Instructions to John Bonham

Let's talk about kits and mics, new and old. What are you using? What do you want? What's the difference?

Moderators: ChrisW, rick, Mark Bassett

Instructions to John Bonham

Postby onebaldbloke » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:19 pm

A drummer story, as told to me by a drummer.

Said drummer friend was chatting with Mickey Most, the English producer. Mickey was talking about recording Bonham in the early days. Mickey found the hats too loud, so he said "Hey Bonzo, can you hit the hats a little softer?".

Simple, huh? None of that "we'll turn the hats down in the mix" stuff. Just get it right at the source (being only a couple of mic's at that time).

I love that story.

Bob.
Bob Spencer.
Guitarist, mostly.
http://www.bobspencer.com.au
onebaldbloke
Registered User
Registered User
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:12 pm

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby The Tasmanian » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:30 pm

Good story Bob!
Most guys would use a plug-in these days - fix everything later mentality.
In the old days people mixed themselves during a recording - did not matter what instrument they played either - you had to change your balance or tone to what was needed - or never work in the studio again.
The lesson here is - mixing is part of the recording process - not the end result.
C h r i z t o w n o
The Tasmanian
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1877
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2008 8:04 am
Location: Deep in the woods....

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby Manning » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:11 pm

I was once asked to fix a bass track by editing the waveform. I instead offered to just play the part competently in the first place.

Without wanting to get overly deep and introspective, I sometimes suspect my diplomacy skills could use a bit of work.
Manning Bartlett, Studio Laughing Duck, Glenorie NSW
http://www.studiolaughingduck.com
User avatar
Manning
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1099
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:47 pm
Location: Glenorie NSW

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby jkhuri44 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:00 pm

this thread is nice, it reminds me of the old days...just listen to FBI radio, being in tune and in time is not a prerequisite to write music and get popular anymore.

X(
Jamil Khuri
Amusement & Audio Engineer
"it's not awesome unless its 240bpm with distorted 909 kicks!"
jkhuri44
Forum Veteran
Forum Veteran
 
Posts: 2528
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 10:53 pm
Location: Dundas

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby onebaldbloke » Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:27 am

Manning wrote:I was once asked to fix a bass track by editing the waveform. I instead offered to just play the part competently in the first place.

Without wanting to get overly deep and introspective, I sometimes suspect my diplomacy skills could use a bit of work.


That's funny, isn't it? When sometimes (many times) the path of least resistance is to simply play it again.
And all this ITB recodring is supposed to make life easier?.....
Bob Spencer.
Guitarist, mostly.
http://www.bobspencer.com.au
onebaldbloke
Registered User
Registered User
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:12 pm

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby Manning » Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:13 am

Nothing beats a good recording - not just the rendition of the part, but all the nuances (as per your Bonham story).

I'm sure I didn't invent this analogy, but I think recording is like baking a cake. The tracks are the ingredients, the mixing is the um... mixing, and the cooking is the mastering. Crap ingredients result in a bad cake, no matter what you do at the later stages.

I read somewhere about some young UK band that was planning to do an acoustic album properly old-school, as in all standing around a single microphone and cutting straight to vinyl (hopefully someone might be able to supply the name). In a day when even competent vocalists like Shannon Noll are drenching their albums in Autotune, I thought this was a wonderful thing.

PS - Bob, I was greatly enjoying The Howling in the car on my way into work this morning.
Manning Bartlett, Studio Laughing Duck, Glenorie NSW
http://www.studiolaughingduck.com
User avatar
Manning
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1099
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:47 pm
Location: Glenorie NSW

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby ChrisW » Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:26 am

I think a drummer's internal mix is still important.
Even with all the modern gizmos, fixing over loud hi-hats and cymbals is difficult.
Certainly with the two, three, or four mic techniques a proper balance is essential. Zeppelin era Bonham was a master at this.
Even with a huge amounts of mics around my kit I still have a mix image in my head. I've mentioned this at a few clinics and I'm always surprised how fascinated the attendees are, like it never occurred to them before.
My internal mix for mainstream rock/pop is thus....
• Nothing at 100% except for the biggest fill in the song, the end of the outro or the end of a solo.
• Bass Drum is loudest. Played at 85% of your maximum force. BD is the foundation of most popular music. The sound also doesn't carry as immediately as snare and cymbals.
• Snare at 80%. The second most important voice in modern rock/pop. Rim shots are piercing, so balance your snare under your bass drum.
• Any tom hits should be at about 80%. Usually a tom hit is part of a fill and toms are a bit more muted than a snare.
• Ride cymbals and crashes, 60 to 70% at most. They are loud and intrusive. Mostly they act as punctuation or accents in the drum part. Don't over play.
• Hi-hats, 60 to 70%. They are a time keeping tool. In many mixes they only need to be barely audible. The more open and swishy the hi-hat sound, the less you need to thwack it.
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby Simon B » Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:37 am

