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Recording Snare Drum with Erik Reichers and Bob Horn

Erik: We can talk a little bit about the snare drum miking. This is kind of a cool thing that my good buddy Bob Horn showed me, which I’ve always — I’ve used this for years, and years, and years now, but this is an SM57, and it’s not that it’s broken and fucked up — or excuse me, messed up and that we’ve put all of this tape on it, but the idea behind it is that you’ve got to — I think sometimes, everybody focuses on the front end of the mic, and the way that the mic picks up sound, but another way to think of microphones is how they reject sound.

This one being cardioid, it rejects sounds that are coming at the mic this way, so this being the back of the mic, any sounds that come in and it’s pretty good at not hearing the sound when you point the back of the mic at something you don’t want.

So what’s great about this, is when you take this 57, and you can unscrew it — I can show you on our bottom snare mic — you’ve got to be careful, because the leads in here can come off, but if you’re gentle, you can unscrew this 57, and then just watch your leads, they’re a little coiled up, but with some care, you can take that, kind of place it on top of it, and then put some tape up to support it, and then you can do the same kind of thing with just a standard 57, but what’s great about it is normally, a 57, by the time you get the cable plugged into this thing, it’s — we’re talking eight, nine inches long, and that thing I was saying about pointing the back of the mic towards things you don’t want to hear, what we don’t want to hear, is a lot of times, you get a lot of bleed from your hi-hat into your snare mic.

So if you put this microphone up, you can’t get the back of the mic pointed at the hi-hat, because it’s too long, so if you take a mic like this, split it in half the way we’ve done it here, now you can sneak this in, and get it in here, and have the back of the microphone pointed at the snare — or at the hi-hat, rather, and you’re rejecting more of the hi-hat from this microphone here. So that’s one method you can use to help yourself in placing and trying to keep the bleed to a minimum, or at least better with that top snare placement.

So we like to get it in here, get the back of the mic — get the front of the mic pointed to where you want, but then also think about where the back of the mic is faced, and like I said, try and get the back of the mic pointed towards your hi-hat, and you can reject a little bit better that way.


Then with your bottom mic, the thing to watch is where the snares are on the bottom of the drum. I don’t know if you’ll be able to see it on camera unless you get all the way down and shoot underneath the drum, but the physical snares, the wires — maybe Bob, hand me that drum. The physical snares right here, if you put a mic directly on this, pointed directly at this, it can get a little too much of that, so a lot of times, we like to try and get the mic a little off and away from the physical snare, over the wires, and get it a little off to the side, and sometimes you’ll have to ask the drummer, he can even turn the snare drum in the stand for you when you’re doing that.

So don’t be afraid to ask your drummer for some help too when you’re setting things up like this. I think too, you don’t necessarily want to be right up on the skin like this too, you’ll just end up getting too brittle, so give yourself a little space.

Bob: Actually, one thing Erik and I both believe in, is — so I am going to turn the snare, because if you look on top, I’ll kind of tilt it, the tape is on here to kind of kill some of the ring, and you don’t want to put the mic where the tape is, because you’re miking the tape. That’s an especially dead part of the head, because it’s not going to sound as lively and resonant, so I kind of have to spin the drum so the tape is away from that being right underneath the microphone diaphragm. So yeah, you might have to look at your snare wires one more time.

Erik: Yeah, maybe you can rotate just a little more clockwise. Yup. There we go. That’s great.


Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at

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