in an aisle seat

December 1, 2009 1:06 PM

Greasy rock song about falling asleep in passenger seats. I could use some help with this. Ok, this is my first attempt at recording with real drums. While I'm happy to finally post something featuring my insanely talented little brother, Mike, I'm sorry to say that the drum recording I started out with was awful and I'm not sure I've made it any better. If anyone has some insight as to what can be fixed and how, or some tips on cheap/lo-fi/hopelessly inept home drum recording, I'd love to hear them.

1) So I've been wrestling with this for a while, trying out different compression and phase toys on it. I couldn't find a good way to get the snare to come out reliably without washing the whole thing in cool symbol noise. Anyone have any tricks for working with bad drum recordings?
2) How might I make a not so bad drum recording, using the 1-4 mics at my disposal? Extra points for simplicity of set up. I'm not looking to create studio sound, just something I can work with.

oh, and about the song,
This is the first post I'm making on behalf of my new band, Big Ghost, and it's a song that my brother Mike and I have been messing around with for several years. One of the lines in the second verse was stolen straight from this mefi user name. The words go:

pockets stuffed full of tickets all punched full of hole. commuter rail schedule wearing thin at the folds. I've made my home on a line running through Lawrence and Lowell where I've been living on coffee and second-hand smoke.

somewhere in between every place I've been and every place I'll be after I get to North Station. I don't have to think. I don't have to do anything. Everything I need is beside me in an aisle seat.

Waking up in a backseat leaving Montreal. Radio's singing real country music and soul. Matthews behind the wheel keeping this shit on the road. First we make up the punchlines, then we work out the jokes.

...after I get to Northampton...

and it's awful nice having no idea where the hell I am when I fall asleep. Let the radio sing it soft and clear. With the sound turned up I could disappear.

posted by es_de_bah (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

*cool cymbal noise, not cool symbol noise
posted by es_de_bah at 1:08 PM on December 1, 2009

Sorry EDB but I can't really hear the drums! If you have loads of cymbals then compression is probably not what you want as it will bury the hits (kik,snr) and boost the tails (cymbals). Can you post just the drums? Pref with no compression?

Also, some info on how you recorded the drums (#mics, positions, etc.) would be useful.

The best quick drum recording method - needing only 3 mics - is a variation on the Glynn Johns method called the "recorderman method" - it gets great sounds vey quickly - here's a youtube video of the setup.

posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 1:27 PM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Original drum recording at:
posted by es_de_bah at 5:49 PM on December 1, 2009

drummy.mp3 has no audio in it!
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 2:47 AM on December 2, 2009

Yeah, I can't hear the drums at all. I kind of like it, but I'm into low-fi stuff to begin with. This is a good song.

The minimalist setup for recording drums that I use consists of a SM57 on the snare and an omni direction at the floor, in front of the bass drum. You never need to mic cymbals when doing a rough production where you play the song live, they get in there just fine as you can see in your song. But, if you want you can do an overdub of just the cymbals.
posted by dobie at 9:57 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think there's a promising track wrestling to escape this mix. Hope you don't take that the wrong way - I like what I'm hearing. I suspect part of the problem here is that you're compressing the hell out of the track - which means that if you don't have the drums up loud enough to start with any louder signals (in this case bass, vocals, guitar parts i.e. everything!) will swell up when the track "breathes" and just drown them out. You've also got a lot of compression on that Strat, which could also do with reigning in a bit. What's happening here is that all the parts are kind of fighting with each other for prominence - like people pushing to the front of a queue. Unless that's the effect you're after, it tends to make the track sound very squeezed and...well.....compressed! Try remixing this without all that fucking compression. I'd also drop the cymbals and agree totally with Dobie's advice re either not micing them at all or overdubbing them later. But - if you don't roll back that compression you'll still struggle to get a wider-sounding mix where everything is heard in its own space no matter what you do.
posted by MajorDundee at 1:03 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

The last time I recorded drums in my garage was around '01 and we just hung an sm58 just a little above and forward of the drummers face. I know, it sounds goofy, but it worked really well. Yea, symbols were a bit splashy but not a big deal overall.

Anyway, this is a cool song. I hope you guys keep recording and playing together.
posted by snsranch at 7:58 PM on December 4, 2009

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