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Bonham drum micing technique?
Old 31st January 2005
  #1
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jho's Avatar
 

Bonham drum micing technique?

I know there's only one John, God rest his soul...so that's 99% of the sound but I'd like some detail on exactly how his kit was recorded. Micing technique, etc.

If anyone knows the type mics, placement, as well as pres and compressors used that would be helpful for an upcoming session I have with a zep stylized sounding band.

Thanks!
Old 31st January 2005
  #2
most of bonham's stuff was recorded with some variant of the glyn johns/andy johns technique, that is basically 3 room mics.
coles ribbons I think.

One about 3-4 feet above the snare drum pointed at the snare.

One a few inches above the rim of the floor tom pointed at the snare/hi hats

One outside the kick drum

Bonzo didn't care for close micing in general and I heard wouldn't allow it for the most part.

I also heard that he would line the inside of his kick drum with aluminum foil (don't shoot the messenger, I actually heard it from a fairly reliable source, just sayin)

IF the drummer is able to beat the **** out of the drums and ease up on the cymbals this yields some amazing results
Her's some more from mercenary



http://www.mercenary.com/3micdrumstuf.html
Old 31st January 2005
  #3
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brendondp's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by everybody's x
I also heard that he would line the inside of his kick drum with aluminum foil (don't shoot the messenger, I actually heard it from a fairly reliable source, just sayin)
It's true.

I've tried it too and goddamn got a MASSIVE kick sound. A little over the top for your average studio gig but great for a raucous live one.

Of course, it sounds much better with two heads, no holes, and miking the front head.

Cheers,

bdp
Old 31st January 2005
  #4
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jho's Avatar
 

So it's alot like the recorderman setup? I use that alot but usually augment with spots. Cool. Thanks!

Aluminum foil eh? Hey worth a try. If nothing else should help the T.V. tuning!
Old 31st January 2005
  #5
Quote:
I also heard that he would line the inside of his kick drum with aluminum foil (don't shoot the messenger, I actually heard it from a fairly reliable source, just sayin)
I guess to make it brighter?? (pun intended) Anyway I think this would be a bad idea if you do have a hole in the front head and you are close micing the kick from the inside. If the drummer does not have anything to soak up the highs a bit like a small towel or even a wash cloth you tend to get all kinds of phase issues. The kick can end up sounding like a basket ball for many of the same reasons a basketball sounds like a basket ball, all that high end bouncing around can do bad things..

The point is…. maybe he did use foil on the inside of the drum (I believe this is true) but that does not mean that will work for you. It worked for him because of the studios they recorded in, the equipment they used, the engineer, how they set up the mics and...... oh yeah the player.

heh
Old 31st January 2005
  #6
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Makes sense.

Which relates back to the original question, John aside, which mics, placement, pre's and compressors were used? I probably don't have them all ! But I can try to come as close as possible.

J
Old 31st January 2005
  #7
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jho's Avatar
 

Thanks for the answers.

As far as the the drummer...hey, the client wants to be mic'd up like zepplin, so that's what I intend to do, they pay the bills. I'm not chosing the player...he may suk he may rock, we'll see.

I'm close micing stuff as well like I normally do so I'll have all that in place as well as a saftey net.

Going to use the large room with 24" foot ceiling and hardwood floors. It's live as hell sounding in there.

BOOM!

J
Old 31st January 2005
  #8
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Bonham was recorded differently by different people on different records.
The similarities are in Jimmy Page's production taste and of course mostly in the fact that Bonham plays and sounds like Bonham.

Terry Manning has posted online before and may speak himself about recording 3.

Eddie Kramer certainly used some variation on the common London studio approach (which is oddly yet persistently referred to as the Glyn Johns method ) probably using U-47's.. not STC4038's.

Andy johns talked about using 2 M-160's from miles away in the stairway for Stairway, but I don't know that that means this was his standard approach to them either.
I do know he said that the thing that allowed that incredible Bonham sound most was that even from 40 feet away the LOUDEST part of Bonham's kit was the BASS DRUM. He had such a heavy foot in the balance that that made the sound in the distant mics.
Most drummers are certainly more top heavy (snare whcih is okay but different, or cymbals which tends to wash out the distant sound unpleasantly)

I have no idea how the later records were approached but they certainly sound different yet again.
Old 31st January 2005
  #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by wwittman
Bonham was recorded differently by different people on different records.
The similarities are in Jimmy Page's production taste and of course mostly in the fact that Bonham plays and sounds like Bonham.

