Where have all the acoustic drums gone ?

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
I notice that there's been no activity in the drum forum since August and thus far this year there's only been 5 threads, one of which garnered no replies. Notwithstanding the difficulties in terms of recording drums {space, volume considerations, miking, room quality} are acoustic drums on the way to being no longer part of the general language of home recorded music ? Or are we just in a slow moment ?
 

Gtoboy

Well-known member
My guess would be a little bit of both. I have enough space, etc to record live drums, but not everyone does. And, as you alluded, many modern popular genre's are using drum VI's or even replacing real drum hits with samples.

Though VI's have come a long way, making it easier for the average home recordist to get good drum tracks with a little practice, I feel that we have gotten used to the different sound of this type of track and are more likely to go with it due to it's popularity in stuff that's been broadcasted in the past decade or so.
 

VomitHatSteve

Hat STYLE. Not contents.
It probably is a little of both. A ton of modern genres don't rely on acoustic drums (most everything in the EDM, rap, and hip hop families. Most modern pop. Modern metal), but they're still one of the most difficult instruments to record (let alone record well) in a home studio.
 

Mickster

Well-known member
grimtraveller........this is an interesting question about why acoustic drums seem to be fading in use in home recording......and I would add in live applications as well. A couple of observations.....

Live bands are going more and more for electronic drums just because they're convenient.......easier to transport usually.......and very flexible in terms of sounds and genre of drums. This has to lead to there just being less acoustic drums around these days I would think. So....whether studio or home or whatever......lots of people are recording with electronic drums. They are much easier to control on the output side and require far less trial and error.

As for VI drums......well......I think there are lots of people who can't play drums....electronic or acoustic.....or can't buy them.....or don't have any space.....just to do a drum track here and there. They may have good skills with rhythm and meter etc.....and are able to program drum beats and sounds that they hear in their heads. VI drums or electronics are perfect for home recording.

Me...for instance.....I started out as a drummer many many moons ago. Then I began to learn guitar. I moved around the country so many times I finally got rid of my acoustic drums......and who has a car these days that can carry a normal set of acoustic stage drums?? As well..........who lives in a place where you can play them at home? So many condos....townhouses....crowded areas....etc. When I recently wanted to look into buying drums for band use.........it all became very obvious. Acoustics are a pain all around.

I'm just rambling here........as I'm sure you know and get everything I'm saying. I guess my point is that I think we're looking at the age of the demise of the proliferation of acoustic drums...............especially as electronics and VI's improve as they have been.

As always.......just my rambling 2 cents here.
 

gecko zzed

Grumpy Mod
I still use real drums wherever possible.

In the past I used to get the drummers to my place to record.

These days, though, I have a couple of other options which I use more often:

1 save up a bunch of tracks, then go to the drummer's place and record them there . . . which saves a whole heap of setting up time seeing as he has his kit set up and ready to go.

