Struggling with good tom sounds and how to arrange them

Discussion in 'Production' started by Saftstein, Sep 16, 2014.

  1. Saftstein

    Saftstein Active Member

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    Yup,

    When it comes to producing drums there's one thing that drives me crazy over and over again: Toms! How to make a good tom fill? How to make a good tom sound?
    I've been trying to get together some rolls with vengeance tom samples and i always pitch them on the key of the track but it always sounds shit. When i mix them louder the low frequencies sound muddy & shitty and when i put the volume down it's hard to even hear them and they completely lose their character.
    Also how do i process my own toms? I don't have the instruments to record them myself.

    Maybe someone can help me out :)
     
  2. ApeCat

    ApeCat Human Dubplate

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    Find a sample of a whole roll and use that? I've got a whole folder or two with nothing but rolls, I don't use them very much, but I reckon if thy're making things sound shitty they're probably clashing with the bass. Pull elements out of the mix when the toms rolls in and that should be the end of that, and make for some cool dynamics in your arrangement at the same time.

    I don't see why you should pitch them to the same precise key as the tune, when I was playing the drums I had one or two toms on my kit, I didn't change them out when we played a song written in, say, E rather than D.
     
  3. smoothassilk

    smoothassilk Active Member

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    When I used to play the drums I also had trouble making good tom fills.
    I found that, for some reason, you have to start with the highest tom you're going to use, then work your way down to the lowest tom, then repeat if you feel like it.
    There's just something about playing a mid tom followed by a high tom that sounds intrinsically shit, and it makes no sense.

    Maybe you should highpass your toms a bit too... you don't really need low end in a fill.

    Are your toms all part of the same set? Having them mismatched can sound bad.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2014
  4. Saftstein

    Saftstein Active Member

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    GIMME GIMME GIMME

    Okay seriously, cheers for the advices guys. I just thought pitching would be good because toms tend to come with harmonic elements.
    [MENTION=92719]smoothassilk[/MENTION] The thing with the highest to the lowest sounds great, i will try that!
    What do you mean with part of the same set? Most times i take them from the same sample pack, yup.

    Btw the fills i'm trying to make should sound like e.g. in Kove - Gobble
    @ 1:04, the effect of it is amazing imo!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 12, 2015
  5. ApeCat

    ApeCat Human Dubplate

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    The first drums in that roll are snares, onto high toms, snares again, high toms, low toms. I think it's something like 4 snares, 4 high, 4 snares, 2 high, 2 low, but not quite.
     
  6. Dark Lizardro

    Dark Lizardro The Lizard that has a hammer Staff Member

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    Let's give a look on how real drummers do it: when they are going to make tom fills, normally they're not using the kick at the same time. Also, the toms are panned, to give the listener that sense of the drum kit envolving him/her. So, basically, you don't have the lower frequencies of the hits messing with each other.

    About the fill itself, you'll need to give a little trial and error approach: you can go wherever you want, from the highest to the lowest, from lowest to highest. You can make two hits on each one. You can make a 1-2-1-2 pattern as well. you can use a snare hit in the middle of the roll as well. Really, you can get very creative.

    About processing itself, I read somewhere that you should take care of them as you would with your kick.
     
  7. Mania

    Mania i fukin wot m8

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    if somebody could nail these, id be forever in debt
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 12, 2015
  8. smoothassilk

    smoothassilk Active Member

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    I mean don't use a high tom that has different timbre to the mid and low toms. You want them to sound mostly the same, only a different pitch.

    The thing about high to low still applies if you put snares in between the toms, as in what apecat says above. 4 snares, 4 low, 4 snares, 2 low, 2 high wouldn't sound as good.
     
  9. ApeCat

    ApeCat Human Dubplate

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    I beg to differ, I'd always beef up the rolls with a kick on the, say, 1st, 5th & 7th hit. The point is kind of moot though, since you do a whole lot of things way differntly when writing a tune than when playing something live.

    It's a chopped up live sample, the first part is all low toms or - lows and then mids - at different velocities, I think the first is louder than 2 and 4 and the third hit is louder than that again, then it's simply 4 snares, four high toms, four mid toms, four low toms a few times over, again with pretty much the same velocity "pattern".

    Will have to be a nitpicking twit again; rolls from low to high can be nice, you've just got to be aware of what you're doing, high toms, low toms, high toms, snares can work really well, at least in punk rock...
     
  10. Dark Lizardro

    Dark Lizardro The Lizard that has a hammer Staff Member

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    as I said, it all comes to creativity. I made my point based on how live drummers do it, specially heavy metal drummers. You don't normally see they using the kick while doing a tom-snare fill.
     
  11. IV4

    IV4 Currently a newt.

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    Step one: get a tom roll that fits with your track, if need be pitch the tom roll.
    Step two: cut up the audio file or arrange the rex file to have each individual hit go where it sounds best
    step three: use your snare to replace the tom toll snare
    step four: eq and do the fun stuff
     
  12. Saftstein

    Saftstein Active Member

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    Sounds logical.

    What i recently did was building the roll in Superior drummer. Worked out pretty good. Going from the highest to the lowest over & over again. Then some equing and there you go!

    So thanks for all the help guys :))
     
  13. sam the dnb man

    sam the dnb man Variation

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    Remember that when a drummer performs a Tom roll, each hot will sound slightly different. With rapid notes the drummer utilises the bounce back from the drum skin and flicks the stick to perform a double tap or whatever you call it. Therefore the 2nd hit tends to be slightly lower in volume because the following hit doesn't have the same velocity.

    Also bear in mind that if a drummer is using two sticks on one Tom, the sticks will be hitting a different part of the drum to eachother and will have a slight variation in timbre.


    If I'm creating a Tom roll I will load the samples I'm using into a sampler and turn it into a multi output instrument. This means I can dedicate each drum to it's own individual channel. I often find myself having the decay set at a short time with a slight sustain and a very short release. If I need more attack I will create a very short upwards pitch envelope.
    The resonant peak in each Tom tends to cloud the mix but instead of turning to eq first I will use a transient designer to make it sound short and snappy. This tends to eradicate the problematic tails that take up space in the mix.

    I'll probably apply some eq to sweeten the toms, a hint of overdrive then a very short reverb with a low wet signal if they sound a little dry. Actually, reverb before overdrive sounds better in my opinion.

    Make sure you pitch the toms so that they are in key with the rest of your drums/tune. It sounds better if you do.
     
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