New Article: 13 Drum Kit Volume Reduction Tips

Please let me play drums :(

If your neighbours are constantly complaining about the noise, this new article is for you. Whether you’re drumming in an apartment, a dorm room, or a house, these tips have you covered. We’ve got a range of great products, modifications, and DIY drum volume reduction tricks to keep everyone happy while you play. If your neighbours are really sensitive, there’s bonus tips for making an electronic drum kit even quieter. For the absolute worst case scenario, we’ve even got a few final tips on how to practice when you really can’t use your drum kit at home.

Check out our top drum kit noise reduction tips, and make your drums quieter!

The Best Drumhead of 2017? Evans UV1!

What’s the best drumhead of 2017?

According to DRUM! Magazine’s DRUMMIES! poll, it’s the Evans UV1. These heads were voted the best drumhead of 2017 by DRUM! Magazine readers.

2017 Drummies Awards - Best Drumhead of 2017

DRUM! Magazine says: “Considering the abundance of drumhead models on the market, you have to give Evans credit for coming up with a new film. But the benefits of the UV-cured coating on the UV1 surpasses the novelty factor with punchy sounds, crisp articulation, and remarkable durability – a combination many drummers want under their sticks.”

What do we at Drumhead Authority have to say about the UV1, and is it deserving of the title of the best drumhead of 2017? Well, it’s an absolute top drumhead that really does stand out from the pack, especially when it comes to the coating’s durability. It’s not surprising that it was voted the best drumhead of 2017 based on this. If you’re tired of your drumhead’s coating chipping off, we definitely recommend trying the Evans UV1.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Evans UV1 is a single ply 10mil thick coated drumhead, with a slightly bright sound. It’s versatile, open, and lively, and the textured surface is great with brushes and drumsticks.

Check out our in-depth review of the Evans UV1 drumhead here, and see how it compares with other heads using our Drumhead Selector.

It seems Evans knows how popular this drumhead is, as they’ve recently announced the UV1 bass drum head range, coming soon in 2018. Evans will be releasing a standard UV1 bass head, an EQ4 version with inlay ring, and an EMAD bass version of the UV1. At the moment the UV1 range is available for snare drums and toms. The new UV1 bass heads are a welcome addition to the UV1 family, especially after being voted the best drumhead of 2017.

To see the other drum gear winners from this year’s poll, check out DRUM! Magazine’s DRUMMIES! awards here. The DRUMMIES! have been running for 24 years, with readers from around the world casting their votes for the best drum gear across a number of different categories. As well as the best drumhead, the DRUMMIES! awards cover cymbals, drum kits, accessories, drum sticks, percussion, and more.

Congratulations to Evans for taking out this year’s best drumhead award with the UV1 range.

Evans UV1 Bass Drum Heads – Coming Soon

Evans have just announced that their UV1 drumhead line will soon be available for bass drums. Currently these heads are available for snare drums and toms.

Evans plans to release the UV1 bass drum heads in the following varieties:

  • Evans EMAD UV1 bass drumheadThe Standard UV1 bass drum head: a 10mil thick single ply drumhead with the durable UV1 coating. This is the same configuration as the snare drum and tom versions of the UV1.
  • The UV EQ4 bass drum head: a 10mil thick single ply drumhead with the durable UV coating, plus an internal inlay ring. The inlay ring helps to control overtones and emphasize the warmer frequencies, to give a slightly more focused and deeper bass drum punch without choking the drum.
  • The UV EMAD bass drum head: a 10mil thick single ply drumhead with the durable UV coating, plus the Evans EMAD system. Adding an EMAD ring greatly reduces overtones, and focuses the sound to give a deep, quick, punchy bass drum sound. The EMAD rings can be removed to give a more open bass drum sound, making this a versatile bass drum option.

Each of these UV1 bass drum heads will be available in 16″ to 26″ sizes, in tom and bass hoop varieties.

The UV1 bass drum head range is a welcome addition to the UV line, and these heads are extremely popular for their extremely durable coating. The coating is UV-cured, and doesn’t chip away or wear off like regular drumhead coating.

Keep an eye out for the Evans UV1 bass drum head range coming soon. In the meantime, you can read our in-depth review of the UV1 snare and tom drumheads.

EDIT: As a sidenote, DRUM! Magazine has just awarded the Evans UV1 the best drumhead of 2017 in their DRUMMIES! awards. Congratulations to Evans!

The Official Zildjian Podcast

Zildjian have launched a new podcast entitled The Company You Keep: The Epic Story of Zildjian and Music in America.

The Official Zildjian Podcast: The Company You Keep, The History of Zildjian and Music in America

This 73 minute podcast spans five centuries to document the history of Zildjian, including some great facts and interesting stories along the way.