2 email an MP3 to another drummer who has his own studio. He then records his drums there and sends that back to me, and I mix it in.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
they're convenient.......easier to transport usually.......and very flexible in terms of sounds and genre of drums. This has to lead to there just being less acoustic drums around these days I would think. So....whether studio or home or whatever......lots of people are recording with electronic drums. They are much easier to control on the output side and require far less trial and error.
I remember back in early '97 when I quite got into all that new R&B that seemed like it exploded on the scene, the likes of Erykah Badu, Laurnea, Des'ree, The Tony Rich Project, D'Angelo, Chante Moore, Angie Stone, Omar, Anne Nesby and even the stuff Curtis Mayfield was coming out with after his accident. Because the "drums" in much of that music was a serious kick on from the crummy drum machine sounds of the 70s and 80s, it actually wasn't so noticeable at first but I noted that every one of the albums I had said "drum programming by...." on the credits. So I listened very closely and as time went on, even though I could hear that the artists weren't using acoustic drums, I did like the sounds of the "drums" they were using. I just treated them as a different instrument, drums yes, but too perfect to be drums as I'd known them. Kicks, rims, sticking and high hats just never sounded like that, let alone the snares. Not even where there was much experimentation in the studio.
I've just always loved the sound of drums. I even bought a kit just so my friend and I could jam in my flat {he was a drummer I'd at the time played with for close to 10 years} and when I started multitracking, it never even occurred to me not to use the drums. I think part of it was because in the block of flats I lived in, everyone was young and black and only two out of the 30 tennants had kids and they lived upstairs and there were often parties and music blaring but none of us seemed to be disturbed by all this noise ! I barely heard it unless there was a party next door that shook my walls and even then, they'd give me 4 or 5 days warning.....
When I got married and my wife and I moved, the drums moved with me and in the 4 years we lived in that place, I did tons of recording and no one ever said a thing, not the people next door {although it helped that one of the people was deaf} on either side or below us. Mind you, the kids below us were super noisy and one of the couples next door used to have rather loud 'altercations'......Even when we moved to our current place in 2003, the neighbours have been generally understanding. Initially, I felt very self conscious and as a result gave the kit to my nephew and bought an electric set. But that kit just never did it for me. I was prepared to be wed to it forever and one of my drumming friends, being young, loved it. But to me it just never sounded like an actual real drumkit. The funny thing is that it was its perfection of sound that was its greatest weakness for me. The acoustic kit I had bought back in 1991 was cheap and cheerful and had crappy, splashy cymbals.....but it sounded like a drumkit. A crummy one, but a drumkit nonetheless. Even when I hear them played on telly, they sound like drumkits, whether they're crap or not. So the electric lasted only 2 years, I only recorded 3 or 4 songs on it and went back to an acoustic one. Don't get me wrong, I think the development of electric drums has been a tremendous thing for home recording in particular and I don't decry their usage at all. But for my own stuff, it's still acoustic all the way. I don't even think it's a generational thing because I'm quite happy to mix the old with the new, depending on what it is. I just love drums and what inventive drummers can do with all the bits of wood and metal that isn't even meant to be played..
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
email an MP3 to another drummer who has his own studio. He then records his drums there and sends that back to me, and I mix it in.

Being still on the standalone DAW timewarp, the only thing I can think of that would hasten my move to actually recording on the computer is if my DAWs died and there were no used ones knocking about somewhere in the world or the idea posited by Gekko. The idea of sending a song to someone, somewhere, that plays drums in particular {or any other difficult to access instrument for that matter} and have them try out some ideas is indeed mouth watering and mind engaging.

As for VI drums......well......I think there are lots of people who can't play drums....electronic or acoustic.....or can't buy them.....or don't have any space.....just to do a drum track here and there. They may have good skills with rhythm and meter etc.....and are able to program drum beats and sounds that they hear in their heads. VI drums or electronics are perfect for home recording.
When I first recorded digitally, I got a Zoom MRS1266 which has an on board drum machine. The only piece I ever recorded on it, I put all the drum parts together myself and it actually isn't bad. It's not great but it's passable. I sold the Zoom because of there being no varispeed facility and I nearly threw away the piece {called "Greed"}. In fact, I thought I had chucked it and about 13 years after recording it, found it on an unmarked CD. I was going to record over it but listened to it just out of curiosity. I'm glad I did. Around the same time, I was trying to come up with a drum piece for a song a friend of mine had written that we'd recorded about 5 years earlier and I put together the drum parts from many of the kits on Sampletank 2. In the end about 9 years later, I wiped it and a friend drummed on it which is the final version. But between those two pieces, I learned one thing about myself ~ though I've got good timing and a decent rhythmic sense, though I like certain VSTis and can use them relatively convincingly, when it comes to virtual/sampled drums I'm a no hoper. I have neither the patience, the invention nor the skills required to put together anything other than the most rudimentary pattern. It could work once, maybe even twice but I know my limitations in that arena. And the truth is, I don't really want to learn that skill at this stage of the game. Put real congas, bongos, timbales or other myriad percussion in front of me and I can be your man. But anything from the drumkit, whether real or sampled and I'm like a TV remote with flat batteries.
 

ronhar

New member
Just yesterday I heard that an electronic cymbal can produce like several thousand variations in sounds. Real cymbals can produce hundreds of thousands of variations. I don't know if that's actually true but a good drummer can add more "life" to a session than any machine. Still we do what we must. I have an electronic set just for convience. Now if I was just a good drummer.....
 

witzendoz

Senior Member
Just yesterday I heard that an electronic cymbal can produce like several thousand variations in sounds. Real cymbals can produce hundreds of thousands of variations. I don't know if that's actually true but a good drummer can add more "life" to a session than any machine. Still we do what we must. I have an electronic set just for convience. Now if I was just a good drummer.....

