Friday, October 22, 2010


...which of course stands for "What Would Glyn Johns Do?"

Recording the band Rego a few months back, I used the "Glyn Johns method" for recording the drums. I was VERY pleased with the results.

Glyn Johns has worked with such artists as Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Easybeats, The Band, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Eric Clapton, The Clash, The Steve Miller Band, Small Faces, Spooky Tooth, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Blue Öyster Cult, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Midnight Oil, New Model Army, Belly, Joe Satriani, Ronnie Lane, Rod Stewart with Faces, Joan Armatrading, Buckacre, Gallagher and Lyle, Georgie Fame, Family, Helen Watson, Fairport Convention and many others. Suffice it to say, THE GUY KNOWS HIS STUFF.

The Glyn Johns method uses only four microphones to cover the entire drumset.

The real backbone to the method is the 2 "overhead" mics: not actually placed overhead in the current mega-mic way, but with the "left side" mic directly over the snare drum facing straight down, and the "right side" mic 6-8 inches above the floor tom, facing the snare and high-hat. These cardioid mics must be equidistant from the center of the snare head. Although I often see people suggesting small-diaphragm condensers for these overheads (and SDC's are a better choice if using them as regular overheads, to pick up primarily cymbals), I don't think that they pick up the *entire* drumset as well as large-diaphragm condensers - so, my pair of AT4040's got used (with the 10db pad engaged). Both forty inches away from the snare (use your tape measure, get them exactly the same distance!). Pan these tracks halfway left and halfway right for a natural stereo balance.

The other 2 mics are just there to reinforce the overheads: a snare mic (I used a Shure BG4.0, SDC, clipped to the top rim, pointed at the center of the snare head, null side toward the high hat) and a kick drum mic (I used a Heil PR40, cardioid dynamic, goes down to 28Hz, 145 SPL, about 6 inches away from the drum, with a surrounding tunnel of a few acoustic foam pads).

No effects on the overheads, some EQ and compression on the snare and kick. Fifteen minutes to set up. Does it get any better than this?

Stephanie Whiton on the drums...sounds a bit like John Bonham to me. Now I've got to find an empty three-story stairwell, so I can get that killer live reverb!