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Record Drums - A Beginner's Guide

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The Kick Drum
Kick Drum Recording

Recording The Kick Drum

Joe Shambro
The kick drum is the centerpiece of your song's rhythm section. The bass guitar and kick drum are what keep the groove flowing. Getting a really good kick sound takes a lot of factors; I wrote a more in-depth article on the subject, and I think it's pretty important to read, especially if you run into any problems here. But for this article, let's assume your drummer came to the session with their drum kit tuned properly.

For this recording, I'm using a Sennheiser E602 ($179) microphone. You can use whichever kick drum mic you like the best, it's totally up to you. If you don't have a specialized kick drum microphone, you can get away with using something multi-purpose like a Shure SM57 ($89). You can also add a second mic, as I did in the picture; I added a Neumann KM184 ($700) to experiment with added shell tone; I did not end up using the track in the final mix, but it's an option you can consider trying sometime.

Start by having the drummer play the kick drum. Take a listen to the kick. How does it sound? If it's boomy, you'll want to place your microphone closer to the beater for clarity; if it's exceptionally tight, you'll want to back up the microphone a little bit to capture more overall tone. You'll probably experiment a few times to get the placement right, and there's no right or wrong way to do it. Remember, every situation is different. Trust your ears!

Let's take a listen; here's an mp3 of the raw kick drum track.
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