Looking to capture a unique vibe for your next drum track? Try overdubbing the drumkit as separate instruments. Maybe this sounds a little crazy — and it is! But that’s the beauty of it; you’re using an unorthodox technique that results in a different sound and a different feel.
What we’re talking about is recording the individual drums in separate passes — overdubbing each additional drum or cymbal. For example, you might begin by just recording the kick drum and snare drum — or maybe even just the kick or just the snare! Put towels on the toms so they don’t ring and don’t hit them. Don’t play the hi-hat or other cymbals. It may even be easier to just not have the toms or cymbals set up at all.
Next record the hi-hat track by itself, then overdub the toms, and finally track the cymbals.
The key to a making a track recorded in this fashion sound like a complete, coherent, and cohesive drum track is to rehearse the song so many times that there is no doubt about what the drummer will play. Every drum’s part needs to be thought out, rehearsed, and worked out ahead of time. Needless to say, this approach can also be easier when tracking to a click.
In fact, this is really hard for drummers to do. Drummers normally think of their drumkit as a single instrument with the kick drum, snare drum, toms, and cymbals as component parts of the complete package. But in the studio, we have the freedom to try all sorts of ideas — who knows where the magic might come from!
If you and your drummer can pull it off, this approach makes for a super clean recording that can bring a different feel to your production. Give it a try!