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Record Drums - A Beginner's Guide


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The Toms
Recording The Toms

Recording The Toms

Joe Shambro
On most drum kits, you'll find several different toms, all of different tonal range; usually, a drummer will have a high, a mid, and a low tom. Sometimes you'll find a more diverse drummer who makes use of several toms all tuned differently. I once did a project where the drummer had 8 toms!

For this recording, our drummer decided to use only two toms - a rack tom tuned high, and a floor tom, which is tuned low.

For the high tom, I placed a microphone very similar as I did for the snare drum: about an inch and a half off away, pointed at a 30 degree angle towards the center of the drum. I chose to use a Sennheiser MD421; it's a relatively expensive microphone ($350), but I prefer the tonal qualities on toms. You can get a perfectly comparable sound using a Shure SM57 ($89) or Beta 57A ($139) if you prefer.

For the floor tom, I chose to use an AKG D112 kick drum mic ($199). I chose this microphone because of it's exceptional ability to record the low-end of an instrument with punch and clarity. I usually use the D112 on kick drums, but this floor tom had a particularly good sounding range and was very well tuned, so I decided to use the D112. Your results may be better with another microphone; again, it all depends on the drum. Other choices for tom mics are the Shure SM57 ($89), and on floor tom, I also particularly like the Sennheiser E609 ($100).

Let's take a listen. Here's the rack tom, and floor tom.

Now, onto the cymbals...
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