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That 70's snare sound
Old 1st June 2008
  #1
Gear Addict
 

That 70's snare sound

If you've listened to 70's progressive rock, you probably know what I'm talking about. King Crimson, Yes and Camel used a very short, snappy snare sound. Is it the snare drums they used or is it more about recording/production techniques?

The modern drum sound is so big, aggressive and long it's good when you hit it on the second and the fourth beat but not so for the type of funky ghost notes I'm hoping to get.
Old 1st June 2008
  #2
Gear Addict
 

70s snares..

I was not there doing the sessions but it was for sure a combination of the very dead sounding acoustics and the fashion of that clear,precise even sound which the drummers also worked towards getting.Mic wise i imagine they used neuman km84/shure57s etc etc going into nice sounding MCI,API,Harisson etc... board pres...You also had some fantastic engineers with years of experience with that technology behind them going for that warm but crisp hi fi sound!!decent home hi fi was by this point becoming popular too!
Old 1st June 2008
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

I mute everything by covering the kit with a sheet and peging it down on the rims. This is one of the 70s tricks and great for that up front, crisp punchy sound. Ghost notes sound amazing, think Gadd in the 70s. I've also heard of using a tin trash can miked in the corner for room sound.

Drums and gear also ofcourse but it was definately a fashionable sound they worked towards.

I've been fortunate enough to spend a couple of months in a studio where the engineer and I are working on getting that 70s funky sound. He's really into it! He's using all analog and orignal 70s gear which would probably help -using tape is a must. As for kit I went for 70s traditional- shallow toms 12x8 16x14, 20 or 22 kick, shallow metal snare, old Z zildjians with KZ hats and clear pinstrip heads.

-well at least give the first idea a crack
Old 1st June 2008
  #4
Lives for gear
 

You should try this....a metal snare 14 inch by 5-6 inches deep...tune the top skin really low and put a wallet on it...go so low it sounds absurd then record it...tighten it up slightly and record it again...within three or four times of doing this see if you can find a sweet spot...there is somethin about a really low tuned snare...it records well because it seems to even out dynamcis of hits (your ghost notes become more apparent), gets rid of annoying rings and is harder to play which makes you play better (more deliberate) which all seem to enhance the recording of a snare at the source....different variations on this technique and just generally dampening drums were essential to that "70's" sounding snare...also those great recordings had great playing, no sample replace, no beat detective and very limited number of tracks..so the 6 to 12 tracks of drums that were recorded were really well done and really in phase with each other.....in regards to tape, I honestly don't think tape had as much to do with it as we think. I just think recording is approached completely differently today...i think you can get those sounds with some good choices and great playing.

Nick
Old 1st June 2008
  #5
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Forget about using any heads but Ambassadors! The goal in damping heads was to use the least amount needed to keep the heads from ringing sympathetically when other drums were struck. Likewise lug springs were damped so they wouldn't ring.

The fewer drums in the kit, generally the better it sounded. The rest is all tuning.
Old 2nd June 2008
  #6
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70s Tone

...I think it was a combination of both the drum, playing and the mic/configuration. Some of those vintage drums sound wonderful...and then you have Bill Bruford playing at his youthful best...and some great engineers like Tom Dowd recording them. Not a weak link in the chain...

I know Bruford liked vintage Ludwig Supraphonics and he played a heavily "rim shotted" strike on the snare. Rim shots have gone out of favor with a lot of engineers these days as they move to samples and a more "radio friendly" tone.

I personally love the big, fat rimshot...MERCY!!!!!
Old 2nd June 2008
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeavyG View Post
...I think it was a combination of both the drum, playing and the mic/configuration. Some of those vintage drums sound wonderful...and then you have Bill Bruford playing at his youthful best...and some great engineers like Tom Dowd recording them. Not a weak link in the chain...

I know Bruford liked vintage Ludwig Supraphonics and he played a heavily "rim shotted" strike on the snare. Rim shots have gone out of favor with a lot of engineers these days as they move to samples and a more "radio friendly" tone.

I personally love the big, fat rimshot...MERCY!!!!!
I don't think Bill Bruford is a big rimshot guy....rimshots don't record well...has nothing to do with samples at all or radio friendly tones...whatever that is...hey I got an idea...instead of name dropping and spewing verbal wet poo, why don't you give the OP something specific to try.
Old 2nd June 2008
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Forget about using any heads but Ambassadors! The goal in damping heads was to use the least amount needed to keep the heads from ringing sympathetically when other drums were struck. Likewise lug springs were damped so they wouldn't ring.

