Trying Out The Glyn Johns Drum Miking Technique

by Ben Sharpe

Today in class we tried out the Glyn Johns miking technique. We didn’t stay true to the original procedure of keeping the overhead and side microphone (by the floor tom) the exact same distance from the snare, however the results we got were pretty tasty. In achieving this simple but effective technique there are a few key factors to consider..

Firstly, the drums had a quick tune and maintenance to ensure there were no rattles or hums. This can be a nightmare to EQ out. It’s just best to get the sound source as good sounding as possible before you press the record button – none of this ‘fix-it-in-the-mix’ nonsense, which I’ve learnt recently is audio engineering suicide. Additionally, it’s also a smart move to have your drums in tune with one another. Especially when it comes to toms and the snare. You want the bottom skin to be resonating harmonics that have an ear pleasing relationship with the fundamental tone of the skin that gets hit. You could even do what engineer Eric Valentine does, which is to tune the kit to the key of the song.

Secondly, it’s all about microphone choice and placement. I’ve blogged about this before, that I believe the sound source, mic choice and placement are the three most important factors in recording. This is especially true for drum recordings of any kind. The mics we used were the classic AKG C414’s which are all round cracking mics for almost anything. From vocals, to a horn section, or OHs for drums/piano, the C414s will deliver decent results if used correctly, obviously!

The whole process from tuning drums to recording a quick demo of our results only took around 45 minutes to do. This is rapid work, and so very useful for demo recordings where you just need to track drums fast but still hold some sonic value! Although, if you just want that kind of ‘open’ drum sound rather than the precise close mic every nut, bolt and skin on the kit sound, then this method is a great way to go.

This isn’t a picture from our session today, but for those who aren’t familiar with what’s known as the Glyn Johns technique, then here’s what it looks like.Glyn Johns Mic Placement