The podcast gives a tour of the Zildjian factory, the processes involved in making and testing cymbals, overviews of some top drummers, and great insights from Zildjian employees and family. There’s also a big focus on how music has changed across time in North America, and how cymbals – and drums in general – have evolved over time alongside this.

It’s a really entertaining and insightful story, and worth listening to with some good headphones to really hear the different cymbal tones throughout the podcast.

You can stream the entire Zildjian podcast for free below, and it’s also available to stream or download on SoundcloudSpotify, and iTunes.

 

Ringo Starr Is Now Sir Ringo

Beatles drummer Richard Starkey, better know as Ringo Starr, has been knighted in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Starr received the recognition for his contribution to the world of music, and for his services to charity. He is among more than 1,100 others recognized in this year’s Honours List. Starr also now joins fellow Beatles bandmate Sir Paul McCartney, who was knighted in 1997.

A knighthood is the highest honor that can be given by the royal family, and the process involves first being nominated by the public, followed by reviews by two different committees. Nominations are then sent to the Prime Minister, and finally the royal family for approval. Males are given the title of Sir, and females given the title of Dame.

While Sir Richard Starkey’s musical achievements are well known, he has also contributed to a number of charities and causes including human rights, abused children, AIDS awareness, and poverty.

Happy Birthday Theobald Ludwig

Theobald Ludwig, co-founder of Ludwig drum company, was born on this day in 1888.

Theobald LudwigBorn December 18th 1888, Theobald Ludwig was a co-founder of what would become one of the biggest drum manufacturers in the world. Ludwig & Ludwig Drum Company was founded by Theobald and his broth William F. Ludwig in Chicago in 1909. Twelve years earlier, the Ludwig family had emigrated from Germany to the United States, moving to Chicago to start a new life.

Theobald Ludwig sadly died from influenza at the age of 29, after meeting with a sick government official. Theobald had traveled to Philadelphia to meet this official, who was in charge of government musical instrument purchases. The Ludwig family were trying to secure a deal to supply instruments to the government, but unfortunately the Gretsch drum company had beaten Ludwig to the deal. Theobald was in Philadelphia to find out why. You can read the actual letters describing the situation, written from Theobald to his brother William (head to VintageDrumGuide.com).

Ringo Starr Ludwig DrumsTheobald wasn’t around to see it, but Ludwig would eventually become one of the biggest names in drumming across the 20th century. While the company was relatively successful across the mid 1900s, things really took off after Ringo Starr used a Ludwig drum kit on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Ringo was so proud to have a drum kit from the USA, he had asked for the Ludwig logo to be painted on the front of the bass drum head. With the success of The Beatles, the world took notice of the Ludwig brand and sales skyrocketed. Since then, Ludwig has been used by some of the biggest names in drumming, including John Bonham, Ginger Baker, Vinnie Colaiuta, Mick Fleetwood, Nick Mason, Mitch Mitchell, Keith Moon, Joe Morello, Ian Paice, Charlie Watts, and too many others to list here. Ludwig is still one of the most recognizable brands in the industry, and has come a very long way since Theobald and William F. Ludwig began their small drum store back in 1909.

Huge New Article – Drum Dampening: The Ultimate Guide

We’ve just released a huge new article on drum dampening. It covers the when, how, where, and why to use dampening, including drumheads with built-in dampening, add-on and DIY drum dampening options, and plenty of tips and tricks.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how you can use different dampening methods to get a great drum sound, this article is for you. Check out the ultimate drum dampening guide now, and master your drum sound.

Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition: Apply Now!

Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition

Between the ages of 18-22?
Have great drum or percussion skills?
Apply for Yamaha’s Young Performing Artists Competition:

This program recognizes top young achievers in contemporary, jazz, and classical music. The prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to Indiana, USA in June 2018, to take part in Yamaha’s Young Performing Artist Celebration at the Music For All Summer Symposium. You’ll have the opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people, attend workshops and clinics designed to launch a professional career, and get some great media exposure. This is an amazing opportunity that can put you on the path to a serious life in music.

To apply, you need to:

  • Be a full-time student in the USA
  • Have reached a “high-level” of musical achievement for your age
  • Get a music teacher/conductor/professional performer/music dealer or community music leader to nominate you (ask your music teacher!)
  • Submit a video recording of a great solo performance

Unfortunately this opportunity is only open to people in the USA. If you think you have what it takes, check out the details and apply here. The competition closes January 8th 2018, so you have a good amount of time to get your application together. As well as a drums category, there is also an opening for mallet or concert percussionists. If you apply, good luck!

Clyde Stubblefield: The Original Funky Drummer

To celebrate this funky day, we’re focusing on Clyde Stubblefield: the original Funky Drummer.

