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How did they get that snare sound on...


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...many rock/pop records circa 1977-1980?

 

This is the sound I mean:

 

It is kind of a dead snare sound...muted somehow, with no crack, barely any smack, and it has almost no ambience at all...very dry and limp, like the head isn't tuned, and it is being hit with a piece of cooked pasta. The snares themselves have no ring at all, and overall, it just has no punch, no sharp attack, no fatness...

 

It just sounds "polite" somehow. :rolleyes:

 

It seems to have been used across a few styles at the time.

 

I ask because I really do not like that sound, and I would like some info so I can make sure to avoid it. ;)

 

It is a worse sound to me than a LinnDrum snare (ahem) being pumped into a vintage digital reverb set to stun (that came just a few years later, heh)...and that is saying something! :D

 

 

thanks in advance,

aeon

Go tell someone you love that you love them.
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Originally posted by BOOKUMDANO:

Super heavy use of snare gating in all the sessions I saw that were getting that sound. Plus dct tape tape and sometimes towels to mute the snare.

That seems like an awful lot of trouble to get an undesirable snare sound!! :D
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Originally posted by Super 8:

Are you talking about that really dry Steely Dan kind of snare sound?

It's funny the wavelengths you and I share, sometimes. I was reading the first post, and my brain immediately went to "Babylon Sisters". :)
I've upped my standards; now, up yours.
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It's very easy to get that sound. Start with a totally dead room that has carpets or foam and padding on the walls, floors etc. Tape the crap out of the drum. Mic it with an SM57. Put a gate on it to remove any remaining semblance of ambience. Compress the crap out of it to increase the sound of the "attack" which now sounds like a wet noodle on a cardboard box. And hey, when people start to complain that the sound sucks, just trigger a Linn drum with it and drench it with gated reverb. Simple. :D Did it 1000 times myself back in the day, not by choice, mind you. :D
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"Hey Nineteen" is a sample.

 

Lee's approach is the way to get that dead snare sound. Please don't do it unless you absolutely have no choice. ;)

 

Specific song examples would help us know the precise sound you're trying to avoid. ;)

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Thanks so much for the replies.

 

A long time ago, I remember reading on Usenet about someone taping a wallet to a snare head with duct tape, but I thought it was someone pulling someone's leg...but I guess not.

 

Doing that kind of thing to a snare drum must have been the side-effect of too much cocaine or something. ;) I mean, why rob a snare of all that makes it potentially magnificent?

 

If I owned a nice snare drum, and someone tried to put duct tape on it, I might get violent. :D I tend to like snares that have crack and snap, and are tuned fairly tightly, and I like to hear the snares and shell have some ring. I guess what I mean is, I like how it sounds in real life, LOL.

 

When I listen to the various decades on Sirius radio, I think I like the snare sound circa 1965-1967 best of all. :)

 

 

cheers,

aeon

Go tell someone you love that you love them.
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Originally posted by aeon:

A long time ago, I remember reading on Usenet about someone taping a wallet to a snare head with duct tape, but I thought it was someone pulling someone's leg...but I guess not.

Oh no, that was quite common. Taping a quarter sometimes too. And umm, Kotex. Seriously. It was kind of a hazing ritual with a lot of studios to send their interns to the drugstore to buy some Kotex for taping up the drums. Of course being female it didn't bother ME to go to the drugstore and buy Kotex. :D But it sure as hell bothered me to stick them on drums! :(

 

Doing that kind of thing to a snare drum must have been the side-effect of too much cocaine or something. ;) I mean, why rob a snare of all that makes it potentially magnificent?

Control. The theory was that if you could deaden all of the resonance and ambience that gave the engineer complete CONTROL over each drum to add ambience later (or not), EQ it the way you wanted, etc. That was the theory. The reality was it sounded like ass. :D Sure there was the odd song where it worked, but then it got way overused. Every decade since the 60's seems to have had some annoying trend like that.

