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Thread: Mixing Tambourines

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    Seafroggys is offline Why 2K?
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    Mixing Tambourines

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    A couple of recent songs I recorded involved some tambourine action. Compared to, say, a snare drum, tambourines have very strong transients. Lots of energy in the high end. They're one of the best instruments to cut through a mix.

    I haven't been quite sure on how to tame these transients without limiting the crap out of them. Some compression helps, but having a short attack doesn't make the tambourine 'snap' as much as a slower attack. How do most people mix their tambourines so their transients don't stick out so far that in 'mastering' you can barely get a few dB before having to brick wall limit?
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    I never put much thought into it, to be honest. I use tam a lot, and will be watching this thread.

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    I use tambos somewhat frequently. Crazy as it may seem, you have to play a tambourine. It's not just a noise maker. Use consistent hits and even shakes. If you have wild spikes in one section and can barely hear it in another, you're doing/miking it wrong. Stay still and play it like an instrument. Also, you don't need to mic them close. I mic mine from about 3 feet away. That helps with the crazy transients. I never compress it. I've tried compression, and I always end up just turning it off. I use EQ to roll off the highs so it can sit in with the drums and not clash with the hats or ride. Then give it some big ol reverb to really make it stand out while not being overpowering. I figure if I can hear the tambo, snare, and hats/ride all at one time, I'm doing something right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg_L View Post
    I use tambos somewhat frequently. Crazy as it may seem, you have to play a tambourine. It's not just a noise maker. Use consistent hits and even shakes. If you have wild spikes in one section and can barely hear it in another, you're doing/miking it wrong. Stay still and play it like an instrument. Also, you don't need to mic them close. I mic mine from about 3 feet away. That helps with the crazy transients. I never compress it. I've tried compression, and I always end up just turning it off. I use EQ to roll off the highs so it can sit in with the drums and not clash with the hats or ride. Then give it some big ol reverb to really make it stand out while not being overpowering. I figure if I can hear the tambo, snare, and hats/ride all at one time, I'm doing something right.
    Exactly what this guy said ^^^^^^^.

    I've never done anything to tamborine other than adjust the volume fader.

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    Just a little aside, sometimes playing a tam to a shuffle or odd time signature can be difficult.

    When it is, I place the tam atop a towel on some elevated platform like a table or chair-top and play it with my hands rather than shake it.

    You can play some cool accents that way.

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    my egg shaker and tambourine make it on most tracks, now thats value for money! techno tambo

    ...i use some reverb and nothing else, I always make sure somethings balancing it on the otherside...either the shaker or hats

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    +1 on all of the above. I did the tambo thing for the first time only a few months ago and followed a story very related to the feedback above.

    Recorded it, listed to it, compressed the hell out of it, was unhappy with it, re-recorded it (.. and re-recorded it ... and re-recorded it) with care and ended up with a much better result.

    It was one of those humbling moments where "that uncool tambo that no one want's to be seen playing" is actually a tough instrument to play into a mic, at a consistant level, *in time*.

    ... especially if you have odd meters

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    StevenJacksonMu is offline Senior Member
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    I use tambos somewhat frequently. Crazy as it may seem, you have to play a tambourine. It's not just a noise maker. Use consistent hits and even shakes. If you have wild spikes in one section and can barely hear it in another, you're doing/miking it wrong. Stay still and play it like an instrument. Also, you don't need to mic them close. I mic mine from about 3 feet away. That helps with the crazy transients. I never compress it. I've tried compression, and I always end up just turning it off. I use EQ to roll off the highs so it can sit in with the drums and not clash with the hats or ride. Then give it some big ol reverb to really make it stand out while not being overpowering. I figure if I can hear the tambo, snare, and hats/ride all at one time, I'm doing something right.
    From Greg:




    I agree with this 100%.
    I've never used compression either when recording a tambourine.
    I also record it at least 3 feet away and add a lot of reverb....maybe try adding 'shimmer verb' to it if you have that setting.


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    Quote Originally Posted by RAMI View Post
    I've never done anything to tamborine other than adjust the volume fader.
    Same here ~ that and a little panning. It's one of the most underrated instruments out there. You also need a strong enduring arm and a truly steady sense of timing and good concentration. This is an instrument that can hurt if you play without stopping for five minutes, let alone 30. And few things can wreck a song like an out of time tambourine.

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    Seafroggys is offline Why 2K?
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    Ah good feedback. Yeah I have the nice reverb already going, it sounds great, this is more of a technical issue.

    However, I do mic probably 6-12" away from the mic, I'll try the 1 meter method and see what I get with that. That might fix my issues.

    And for those that are curious...adding percussion to an arrangement really livens up a mix, let me tell you. Don't just stick with drumset for everything.
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