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Miking Drums: Glyn Johns Method

For this blog entry I‘ve decided to try out the Glyn Johns method of recording a drum kit.  In this case, my Sonor SQ2 kit with Zildjian Constantinople cymbals. It’s a great kit, so I can’t really blame the drums if it doesn’t sound good. I used two Shure KSM32 condenser mics to capture the sound of the whole drum kit.  In addition, I placed an SM57 close-up on the snare and an AKG D112 MII on the bass drum. The sound was recorded through a 20 year old Mackie 12 channel desk onto a 2012 MacBook Pro via a MOTU Ultralite.

Glyn Johns Technique

All this equipment was lugged into my living room, which definitely doesn’t have the acoustics of Abbey Road. However, I was pleasantly impressed with the recording I achieved. 

Glyn Johns

Glyn Johns Technique

Glyn Johns is an English musician, recording engineer and producer. He is famous for his work with some of the biggest rock bands of the 60s and 70s. These include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zepplin. 

Glyn Johns Miking Technique

The Glyn Johns method of miking a drum kit is characterised by its use of relatively few microphones. Instead of using two overhead microphones to capture a stereo image of the kit, the Johns method uses one.  This is placed directly over the snare drum to achieve an overall kit sound.

A second microphone is then placed near the floor tom, aiming it directly towards the hi-hat. Each of these microphones should be about 1 metre equidistant from the centre of the snare drum. When positioned carefully, these two microphones do a tremendous job of capturing the full sound of the drum kit.  Because of the mic placement, the snare drum is in the centre of the stereo image, with the bass drum slightly off centre. 

The two photos below clearly show the proximity of the right-hand microphone to the floor tom. In order to capture a balanced sound, it’s important that this mic faces the hi-hat and that it’s raised a few inches above the floor tom.  If it is too far away, it will capture a less focused sound, so experiment to achieve the desired effect.

Glyn Johns Technique
Glyn Johns

Bass Drum Mic: AKG D112 MkII

For additional control over the low end,  I used an AKG D112 MKII on the bass drum. I use a KickPort™ so I placed the microphone outside the drum about 1.5 inches away from the hole. This produced a pleasingly low, punchy bass drum sound. In comparison, on a previous attempt I placed the microphone inside the hole and it sounded lousy. 

Bass Drum mic

Snare Drum Mic: Shure SM57

I used an SM57 on the snare drum, carefully aiming it towards the centre of the drum, away from the hi-hat. The SM57 is good at rejecting sound from behind. Unfortunately, I only had 3 mic stands so I used a makeshift one made from a camera stand and some Frogtape™; it worked just fine but looked a bit crappy.

Snare drum mic

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