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Drum Feel and Cymbal Selection

Lesson 8 from: Studio Pass: Periphery

Adam "Nolly" Getgood, Matt Halpern

Drum Feel and Cymbal Selection

Lesson 8 from: Studio Pass: Periphery

Adam "Nolly" Getgood, Matt Halpern

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Lesson Info

8. Drum Feel and Cymbal Selection

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of this lesson is drum feel and cymbal selection. It discusses the importance of experimenting with different drum sizes to find the right feel and inspire creativity. It also explores the process of selecting cymbals, considering factors such as sound, volume, and the relationship between different components of the drum kit.


  1. What is the importance of experimenting with different drum sizes?

    Experimenting with different drum sizes can help find the right feel and inspire creativity in playing.

  2. What is the preferred drum setup for the instructor?

    The instructor prefers a setup with 10, 12, 14, and 16-inch diameter toms, a 22-inch diameter kick drum, and a 6 by 14 snare.

  3. What factors should be considered when selecting cymbals?

    Factors to consider when selecting cymbals include sound, volume, and the relationship between different components of the drum kit.

  4. Why did the instructor choose darker and dryer cymbals for live performances?

    Bright and big cymbals would bleed into the microphones and create challenges for sound engineering.

  5. What is the advantage of using thinner cymbals in the studio?

    Thinner cymbals have a lower pitch and bring down the brightness level, making them fit into the mix better.

  6. What are some examples of cymbals used in the instructor's setup?

    The instructor uses 14-inch medium high hats, 18-inch thin crash, 19-inch medium thin crash, dark ride, stack, and a 20-inch China.

Lesson Info

Drum Feel and Cymbal Selection

Over time I've really gone through different setups and different sizes where maybe I'll use a eight inch, ten inch combo, which is a little bit smaller than this, or maybe I'll use a 16 inch floor tom and an 18 inch floor tom. Really it's all preference. Each kind of drum has a different feel to it. It really does and you should experiment, if you can, if you have the ability to, with every different size you can find because different drum sizes, different drums in general, will inspire you to play a certain way, and I think that's a lot of the fun of what we do. These things are fun to hit, and they inspire you to have your artistic side come out, hopefully, based on the way the feel, the way they look, and how they inspire you basically. So I think it's good to experiment with that. For me, I think I've found my comfort zone at least in these fairly close set ups which would be 10, 12, 14, 16, 22 inch diameter kick drum, like we said, the six by 14 snare. So I have a specific feel ...

