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How did you get Nevermind's drum sound?
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ruanddu
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#1
16th June 2009
Old 16th June 2009
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How did you get Nevermind's drum sound?

Hey Butch!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions.

I have always been enthralled with Nevermind's sound quality, especially the drums. Can you tell us which snare drum was used? I heard rumor it was a 80's Tama Bell Brass.

Also, was there any sampling that you added to the snare or any other drums. If so, can you elaborate on the ratio of sampling to real drum sound?

Lastly, what kind of kit was used and drum heads?

Thanks again,
Josh
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17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruanddu View Post
Hey Butch!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions.

I have always been enthralled with Nevermind's sound quality, especially the drums. Can you tell us which snare drum was used? I heard rumor it was a 80's Tama Bell Brass.

Also, was there any sampling that you added to the snare or any other drums. If so, can you elaborate on the ratio of sampling to real drum sound?

Lastly, what kind of kit was used and drum heads?

Thanks again,
Josh
The best way to get the drum sound on Nevermind is....get Dave Grohl to play drums at Sound City!!!

The snare was called "The Terminator"...it was 80's Bell Brass.

His kit was an 80's Tama Grandstar.

Andy Wallace added a bit of his custom samples as ambience, they get a bit of the "gunshot" effect, but the samples were mixed pretty low...



We used a drum tunnel" on the kick, which is basically adding and extra kick drum to extend the low end.
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17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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no one sounds like Dave !
here's the perfect example :

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17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ButchVig View Post
The best way to get the drum sound on Nevermind is....get Dave Grohl to play drums at Sound City!!!

The snare was called "The Terminator"...it was 80's Bell Brass.

His kit was an 80's Tama Grandstar.

Andy Wallace added a bit of his custom samples as ambience, they get a bit of the "gunshot" effect, but the samples were mixed pretty low...



We used a drum tunnel" on the kick, which is basically adding and extra kick drum to extend the low end.

There is a fair amount of documentation out there, in several books and articles, that describe the mic placement. I can't remember which ones, if anyone knows maybe you could post it.
Thanx!
BV
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18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
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thank you so much for posting this! I was talking to a fellow engineer the other day about drum sounds and I said "the way to get great drum sound is to have a great drummer playing a well tuned kit in a great room" and my friend started talking about preamps and tape machines. Folks, if you want a great drum sound, put a good drummer in a good room and watch it all fall in to place. Worry about compression/EQ later. Drums are all about the player, the tuning of the set and the room! Mics/preamps/mixing techniques are a distant 3rd (assuming the engineer knows enough about mic placement to not totally screw up the natural great sound that is happening). Thanks butch!
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18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
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Originally Posted by Bierce85 View Post
thank you so much for posting this! I was talking to a fellow engineer the other day about drum sounds and I said "the way to get great drum sound is to have a great drummer playing a well tuned kit in a great room" and my friend started talking about preamps and tape machines. Folks, if you want a great drum sound, put a good drummer in a good room and watch it all fall in to place. Worry about compression/EQ later. Drums are all about the player, the tuning of the set and the room! Mics/preamps/mixing techniques are a distant 3rd (assuming the engineer knows enough about mic placement to not totally screw up the natural great sound that is happening). Thanks butch!
Yes! Sometimes we forget the musician is the first part of the chain!!!
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18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
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Originally Posted by ButchVig View Post
Yes! Sometimes we forget the musician is the first part of the chain!!!
You should tell 'em your story of recording Clyde Stubblefield!
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18th June 2009
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Originally Posted by hankdrummer View Post
no one sounds like Dave !
here's the perfect example :

the cheap mics/compressors in cameras always seem to sound H U G E !
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18th June 2009
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You should tell 'em your story of recording Clyde Stubblefield!
yea... let's hear it!!!
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18th June 2009
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You should tell 'em your story of recording Clyde Stubblefield!
Yes Please!!!!!!!
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18th June 2009
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Clyde Story

Butch and Billy,

thank you guys so much for this great info you're passing along... as a drummer/engineer I am DYING to hear the Clyde Stubblefield story... please please please! Thanks if you do and thanks if you don't, but DO!

