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Bass Drum Micing

Discussion in 'Bass' started by pingass, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. pingass

    pingass Active Member

    Over the christmas break I got my first bass drum mic, a shure PG52 and I'm wondering what you guys could help me with the whole micing aspect. With my recordings, I find I'm getting a whole lot of click and not much tone from my bass drum, what do you guys suggest I try?
  2. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    There's a lot in mic positioning but it actually comes down to some fairly understandable techniques, the main one being the polar pattern of the mic.

    On a dynamic mic such as your PG, the mic will pick up most of what is directly on-axis to it. This pickup will then reduce as the sound moves off axis. So if you have the mic directly inside the drum, pointing straight at the beater impact point, it will be picking up that sound first and others as an afterthought. As you move it back within the drum you will get more of the shell sound, and moving left or right will take the mic off-axis from the beater click and provide more of the skin reverberation and bloom.

    The most effective thing you can do with any new mic is to try it on a variety of sources and at a variety of angles/positions. Think about putting the mic in the drum and moving it yourself with headphones replaying the sound to you. The drum sound will overpower the headphones so its not a good test. Although you may not be using it on vocals, trying it on a vocalist and getting used to how it responds when pulled off-axis will give you more insight in how to place it. So trying it on various sources is useful. Also having somebody else do the positioning for you when you are in another room is helpful. Get them a list of positions, get them to yell the position number, place it, hammer the drum a few times, then move it, yell the new number, right through a set of 9 or so positions. Recording this will allow you to review and learn.

    However in a full mix, often the click is the main part you need from the drum. Post more of your signal chain and what other instruments are present and you will get more help.
  3. pingass

    pingass Active Member

    I've tried outside the drum pointing directly at the point of impact, facing into the porthole which is about 3/4 from the center of the head to the edge and pointing dead center of the reso head, but I still can't get as much body out of it as I'd like, what do you think I could do? I guess it would help to mention that I'm not muffling the drum at all and I've got my heads fairly loose edging towards medium tightness. Thanks.
  4. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    So you've actually put it inside the drum? I'd usually put a mic like this inside, about 1-3 inches off centre off the beater head, where the kick hits the head. The mic will only provide you with so much body, it may be you are looking for something more than you actually need. How does it sound in a mix?
  5. pingass

    pingass Active Member

    It sounds OK in the mix, but it's not filling out the low end as much as I'd like, the sound coming in almost sounds very thin.
  6. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    In my opinion the kick drum actually filling out the low end is more of an after-processing thing. Thats not to say your kick sound isn't underperforming, it may well be, but usually I treat bass & kick as the same thing and in solo, would work on the two together to fill out my low range.

    A little more information? DAW? Effects available? Preamp/interface/kit itself?
  7. pingass

    pingass Active Member

    the kit is a yamaha stage custom, 20x17 kick, interface is an Edirol UA-25 and I'm using logic express. As for effects, there's pretty much nothing I can use in the chain itself, a wah wah pedal and a general guitar effects board, nothing major.
  8. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Well its perfectly possible to get a good sound with that kit, I use the Advantage version in most of my projects. Neither the mic nor the pre are the most wonderful in the world but that doesnt mean you shouldnt be able to get usable results. So that leaves the position of your mic, or the position of your drumkit itself - have you considered this? Dependent how close to particular walls you are you may find phase effects are sucking the tone of the signal. Mic positioning should help with this but if you are in a major null then you may just have to resort to the old trick of wandering around the room with the drum, whacking it with the beater.
  9. pingass

    pingass Active Member

    I actually managed to solve the problem the other day, turns out the heads were just far too loose to get a decent tone out of them. Now with a bit of EQing, a compressor and a limiter, I've got my perfect kick sound. Thanks for your help!
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    At a Conservatory of Music I attended, the percussionists spent about three weeks doing nothing but taking heads off of various drums-tympanis, bass drums, snares, toms, etc-and learning how to install them and tune them correctly. I think this aspect of drumming is one of the MOST OVERLOOKED things by fledgling percussionists. It doesn't matter what famous whack-a-doodle kit you have with six linked bass drums fourteen cymbols glockenspiel and tam tam if it isn't assembled and tuned correctly.
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yep. Lets check that bearing edge. BIG DIFFERENCE when its level and well done.
  12. bardeonard

    bardeonard Active Member

    That was a refreshing post, TheJackAttack. Not enough attention is paid to proper drum tuning for recording or live performance. Heck, drums should even be tuned for practicing.

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