One of the most sampled drum beats in history was recorded on this day, November 20, back in 1969 at King Studios in Cincinnati USA. The song was James Brown’s Funky Drummer, and the beat was laid down by the legendary Clyde Stubblefield, a self-taught drummer who worked with Brown from 1965 to 1971.

Stubblefield is a pioneer of modern funk drumming, and has had a huge influence on the funk scene. So much so, that Prince counted Stubblefield as a drumming idol, and Chad Smith once said that he is the funkiest human being walking this planet. Questlove is quoted as saying Stubblefield is “The Funky Funkiest Drummer Of All Time”.

Stubblefield has influenced some amazing drummers, including Dennis Chambers, Steve Gadd, Steve Jordan, and David Garibaldi to name just a few.  EZDrummer’s Funkmasters expansion has Stubblefield himself playing the samples, along with long-time collaborator John “Jabo” Starks. Stubblefield was joined by Starks on stage with James Brown across the second half of the 1960s, as a two-drummer groove team. Stubblefield had an amazing sense of accuracy, timing and, importantly for James Brown, he knew how to lock into a tight funk beat and keep it running flawlessly.

Sitting in the studio, Clyde recalls playing a pattern on his kit. The bass and guitar joined, and this groove ended up being the foundation of Funky Drummer.

Even though his beat has been sampled across countless hit tracks, by some of the biggest names in music, Clyde received almost no royalties for his work. He wasn’t listed as a songwriter, instead paid a session musician’s fee at the time of the recording:

“People use my drum patterns on a lot of these songs. They never gave me credit, never paid me. It didn’t bug me or disturb me, but I think it’s disrespectful not to pay people for what they use.”

Notably, Clyde is featured on the Funky Drummer Edition of Copyright Criminals, a documentary exploring grey areas of how music is copyrighted and used by others. While he never sought royalties from those who sampled his original Funky Drummer groove, Stubblefield did release a series of ready-to-sample beats with this edition of Copyright Criminals. With a simple licencing form, music makers can use use his samples in exchange for a 15% royalty of commercial sales.

As well as Funky Drummer, Stubblefield gave some seriously funky beats to a bunch of other classic James Brown tracks and albums. His super tight groove and flawlessly delicate snare work is the driving force behind Sex Machine, Cold Sweat, Mother Popcorn, I Got The Feelin’, and Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud).

Clyde Stubblefield passed away on February 18, 2017, to an outpouring of respect from the music world. His work on Funky Drummer has been sampled in at least 1,400 songs since the 1980s. Here is a list of just some of the huge names that have sampled his Funky Drummer beat:

Clyde Stubblefield’s snare drum of choice across his career was a 14″ x 5″ Ludwig Supraphonic 400. He endorsed Remo drumheads.

Happy Birthday When The Levee Breaks

It’s one of the most recognizable drum tracks of all time, played by one of the most recognizable drummers of all time. To top it off, there’s a really cool story behind the drum sound!

I’m talking about John Bonham and When The Levee Breaks, by Led Zeppelin, and this week is its birthday. This classic tack was released by Led Zeppelin on November 8th 1971. To celebrate, we’ve got an overview of how it was made… The recording technique, the (likely) drum gear, and a ton of other interesting facts.

John Bonham

Before we begin, put on some good headphones and take a listen:

The background.

When The Levee Breaks is based on the 1927 Mississippi floods. It was originally written by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, and released in 1929. The Led Zeppelin version was recorded in December 1970 and January 1971, with the drums tracked at Headley Grange in Hampshire, England. This was a somewhat run-down and damp house that Led Zeppelin had rented, working on what would become the best-selling and most well-known album of their careers (and one of the highest selling albums of all time). The relaxed atmosphere of Headley Grange was a perfect environment for creativity and relaxation, and a world away from stale recording studios. The band had tried recording When The Levee Breaks a couple of times before the final version, but weren’t thrilled with the results. One of these tracks, recorded at Headley Grange, ended up on the 2015 reissue of Coda as “If It Keeps On Raining“.

The recording gear.

The band used The Rolling Stones’ mobile recording studio for tracking at Headley Grange, which was built inside a truck. However, this wasn’t just a simple “mic the drums like usual” setup, and recording engineer Andy Johns played a big part in the drum sound on When The Levee Breaks. Johns had the idea to record Bonham’s kit in the main hallway, which had a three-storey staircase extending above it. This stairwell gave a huge sound to the drums, contributing to the unique vibe of the track. On top of this, the only microphones used were a stereo pair of Beyerdynamic M160s, placed up on the stairwell and pointed down at the kit. Johns’ recording method was extremely innovative for the time… There were no other drum mics used: the drum sound comes entirely from the two microphones, combined with the stairwell’s natural acoustics and some processing. For the time (and even today), this was a very innovative recording technique.

