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Glyn Johns Mic Technique For Loud, Punchy Drum Recordings

Glyn Johns Drum Technique

In this video I show you the Glyn Johns mic technique for recording drums.

I’ve got a project coming up with a band looking for a loud, punchy, warm sound, so I started messing around with mic placement to capture the drum kit as a whole. I remembered the Glyn Johns drum recording method and thought I’d dust it off and give it a whirl.

History Of The Glyn Johns Mic Technique

The Glyn Johns technique was created by the man himself – producer Glyn Johns – who developed it during his career working on a number of records for bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Rolling Stones.

Famous Bands That Used The Glyn Johns Drum Mic Technique

He was a prolific recording engineer and producer in his day and has worked with many different rock artists. He became so well known for his drum recording method producing records for bands and musicians such as The Beatles, Eagles, Bob Dylan, The Band, The Clash and Midnight Oil, to name only a few.

The Glyn Johns 3 Mic Technique

Using the Glyn Johns method you can get a really solid rock sound with as little as 3 microphones. You can mix and match microphones, incorporate the room sound and achieve a really raw and in-your-face drum recording with a method that only takes minutes to set up.

Mono Overhead

Start with a mono overhead about a metre above the snare. Use a large or small diaphragm condenser. Try to get a good overall sound from the snare, toms and cymbals.

Side Fill Overhead

Add another overhead just to the side of the floor tom at about hip height, pointing back across the kit towards the snare and rack toms. It should be approximately the same distance from the snare as the first overhead. Use a cable, measuring tape or a piece of string to check the distance and adjust if need be.

This is more a side fill than an overhead that will really bring out your toms for earth shaking fills. The overall kit sound is also very wide and clear due to this second mic.

Kick Drum Mic

Add a kick drum mic to get a direct, defined kick sound.

Snare Spot Mic

Add a close mic on the snare as well to help with a bit more definition. Traditionally, the snare drum wasn’t necessarily close-miked, only if Johns decided it needed to be.

Snare Microphone MD421

Add Tom Mics For A More Modern Sound

If you have any mics left over, feel free to close mic the toms as well, as it can’t hurt to add a little more control to the tom sound. But the Glyn Johns drum mic technique works fine with only 4 mics.

Glyn Johns Tom Mics

Some Points To Consider When Using The Glyn Johns Drum Method

Monitor Each Drum Carefully

Listen to the overheads carefully on their own and ask yourself if the snare, toms and cymbals are being captured the way you would like them to sound. If not, try changing the overheads positions by swivelling the axis toward any drum that isn’t quite prominent enough.

You are looking for a good balance between the different parts of the kit. Not enough toms? Pivot the overheads towards them. Too much harsh cymbal sound? Try lifting the mono overhead a little higher.

Take Your Time Setting Up

Every drum recording technique is only as good as the engineer employing it. Take time to get it right by tweaking the mic positions until the sound is solid.

There is nothing wrong with spending two hours setting up your drum mics as long as you are wholly satisfied when you finally press record. If a drum recording session is going to take 2-3 days in total, who cares if the drummer gets bored during setup? He will thank you in the end when you deliver him a killer drum sound.

Record Drums With New And Tuned Drum Heads

The difference between the sound of old, battered drum heads and new, tuned ones is immense. If you are producing a record that you want to be proud of take a bit of cash and replace them ahead of your recording session.

There is no point trying to EQ a battered old drum kit to try to make it sound like your favourite record. Tuning drums is not hard to learn and will make all the difference.

About The Author

Nick Braren is an audio engineer and musician with over 15 years experience in the studio, on stage, back stage and front of house. He is the owner and operator of Upaya Sound, guitarist and vocalist of Vandemonian, father of 2 and husband of 1. When he’s not in the studio or in the band room he’s either travelling in his van or at the beach – or both.

Mixing Engineer

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