Drum recording can be complex. There are many different philosophies about recording a drum kit. I am a believer of the “simplicity is best” school of thought. After all, most of my all-time favorite recordings were done with very minimalistic drum mic set ups. When I record drums at Tangled Wire Studio, I end up using anywhere from one to three microphones, with a room mic added for an extra sparkle. Because my room is small and the style of music I record is suited for a minimalist setup, I am content.
One of the most famous drum mic techniques is the Glyn Johns, 3 mic technique. Here’s a video with the man himself explaining how it works:
Here’s another interesting video with legendary recordist Bob Clearmountain using a 4 microphone technique. (The Glyn Johns method, plus an extra mic for the snare.
Tape Op Magazine recently added their extensive 2004 interview with Rudy Van Gelder to their web archives. I highly recommend this interview for recording enthusiasts. Mr. Van Gelder was the man who recorded so many of the greatest jazz records of all time, including John Coltrane and his classic quartet recordings for Impulse Records.
Introduction to the Tape Op Interview:
Rudy Van Gelder’s legend looms large, yet he has avoided most interviews throughout his 50-plus years in the recording biz. He has never discussed his techniques, and even in the following interview he didn’t divulge details. Van Gelder is best known for the LPs he recorded in the ’50s and ’60s for the Blue Note and Prestige jazz labels. In his youth he built a recording studio in his parent’s house where he recorded Miles Davis and many others. Having outgrown the first home studio, he built his own recording studio/complex/home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, which remains. The scope of Van Gelder’s work is unknown, but it’s a foundation for the maps, legends and history of the music of John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and others. Van Gelder’s work is both intimate and mind blowing, and he might be the greatest recording engineer in jazz history.
Here is an excellent video with Pharrell Williams interviewing Daniel Lanois. Lanois talks about his vast musical history and gives us a glimpse into his personal studio. Highlights to look for: Lanois gives us an demonstration of his pedal steel playing and shows us some cool vintage gear. It is definitely worth the taking the time to watch the entire program.