Where have all the acoustic drums gone ?

markmann

Active member
My brother is a drummer so I grew up with drums. I am also currently in a band with my bro who only plays acoustic drums. That said I use only E-drums for playing and recording at home and here's why:
1. Acoustic drums are too damn loud. I can play or record e-drums any time of the day or night.
2. An acoustic set has one basic sound. I can program different e-kits for different songs that are completely different and also have loads of other percussion sounds.
3. Acoustic drums take up a lot of space and require lots of mic's and cables.
4. Acoustic drums take time to set up and sound check.
5. You need a really good room to get great drum sounds for recording and isolation if recording with others.

That said I do prefer acoustic drums for live use but I have honestly been able to get better recorded drum sounds from e-drums. The key is to not use any factory presets and I use various plugins to make them sound more realistic after they are recorded.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
An acoustic set has one basic sound
Yes.....and no.
In the round, I suppose a drum kit has one basic sound. But actually, there are myriad sounds contained even in one cheap and cheerful kit. There are all kinds of things one can do to slightly alter kicks, snares and toms.
 

markmann

Active member
Yes.....and no.
In the round, I suppose a drum kit has one basic sound. But actually, there are myriad sounds contained even in one cheap and cheerful kit. There are all kinds of things one can do to slightly alter kicks, snares and toms.
I agree but each has it's place. E-drums are a very useful tool. I equate the acoustic drums vs E-drums to the endless debate of guitar amp vs amp modeling. Each has it's place and I don't think players will ever reconcile the two.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
I equate the acoustic drums vs E-drums to the endless debate of guitar amp vs amp modeling. Each has it's place and I don't think players will ever reconcile the two.
I've managed to reconcile the two. I'm not a fan of e-drums, but sometimes, I do use an electric kick. And although I love amps and use them 99% of the time, when I'm recording bass, at the moment, my favourite bass amp {though I don't always use it} is the Behringer BD121.
 

jimmys69

MOODerator
I suppose it comes down to availability of a good room and what it is one is looking for.

I have a fairly large room that is treated just for acoustic drums. That being said, I am also enhancing them with samples. SSD Trigger 2 with many sample packs, that I suppose would be a blend of acoustic and digital. Though the samples are all acoustic drums so....

The biggest issue I have found from only sampled drum kits and edrums, is the cymbals and live feel is hard to make happen with them. It always sounds fake to me.

Real acoustic drums always win for me, but I am also lucky to have a treated room that actually works. I remember how hard it was trying to get good drum sounds in a small/isolated space. It just didn't work well.
 

60's guy

Active member
I suppose it comes down to availability of a good room and what it is one is looking for.
This thread piqued my interest because I have a friend who is a drummer whose first experience in a recording studio changed his approach to tuning his acoustic drum. My friend was the drummer for a progressive rock band. They recorded. In the control room listening to what had been recorded.... my friend said to the engineer "My drums sound like crap". Engineer said, " You're right. And that's because you sit behind your drum kit tuning the kit to sound good to 'your ears'. You haven't learned yet how to tune your kit to sound great to an audience in front of you or to be captured by microphones. I'm gonna retune your kit, record again, and relisten."

My friend told me that he learned something that day that he never expected to learn that day. He learned how to tune his acoustic drum kit.

Jimmy, I have no doubt that you have a great room. "Looking for" isn't the same as "Listening for" IMO.

Drum tuning aside, I'm certain that Tom Dowd constantly walked back and forth between the live room and the control room to assure to himself that he was recording what he heard in the live room.

Improperly tuned acoustic drums just may have been what made The Beatles, The Rolling Stones sound different. The question is.....did Ringo Starr or Charlie Watts make it a habit to tune their kits?
 

Mickster

Well-known member
In pretty much every case I'd rather have real drums...but...let's face it...as one poster already stated...real drums are loud. Too loud to use in most residential places these days. I can play my edrums with guys on accoustic guitars..and easily record and just goof around with any mix in my headphones. To control volume...say in a small venure...real drums almost always require at least a modest (or more) technique change which affects how I play and it's a lot less fun for me. As for feel though....there's nothing like real drums.