ChrisW wrote:I think a drummer's internal mix is still important.
Even with all the modern gizmos, fixing over loud hi-hats and cymbals is difficult.
Certainly with the two, three, or four mic techniques a proper balance is essential. Zeppelin era Bonham was a master at this.
Even with a huge amounts of mics around my kit I still have a mix image in my head. I've mentioned this at a few clinics and I'm always surprised how fascinated the attendees are, like it never occurred to them before.
My internal mix for mainstream rock/pop is thus....
• Nothing at 100% except for the biggest fill in the song, the end of the outro or the end of a solo.
• Bass Drum is loudest. Played at 85% of your maximum force. BD is the foundation of most popular music. The sound also doesn't carry as immediately as snare and cymbals.
• Snare at 80%. The second most important voice in modern rock/pop. Rim shots are piercing, so balance your snare under your bass drum.
• Any tom hits should be at about 80%. Usually a tom hit is part of a fill and toms are a bit more muted than a snare.
• Ride cymbals and crashes, 60 to 70% at most. They are loud and intrusive. Mostly they act as punctuation or accents in the drum part. Don't over play.
• Hi-hats, 60 to 70%. They are a time keeping tool. In many mixes they only need to be barely audible. The more open and swishy the hi-hat sound, the less you need to thwack it.


Thats awesome Chris, now it just needs to get explained to the kids!

btw, Hi hats are evil personified!

ps Gidday bob
Hello my name is Simon Bray and I like guitar amps, currently at 20 something.

http://www.ponymusic.com.au/record/
Simon B
Regular Contributor
Regular Contributor
 
Posts: 320
Joined: Sat May 07, 2005 6:18 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby stosostu » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:33 am

Chris, is it OK if I print that out LARGE and pin it on the wall of the drum room?
Bob Charman - Stockport Sound, SA
The Road Goes On Forever and the Party Never Ends..........
User avatar
stosostu
Regular Contributor
Regular Contributor
 
Posts: 434
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:17 pm
Location: Clare and Gilbert Valleys, South Australia

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby onebaldbloke » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:39 am

Great stuff, Chris.
It's wonderful to hear of a drummer who's thinking about the details of the construction of their parts.
Though I am (supposedly) a guitar player, I am far more fascinated by drums, their sound, how they are played etc.

I reckon many/most drummers make a fatal error in belting the crap out of the hats in particular. Apart from a personal dislike of hats (EVIL!! WARNING!!), they rarely need to be loud & they take up so much space in the picture. Of course, this will depend on how the drummer arranges his/her parts (rather than just riding on them - think Joe Vitale, Simon Kirke or Al Jackson, for example). Many times after which, a gate or transient plug needs to be employed to get rid of the bloody things. I think that some drummers feel that whacking them makes them feel like they're giving the song more energy?....But this doesn't result in a "big" drum part, in my experience.

Hi Simon!
Bob Spencer.
Guitarist, mostly.
http://www.bobspencer.com.au
onebaldbloke
Registered User
Registered User
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:12 pm

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby jkhuri44 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:49 am

onebaldbloke wrote:I think that some drummers feel that whacking them makes them feel like they're giving the song more energy?....But this doesn't result in a "big" drum part, in my experience.


same as guitarists thinking that recording with a 150w amp is gonna get them the biggest tone.
Jamil Khuri
Amusement & Audio Engineer
"it's not awesome unless its 240bpm with distorted 909 kicks!"
jkhuri44
Forum Veteran
Forum Veteran
 
Posts: 2528
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 10:53 pm
Location: Dundas

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby ChrisW » Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:48 pm

stosostu wrote:Chris, is it OK if I print that out LARGE and pin it on the wall of the drum room?


