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In The Studio: 9 Items That Can Save A Drum Session

It may look like you’re doing the drummer’s job supplying these extras, but in reality, it’s making your job easier...

By Mark Marshall July 23, 2014

This article is provided by the Pro Audio Files.

1. Drumsticks
Don’t assume the drummer will show up with a variety of drum sticks.

The weight and tip of a stick can greatly affect tone. If the drummer is using nylon tip sticks and the sound is too bright on the cymbals it would be great to try some wood tip sticks. A thin stick vs. a fat stick will affect the drum differently as well.

And it’s not only the weight of the stick, but the mass that can give you more depth or attack. Remember my mantra, the first stage of EQ is at the instrument.

What if you’re on a session and an artist spontaneously wants to try banging on a drum? If you have some drums lying around but no sticks it can be a real creative bummer. This doesn’t mean you have to stock drum shop’s selection of sticks. Simply have a few that cover a few bases.

2. Brushes
Not every drummer is going to show up with brushes. Yes, they should, but they may not. If you have a pair stashed away, you could save the day for some soft brush overdubs.

3. Clamps
Some drummers show up with all kinds of percussion they like to mount. Sure they might have a few clamps on them, but if you also have a few, it can allow for more flexibility when creativity hits.

When you’re doing percussion overdubs, it allows for easier use if you create a percussion station.

4. Shakers
Not all shakers are created equal. Find some that work in your room.

You should have at least three options: soft, medium and gritty. I’ve gone through many shakers to find the ones that work great on recordings.

Tip: An unopened container of Norton’s Salt is a really nice sounding shaker. Note, I said unopened. Don’t open it for your margarita and think it will still work as a shaker.

5. Extra Cymbal Cushions & Wing Nuts
You’d be surprised how things disappear on a session. Wing nuts and cymbal cushions can disappear into the abyss right in front of your eyes. Always keep a few spares around. It’s likely it will show up again when you don’t need it. It’s likely they’re in the same place as all those missing socks.

Make sure to inspect the drum kit when people are leaving. Make sure nothing accidentally walks away. This has been known to happen to hi-hat clutches. Which brings up the point that you should have an extra clutch as well.

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