 

If I owned a nice snare drum, and someone tried to put duct tape on it, I might get violent. :D I tend to like snares that have crack and snap, and are tuned fairly tightly, and I like to hear the snares and shell have some ring. I guess what I mean is, I like how it sounds in real life, LOL.

Amen to that! The snare drum is such a beautiful and complex instrument. And one of the toughest to record, so a lot of engineers just get lazy and take away most of the possibilities for expressiveness on the instrument by deadening it, replacing it with samples, drenching it with reverb, or whatever the flavor of the week is to disguise the fact that they don't want to deal with actually recording a snare drum. :D
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It was kind of a hazing ritual with a lot of studios to send their interns to the drugstore to buy some Kotex for taping up the drums.

 

When drummers wanted really dead sounding drums, I used to send THEM to the nearest store to get them... and I always got really specific, so they'd have to spend a lot of time looking for them, or even better, have to ask for help. "Make sure you get Always Ultra Plus, no wings. Yes, it really does make a difference in how they sound, so don't get anything else." ;) I figured, if I make it hard / embarrassing for them, they just might reconsider... :D

 

Why punish a poor innocent intern for the sins of the drummer and / or producer? ;)

 

I do reserve the right to send interns down to the local electronics store to grab a bag of nanowebers though... :D

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Originally posted by Philip O'Keefe:

When drummers wanted really dead sounding drums, I used to send THEM to the nearest store to get them... and I always got really specific, so they'd have to spend a lot of time looking for them, or even better, have to ask for help. "Make sure you get Always Ultra Plus, no wings. Yes, it really does make a difference in how they sound, so don't get anything else." ;) I figured, if I make it hard / embarrassing for them, they just might reconsider... :D

LOL! :D You know, I don't think I EVER actually encountered a drummer who wanted that sound. It was always the producer or band leader. Maybe once or twice it was the drummer, but mostly it was everyone else ganging up on the drummer and the drummer being about ready to shoot himself. And me asking if he had any extra bullets. :D

 

I do reserve the right to send interns down to the local electronics store to grab a bag of nanowebers though... :D

LOL! Yeah, or have them scrape the bias off the tape. :D
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BTW, Ringo used to occasionally set a pack of crumpled cigarettes on his snare, or lay small dish towels over the drums. He says he "likes that deep sound". I actually am working on a cover version of a song that Ringo played on, and the drums all sound like he did exactly that... so I used a very thin blanket to emulate the sound. Worked perfectly. :)

 

http://www.beatlelinks.net/forums/archive/index.php/t-12346.html

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Originally posted by Philip O'Keefe:

I actually am working on a cover version of a song that Ringo played on, and the drums all sound like he did exactly that... so I used a very thin blanket to emulate the sound. Worked perfectly. :)

Yeah...and I'm really diggin' how your kit plays with all those mufflers on it. Call it a guilty pleasure...and don't be surprised if I want to use it on somethin'.

 

:D

this house is empty now...
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And the nice thing about the blanket is that you can quickly remove it and get a great "open" tone without having a bunch of adhesive residue all over your heads. :) For me, the deadened drum tone is something to be used sparingly, but with the dish towels or thin blanket, you can switch from one to the other quite quickly. :)
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The wallet thing is something people were still using in the 1980s.

 

I veered away from the evolving practices of the era because it seemed like a lot of engineers were trying to make real drums sound like drum machines. (You know, gating and over compression, gated snares and the like.)

 

 

Oh, but taping a quarter on a drum head was more for under the beater on the kick drum to get that nice synthetic click so favored by the engineers of the era -- at least that's how it was where I came up. (One guy I ran into carried a silver dollar just for that purpose. He said the silver dollar gave the kicks he recorded a 'meatier' sound than everybody who used quarters.)

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Originally posted by theblue1:

I veered away from the evolving practices of the era because it seemed like a lot of engineers were trying to make real drums sound like drum machines.

They were.

 

I immediately thought of "Babylon Sisters" when I saw this topic, by the way. That drum sound scares me on several levels.

