Pro Studio Tips With Ron Krasinski
(Left) Audix D4 on floor tom, and Audix D2s on rack toms
For studio work, Krasinski has an interesting approach to controlling the ring of his toms while still preserving the energy of their initial attack. “I don’t [completely] deaden the toms. I like the attack of the toms, so what I’ll do is take a strip of felt — the bigger the drum, the bigger the piece of felt — and I’ll tape it so it’s setting on the drum with the tape only on one edge of the felt. So when I hit the drum, the felt goes up [to allow for the attack] and then it comes down [to deaden the ring a little]. I know there’s other stuff like gum available, but I don’t really want to alter the sound of the drum; I just want to alter the ring a little bit. And the reason for that is that sometimes you hit the snare and you get all your toms ringing — especially the tom that’s closest to the snare — so those little pieces of felt minimize it. But if it’s a rock or heavy metal thing, I won’t even use the felt pads, because I want as much ring as you can possibly get.”
(Left) Shure SM57s on snare top and bottom (with wide snares).
Another secret weapon in Krasinski’s studio sound arsenal is the use of a piccolo snare instead of the typical 5"–8"-deep one, to get a really impactful recorded snare sound. He explains, “I discovered it totally by accident while putting a new head on the piccolo. It was tuned low — it wasn’t tightened yet — and I’m hitting it and I’m going, ‘That really sounds kind of cool!’ I’ve even gone to the extreme of having the head flappy, with ridges in it, and there’s absolutely no ring whatsoever — very Don Henley-like — but it’s got so much crack! in it. And then I like to deaden it a bit [using the same felt technique as on the toms], because piccolos, they really cut through!”
To complete his snare tone, Krasinski is adamant about using wide snares on the bottom of the snare drum, whether piccolo or not. “I put wide snares on every one of my snare drums, because a lot of studio engineers don’t always double-mike them. The wide snares compensate for the fact that you may only have one mike, on the top of the drum. I wish [manufacturers] would put wide snares on all their drums. I make that suggestion to Pearl every year! [laughs] Gretsch used to do that back in the ’60s, but today, companies just don’t do it. I don’t know if a lot of guys really pay that much attention to it, but I did, and I noticed a big difference. If you’re not miking the bottom, it gives you a little more bang for your buck.”
Krasinski uses a couple of other tricks to add more energy to his recorded snare sound. “I always play my left-hand stick backwards. I use the butt-end of the stick for the backbeats. And on my backbeats, I’ll hit rimshots on the snare, ‘cause you get more crack! That’s what you want on a snare drum — you don’t want that boxy thing happening. And I’ll also accent the hi-hat along with the snare on backbeats. It gives it a little high-end kick. It’s one-plus-one-equals-three; when things hit together, it’s a magical thing. You create a new sound.”
Tuning For The Studio
In the studio, Krasinski likes to tune his drums “to the lowest possible point. The reason I do that is that I don’t like midrange in the toms. I think midrange can be a real disaster because it eats up stuff around it. If something else is in that same frequency, they’ll cancel each other out. On the snare, you can get this boxy thing happening and suddenly you’re losing guitar stuff, and keyboards especially. That’s another reason I use the piccolo. There’s hardly any midrange in that guy at all. So it leaves you a lot of room, sonically, for other things.”
(Left) Stereo Shure KSM141s on overheads, stereo AKG C-1000s in the room. ASC StudioTraps cylindrical acoustic reflectors add just the right sonic finishing touch.
Krasinski further explains his tuning approach: “I like to get the toms to where they just start to decay. If you get too much decay, you’ll know it, because [the toms will start to] buzz. That’s when it’s too low. But if you get it too high, then they start to sound like coffee cans. They sound tinny. In some situations, that sound may work, like Benny Benjamin Motown-type stuff where he’s got his 13" rack tom tuned nice and high. There’s no decay in that tom at all, and man, it just sounds so good. But I wouldn’t necessarily use it for anything else.”