The fewer drums in the kit, generally the better it sounded. The rest is all tuning.
yup.
Old 3rd June 2008
  #9
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Put your wallet on it. All done.
Old 3rd June 2008
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickynicknick View Post
I don't think Bill Bruford is a big rimshot guy....rimshots don't record well...has nothing to do with samples at all or radio friendly tones...whatever that is...hey I got an idea...instead of name dropping and spewing verbal wet poo, why don't you give the OP something specific to try.
Dude...If you can't tell a rimshotted strike...well, you need to go do your homework.

Taken directly from Bill Bruford's website:

"When I started playing, the drums were unmiked, and the amplifiers very big. To be better heard, I used a combination of open tuning with a rimshot struck on the "ringy" part of the drum, midway between the centre and the rim. This got the high frequencies out and cutting through, and the ring, excessive if heard on its own, was absorbed when everyone else played. Necessity is often the mother of invention. This approach became monumentally unacceptable to rock record producers as the records came to be made within a rapidly shrinking dynamic range, the better to suit the demands of American F.M. radio."


Our fellow Slut wanted to mimic Bill's tone (as he played in several of the bands he mentioned). I dissected the tone down to the drum (a Ludwig Suprphonic) and the technique used (a rimshotted strike). What did you provide aside from an unwarranted personal attack? Mr. Bruford's comments prove that my advice was accurate... what advice did you give?

S L O W L Y now...Bill's sound was primarily influenced by:

1. A Ludwig Supraphonic or similar quality drum with an open, ringy tuning
2. A rimshotted strike (between the center and the rim)
3. An amazing drummer sitting behind the kit

I can verify this, as I play a vintage Black Beauty and my natural style is to strike with a rimshot on the snare. I tune my snare a bit differently...but my drum "barks" like his did when I rimshot...but when I play a more centered, traditional strike...it sounds very "run of the mill". For a recent reference...The drummer on Jack Johnson's "brushfire fairytales" plays a very "toonky" rimshot style.

I hope this helps...this style of play is unique (as not many drummers do it much anymore for a variety of reasons)....and when you hear it...it stands out. To my ears...it is unbelievably beautiful.
Old 3rd June 2008
  #11
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John Suitcase's Avatar
 

I did a session the other day where the snare was pretty bad by itself, the top head was beat, there were loose snare wires, etc. We tried taping it, retuning it, but it wasn't happening for me. Finally, I had the drummer place an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of notebook paper on the snare, taped down with a few short pieces of tape, so it was able to vibrate against the drum. Bam, total 70's snare tone, with lots of top, very short, quite even. Only problem was that it started to tear after few takes, so it needs to be replaced often. But try it out, it has something nice that using a sheet or towel lacked in our tests.

Of course, the snare being kinda wrecked might have played into it!
Old 3rd June 2008
  #12
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John Suitcase's Avatar
 

Oh, and for the toms, try taking the bottom heads off and micing from underneath, using 57s. A little tape on the top heads and some cotton in the lugs will get you a sound sort of like Mick Fleetwood!
Old 3rd June 2008
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Suitcase View Post
Oh, and for the toms, try taking the bottom heads off and micing from underneath, using 57s. A little tape on the top heads and some cotton in the lugs will get you a sound sort of like Mick Fleetwood!
yeah yeah thats what i forgot to metion -bottom heads off was a huge part. I find clear pinstripes gives you that 70s plastic box sound. But yeah any type of extreme muting and detuning will work including Cymbal gaffering. And most importantly as Bruford said to me once...
Old 3rd June 2008
  #14
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stevesmithfan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheArchitect View Post
Put your wallet on it. All done.
The above plus, a low tuning and your there.
Old 3rd June 2008
  #15
Led
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Led's Avatar
Guy I knew from the 70's used gated white noise behind snares.
Old 3rd June 2008
  #16
Jax
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeavyG View Post
Our fellow Slut wanted to mimic Bill's tone (as he played in several of the bands he mentioned). I dissected the tone down to the drum (a Ludwig Suprphonic) and the technique used (a rimshotted strike). What did you provide aside from an unwarranted personal attack? Mr. Bruford's comments prove that my advice was accurate... what advice did you give?
Well said. I don't know what's up with Pickydickynick, but I also thought his/her comments were uncalled for. This is a discussion forum. Immediately cutting down a fellow poster simply because you're a cynical prick has no place here.