The last album I recorded with drum samples I played and recorded real cymbal parts. That made a huge difference.

I think the absence of real drums is that everyone wants perfect drum sounds and are too lazy to learn how to record real drums. I think that the great thing about recording real drums is they don't all sound the same.

Alan
 

raybbj

Member
For me it's space. I live in Vancouver where you can't buy a house for less than $1.3M. If I had a house, I would always record acoustic drums. I desperately miss playing and recording acoustic drums sooooooooo bad!!! Until I win the lottery, it's V-Drums for me.
 

witzendoz

Senior Member
For me it's space. I live in Vancouver where you can't buy a house for less than $1.3M. If I had a house, I would always record acoustic drums. I desperately miss playing and recording acoustic drums sooooooooo bad!!! Until I win the lottery, it's V-Drums for me.

That I do understand. We sold the house 12 years ago and now live in a small apartment. When the house was sold I used the left over money after buying the apartment to put a deposit on a small factory unit and convert to a studio and warehouse for the live gear / band gear. Oh and my Man Cave, LOL.

I do sometimes record drums for people with home studios, they take the files and then use them at home.

Alan.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
The last album I recorded with drum samples I played and recorded real cymbal parts. That made a huge difference.
That's what ultimately did it for me. The cymbals. Everything else, I think I could have just about lived with, even if initially reluctantly. I could have worked a way around the pad hits coming out in the cymbal mics. I bought a 'brain' {the TD10, I think it was} that had 8 outputs so I probably could have gotten around the tom sounds. I bought a mesh head snare that was meant to be able to do rimshots. But the hi hat and cymbals never sounded good no matter what I did. I did ponder on whether I could just record real cymbals but in the end I noted that that often, where others paddled, I dived deep, even to my own detriment at times. So it was back to a whole kit.
The funny thing is, I love the idea of an electric drumkit. It falls in line with everything I believe in about the freedom and experimentation that has so often reared its head in the recording of music. Also ironically, even when I went back to an acoustic kit, sometimes I use an electric kick. That was because there was a time when I found that I was getting so much bleed through the kick mic when one drummer in particular played. I was also experimenting with a suitcase as a kick.
I think the absence of real drums is that everyone wants perfect drum sounds and are too lazy to learn how to record real drums. I think that the great thing about recording real drums is they don't all sound the same.
It's interesting that you mention perfect drum sounds. I just don't know what a perfect drum sound is. I guess I'm a bit of a Philistine in that regard. I have long listened to a wide range of music and there have been so many different drum sounds. As long as it sounds like drums to me, I'm up and running. I don't ever recall not liking a particular drum sound. Or for that matter, liking one. I do like particular snare sounds and even some bass drum sounds but not any overall drum sound. I'd always tend to be moved firstly by the song, then what the drummer was doing. The sonics only came into it in an offhand way. And they all sound so different. Recently I've been listening to those deconstructions of Beatle songs on YouTube where you hear what's on an individual track. On some, the drums on their own sound great but not necessarily in the song. And some of the ones that don't sound all that on their own feel wonderful in the songs. But I realize that it's because I love the songs first and foremost.
It's arguable whether I do know how to record a kit :eek: but right from when I first started recording mine and my drummer mate's jams back in '82, starting from trial and error, I've got to that point where I'm happy with what I get. No one else might be but I am !
 

VomitHatSteve

Hat STYLE. Not contents.
The funny thing is, I love the idea of an electric drumkit. It falls in line with everything I believe in about the freedom and experimentation that has so often reared its head in the recording of music. Also ironically, even when I went back to an acoustic kit, sometimes I use an electric kick.

