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Recording drums - Glyn Johns method

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Recording drums, eternal struggle

When we think about recording drums, we see a forest of stands, lots of microphones. Problems, problems, problems :) Today's technical possibilities make it possible to connect a dozen or so microphones to one drum kit. Double overheads, tom and floor tom also recorded from the side of the resonant head, room, hi hat and many more places where you can put a microphone. Of course, this is an effective method, allowing for various sound shaping and endless fun in the search for "that sound". However, let's move back several decades. Back then, sound engineers had four or a maximum of eight recording tracks on the tape, and just like us today, and perhaps even a little more, they fought for the best sound effects with the smallest possible means, even with the best recording studio at their disposal.

Glyn Johns

Glyn Johns is a British musician and sound engineer who has collaborated with, among others, with The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Eagles (he co-created the original sound of this band), The Band, Eric Clapton, The Beatles (he worked on the Get Back sessions), but perhaps the greatest fame brought him the powerful sound of John Bonham's drums from Led Zeppelin. Glyn developed his own method of recording a drum kit with four microphones. The principle was based on capturing the instrument as a whole and not recording its individual elements.

Many implementers repeated this patent and in honor of its creator it was named the Glyn Johns method.

What is Glyn Johns drum recording mtehod?

We start by placing the monaural overhead microphone about 1 - 1.2 m above the snare drum or the center of the kit (choose the better sounding option). We should keep trying until we hear a balanced image of snare, toms and cymbals. The sound should be as pleasant as possible, even if the drummer plays very dynamically. If we have a problem with the sound of the cymbals, raise the microphone gradually upwards. You can also push it a bit towards the toms if you want more midrange and attack.

After dealing with the positioning of the first microphone, the fun begins to gain momentum. We take the second microphone and place it about 15 cm above the rim of the floor tom and direct it towards the hi hat. Generally speaking, the second microphone "listens" to the set through and through. Phase alignment is of course very important. The microphone must be exactly the same distance from the center of the snare as the first microphone. Just take an ordinary microphone cable, ask the drummer to hold it in the middle of the snare head and compare the distance between the two microphones with the other end. When they are standing correctly and the sound is very satisfactory, we pan them first to the left and the second to the right. At this point, we should have a complete picture of the drum kit. Of course, we still lack a solid low end from the bass drum and "meat" from the snare drum. For this, we put two close microphones. One at the "centals" and the other above the top head of the snare drum. We place the microphones so that they simply complement the sound that we have already developed with the first two microphones. Of course, phases must be kept in mind.

Recent affairs

It's best when we put new drumheads on the set. Then we will achieve the best sound effects. It's good when the drums are in a large room, if you want to get the Bonham effect, the bigger the recording room, the better. Generally, it's just a starting point, don't be afraid to change, rearrange, search. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. The Glyn Johns method was created as a result of research. Sometimes an apparent error presents us with a completely new possibility, and after listening to the recording, the effects can be more than satisfactory.

It so happens that the Glyn Johns method is one of my favorite "games" with recording drums. If you dream of recording in this way, write to: and arrange a session. Bonham-style drums are to be done at the Vintage Records recording studio.

One of the cool effects of such a session is the MEAN MACHINE album - Ogrody Salomona, which you can listen to here:


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