HeavyG's comment was educational to me. I know I've been going for that sound for quite awhile myself. I was already doing it by ear, but now I know how to do it even more accurately. thumbsup Heavy. fuuck nick

Quote:
S L O W L Y now...Bill's sound was primarily influenced by:

1. A Ludwig Supraphonic or similar quality drum with an open, ringy tuning
2. A rimshotted strike (between the center and the rim)
3. An amazing drummer sitting behind the kit
Old 3rd June 2008
  #17
Gear Guru
 
charles maynes's Avatar
 

back in my youth, I actually got to roadie for Bruford on a clinic he did for Tama (around the time of the "Three of a perfect pair" album- I can say with great certainty that he used rimshots a lot back then... It was one of the coolest things ever to be able to do that gig...
Old 3rd June 2008
  #18
Jax
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Suitcase View Post
Bam, total 70's snare tone, with lots of top, very short, quite even. Only problem was that it started to tear after few takes, so it needs to be replaced often. But try it out, it has something nice that using a sheet or towel lacked in our tests.
I've done this before too, but since the paper tears easily, I used a thin sheet of plastic - the kind used as a folder cover. It has a more.. well, "plasticky" sound than paper (which sounds "papery" - go figure), but the difference is subtle, and plastic lasts much longer.

Another thing I've tried is sticking bandaids to the bottom of the top snare head. I ended up using probably a dozen around the edge about an inch in from the rim, aligned more or less with the lugs. The snare was tuned really low to get an AC/DC whomp, and the bandaids made the head sound much more controlled and focused, and only a hint of ringing was leftover. I'd like to try this on a snare tuned more conventionally.
Old 3rd June 2008
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Nutmeg II.'s Avatar
 

Once again: If you want to play bottomless toms don't remove the resos, but cut a hole into them.
This keeps stuff from ratteling, makes sure the bearingedges keep safe and it also keeps the shell from getting out of round (might become a problem when you transport them with out the reso).

For the paper on top, I like and do it every now and then. I usualy use a cut out old drumhead.
With a complete cut out on top, the snare will keep a nice lowend when tuned higher.
Old 3rd June 2008
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeavyG View Post
Dude...If you can't tell a rimshotted strike...well, you need to go do your homework.

Taken directly from Bill Bruford's website:

"When I started playing, the drums were unmiked, and the amplifiers very big. To be better heard, I used a combination of open tuning with a rimshot struck on the "ringy" part of the drum, midway between the centre and the rim. This got the high frequencies out and cutting through, and the ring, excessive if heard on its own, was absorbed when everyone else played. Necessity is often the mother of invention. This approach became monumentally unacceptable to rock record producers as the records came to be made within a rapidly shrinking dynamic range, the better to suit the demands of American F.M. radio."


Our fellow Slut wanted to mimic Bill's tone (as he played in several of the bands he mentioned). I dissected the tone down to the drum (a Ludwig Suprphonic) and the technique used (a rimshotted strike). What did you provide aside from an unwarranted personal attack? Mr. Bruford's comments prove that my advice was accurate... what advice did you give?

S L O W L Y now...Bill's sound was primarily influenced by:

1. A Ludwig Supraphonic or similar quality drum with an open, ringy tuning
2. A rimshotted strike (between the center and the rim)
3. An amazing drummer sitting behind the kit

I can verify this, as I play a vintage Black Beauty and my natural style is to strike with a rimshot on the snare. I tune my snare a bit differently...but my drum "barks" like his did when I rimshot...but when I play a more centered, traditional strike...it sounds very "run of the mill". For a recent reference...The drummer on Jack Johnson's "brushfire fairytales" plays a very "toonky" rimshot style.

I hope this helps...this style of play is unique (as not many drummers do it much anymore for a variety of reasons)....and when you hear it...it stands out. To my ears...it is unbelievably beautiful.
The classic 70's snare sound is not a rimshot sound ...now explain to me slowly what recording advice you gave the OP and I'll start counting how many times you name dropped...here's what I'm saying to you...give some constructive advice...misqouting a famous drummer speaking to something other than the topic we are talking about probably isn't helpful...BTW I'm really impressed that you think you play like Bill Bruford and not run of the mill....if you want a classic 70's snare sound, start with muting it, tuning it lower and not rimshotting...this is coming from a number of people in here with experience. Why don't you just face the fact that you are incorrect, try it out and see what happens? No big deal.

