Adventures In Audio
Production Review - Are tea towels really the way to get great drum damping?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Thursday November 30, 2006
FREE EBOOK DOWNLOAD ►

In Sgt. Pepper - It Was 40 Years Ago Today, US band The Fray is encouraged by engineer Geoff Emerick to prepare their drums Ringo-style, to give their best performance in this recreation of the classic Beatles album at Abbey Road studios.

Emerick actually mentions at one point that he remembers when he first damped a drum. Can you believe that? We damp drums as a matter of course these days, but clearly there was a time when drums were allowed to resonate and ring.

Of course, the Beatles were great experimenters, so the idea of modifying the sound of the drums would have come quite naturally. And what better damping material than a tea towel from the Abbey Road canteen? (They could get some printed up and do a bit of merchandising there surely.)

As you can see in the photo, the tea towel is draped over a considerable proportion of the drum head. And here's how it sounds...

These days we would consider it over-damped. But that is perhaps because we are too stuck in the mud of our current conventions.

Perhaps we should be more adventurous.

Next time leave off the damping, or use tea towels. Or go all the way and use bath towels! Don't forget to let us hear what you achieve - use the 'upload audio' link at the top of the page.

If you get the chance, Sgt. Pepper - It Was 40 Years Ago Today is essential viewing for anyone interested in recording. Perhaps you could encourage the production company (Hart Davies Television) to release it on DVD!

Come on the Audio Masterclass Pro Home Studio MiniCourse - 60 great hints and tips to get your home recording studio MOVING

It's FREE!

Get It Now >>

How to choose the best key for your song

What is comb filtering? What does it sound like?

NEW: Audio crossfades come to Final Cut Pro X 10.4.9!

What is the difference between EQ and filters? *With Audio*

What difference will a preamp make to your recording?

Watch our video on linear phase filters and frequency response with the FabFilter Pro Q 2

Read our post on linear phase filters and frequency response with the Fabfilter Pro Q 2

Harmonic distortion with the Soundtoys Decapitator

What's the best height for studio monitors? Answer - Not too low!

What is the Red Book standard? Do I need to use it? Why?

Will floating point change the way we record?

Mixing: What is the 'Pedalboard Exception'?

The difference between mic level and line level

The problem with parallel compression that you didn't know you had. What it sounds like and how to fix it.

Compressing a snare drum to even out the level

What does parallel compression on vocals sound like?

How to automate tracks that have parallel compression

Why mono is better than stereo for recording vocals and dialogue

Clipping and compressing a drum recording to achieve an exciting sound texture

What can we learn about room acoustics from this image?

Can you hear the subtle effect of the knee control of the compressor? (With audio and video demonstrations)

What is the best studio microphone?

What is the Neve sound? (Using the Slate Digital FG-73)

What is the difference between recording, mixing and mastering?