Mick
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
Real drums are a very lovely thing, IF you have a big room to record them in. But I only have a little room which is full
I've always recorded the drums in a small room. Because that's all I've ever had. And you know what ? The drums have always sounded like drums !
I'd like a big room with a wooden floor and very high ceiling to record in but I don't have that. I've never had that. I can touch the ceilings in my house without stretching my arms.
For me, home recording is about recording the songs and instruments I want to record and overcoming any limitations that the experts tell me are inherent to recording in the shitty spaces I have. Now, most of how I overcome those limitations are in my head, but my guiding principle remains the same ~ unless I'm specifically experimenting for a different sound, then whatever instrument I record is to sound like the instrument it is. And so long as the drums sound like drums and play the role in the song that they're supposed to play, I'm pleased as Punch.
 

jimmys69

MOODerator
I suppose it depends much more about the kit itself, the drummer, and then the typical room /mics and such.

But then there is also the style of music. Heavy rock drums take a bit more to get huge and up front, but there are tools to deal with that.

In my experience, the toughest thing to get right is the overhead and room mics. If the room limits you there, then it is tough to make any of it work easily. There are always samples to enhance things, but you can't fake that thing that happens in a good room with the vibe of the kit and player.

That being said, I would always prefer a real acoustic kit and great player over anything programmed. Even in a shitty room - which I have also done many times over the decades..
 

Pinky

and The Brain...
There's professional drummers who play electronic kits for commercial releases. They do this partly out of recording ease (or being able to provide just midi to the collaborating artists to use in whatever drum software/electronic sample kits they see fit), and being able to track songs at home/not wake the neighbors. Otherwise they'd have to lug drums into a studio somewhere to record them live, unless they also have room at home to setup and mic an acoustic kit. I guess my point reflecting some of the prior posts - while everyone *prefers* acoustic kits, everyone also recognizes all the pitfalls with them. Hence, electronic drums having a lot of upside.

I've used electronic drums exclusively for a while, and whether playing the parts myself or using live drummer midi session samples, I've never had an issue with anyone calling the drums out as sounding or feeling 'artificial'. If someone was programming drums to a midi grid, then yes I see that as a likely issue. But playing drums live results in the same feel whether beating pads or heads. The rest is in mixing choices, same considerations whether they're midi or mic'd.

I think what a lot of the curmudgeons don't realize is the samples used for rock kits are recorded live, basically the mic'd and recorded drum kit. These samples are then triggered using midi inputs. There's nothing to hear that's any different from mic'ing and recording their own acoustic kit. From strictly a sound quality standpoint it's a recorded acoustic drum hit like any other. The perceived difference is usually in bad programming, aligning those midi hits on a grid with no feel. The way to avoid that as I've said is to employ a live drummer on an electric kit, then it's quite literally no different than a live drummer... drumming.

There's some minor challenges like ghost notes not always being captured, depending on the quality of the electronic drum heads and how sensitive they are. That's the only glaring nit. But on most recordings the ghost notes are buried unless there's a soft passage or drum only section where they can punch through. It's hardly a reason to ditch or pan the entire laundry list of plusses electronic drums provide, especially to the home recording artist, because of 3 seconds of missing ghost notes.

Anyway, that's my $0.02

Keep the change.
 
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grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
while everyone *prefers* acoustic kits, everyone also recognizes all the pitfalls with them
I agree. But in home recording for the average punter that lives in a place surrounded by neighbours, there are pitfalls galore. There are sometimes ways around the pitfalls.
In my case, the drums I have are relatively shitty ~ but I like their sound. That makes them unique, if not beautiful !
Hence, electronic drums having a lot of upside.
I think the creation of electric drum kits was one of the greatest things in music recording. The idea is fantastic. Having had one, I just prefer an acoustic one. Whereas with lots of other instruments, it doesn't matter to me, for some reason it does with drums.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
Unless you have a professional recording facility it is very difficult to record an acoustic kit properly
I'd say that was purely dependent on what one is going for. I don't know what "proper" drums sound like.
But I know what drums sound like.
There is an urban legend about Zep recording Bonzo playing upstairs in the room of a stately home with the mikes downstairs. Dont know if that is true or just a Spinal Tap thing
It was the other way around ~ Bonzo was on the ground floor and the mics were set up on the stairwell {with delay and compression}. The home was Headley Grange where much of III, IV, Houses of the Holy and Physical Grafitti were recorded. The famous track using that configuration is "When the levee breaks." Considering the mammoth sound they got with it, they hardly used that configuration again.
 
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