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Making a crappy steel snare drum sound good.
Old 28th June 2009
  #1
Making a mediocre steel snare drum sound good.

The kit I've got borrowed for recording has a steel snare that refuses to sound good in real life or recorded no matter how it's tuned, tweaked, damped, fondled, whatever. It has no 'impact crack' and sounds like a discordant fart. The shells inherent resonance is ugly. (For the record, I realize a steel snare has a certain amount of 'bong' by nature. The problem here is that the 'bong' on this one is unpleasant).

Anyone have any secret tricks I haven't thought of for prepping this thing? Or suggestions for a snare I can order for cheap that will do the job?

Genre is mostly on the 'rock' side of things.
Old 28th June 2009
  #2
There are lots of nice Ludwig Black Beaty style snares out there that cost hundreds less than the real thing. The Pork Pie Big Black and the Ludwig Black Magic are two good examples.
Old 28th June 2009
  #3
Gear Nut
 
Bouldy's Avatar
 

When was the last time the heads were changed? Drum heads do go 'dull' after time, (and also need retuning frequently). What condition is the snappy (or springs) in. How tight against the skin is it? How much 'dampning' do you have on the heads? Does the drum have an internal dampener? How tight is the basket holding the drum on the snare stand? A few things to consider and perhaps cheaply remedy without buying a replacement drum. Just my 2...

Dave
Old 28th June 2009
  #4
Lives for gear
 

New skins new snares.

Even a noob drummer I changed to an Ambassador coated and tried to tune with some online help and it makes a big difference, needs damped because it rings for about 5 seconds but hey a little tape can solve that.
Old 28th June 2009
  #5
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rty5150's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrislpp View Post
New skins new snares.

Even a noob drummer I changed to an Ambassador coated and tried to tune with some online help and it makes a big difference, needs damped because it rings for about 5 seconds but hey a little tape can solve that.

yup, that and moon gel. if it is metal, a coated head will reduce a bit more ring.

check out grover snares. sound great!


rich
Old 28th June 2009
  #6
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LeMauce's Avatar
Track it. Play it back on a monitor in the live room. EQ the output to flavor and re-record it with a LCD and a Dyn mic and try to get your sound. "Re-amp" it in short words.
IT could work...
Old 28th June 2009
  #7
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Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

With super-crappo snares I have heard the shell itself ring is a nasty way, so I'd try some muffling on the shell. I'd try tuning the heads med-tight, then loosen the snares until they are floppy and ridiculous. Then tighten them until they are as loose as you can stand it. The looser the snares are, the more tom-like the drum will be which will help fatten it up.

Ludwig Acrolites can regularly be had for $50 at pawn shops across the country, and they are fantastic drums.
Old 29th June 2009
  #8
Thanks for the suggestions all!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
With super-crappo snares I have heard the shell itself ring is a nasty way, so I'd try some muffling on the shell.
That's what's happening. The shell makes sounds I do not dig, it doesn't matter how you tune it. Muffling the outside didn't accomplish much, so I taped a lot of cloth all around the inside. It took out about 25% of the discordant ring. The drum still sounds questionable, just slightly more tolerable.
Old 29th June 2009
  #9
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Demetriw's Avatar
 

Try an Evans HD Genera Dry Head. I have one on my main snare. They're one if not the driest head you can buy. Muffle with a wallet or two moongels or something. Good Luck homie.
Old 29th June 2009
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Demetriw View Post
Try an Evans HD Genera Dry Head. I have one on my main snare. They're one if not the driest head you can buy.
Hmm that might be a good idea... I'm not heavily knowledgeable about drum heads so this never occurred to me (I only drum for recording purposes). Right now I just have generic looking standard heads on them (remo is the brand). "drier" would definitely be good if we mean the same thing by "dry".
Old 29th June 2009
  #11
Gear Addict
 

get a ludwig acrolite- or the black sparkle version the galaxy. 100$ well spent
Old 29th June 2009
  #12
Would you be able to rent a bell brass snare or birch snare? I think that would be your best option for your recordings.
Old 29th June 2009
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrislago View Post
Would you be able to rent a bell brass snare or birch snare? I think that would be your best option for your recordings.
There are no such rental services here unfortunately. The best I could hope for is to find one in a pawn shop. I did put out feelers to everyone I know to see if anyone has a spare snare lying around.
Old 29th June 2009
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by vonrichter View Post
There are no such rental services here unfortunately. The best I could hope for is to find one in a pawn shop. I did put out feelers to everyone I know to see if anyone has a spare snare lying around.
What kind of snare sound are you looking for? Any drummer in particular that you like?
Old 29th June 2009
  #15
Here for the gear
 

totally agree on the The Pork Pie Big Black. very nice...
Old 29th June 2009
  #16
Here for the gear
 