Terry Manning has posted online before and may speak himself about recording 3.

Eddie Kramer certainly used some variation on the common London studio approach (which is oddly yet persistently referred to as the Glyn Johns method ) probably using U-47's.. not STC4038's.

Andy johns talked about using 2 M-160's from miles away in the stairway for Stairway, but I don't know that that means this was his standard approach to them either.
I do know he said that the thing that allowed that incredible Bonham sound most was that even from 40 feet away the LOUDEST part of Bonham's kit was the BASS DRUM. He had such a heavy foot in the balance that that made the sound in the distant mics.
Most drummers are certainly more top heavy (snare whcih is okay but different, or cymbals which tends to wash out the distant sound unpleasantly)

I have no idea how the later records were approached but they certainly sound different yet again.

Thanks William. I'm going to print all these out. Love it. Drums are always the hardest things for me to be happy with. I've been known to f-up even the best drummers heh

PS: The Fixx is one of my favorites. Thanks for that!

PSS: Jules, I'd like to vote for two months of two Williams as guest moderators. First Mr Wittman, then Mr. Orbit
Old 31st January 2005
  #10
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alphajerk's Avatar
 

for that big kick sound, i like a LDC out in front of the kick about 6-8' out about 3 or so feet off the ground, maybe 4. rely on that mic for the majority of the drum sound and add others to taste.


dont know if that helps what you are after here, but i love the sound of the kick with maybe a r121 a foot or two off the kick head.

usual suspects elsewhere.

i also like LDC's as overheads, split config about 8' from the snare or so [about the same as that one out in front of the kick]
Old 31st January 2005
  #11
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It's quite unusual to have a kick drum that sounds prominent enough without flattery, but Alphajerk's approach above will make the most of whatever kick sound is going on in the room. Usually you have to exaggerate the kick quite a bit- drummers do tend to be top heavy.

I would definitely, definitely make sure the drummer has ample opportunity to listen to playbacks and mix himself as much as possible. This may take a little while, but this kind of drum recording is just not possible without the drummer mixing himself to the room and to the mics. One reason why a "drummer's perspective" mic can work in this situation.

I would thank god for the 24 foot ceiling! Your friend. Hardwood floor, not as much your friend. You'll want a drum rug and you will want to put the mics up high so that the floor bounce is significantly different in length than the direct path. Phasey things can happen with that floor bounce that weaken the sounds.

I have become very good at this, as drummer and engineer, but it took a LOT of listening back and adjusting and tuning and all that.
Old 31st January 2005
  #12
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 

Oh, and definitely, definitely move that bass drum all around the room until you find somewhere it really explodes!
Old 31st January 2005
  #13
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jho's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Ted Nightshade
It's quite unusual to have a kick drum that sounds prominent enough without flattery, but Alphajerk's approach above will make the most of whatever kick sound is going on in the room. Usually you have to exaggerate the kick quite a bit- drummers do tend to be top heavy.

I would definitely, definitely make sure the drummer has ample opportunity to listen to playbacks and mix himself as much as possible. This may take a little while, but this kind of drum recording is just not possible without the drummer mixing himself to the room and to the mics. One reason why a "drummer's perspective" mic can work in this situation.

I would thank god for the 24 foot ceiling! Your friend. Hardwood floor, not as much your friend. You'll want a drum rug and you will want to put the mics up high so that the floor bounce is significantly different in length than the direct path. Phasey things can happen with that floor bounce that weaken the sounds.

I have become very good at this, as drummer and engineer, but it took a LOT of listening back and adjusting and tuning and all that.
Kewl. The ceiling is angled / vaulted and have big rug, will travel.
Old 31st January 2005
  #14
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alphajerk's Avatar
 

yes, and TUNE that kick the lowest fundamental tone you can legally get away with. not some sub hiphop tone, but legitimate tone. dont make it all tight and snappy. also no crap in the kick either. and full reso head.
Old 31st January 2005
  #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by wwittman
Bonham was recorded differently by different people on different records.
The similarities are in Jimmy Page's production taste and of course mostly in the fact that Bonham plays and sounds like Bonham.
Thank you!

