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Big Band Drum Sound

Discussion in 'Drums' started by Dynamism, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. Dynamism

    Dynamism Active Member

    Hey guys, this is my first post.

    I've picked up so much from you all, I think it's great that so many people can exchange ideas all in one place, a good way to stop us all from jumping into habits at the tracking stage in particular, full of new ideas to try out :)

    I'm wondering if anyone can help me, I've been listening to Frank Sinatra's 'It Might as Well Be Swing' album, and was wondering if someone knew what kind of mic setup was used on the drums? there's A LOT of room sound in there, but the definition on snare fills etc almost sounds close mic'd. I know back then they used to use a minimal mic setup for bands this size,which is what puzzles me, there would only have been a maximum of 3 mics from what i've read about the label engineers of the era (mid '60s, back when labels used one studio for most artists).I guess what I'm asking for is things like positioning (ballpark estimates is fine) as I may be recording a big band soon and to me this is one of the definitive drum sounds of the style and era.

    Irv Cottler's drumming on the tracks is fantastic, and i know it's half up to the musician, but i wanna make sure I'm complimenting his old skool style with a mic setup that works.

    Thankyou in advance for any advice you guys could provide me :)
  2. David Henderson

    David Henderson Active Member

    Yeah, it's a great sound, but I think it comes mostly from the fact that it was a great-sounding room. It sounds like a single mic over the drumset, relying on bleed from other mics to fill out the sound. You can hear that the drums are placed on the right but the sound washes across the stage. Dynamics are tightly controlled, with the engineer riding the gain on the drumset mic to keep the nice snap on the softer stuff and bringing it down when it get louder. I think the drummers were aware to not overplay on recording sessions, too. But it starts with a big room that sounds good.
  3. Dynamism

    Dynamism Active Member

    thanks for the quick reply, listening back i should imagine it was quite a reflective room too? would you recommend riding the gain at the tracking stage like they used to do? it's the first time i've recorded a drum sound of this kind, i mainly do rock and pop which generally I close mic (although i usually use alot more overhead for pop drums than rock, i prefer a real sounding drum kick personally you see)

    one mic you say? these guys never cease to amaze me, to me it's one of the definitive drum sounds for the genre, and with one mic, that's so impressive!

    thankyou again :)
  4. David Henderson

    David Henderson Active Member

    Well, I don't know that's only one mic, that's just what it sounds like. If you're multi-tracking you can always throw up however many mics you think you might need, and then see what you can do without at mix down, and in that case I wouldn't ride the gain during recording, just do it during the mix. The Sinatra/Basie recording was mixed live to two- or three-track so they had no choice.
  5. Dynamism

    Dynamism Active Member

    that's cool, thanks for the help :) btw i know you didn't know for sure but it wouldn't surprise me if those guys did use that setup, it was an impressive time for doing a lot with a little that's for sure. thanks again for the tips :)

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