Demetriw's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vonrichter View Post
Hmm that might be a good idea... I'm not heavily knowledgeable about drum heads so this never occurred to me (I only drum for recording purposes). Right now I just have generic looking standard heads on them (remo is the brand). "drier" would definitely be good if we mean the same thing by "dry".
Try it. The head is a coated two-ply head with dry vents (itty bitty holes) and an overtone ring to cut down on the overtones. The thing about this head over muffling is that it doesn't kill the volume. It'll run you about 18$ a Guitar Center. Every where else is like 26. I have mine on a Spaun Red Vein Steel Snare. That's cheaper than paying for a new snare if you can't afford it yet. But I will say you might want to get a workhorse like that new Ludwig Black Magic or something reliable and more versatile.
YouTube - My Funny First Rehearsal
Good luck homie.

Oh yea by dry I mean less overtones. Also something that really cuts down on overtones are diecast hoops.
Old 29th June 2009
  #17
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AudioWonderland's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bouldy View Post
When was the last time the heads were changed? Drum heads do go 'dull' after time, (and also need retuning frequently). What condition is the snappy (or springs) in. How tight against the skin is it? How much 'dampning' do you have on the heads? Does the drum have an internal dampener? How tight is the basket holding the drum on the snare stand? A few things to consider and perhaps cheaply remedy without buying a replacement drum. Just my 2...

Dave
Those are called "snares".
Old 30th June 2009
  #18
Gear Nut
 
Bouldy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioWonderland View Post
Those are called "snares".
LOL! Been drumming for 22 years and always thought they were called snappys, hahahaha.... no wonder I suck!

Dave
Old 30th June 2009
  #19
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Bierce85's Avatar
 

Unless the shell is out of round, the bearing edges are damaged or the hoops are warped, you should have no problem getting a decent sound out of any snare regardless of the make/model.

Try tuning the bottom head around 3/4 turn tighter than the top. Get it pretty tight as this is where the sensitivity and "tightness" of the drum is going to come from. Make sure the heads are tuned evenly by pressing down and seeing where the ripples are and also by pressing your finger in the middle of the drum and evening out the notes when tapping along each tension rod. Make sure the snares aren't too tight as this will choke the body out of the sound. I usually tap the head while simultaneously loosening/tightening the snares. Most drums will require some form of muffling.. moongel is your friend. I usually keep it right on the rim so it doesn't take away too much of the drum's resonance and overtones.

How is your room? A bad room can make it tough to get a good snare sound. Are you sure the drum isn't just sitting in a spot in the room that has a null where a lot of it's "good" frequencies might be?

How's the player? A bad drummer can make pretty much any snare sound bad.
Old 30th June 2009
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Secret weapon

Transient Designer. Have it as a plugin and it has proved it's worth many times over.
Old 30th June 2009
  #21
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maxpidge's Avatar
 

Flux, bittersweet...
Old 30th June 2009
  #22
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zeljkom's Avatar
Drumagog + SSD 3.0 + blend = one great snare sound.
Old 30th June 2009
  #23
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I have a $300 kit in my shed that I play....the snare sucked ass, had this absolutely crap top head that was made of this awful plastic which was pointless...

Tape wouldn't make it sound better, it just had no snap, bought an ambassador, watched Bob Gatzen on youtube tuning the snare and got a pretty thick sound albeit ringy, which ambassadors are known for....

Even the snare wires suck, they over ring no matter how much tension or dampening is on the heads.

I also was tuning the top head pretty tight and heard this splitting sound, thought I might be about to break something so I stopped, maybe I have crap pitch but AFAIK the vid showed bob tuning his snare way higher, although his was metal and not the same head...

I'm so noob.
Old 30th June 2009
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
Space Nugget's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demetriw View Post
Try an Evans HD Genera Dry Head.
damn good suggestion. My personal favorite snare head.
Old 30th June 2009
  #25
Gear Head
 

Also the ring or resonance comes from the bottom head as well as the body of the drum. so tuning it lower than the batter head will give you more resonance while tuning higher than the batter should give you less. the tighter the snares the "punchier" the the crack will be. The looser the longer decay the snares will have (think jazzy).... Also MAKE sure the drum is in tune!!!! lightly tap each lug to make sure they have the same pitch. you need to check both batter and resonance head. the two heads (overall)can be can be different pitches, but each lug of the respective head should match. when that happens then you can evaluate head choice, room, etc...