Nick

PS This is the advice i gave (this is not a quote from Modern Dumber Magazine)

You should try this....a metal snare 14 inch by 5-6 inches deep...tune the top skin really low and put a wallet on it...go so low it sounds absurd then record it...tighten it up slightly and record it again...within three or four times of doing this see if you can find a sweet spot...there is somethin about a really low tuned snare...it records well because it seems to even out dynamcis of hits (your ghost notes become more apparent), gets rid of annoying rings and is harder to play which makes you play better (more deliberate) which all seem to enhance the recording of a snare at the source....different variations on this technique and just generally dampening drums were essential to that "70's" sounding snare...also those great recordings had great playing, no sample replace, no beat detective and very limited number of tracks..so the 6 to 12 tracks of drums that were recorded were really well done and really in phase with each other.....in regards to tape, I honestly don't think tape had as much to do with it as we think. I just think recording is approached completely differently today...i think you can get those sounds with some good choices and great playing
Old 4th June 2008
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nickynicknick View Post
The classic 70's snare sound is not a rimshot sound ...now explain to me slowly what recording advice you gave the OP and I'll start counting how many times you name dropped...here's what I'm saying to you...give some constructive advice...misqouting a famous drummer speaking to something other than the topic we are talking about probably isn't helpful...BTW I'm really impressed that you think you play like Bill Bruford and not run of the mill....if you want a classic 70's snare sound, start with muting it, tuning it lower and not rimshotting...this is coming from a number of people in here with experience. Why don't you just face the fact that you are incorrect, try it out and see what happens? No big deal.

Nick

PS This is the advice i gave (this is not a quote from Modern Dumber Magazine)

You should try this....a metal snare 14 inch by 5-6 inches deep...tune the top skin really low and put a wallet on it...go so low it sounds absurd then record it...tighten it up slightly and record it again...within three or four times of doing this see if you can find a sweet spot...there is somethin about a really low tuned snare...it records well because it seems to even out dynamcis of hits (your ghost notes become more apparent), gets rid of annoying rings and is harder to play which makes you play better (more deliberate) which all seem to enhance the recording of a snare at the source....different variations on this technique and just generally dampening drums were essential to that "70's" sounding snare...also those great recordings had great playing, no sample replace, no beat detective and very limited number of tracks..so the 6 to 12 tracks of drums that were recorded were really well done and really in phase with each other.....in regards to tape, I honestly don't think tape had as much to do with it as we think. I just think recording is approached completely differently today...i think you can get those sounds with some good choices and great playing
I agree that Bruford's sound is very different from the other players of his era (his "toonk" was unmistakeable). But...He didn't ask how to get Charlie Watts' sound. He didn't ask how to get Ian Paice's sound. He asked how to get a King Crimson / Yes sound. The only reason I "name dropped" (wtf?) is because our fellow slut asked how to achieve the snare tone that Bruford had a hand in creating. I offered my perspective on how to create this tone supported with Mr. Bruford's direct quotes about how to achieve it and why he played that way. Evidently my perspective (and Mr. Bruford's ) does not meet with your approval. You then chose to incorrectly state that Bill Bruford did not play rimshots...and got Montezuma's Revenge of the piehole.

Draw your own conclusions as to the credibility of the data...I respect your opinion...but I stand by my submission of how to achieve a snare sound like the brilliant one that blew me away on The Yes Album. Ludwig Snare (Supra or Black Beauty) with open, ringy tuning, rimshotted strike...and a good player holding the sticks.

If this isn't what you were going for...I apologize.

Cheers...
Old 4th June 2008
  #22
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allencollins's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdtrbn View Post
If you've listened to 70's progressive rock, you probably know what I'm talking about. King Crimson, Yes and Camel used a very short, snappy snare sound. Is it the snare drums they used or is it more about recording/production techniques?

The modern drum sound is so big, aggressive and long it's good when you hit it on the second and the fourth beat but not so for the type of funky ghost notes I'm hoping to get.
I remember seeing an interview with BB he said he used to tune his snare higher and do rim shots
so his snare could be heard over Squire and Wetton's treblely bass tone(s).

Even Greg Lake and the dude from Bad Company had trebly bass sounds
when they were in Crimson. Many of those guys like BB and Giles had great snare sounds

Alan White had more of a standard beefy rock snare sound which I love but wasn't
as magical as BB or the first few KK records. Gentle Giant drummer had a similar
snare sound as bruford. I think it is tuning more than anything. They all used the
same recording gear as Zep and Sabbath so........
Old 5th June 2008
  #23
Here for the gear
 

I didn't read this entire thread so I apologize if I am repeating but I got this exact sound out of a maple kit with evans hydraulics on the toms. No resos- one sided. Tuned just intill the ripples dissapered- for that phat "wet sound". 57's on all the the drums.
and on the snare was a simply a coated g2 with two of those muffling rings.

Probably the same sound you're looking for, no?
Old 6th June 2008
  #24
Gear Addict
 

Thanks for all the answers so far! I kind of hoped I'd get the sound just by trying to find samples of some specific snares, but it seems it's a bit more complicated than that.
Anyway, the second best thing is getting ideas about how the sound can be achieved, and that's what I've got.

