Recording Percussion

When in the middle of a big recording session, you might feel the urge to add some light percussion as an uplifting change of pace, if so then continue reading as I’m going to run through three scenarios in which you can learn to record a tambourine, granite blocks and a conga.


The conga is a tall drum often used in samba music, it is a drum and therefore must be treated as such. Drums often exhibit high SPL levels and you’re going to need a mic that can cope. For this I’d instantly recommend a dynamic mic as there’s no need to capture any high frequencies from a drum. When I recorded my conga, I found that the Sennheiser E904 clip on mic worked perfectly. The surface of the conga was small so it couldn’t have been taken up by a larger microphone, the E904 clipped to the side of the conga as was stable throughout.


Granite Blocks

The granite blocks were a little more challenging to record as they covered a wider surface area and gave off higher frequencies as well as high SPL when hit with drum sticks. This called for another dynamic microphone but this time I employed the use of the Sennheiser MD 421 II, a large diaphragm dynamic mic that has earned it’s high reputation through delivering clear results in high SPL situations. I positioned the mic dead centre as if it were an overhead mic pointing towards a snare. I experimented with the hight and found that 200mm – 300mm was the perfect height. thumb_IMG_4027_1024


The tambourine was recorded using the same Sennheiser MD 421 II mic as a complete experiment. I was able to capture clear transients and all of the high frequencies easily as I tapped the tambourine 200mm – 300mm away from the mic. Tambourine’s aren’t known for delivering high SPL’s but the high frequencies can easily cut through most mixes. It was only a matter of turning the channel fader down slightly to suit the rest of the levels.



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