Thanks again,
Denus

PS: as an up-and-comer I have recently been trying to figure out what records I like, sonically speaking. "Nevermind", specifically "... Teen Spirit" is one of the most perfectly glued together pieces of music I've ever heard. It really does sound like a BAND, not 4 instruments playing the same song. Thanks for setting the bar and providing so much inspiration!
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19th June 2009
Old 19th June 2009
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Like everyone else here - I've been a big fan of your work. Absolutely, for me, Nevermind has been the standard from which I've measured drum sounds for the genre.

Researching and trying to go after that sound a few years ago improved my drum engineering more than anything else ever has.

Thank you so much for doing this!

-----------------------------------------------

Drum setup for Nevermind:

Kick - D12 with a drum tunnel, FET 47 at the end
Snare top - 57
Bottom - 451
Hat - KM84?
Cymbals - KM84's and 414's
Room - U87's

Pres were Neve in the 8028 board (1290 based pres - 1073 or 1084 probably)

Recorded at Sound City (nice big live room there)

As mentioned, nobody but Dave Grohl sounds like Dave Grohl

Also, several years ago Andy Wallace was asked specifically if samples were used on Nevermind. He swears they were not.


Again, thank you for taking the time to let us pick your brain!


Matt
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19th June 2009
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20th June 2009
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Originally Posted by Matt Hepworth View Post
Pres were Neve in the 8028 board (1290 based pres - 1073 or 1084 probably)

Recorded at Sound City (nice big live room there)
The modules in the Neve in Sound City A are 1085's

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20th June 2009
Old 20th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Hepworth View Post
Like everyone else here - I've been a big fan of your work. Absolutely, for me, Nevermind has been the standard from which I've measured drum sounds for the genre.

Researching and trying to go after that sound a few years ago improved my drum engineering more than anything else ever has.

Thank you so much for doing this!

-----------------------------------------------

Drum setup for Nevermind:

Kick - D12 with a drum tunnel, FET 47 at the end
Snare top - 57
Bottom - 451
Hat - KM84?
Cymbals - KM84's and 414's
Room - U87's

Pres were Neve in the 8028 board (1290 based pres - 1073 or 1084 probably)

Recorded at Sound City (nice big live room there)

As mentioned, nobody but Dave Grohl sounds like Dave Grohl

Also, several years ago Andy Wallace was asked specifically if samples were used on Nevermind. He swears they were not.


Again, thank you for taking the time to let us pick your brain!


Matt

I think that's pretty close to what the setup was...although I don't remember a bottom mic on the snare. I saw Dave Grohl last week, I mentioned I'm doing a GS forum, and he said he has a picture of me setting up the drums, and if he can find it I'll post it.

Re: samples, I'm pretty sure Andy had a bit of them mixed in the background on kick and snare. He would load them into an AMS, and trigger them from the sync head with a delay. He didn't replace the drums, just used the samples for ambience.
I wanted to steal them, put them on a DAT! But every day when he finished a mix, he would turn the AMS off, then load them back in the next day.
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20th June 2009
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Wow, that's very interesting! Thanks for clarifying and the correction.

I'd assumed the snare had a bottom mic because of reading that you'd used a 57 and a 451 on the snare. Were both on the top? Sorry, that's probably a detail that's hard to recall now that it's been about 18 years?!?! Where has the time gone...?

Also, I found a link from Sound on Sound where they were asking you about all the Nirvana setup (and Garbage). Talking Garbage

There seems to be some great info there that covers drums, vocals, bass, and guitars for Nevermind (and may save you a few additional questions).

Thanks!


Matt
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1st March 2010
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Originally Posted by Matt Hepworth View Post
Also, several years ago Andy Wallace was asked specifically if samples were used on Nevermind. He swears they were not.

Matt
This I do not believe.
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3rd April 2010
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i heard the stems from Rock Band, the samples are pretty easy to hear on the snare, even if they were only just for the reverb
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12th May 2010
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Originally Posted by Bluemoa View Post
i heard the stems from Rock Band, the samples are pretty easy to hear on the snare, even if they were only just for the reverb
Any samples Andy added to the mix were triggered with an AMS sampler, and never printed to tape...so if you're hearing samples, someone else added them, and they were not used in the original mix of Nevermind.
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