Quote:
Originally Posted by allencollins View Post
Gentle Giant drummer had a similar
snare sound as bruford. I think it is tuning more than anything. They all used the
same recording gear as Zep and Sabbath so........
Interesting, I thought of including GG but it seemed too different from the others, maybe because of the drummer's style that's closer to heavy funk (or so it sounds to me).
Old 6th June 2008
  #25
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hobson's Avatar
 

Love Love the Gentle Giant drum sounds - just finished dropping samples into our studio computer yesterday (note: samples came from a double disk released many years ago with a sample library of drum keyboard bass and guitar clips ) - it was interesting to use sound replacer with kick and snare samples from classic Giant -

curious though - the 'funk' side of this drummer... for all the incredible syncopation and counterpoint in their compositions - i find that the GG drummer is usually the time keeper - playing staight beats to the out-the-box offbeats of the bass, guitar and keys ( and recorders... haha)... it also reminds me of younger funk drummers who overplay thinking that they must play funky and play alot to achieve a 'funk' style - and yet when you study funk from the 70's most of the time - the drummer is playing simple! not overplaying - it the totality of everyone's rhythms (guitar parts, bass parts) that make the funk feel...

listen to classic Meters tracks from the 60's or 70's or Sly or Pfunk... it's simple and yet it sounds complicated.

not to be too off from the topic though -
i'm finding beefer ballsy drum sounds these days from fewer mics! The image is a better whole than summing 8-12 macro sounds of the kit and then expecting that to translate as a drumkit image.... 70's production holds true here too - fewer tracks (16) - fewer channels and bigger sounds... one overhead and one kick.. OMG!!

just a thought -
Hobson
Old 21st June 2008
  #26
Gear Head
 

70s progressive rock snare sound in one word:

Acrolite.
Old 22nd June 2008
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickynicknick View Post
The classic 70's snare sound is not a rimshot sound ...now explain to me slowly what recording advice you gave the OP and I'll start counting how many times you name dropped...
Yawn.


Quote:
...give some constructive advice...
He did.
For the Bruford sound he mentioned the exact snare drum and the way it was played (rim shot)

Quote:
You should try this....a metal snare 14 inch by 5-6 inches deep...tune the top skin really low and put a wallet on it..
Contrary to your opinion, there wasn't one snare sound in the 70's.
You describe one approach.
The higher tuned Supraphonic with little damping is another.
By the way, I've been on stage with Bruford and I was recording drums in the late 70's.
How's that for name dropping.
Old 22nd June 2008
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
Yawn.




He did.
For the Bruford sound he mentioned the exact snare drum and the way it was played (rim shot)



Contrary to your opinion, there wasn't one snare sound in the 70's.
You describe one approach.
The higher tuned Supraphonic with little damping is another.
By the way, I've been on stage with Bruford and I was recording drums in the late 70's.
How's that for name dropping.
Chrisso,
Thanks for the support...I have been scratching my head as to why Nick went off like that. JDtrbn mentioned prog rock bands that had Bruford as a common denominator. I simply broke down Bruford's tone...which is far from the "typical 70s Sound". When I think of 70s rock...BB stands out for his distinctive playing and his awesome snare drum technique (it wasn't his drum...it was HIM...millions of people used Supras, Acros and Black Beauties...but not many sounded like him because of the way he STRUCK the drum). The beauty of Gearslutz is that you can get a question answered by a pro who knows...and if you don't know (that Bill Bruford played heavy rimshots)...then the piehole should stay in the closed position.

Btw...being onstage will Bruford in the 70s...oh man...must be an incredible memory. Cheeky monkey...
Old 23rd June 2008
  #29
Gear Head
 

there is two snare sounds in the 70s from my experience

1/ the low end DIsco thuddy snare ala steve gadd or tony thompson
( a supra tuned mid low with an o ring will give this )

2/ the open , snappy bonham / paise / bruford etc snare
a supra tuned high no damping , or a 402


and rim shotting both styles is standard .
Old 23rd June 2008
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeavyG View Post

Btw...being onstage will Bruford in the 70s...oh man...must be an incredible memory. .
Actually, maybe my sentence construction wasn't too good.
I said I had started my studio career in the 70's (78 to be precise).
But I shared a stage with Bruford (and Gary Husband) at a charity gig in the mid 90's.
A drummers collective kind of thing.
He rimshots slightly towards the edge of the drum, producing a slightly brighter, more ringy sound.
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