Shoot. I wish I could remember the name of the system. MIA is one of the endorsers of it, but there's this system where you add a variety of triggers to an acoustic set, and they're velocity/location sensitive so they can trigger different samples based on how you play the physical drum itself.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
Basically, the way I use it is to connect the electric kick to the brain and just use one of the outs from the brain module straight into the DAW onto its own track. Whoever is playing drums uses a proper kick drum pedal so it's all done in real time. When I've used the kick that way, in the overheads you can hear the thump of the pedal against the surface of the kick. Then when mixing, just raise or lower the volume on the kick track depending on what is going on in the song.
 

fireflyva

New member
That's what ultimately did it for me. The cymbals. Everything else, I think I could have just about lived with, even if initially reluctantly. I could have worked a way around the pad hits coming out in the cymbal mics. I bought a 'brain' {the TD10, I think it was} that had 8 outputs so I probably could have gotten around the tom sounds. I bought a mesh head snare that was meant to be able to do rimshots. But the hi hat and cymbals never sounded good no matter what I did. I did ponder on whether I could just record real cymbals but in the end I noted that that often, where others paddled, I dived deep, even to my own detriment at times. So it was back to a whole kit.
The funny thing is, I love the idea of an electric drumkit. It falls in line with everything I believe in about the freedom and experimentation that has so often reared its head in the recording of music. Also ironically, even when I went back to an acoustic kit, sometimes I use an electric kick. That was because there was a time when I found that I was getting so much bleed through the kick mic when one drummer in particular played. I was also experimenting with a suitcase as a kick.
It's interesting that you mention perfect drum sounds. I just don't know what a perfect drum sound is. I guess I'm a bit of a Philistine in that regard. I have long listened to a wide range of music and there have been so many different drum sounds. As long as it sounds like drums to me, I'm up and running. I don't ever recall not liking a particular drum sound. Or for that matter, liking one. I do like particular snare sounds and even some bass drum sounds but not any overall drum sound. I'd always tend to be moved firstly by the song, then what the drummer was doing. The sonics only came into it in an offhand way. And they all sound so different. Recently I've been listening to those deconstructions of Beatle songs on YouTube where you hear what's on an individual track. On some, the drums on their own sound great but not necessarily in the song. And some of the ones that don't sound all that on their own feel wonderful in the songs. But I realize that it's because I love the songs first and foremost.
It's arguable whether I do know how to record a kit :eek: but right from when I first started recording mine and my drummer mate's jams back in '82, starting from trial and error, I've got to that point where I'm happy with what I get. No one else might be but I am !

I think this quote from Grimtravellar could easily be a topic on this forum alone. Who's to say "what is the perfect drum sound or guitar sound? So many of the recordings I grew up with and loved had far from perfect 'anything' except passion and effort."
 

jimmys69

MOODerator
There is no 'perfect drum sound' that fit's all. No guitar tone that is perfect for every song...

I am more of a 'purist' of sort when it comes to drums and guitar tone, even though I work mostly with heavy types of music, there is also the country or acoustic stuff that still needs the same IMO. But I also will add samples to get the desired drum tone.

Granted, I do have a studio that allows me the ability to have a moderately adequate space for a drum recording room. And I have been lucky enough to be able to spend the money on acoustic treatment in it, to make it worthy.

I suppose what I am saying is that whatever works for anyone in any situation or budget, is what you have to work with. Programmed drums can work very well for most projects.

It is always different for each musician or project. It would be boring if it were all the same...
 

raybbj

Member
For me it's space. I live in Vancouver where you can't buy a house for less than $1.3M. If I had a house, I would always record acoustic drums. I desperately miss playing and recording acoustic drums sooooooooo bad!!! Until I win the lottery, it's V-Drums for me.
UPDATED: . My wife and I bought a house last year and I can now bring my MILESTONE drums out of 20 year storage and start playing them again!!! Here they are:
 

Supercreep

Lizard People
I like them both. I play in an EDM outfit now and acoustic drums are (mostly) unsuitable for the sounds I want without a lot of processing.

I have a nice VAD kit, and playing on it is much like playing on my acoustic kit. Same same but different.
 

dogooder

Well-known member
When I moved here I bought a drum set and about a thousand dollars worth of used mics in anticipation of finding a drummer to
record with. It's been almost a year and a half and no go. So, I have this Arturia Drum Brute machine I bought for a rainy day, and although I hate to say it,
I guess I am going to have to sit down and learn how to use it. Nothing worse than canned drums. Never used one and I hate them lol. I can play drums but I can
no longer hold the sticks for more than five minutes before I have to quit. That and the fact that any "real" drummer will outperform me
 
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