 

Speaking of '70s drums in an entirely different light, I always loved the drum sounds Jack Douglas got with Aerosmith records like "Toys in the Attic" and "Rocks", especially the snares.

 

- Jeff

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starting with david bowie's LOW album, tons of late 70's snares also were often put through the (new at the time) eventide 949 harmonizer and pitched down a step or so for extra "thunk."

 

-d. gauss

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This is great! I totally identify with Lee and Phil's replies. :D No, I wasn't an intern, either. (sigh of relief)

 

But when I used Tampax or Kotex to tame a snare, please believe me it was better than the alternative. :eek: I was cursed with recording or reinforcing every godawful sounding kit within 50 miles, or so it seemed. And, not being a drummer, I was completely unaware how to properly tune a drum kit. So are most drummers I ran into prior to moving to Nashville. :rolleyes: The move really opened my eyes to just how much proper tuning can improve any set.

 

Originally posted by theblue1:

...Oh, but taping a quarter on a drum head was more for under the beater on the kick drum to get that nice synthetic click so favored by the engineers of the era -- at least that's how it was where I came up. (One guy I ran into carried a silver dollar just for that purpose. He said the silver dollar gave the kicks he recorded a 'meatier' sound than everybody who used quarters.)

Actually, there may be some truth to what he said.

 

Have you ever listened to the sound of a modern quarter that has been dropped on a hard surface? Ever listen to ths sound of a real silver coin the same way? The silver coin, IMO, sounds sweeter and chimier (more resonance, I suppose) than the modern, copper-cored, cupro-zinc covered quarters.

 

I lost a silver coin in a bank. Finding it was easy. Rather than look for the right coin, one by one, I dropped a few coins at a time on the table until I heard the unique sound of the silver coin.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

Soundclick

fntstcsnd

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Originally posted by Super 8:

Originally posted by Philip O'Keefe:

"Hey Nineteen" is a sample.

It was? Are you certain about that?
1980: Gaucho

 

After a long wait, Gaucho was released to an eager audience. While the music was of the usual high leveI, it should be noted that, drum-wise, this album is much simpler than previous ones. Except for a Purdie shuffle on "Babylon Sisters" and Porcaro's odd-meter forays on "Gaucho," the rhythms are all 8th-note grooves. No cranking shuffles like "Black Friday" or jungle grooves like "I Got The News." Part of this might have been Becker and Fagen's desire to fully explore their WENDEL, a sequencing tool that could quantite, sanitize, and generally sterilize a drum track.

 

"That was Roger Nichols and the computers," says Marotta, who played on "Hey Nineteen" and "Time Out Of Mind". "WENDEL wasn't perfected then, so occasionally it was a little stilted. They were experimenting, taking little snippets of what we played and looping it."

 

According to Porcaro, "That's at a point when drum machine technology was just rearing its ugly head. There was a lot of talk about the future of quantizing and sequencing in real time. To a perfectionist, that was all really cool stuff. The title track was done to a Urei click. In fact it was all Urei except 'Hey Nineteen,' which is WENDEL."

 

- Jeff

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Far out! I never heard of WENDEL before....that's a new one on me.

 

Speaking of that snare sound, I was just driving home and a Fleetwood Mac tune came on....'Dreams'. Great tune. Anyway, the drums are all muted and close miced, and I was thinking; 'Ya know, people can say what they want, but that sound works for that song. It's tight, it's dry, it's full, it just sounds good'.

 

It really doesn't bother me. I kinda like it.

Super 8

 

Hear my stuff here

 

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Super 8:

 

I hear ya on that, and believe me, I think of The Song as master, so everything else, including the performance, production, and engineering, have to serve that.

 

So sometimes it can be OK and serve the song at hand.

 

That said, it is never going to be close to my own personal aesthetics. ;)

 

And thanks for all the answers, it made me do some more focused searching about these things, and I learned a lot about snare drums that I did not know.

 

 

cheers,

aeon

Go tell someone you love that you love them.
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