I guess so.
:ymblushing:
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby GlennS » Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:46 pm

Yeah, loud hats make the rest of the drumkit sound small. I remember hearing somewhere that someone (perhaps Keith Moon, I can't remember) asked Glyn Johns if the toms could be louder & his response was to advise him to play them harder. I imagine it would have been SOP back in the day... as it should be now.
Glenn Santry
HeartBeat Studio

www.myspace.com/glennsantry
GlennS
Registered User
Registered User
 
Posts: 178
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby jkhuri44 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:12 pm

they invented RIDE cymbals for a reason, rock drummers are a little behind....riding crashes is ear aids...seriously.
Jamil Khuri
Amusement & Audio Engineer
"it's not awesome unless its 240bpm with distorted 909 kicks!"
jkhuri44
Forum Veteran
Forum Veteran
 
Posts: 2528
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 10:53 pm
Location: Dundas

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby ChrisW » Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:32 pm

Yeah, problem is, from the 70's onwards they started making rides too thick and heavy. So when we (drummers) rediscovered the washy rides of Ringo and Moon, we had to use crashes to replicate it.
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby Ben M » Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:46 pm

This is an interesting topic, and strangely one we spend a lot of time combating by other means other than getting it right at the source.
Things like sending kick, snare and toms back into the drum room via a PA while tracking to make them louder or playing hats/crashes separately to the meat and potatoes track.
We go through phases with drums and how organic sounding we like to hear them, and maybe sometimes we forget that there is a human being on the other end of the sticks that is more versitle than we give them credit for. So much so that we go to the extremes of production only to find that the answer to our problem was only to ask a simple question... like...can you play the hats softer?

Very nice to see you around here Bob.

Peace.
User avatar
Ben M
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1896
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 11:54 am
Location: Sydney and Kangaroo Valley, NSW

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby audioio » Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:13 pm

Manning wrote:I was once asked to fix a bass track by editing the waveform. I instead offered to just play the part competently in the first place.

This is pretty funny since I just spent half a day learning the ins and outs of Beat Detective.

Going to wash my mouth out now.
David Rodger
audioio
Regular Contributor
Regular Contributor
 
Posts: 415
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:05 pm

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby Phoenix » Thu May 09, 2013 12:18 am

Part of Bonham's "When the levee Breaks" is the use of the Binson Echo unit. Part of the equation I just found out a little while ago. Add that to the incredible playing, mic'ing technique, helios console, room, tape compression and limiting...... and whisky.
Nat Love - Small scale vegetable farmer
Phoenix
Registered User
Registered User
 
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:32 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby rick » Mon May 13, 2013 5:08 pm

A very famous American producer ( think john cougar mellencamp) ...
taught me the best way to mic up a ride when the drummer is having volume and density issues ..

(name deleted in case the aussie drummer reads this or gets told it happen and is only finding out today )

"oh well lets fix this fuckin ride mic problem once and for all , I will show you how we are going to get the BEST ride sound this guy is ever going to have "

walks out to the drum kit .. I watch him magically loosening the washers and carefully lifts the ride of the stand

.. walks it over to the drum cases , ( its his kit .. the first DW i had ever seen )

careful slipps the ride back into the road case then says ..

"right problem fuckin solved I will tell him I like to overdub ride cymbals .."


...so Rick says

"so should i leave a spare track for the ride then ...?

.. so he says

" ... we wont be overdubbing any fuckin rides "

rick smiles nervously ..
Rick O'Neil
I think we went to different schools together
turtlerockmastering.com
we listen
User avatar
rick
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 3431
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 8:02 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Instructions to John Bonham

Postby ChrisW » Mon May 13, 2013 5:32 pm

I worked with Jerry Marotta when he was going through his infamous no cymbals phase (influenced by Gabriel).
The album we were on definitely needed crashes, so it was just a blessing he actually brought some with him, but the producer had to nag him for an extended period before he would set them up.
Gotta say, I rarely play ride in the studio. Maybe for a guitar solo, or at the end of the fade out. I find the energy in the drum groove drops when you go from hi-hat to ride. For pop sessions I would set up hi-hats and two crashes - no ride.
Bonham was the ultimate self mixer. He had to be, with only four mics on the kit at a Glyn Johns session, you can't turn down the hats or ride even if you want to.
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter


Return to Recording Drums?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest