How To Mic Cymbals

Easy Drumming That Sounds Hard

In this free drum lesson, Jared Falk and DrumLessons.com sound engineer Victor Guidera guide you through the microphones and miking techniques used for getting the cymbal sound you hear on all the free drum lessons on DrumLessons.com. This free drum lesson on cymbal miking includes tips on microphone positioning for the ride cymbal, hi-hat, auxiliary hi-hat, and for the remaining cymbals.

You have to realize that there are numerous factors that contribute to the sound you’ll get from your cymbals. Having good quality cymbals and drumming skills comes before having the best microphones and knowing the best miking techniques in the world. The way you hit a cymbal affects its sound. So knowing exactly how and why your playing is affecting their sound will help you in developing the touch required to get the best sound out of them. This will in turn enhance any recording of your drum set. Remember, each piece you have on your drum set is an instrument on its own right. So like any other instrument, the more time you spend mastering their playing techniques the best sound you’ll get out of them, and the best you’ll ultimately be at playing them.

If you’d like to learn more about how to mic other instruments on your drum set, we encourage you to check the free drum lessons “How To Mic A Bass Drum“, “How To Mic A Snare Drum“, and “How To Mic Toms“.

To learn about common technical terms and theory behind drum set miking for both live and studio settings, check the free drum lesson “Drum Set Mic Technique Overview“. You’ll learn about audio spectrums, frequency responses, and how the type of microphones used affects the overall sound you’re capturing.




  • John Williams says:

    I think that all of the information that you have shared is very valuable. I also think that what you say about how you guys do what is not the only way to do it is very important. I am a little bit older and have experienced a lot different ways of getting the job done. Kudos to you!

  • Geof says:

    I have been an engineer since the mid ’80s, and did many pro tours as sound/lighting director, as well as backup drummer on occassion. In the city in which I now reside, there are NO professionals, but several wannabes who have NO CLUE as to how to mix the band, or even mic a drum. Also, there are only 2 venues where the PA is an upgrade to the ones I own and use. At those venues, I work with the engineers to get the right mix.
    Appologies to any drummers who leave it all up to the engineers, but, like a guitarist who has struggled for years to find just the right sound/tone they have been searching for, I have also spent years learning my craft as a drummer/percussionist, to get the exact sound/tones I wish to share with the audience, and the worst thing I have ever come across is an engineer who totally changes (with his mix) the sounds coming off my kit into something THEY want to hear. The only thing an engineer is supposed to do is add volume to my kit. It is already in tune, the board is already tweaked to reproduce the EXACT sound of my kit. Once that volume is set, LEAVE IT. I play with pros who know how to use dynamics. We work well together.
    I also definately did NOT say that I mixed the band from onstage. That being said, the bassist in my band also plays a little drums, and we do the sound checks together (him on the drums, me on the board). I can also play some bass, and use his setup with a wireless on the bass. I do a pre-concert setup and get the sound the band wants to project. The lead vocalist also has some training in sound engineering, and is on a wireless mic. The only adjustments usually needed are to tweak the volume to balance the vocals into the already established mix.
    I have done this in venues as large as 5000 people, and get very few complaints from anyone.

  • Michael Steyn says:

    When Mixing the kit, how do you get the harsh ride sound out of the mix. Its almost like a wave/ting kinda sound. Please help if you can.

    P.S Great Lesson

  • Luis Guzman says:

    Thank you so much guys for the very interesting and educated Video about adjusting the mics to the symbals.
    I personal do appreciated the good lesson.
    Thank You guys and I see you in the next vedeo.

    Luis From Los Angeles, California USA.

  • Jake says:

    thanks, that was reaaly helpful, what do you guys think of CAD Premium 7 piece kit

    • Geof says:

      I use that exact setup, only since I have a 7 piece (double bass, 3 ride toms, 1 floor tom), I also purchased 2 CAD KBM412 Kick drum mics. I use the KM212 that came with the set for my 16″ floor tom, and it reproduces the acoustic sound very well. The 2 CM217 condensor mics are set up on my hi – hats and a chime bar. For catching all my cymbals, I have 3 SM57’s overhead, and they are set hard left, center and hard right. I also have my amp set for stereo, and my mixing board has the toms set to pan L-R as I go from the 10″ Tom to the 16″ Tom. Snare and bass drums are set to center. I get a lot of compliments from fans, and fellow drummers have asked me how to get that “travel” effect on their drums. First thing I tell them is to get off the main PA, and set up your own dedicated (for the drum set)PA.

    • Daniël says:

      @Geof: Excuse me?!

      Bringing in your own PA? Mixing drums on stage? What kind of gigs do you play?

      First of all, most engineers in the slightly larger venues (think 300+ people) would tell you to simply leave your PA in the van, the PA they bring or the venue has will do the job just fine. Mixing from stage? No Way! How do you know if your mix sounds well in front of the PA?

      Using your own mics: Definitly ok, but only if they’re better than the mics the engineer/rental company supplies. SM57’s on overheads? It works, but if I were you i’d try to put your condensers on overhead and use the SM57’s on the racktoms… Why? Well, an SM57 goes down pretty bad above 10KHz, where a usual condenser goes up to at least 18KHz, which gives a hell lot more clarity on your cymbals (you’ll find your hihat pointing through just fine if you carefully position your overheads)

      Curious to read your reply, Daniël (starting drummer/techie)

  • Alberto Rizzone says:

    Thks for this valuable lessons

    It was time to post this!

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