BTW for fun if you want an outrageously funky fat snare take an old batter head and use it as a resonance head it's chunky, dry and cool on "some" things. loses some volume too, NOT FOR EVERYTHING.
Ryan
Old 30th June 2009
  #26
To answer some Q's:

It's not a high end purpose built room but it's what I've got to work with. 8 bass traps (4 in the corners), plus some some muffling of the ceiling and parts of the wall. However, it's still a front room with a lot of carpet and a normal height ceiling (an old victorian so maybe a foot taller than most). After some experimenting I found that getting a piece of plywood under the hat and snare made a big improvement... acoustic instruments never sounds right on a carpet to me.

The performer is myself for the most part. It's not my main instrument, but I have a certain genetic natural ability from my dad (who is a killer drummer), I can practice a song and play it tightly but I'm no Simon Phillips or something. ;-P

I'm pretty sure the head is in tune with itself, but perhaps I'm listening to the wrong things... I've been listening to the pitch a couple inches from each lug and matching them up. I saw a cheesy video that came with a drumkit once and that was more or less the method the host was using... maybe it's a bad idea?

I'm going for an organic approach with this record. No pitch correction, no sample replacement, no beat detecting, just real human precision players all the way throuogh. I'll resort to replacing the snare close mic with samples if I absolutely must, but I'm not done fighting yet! I can't afford Drumagog, Steven Slate, etc. I'd have to use one of the freeware .vst's and some of my existing samples. There are a lot of intricate ghost rolls, contrasting dynamics on this material, so I'm not sure how practical samples will be except for straight-ahead slamming beat sections.
Old 30th June 2009
  #27
Here for the gear
 
Demetriw's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrislpp View Post
I have a $300 kit in my shed that I play....the snare sucked ass, had this absolutely crap top head that was made of this awful plastic which was pointless...

Tape wouldn't make it sound better, it just had no snap, bought an ambassador, watched Bob Gatzen on youtube tuning the snare and got a pretty thick sound albeit ringy, which ambassadors are known for....

Even the snare wires suck, they over ring no matter how much tension or dampening is on the heads.

I also was tuning the top head pretty tight and heard this splitting sound, thought I might be about to break something so I stopped, maybe I have crap pitch but AFAIK the vid showed bob tuning his snare way higher, although his was metal and not the same head...

I'm so noob.

That sound wasn't bad. That was the head seating. Keep turning it wont break. And also his new videos on youtube show the correct way to tune as far as letting the head seat naturally by playing it and tuning the head back when it's out of tune.
Old 30th June 2009
  #28
This has all been very educational.

After reading every suggestion in this thread and trying some more ideas, I think I have found something closer to what I want by loosening the snares to around a 'medium-long' sustain length, messing with the top head tuning some more, and adding yet another foam ring around the top head edge (it's just sitting on top of the other one). It's getting more of that "shotgun" sound I want, a sharp attack and a medium sustain, with less metallic basketball "bong".

I'll post a test mp3 when my replacement SPDIF cable gets here. I also saved a test with the snare as it came to me, setup however the owner preferred it, so I'll put both up for comparison and you guys can tell me if I made it worse or better.
Old 1st July 2009
  #29
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AudioWonderland's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vonrichter View Post
This has all been very educational.

After reading every suggestion in this thread and trying some more ideas, I think I have found something closer to what I want by loosening the snares to around a 'medium-long' sustain length, messing with the top head tuning some more, and adding yet another foam ring around the top head edge (it's just sitting on top of the other one). It's getting more of that "shotgun" sound I want, a sharp attack and a medium sustain, with less metallic basketball "bong".

I'll post a test mp3 when my replacement SPDIF cable gets here. I also saved a test with the snare as it came to me, setup however the owner preferred it, so I'll put both up for comparison and you guys can tell me if I made it worse or better.
I have seen guys line the shell of metal snares with the stick on foam weather stripping. Wouldn't be my first choice but it will dampen the shell resonance
Old 1st July 2009
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

what kind of snare is it? Steel is usually pretty good sounding.. at least the Pearl Reference Steel 6.5 thats here is about as good a snare as I've ever heard.

What heads have you used? Also Steven Slate rolls duct tape in little hoops with the sticky side OUTWARD and uses it to damp snares, and he's very particular about where they are placed (the closer to the center, the more splatty the sound gets). I used to use moongels but the ductape works way better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vonrichter View Post
The kit I've got borrowed for recording has a steel snare that refuses to sound good in real life or recorded no matter how it's tuned, tweaked, damped, fondled, whatever. It has no 'impact crack' and sounds like a discordant fart. The shells inherent resonance is ugly. (For the record, I realize a steel snare has a certain amount of 'bong' by nature. The problem here is that the 'bong' on this one is unpleasant).

Anyone have any secret tricks I haven't thought of for prepping this thing? Or suggestions for a snare I can order for cheap that will do the job?

Genre is mostly on the 'rock' side of things.
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