottom plus kick definition.


    If you're deperate for stereo (but trust me, you often get better imaging with just one or two mic in mono) then use two overheads plus a kick mic. Place them equidistant from the centre of the kit for maximum phase coherency.

    Make sure the drums are well-tuned, no hardware is squeaking, and that the drummer's sticks are not too heavy for their foot to keep up.


    RECORD THE RHYTHM SECTION TOGETHER! (Or preferably the whole band).

  10. janek65


    Apr 7, 2005
    Yes we record with click tracks. BUT we do guide tracks of guitar and sometimes bass, in order to let the drummer know where he is. btw In this scheme it is pretty essential that guitar/bass are dead on the click, else the drummer will be floating all over the place. While recording (we use a yamaha aw16g, is a great machine for this kind of stuff) i will sometimes turn down the guitar/bass if it's off the click.

    Usually we record on 6 tracks for the drums, 2 overhead condensers, bassdrum, snare/hihat, hi/mid tom and floortom. Using el cheapo mics (superlux), only the overheads are hi-q Zecks and the snare is an SM57. Results are surprisingly good, but we need some eq to get there :)

    I agree with marcusalan tho: There are certain tunes that just need to be captured "live." :D
  11. We're currently recording a demo in our drummers basement. Luckily he spent the 10 hours to adjust his drum sound, and they sound amazing. For recording the kick drum, what we did was place another kick in front of his, and took off the skin on one side and put the mic just outside the second kick. Sounds great.

    And we recorded one of our songs live, well the guitarist had to re-record her stuff a couple of times, but drums and bass we got first take. We did start off playing to a click(drummer had it on headphones), but other than that we didn't really need it since we keep good time(at least I think we do).
  12. I've always wanted to be able to capture as much of the live essence of the song. So it's usually the majority of the band playing and ususally bass going to tape, with scratch guitars and scratch vocals. We've recorded with and without click- I prefer without, the drummers have always preferred without. The last few times we've recorded we've done it without, but cleaned up timing issues in Pro-Tools.

    I would STRONGLY recommend a scratch vocal.
  13. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    We are recording our first full-length CD right now and this is exactly what we are doing.

    It seems to be working so far. :D
  14. We're doing the same thing, and after wasting a bunch of time, we're going with click tracks in everybody's headphones, doing a scratch track for the drummer, and going back over individually to re-record tracks. It may take slightly longer, but it works.