Listen to any of those records and in terms of mic placement and treatment, they all sound pretty different. The similarities are all in the player. This should become SUPER-OBVIOUS if you're using a minimal miking setup, as well.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
Old 8th June 2012
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphajerk View Post
yes, and TUNE that kick the lowest fundamental tone you can legally get away with. not some sub hiphop tone, but legitimate tone. dont make it all tight and snappy. also no crap in the kick either. and full reso head.
Wrong, Bonhams kick is tensioned up rather high along with all of his drums. Fact, no front head hole, very well tuned in old scool jazz style 26x14 kick, 6.5x14 supraphonic snare with wide strainer, in a big woody room. That should be enough to get u 5% to his sound, and thats 4% closer than anyone else has ever gotten
Old 12th June 2012
  #17
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now check back in another 7 years for the next post...
Old 12th June 2012
  #18
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FireMoon's Avatar
I believe and the stories vary, that he used the "Minstrel's Gallery" to set up on when at the Grange for recording. That is often, in effect, a small shallow room with one side open to the larger room or sometimes what amounts to a huge wide shelf about half way up a wall. That means the floor of the main room was not part of the bedrock sound, rather more part of the reflective surfaces that the mics were picking up. If you think about it , it will have quite an effect on the sound as the mics are always above or level with the plane of a kit, here we have the possibility of mics below the kits plane.

I have heard the suggestion that one mic used to be slung pointing down, level with the middle of the kit on the gallery, about half way down the main room so, not only would it have been picking up from the kit direct rather, also the walls floor and ceiling.
Old 23rd June 2012
  #19
Totally agree... The sound of the drums themselves is almost as important as the man playing them. The way Bonham's drums were tuned, as well as the sizes of the shells themselves are invaluable to that sound.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mrNjz_U0ZM

This goes over tuning and micing.
Old 23rd June 2012
  #20
Gear Head
Tell your drummer to focus on trying to put the kick drum beater through the batter head. Like when you're playing baseball or boxing.. they tell you to punch through the ball or person's head, not to it. Tell the drummer to GIVE it to that kick drum like he's hate-****ing a woman EDIT: OR OTHER PERSON he's furious at, and give the snare some juice while he's at it. EDIT: WITH GREAT FURIOUS LOVE The cymbals don't even come into play.

Last edited by Dylan W; 23rd June 2012 at 07:19 AM.. Reason: Clarifying "misogynistic nonsense"
Old 23rd June 2012
  #21
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Quote:
Tell your drummer to focus on trying to put the kick drum beater through the batter head. Like when you're playing baseball or boxing.. they tell you to punch through the ball or person's head, not to it. Tell the drummer to punch that kick drum like he's hate-****ing a woman he's furious at, and give the snare some juice while he's at it. The cymbals don't even come into play.
What the frack are you talking about? Are you really answering a seven year-old gear question with some kind of misogynistic nonsense about playing technique? Get a clue, dude.
By the way, while there is no "correct" or "incorrect" way to play drums...what you describe would make it nearly impossible to play songs like "Good Times, Bad Times", for example. With regards to kick drum: this is generally accomplished by actually not following all the way through, but allowing a lot of bounce to occur by targeting about an inch shy of the head and creating a whip-like motion (much like playing with brushes) while fully utilizing the rebound.

The good news is that Glynn Johns' drum recording practices have been extensively reported, so the technical details are readily available.
Old 23rd June 2012
  #22
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by ears2thesky View Post
What the frack are you talking about? Are you really answering a seven year-old gear question with some kind of misogynistic nonsense about playing technique? Get a clue, dude.
By the way, while there is no "correct" or "incorrect" way to play drums...what you describe would make it nearly impossible to play songs like "Good Times, Bad Times", for example. With regards to kick drum: this is generally accomplished by actually not following all the way through, but allowing a lot of bounce to occur by targeting about an inch shy of the head and creating a whip-like motion (much like playing with brushes) while fully utilizing the rebound.

The good news is that Glynn Johns' drum recording practices have been extensively reported, so the technical details are readily available.
As William Wittman said, the loudest part of Bonham's kit was the kick. Especially with 3 mics, it's ALL about internal balance. The gear is less important than PLAYING like Bonham in the room. The quickest way to achieve a really loud kick is to play the kick really hard. I might add that "Good Times," while one of Bonham's finest performances, is also one of his more nuanced. The triplets can be played by feathering or with brute force. but what's important is the intention. You have to think about the kick drum... you have to know what the kick drum wants.. and you have to GIVE it to it. If you don't think sex is part of Bonham's sound (and of Zep in general... and most of rock)...well.