Binson Echorec

The stereo microphone signal was then heavily compressed, and passed through Jimmy Page’s Binson Echorec to add echo. The Echorec also plays a huge part in the end result; combined with the stairwell’s acoustics, the drums have a mountainous sound with a distinct slapback. Listening to the track, you can hear the sound bouncing around. It’s important to mention that the entire track was later slowed down, which gives a slightly lower overall pitch than what would have been originally recorded.

Here’s Jimmy Page showing the actual stairwell at Headley Grange where the drums were recorded.

And here’s a clip with engineer Andy Johns talking about how he created the sound. The “too expensive” house he talks about was actually owned by Mick Jagger.

The drums.

While Bonham is famous for using a see-through Vistalite kit when playing live, all of Bonham’s studio recording kits were maple. It’s worth mentioning that back in 1970, he was still using maple kits for live shows as well; Bonham didn’t start using a Vistalite until 1973. There’s no information on the exact drum kit specs for tracking When The Levee Breaks, but you can be certain it’s a maple kit, and probably a Ludwig Green Sparkle.

John Bonham Green Sparkle Drum Kit

A brand new Ludwig drum kit was used for When The Levee Breaks, and this kit most likely consisted of:

  • 14″ x 6.5″ LM402 Supraphonic snare drum,
  • 26″ x 14″ maple bass drum,
  • 14″ x 12″ maple mounted tom,
  • 16″ x 16″ and 18″ x 16″ maple floor toms.

The cymbals were almost certainly all Paiste Giant Beat, which were Bonham’s cymbals of choice:

  • 15″ hi hats,
  • 24″ ride,
  • 16″ and 18″ medium crashes.

Bonham also used Paiste 2002 cymbals, but these were not made until 1971 (after When The Levee Breaks was recorded).

Remo Emperor Coated DrumheadBonham mainly used Remo drumheads across his career. He used Coated Remo Emperor drumheads for batter toms and bass drum, and Coated Remo Ambassador resonant heads on his toms. His snare also used a Coated Emperor, and a snare-side Ambassador (although sometimes a Diplomat snare-side). On his bass drum, Bonham used the stock Ludwig resonant head, with felt strips (usually on both the batter and resonant side) to control the sound. He also avoided cutting a port hole in the bass drum, preferring to leave the resonant bass drum head intact. It’s very likely that these were the combination of drumheads used for recording When The Levee Breaks.

For tuning, Bonham loved having the resonant drumheads tuned higher than the batter heads. The bass drum was tuned quite high as well, due to the large size of the drum. Bonham also liked the sound of played-in heads: he’d only change them when he absolutely needed to. It’s unclear whether this was the case for recording When The Levee Breaks, since a brand new kit was used.

Finally, it’s highly likely that a squeaky-clean Ludwig Speed King pedal came with the new kit that was set up at the bottom of the stairwell. This, however, is unconfirmed.

John Bonham.

So far we’ve got an amazing sounding room, an innovative engineer, and great equipment, but it’s impossible to talk about the drum sound of When The Levee Breaks without covering John Bonham himself. His groove, feel, and sense of timing are what helped make this track – and Led Zeppelin – everything that it is.

The drum sound came from the man, and Andy Johns says it himself in one of the above videos…  “Good luck getting that sound again, because you really do need Bonzo”.

John Bonham

Bonham’s powerful hitting helped produce the huge drum sound that echoed around the stairwell. His perfect balance of power and control created the most reliable foundation for the rest of the band to build upon. Drum fills are sparse until after the 5 minute mark, with nothing but a rock solid beat to drive this lengthy track, even through the many instrumental sections. There’s not a second of overplaying. What there is, though, is perfect steadiness, immaculate feel, and an extremely tight performance running across the entire drum track. Bonham’s style is energetic and aggressive, but with the finesse to sit perfectly in the pocket, just behind the beat.

The Finished Product.

When The Levee Breaks was finished at Island Records, and ended up as the final track on one of the best-selling albums of all time. It’s thought that this is the only album track mixed at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles; the rest of the album was mixed again in London, as the band were not happy with the Sunset Sound mixes.

John Bonham

When The Levee Breaks was very rarely played live by the band, though there’s at least one bootleg recording out there. It’s assumed that the track was too difficult to recreate on stage.

The drum track from When The Levee Breaks is one of the most instantly recognizable openings to a rock song. The iconic drum sound has been heavily sampled by some huge names since its release, especially in hip hop. Here are just some of the artists who have used this track:

Bonus Links.

Take a listen to some raw John Bonham drum tracks.

(Try to) sound like Bonham with DRUM! Magazine’s great article.

JohnBonham.co.uk and JohnBonhamDrums.com are both top websites for the details of Bonham’s gear and other info.

Take a look at the planned John Bonham statue in Redditch, England, announced recently.

If you’re interested in reading more on his life, John Bonham: A Thunder Of Drums is a great book.