Monday, April 29, 2019

How to recreate the Alex Van Halen Drum Sound from 1984

Van Halen’s 1984 is one of the most classic rock albums of all time, and was the first LP by the group recorded by them in their own studio, 5150. One of the most distinct sounds on the album is Alex Van Halen’s awesome and unique drum sound. Song like Jump, and I’ll wait have some of the most recognizable 80s drum sounds next to Phil Collins’ famous concert tom sound on In The Air Tonight.

So how can you recreate this sound today? From extensive research into the way 1984 was recorded, as well as Alex’s drums and tastes, it’s actually not as hard as you’d think to get a relatively similar sound as 1984, though it might take some time to get all the pieces put together if you don’t already have similar things.

Part 1 – The kick drum

This is actually one of the easiest parts to accomplish. Why is it so easy? Because believe it or not, the bass drum sound on 1984 is not an actual bass drum, but a Simmons electronic drum pad. Though the picture above shows the kit Alex was playing in the video for Jump, he did not actually use the sounds of these crazily huge kick drums, but instead recorded with a fully electronic kick drum.

You may be thinking, how the heck is that easy? Simmons pads are rare and expensive these days! True, but you don’t need a real one, just the sound. You can download some samples here.Then you can use a drum replacer plugin like MDA BeatBox, or something similar to trigger the sample with your kick drum track. If you have an electronic kick that lets you load your own samples, you could do that as well.

Part 2 – The snare drum

Alex played Steel Ludwig 6.5×14 metal snares, as well as a 6.5×14 rosewood Tama snare, but he always used Remo C.S. head (black dot) on them. So the actual snare type isn’t as important as the head and tuning. He would use a regular clear Ambassador on the bottom, and tune them both medium high. Occasionally he would also put some gaffer’s tape on the snare, but not always. Alex played large 2B sticks, which actually had quite an effect on the sound of the drum. So I recommend playing some large sticks like these to increase the chances of a similar sound.

Part 3 – The toms

Alex’s tom sound on 1984 are simple…. Roto Toms. He used several different size roto toms, with a standard Ludwig floor tom with the resonant head removed. Roto toms are cheap and easy to obtain. However, he would use Remo CS heads on them as well. Also, I would look for larger roto toms, like 12″ and above. But if all is you can find are the smaller ones, you can still make due. For the floor tom, just take your bottom head off your floor tom and muffle it a bit with gaff tape, tuned medium tension. On a few songs on 1984 (such as Hot For Teacher) Alex also used Simmons toms (in addition to the roto toms). If you really want to find these too, you could use any electronic tom, then use a Simmons sample, or even some of the newer Simmons drums have the classic sounds built in.

Part 4 – Cymbals

Alex has always played all Paiste Cymbals, and in the 1984 days he was using a very pingy ride, which was most likely a Paiste 2002 Power Ride .He also used an assortment of Paiste 2002 crashes and chinas, plus 15″ Sound Edge Hi Hats. However, these are all pretty damn pricey. So you could substitute the Paiste PST5 Rock line which comes with a 20″ rock ride, 16″ and 18″ rock crashes, and 14″ sound edge hats, all of which sound great and have similar tones as the more expensive Paistes. You could also pick up a PST5 China to complete the sound.

Part 5 – Miking

Your kick drum mic isn’t going to matter much, since you’ll be replacing the sound anyway, but the snare, a regular old SM57 should suffice. The same should work on the toms, and try to put a bit of distance from the drums to the mics, 1 foot away or so on the roto toms especially. For overheads, use your favorite condenser mics. If you have the room and channels for it, place at least 1 ambient room mic in the room at some distance away from the drums, then mix it in as a natural ambiance.

Part 6 – Mixing

This will have to be dependent on your ears, but but don’t be afraid to put the overheads louder than you normally do. Alex’s cymbals are usually quite loud. The rest is up to your ears and skills!

I hope you found this post helpful and educational. I’d love to hear your attempts, feel free to send them to me!


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Pearl's Most Compact Drum Set Now Half It's Original Price!

Pearl’s “Compact Traveler” drum set has to be the most compact acoustic drum set on the market and has an insanely impressive sound for what it is. You get a paper thin kick drum, and snare, plus stands that all fit in a measly bag that you can literally carry around with you without a car. I think this must be the ultimate subway drum set!

When they first came out, people complained about the $500 price tag, but now Amazon is selling them for only $249! Check the link below for more details! The sound is actually quite impressive too.



Monday, April 15, 2019

The Tama Neo-Mod is my new favorite compact drum kit!

Compact Beauty  – Tama Superstar Classic Neo-Mod 

I cannot tell you how much I love this little kit. I have a compact Tama set myself, but it’s from 2015, and is the Imperialstar Bop. I love it, but I would love to pick up one of these awesome new Tama Superstar Classic Neo-Mods as well.

I really love Tama’s size choices on this kit. Keeping the full size diameter, but just shortening the shells provides a deeper tone than deeper, but smaller in diameter shells. The kick on the Neo-Mod is a 20″, but is only 10″ deep. The rest of the drum sizes are a 7×12 tom and 9×14 floor tom. The shallow depth sizes make it so easy to move around.

Shells are 100% maple, which is very nice for a kit in this price range, and on top of that it looks insanely cool. The Neo-Mod comes in all kinds of cool looking finishes too.

I’m so in love <3

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Why I love the Paiste PST5 Line

The PST5 Line of cymbals has been around for quite some time now. I got my first one back in 2009, and instantly loved how great it sounded for how inexpensive it was. That one was the, now discontinued, PST5 19″ Rock Crash. I still have this cymbal today, and now that it is nearly 10 years old it almost sounds better than it ever did.

PST5s are not supposed to be Paiste’s high end cymbals, in fact there’s several lines that are more expensive and higher up on their virtual shelf such as the PST7s, and PST8s, then the 900 series and all of their ‘pro’ line cymbals on top of that. However, in my opinion they are some of the nicest sounding cymbals made. Sound crazy? I don’t care. I’ve owned several of the PST5 line, and have liked them just as much, or far better than other supposedly ‘pro’ cymbals. For example, I had a set of PST5 Medium Hi Hats, then got rid of them for a pair of signature hats, and ended up being pretty disappointed and wished I’d kept the PST5s.

They have very distinct musical pitches, and blend in incredibly well in recorded music. They also stand out in a live setting. I really love the crashes and Hi Hats. I also had a 22″ Rock Ride at one point (also discontinued now in this size) and it sounded amazing for what it was.

So if you’re on the lookout for some amazing cymbals that won’t break the bank, I highly recommend Paiste’s PST5 Line. My next cymbal purchase will most likely be the PST5 Sound Edge hats.

Updated drum lesson playlist

It's hard for me to update this website constantly with all of the new drum lessons I am making, so I figured I would make a playlist wh...