Many drummers set the goal of becoming full-time studio drummers. It’s very rare that someone has a full-time job as a professional studio drummer these days. Back in the 1970’s drummers, such as John “JR” Robinson, Steve Gadd, and Jim Keltner were busy drumming for television commercials, television soundtracks, movie soundtracks, and top artists. Studio drumming work is still available, but not nearly as much as it was 20 or 30 years ago.
Nowadays, many professional studio drummers, such as myself, do recording sessions with local artists. Making a good sounding recording is very affordable for a singer/songwriter.
Here are some tips that I picked up from the Drumming System (affiliate link) and mistakes I have made:
- Live drumming and studio drumming are two completely different animals. With recording, you can listen back to what you did. There is a final product forever.
- Unlike live playing, you’re alone in a silent room.The microphones are highly sensitive (even to an air conditioner in the room or garbage truck outside). If other people are with you, it’s important for them to stay quiet when the microphones are on.
- Recording sessions can be full of stress and pressure. There is no time to waste in a studio. Most studios charge by the hour.
- It’s important for you to relax. You don’t want to sound rigid and tight. Also, you have to be able to comfortably play along with a click track at a variety of tempos.
- Be prepared with your music.
- Whether or not you have a top of the line drum set, get brand new heads (top and bottom). If not, it will be a waste of time. Tune your heads perfectly to the style you are playing.
- Set up your equipment so microphones can be placed on your drums.
- Bring extra muffling, tape, extra drum heads, towels, and drum keys.
- Bring an extra snare drum or two. You have no clue what your snare drum will sound like in the studio. Many of the top studios have a whole library of snare drums for you to choose from that include wood, steel, brass, copper, and snare drums of different depths.
- Strive for perfection, but be patient with yourself.
- Cooperate with the engineer. The engineer is trying to get the best possible drum sound.
- Have great attitude and give it your best. A job well done in the studio may lead to you getting more live work from the person that hired you.
- Know that as time goes on, you will get better and better at studio drumming.