and I think now, because of what I wanted to go for feel wise, we've been able to really identify the real scientific approach to getting the sound so it's consistent every show or every time we're in the studio. As far as the cymbals, obviously we've gone through quite a extensive cymbal selection process for both our live sound and the studio sound. It's been an introtive process, we've tried so many different approaches. It changes still all the time based on where we are and the rooms we're going into. I use meinl cymbals and meinl offers such a great variety of different kinds of sounds. If you want a darker cymbal, they have something that's gonna be great for you no matter what the size or the type of cymbal. If you want something that's a little bit brighter, or something that's a little bit more dry versus really bright, you can find what you want. We've typically worked with darker cymbals, dryer cymbals in the past. Really, that whole process started because when we were performing live, a lot of times we would be the opening band, and we'd be on the front of the stage with my singer right in front of me, and with really bright cymbals and big cymbals, they would bleed into the microphone which would be kind of challenging for our sound engineering. And they bleed into the microphones on the kit as well. It's terrible in the vocal mic, but they're everywhere. Sure, right, exactly. We experimented in a live setting with a lot more dry cymbals which would decake a little bit quicker, and wouldn't have those same overtones. They were smaller sometimes in diameter than what we would be using, or what I would maybe choose to use if I could use anything I wanted based on the sound of the band. We've sort of settled at least now, on a very specific set up that's fairly consistent. Over here on my left side, I'm using the 14 inch medium high hats, they're the byzance series by meinl. They're nice and bright, but they also have a really nice chick to it when you use your left foot and I keep a lot of time that way so having a very distinctive sound there that really cuts through, and some versatility with the actual hats is great. I think with high hats, like you said, it's really important the relationship between the snare and the high hat is great. In the studio, yeah. You really wanna find something that I think does allow each piece of the kit to have its own sound and almost fit into the mix nicely where you can hear em both and they don't bleed together much. It's always a trade off between the best sounding cymbal and the volume of the cymbal. In general, for studio stuff, we try to go thinner if we can, but if you go too thin with the cymbals they start to get really trashy sounding. The thinner the cymbal generally, the lower the pitch which is also nice, it brings down the brightness level a little bit. Really big, heavy cymbals tend to be a no-no in the studio they're just gonna be so bright and loud on top of everything. Specifically, talking about thinner cymbals, the crashes are both thinner variations of the byzance traditional cymbals. This is a 18 inch thin crash and I believe this is a 19 inch medium thin crash. You guys'll get to hear them a little bit later, but they're nice because like I said, they're a little bit lower in tone. They still have a very nice sustain to them, especially when you play them rather lightly. I think if you bash any cymbal you're not gonna get the best tone out of it that you could. So it's important to learn how to, in the right way, finess the cymbals so that you're getting it to sort of sing. I guess that's the word I would use to describe it. You wanna allow the cymbal to really resonate in a way that it makes the colors come out in the music. It's the colors in the drum set in my opinion. So the crashes tend to be a little bit more darker sounding, but still have that shimmer to them, that's why we have them this way. Rather than going very dark, which is what we've done here for the ride cymbal, which is a dark ride specifically, it's just got a much more, kind of in comparison to anything else in the kit, it'll be a much lower kind of sound. Dark is really the best way to describe it, it even looks darker physically from appearance. That ride also has a really great sounding bell, and that's one of the main reasons we use that. It's kind of like the metal style bell, but it's not a cheap sounding, super pingy. Sure. The stack here, so a stack is basically two cymbals put on top of each other to make a trashy sound that could be resemblant of a high hat set up, but it's more so used as an effect cymbal, or even almost like what a china cymbal would be. But with this, I've figured out two different ways to do it. This method is taking a 18 inch China cymbal, a dark China, similar to this dark cymbal here, flipping it over, and laying a very thin jazz light medium crash on top of that, so you get this nice balance of very light thin with very dark, and you get this really nice contrast between the two of them, it works really well, and you can flip them different ways. I think trashers are a case of experimentation. It's very difficult to predict what you're going to get. Even just the tension itself can change it drastically. It's really just been a lot of experimentation with that. Lastly, the China that we're using is actually a little bit different than what I may use live. This is a 20 inch byzance just traditional china, but I also really like the extra dry Chinas. They have a really nice sound, we've used different ones and different recording processes. We used those on Juggernaut I think. They're amazing sounding Chinas. I find in the studio it's really nice to have a family resemblance between the crashers and the Chinas though. They seem to balance better in volume and it just means that the overheads can do minimal amount of work just to level out all the cymbals, and you get a really nice spread, even sounding cymbals. Sure. Absolutely. It changes all the time but I think for this session it's pretty consistent to what we've been working with, both live and in the studio, since Juggernaut. Awesome.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Halpern Drum Samples
Micing Guitar Cab
Nolly's Mic List

Ratings and Reviews

Connor Smith

I haven't even finished the course and already my mixes have improved dramatically. Night and day difference. I haven't watched the portions with Matt as I'm using drum samples (GGD specifically), but I have no doubt it's great. Matt is always incredibly helpful and is a brilliant drummer. I thoroughly enjoy listening to Nolly, he's very articulate and his approach to audio engineering is flat out brilliant. I'm so happy I purchased this course. Before my mixes were good (balance and things of that nature) but lacked life and energy. I just wasn't getting the professional level sound I was searching for. Now, I am proud of my mixes and actually think they're getting to the point where they sound professional and don't sound like they were produced by a dude in his bedroom with about half of year of recording and audio engineering experience. The metal genre is difficult to mix as there's a lot going on and the "current metal sound" is very crisp and clear while still being very heavy and punchy. It isn't 80s dad metal where guitars are hissy and flubby. lol I am a huge Periphery fan and it's a privilege to watch Nolly share his knowledge. I really enjoy his approach as its very simple but very effective. He doesn't have insane mixing strategies, he just does what works and it's applicable to any DAW and is helpful for almost any genre of music. Brilliant course!

a Creativelive Student

This was an amazing course! I loved hearing from both Matt and Nolly on their thought process behind drums in general. I love the point they drove home about getting a great source tone. That seems to be forgotten in a lot of recordings and they try to fix it in the mix. Jolly did a fantastic job of making it look "easy" to take already great sounding source tones and making them really shine! Cant wait to put these concepts into practice in my own projects. What a great source of knowledge here. Thanks for this great class!

Adrian Gougov

Best course and overall learning experience I've had in a long long while. Nolly and Matt are superb. Nolly is an astonishing mixing and recording engineer and a great teacher. Not only does he explains his methods carefully and in detail, but also lays down key concepts in an understandable language. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna learn how to mix modern heavy music. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna learn how to track drums properly. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna see one of modern metal's best drummers track a whole song from start to finish. Props to Creative Live for bringing this material to us.

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