Also:
1) Wasn't I who disturbed this topic's rest in the "crypt of forgotten threads."
2) That wasn't meant to be misogynistic.. it could easily be a woman wanting to give it to a man, or a man wanting to give it to a man, or whatever floats your boat. But you've got to make that kick drum KNOW.
Old 23rd June 2012
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dylan W View Post
...or a man wanting to give it to a man, or whatever floats your boat...
Please don't ruin bonham for us now
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Old 23rd June 2012
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Namias View Post
So unless you get a castle ...forget about it .

That was for ONE RECORD.

And all the other records still sound like him.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
Old 23rd June 2012
  #25
Gear Nut
 

I have Jeff Ocheltree's (Bonham's drum tech) DVD.
It appears he was present for all of the later ('77 - '79) JB recordings.

He says his sound is:
'71 Ludwig Super Classic kit with coated Emperors top, Ambassadors bottom.

O/H pair = C12
O/H center = Sennheiser shotgun (I don't recognise the model, sorry)
Kick front = RE20
Kick back = MD421
Room pair = C12A

There's plenty of details in the DVD, session with said setup, etc.
Old 23rd June 2012
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Namias View Post
As a Drummer whos played on and off since i was a kid ( moved on to a real instrument ) Nothing John did made his sound . He hit Big drums in a large space . The sound was the way it was recorded .Now your going to kill me here but you could have replaced him with any other decent drummer of the day and no one would ever know the difference ..... But Jimmy Page..... never.Its not like he was Stewart Copeland . Any one whos played drums for a couple of years could do zepplin , but the police ... you can play for 20 years and still not be in his league . I grew up to Zepplin too so thats saying something .


All you guys going on about triplets ... If you just drop a stick on a drum it will do a triplet . Its not that hard . Same with the Kick . Slide your foot up the pedal it will do a triplet or quad what ever . Todays double pedal boys have no idea .

Bohnam was a great Rock drummer ...thats all . I love when i here quotes like ' He could do things that it would take 3 drummers to mimic " Only a idiot whos never played drums could say some thing so stupid . Check out Weckle Gadd , Copeland , Coulita .
I've played drums almost every day for the last 29 years. I'm a HUGE Copeland fan. He's the reason I started playing. I'm also a huge Bonham fan. I've also studied Weckl, Gadd, Copeland, Colaiuta, etc. extensively. I've also studied Eric Kretz, Russ Kunkel, Roger Hawkins, Dennis Chambers, James Gadsen, Bobby Elliot, Jay Bellerose, Jim Brock, Jamie Muir. Hell, even Doug Clifford. The list goes on and on... for 29 years. I've been studying recording techniques for over 25 years. I disagree with your comments, almost wholeheartedly.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
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Old 23rd June 2012
  #27
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Wow.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
Old 23rd June 2012
  #28
mixmixmix
Guest
Idolizing Bohnam is pathetic. He had his own sound and style. wanna be like him? Come up with your own thing. Copycats....
Old 23rd June 2012
  #29
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Step 1) Be a great drummer

Step 2) Point a microphone in the vicinity of the kit.



[seriously though, the "Bonham sound" has ~99% to do with being a great drummer and ~1% to do with drum-tuning and mic technique]
Old 23rd June 2012
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Namias View Post
I've played drums almost every day for the last 29 years. I'm a HUGE Copeland fan. He's the reason I started playing. I'm also a huge Bonham fan. I've also studied Weckl, Gadd, Copeland, Colaiuta, etc. extensively. I've also studied Eric Kretz, Russ Kunkel, Roger Hawkins, Dennis Chambers, James Gadsen, Bobby Elliot, Jay Bellerose, Jim Brock, Jamie Muir. Hell, even Doug Clifford. The list goes on and on... for 29 years. I've been studying recording techniques for over 25 years. I disagree with your comments, almost wholeheartedly.

Hey I loved Bonzo but he was just a rock drummer . Thats all . He sounded the same all the time . I loved that sound . Sorry dude but its true .
Do those guys like Weckl , Colaiuta etc even have jobs today ? They all work in drum shops or gas stations don't they just like all the guitar shredders of the 80s . lol.
"If they act too hip, you know they can't play ****." -Miles Davis
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