Tony Williams' Bass Drum Sound

RIDDIM

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
3,711
Reaction score
545
Location
MD
didn't affect the music even if true in any negative, way
- Not music where toms were cranked. When lower midrange sounds came into favor though, bad bad edges made for badly sounding drums at lower registers, and gave rise to folks like Tom LaFlamme, Paul Jamison, etc,. who understood what decent edges could do for a drum.
 

bonzo60

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2007
Messages
316
Reaction score
60
Location
St. Louis
I read somewhere that Remo Emperors where only introduced in the late 60's.
From Remo:
In 1957, DuPont® was making a number of predominantly thinner films, and only three thicknesses of Mylar® film were suitable for drumheads: 7.5-mil, 5-mil and 3-mil. The original Weatherking® drumhead was made from the 7.5-mil thickness, eventually named the Diplomat®. The playing style of the day was much lighter, especially for jazz and concert applications, and this film was able to withstand these playing conditions. The 3-mil thickness became Remo’s Snare Side Ambassador® head.

As rock 'n' roll music took off and a more durable drumhead was needed, mounting two plies together resulted in the Ambassador®, (7.5 + 3-mil) and the Emperor®, (7.5 + 7.5-mil). By mid-1958, all three of these heads were known by their given name and were in production, filling orders worldwide.

Continued developments by DuPont introduced a 10-mil single-ply film which was adopted as the new film for the Ambassador®. In honor of our 50th anniversary in 2007, Remo re-introduced the original version of the Ambassador, naming it the Ambassador Vintage. Similar developments in film technology led to changes to the Emperor in the early 1980s. When DuPont re-introduced the film used in the original Emperor drumhead in the early 2000s, we launched the Emperor Vintage line.

My research:
The original two ply Ambassador and Emperor heads were glued together and not free floating. The later 60's saw the introduction of the free floating two ply Emperor. The original two ply Ambassador was only available for a short time, maybe a couple of years at the most.
 

JDA

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
14,143
Reaction score
3,154
Location
Jeannette, Pa.
Not music where toms were cranked
I don't think Elvin, Art B, or Tony, tom's were "cranked' at all but I get yer drift..

i don't hear cranked here; but that's the consensus assumption so I understand


nor here


they leaned medium/ medium high/ to facilitate / doublestrokes (gracenotes, ruffs on
not extreme either way
just Gretsch tight
 
Last edited:

RIDDIM

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
3,711
Reaction score
545
Location
MD
I don't think Elvin, Art B, or Tony, tom's were "cranked' at all but I get yer drift..

- Relative to Hal Blaine's mid range or below tuning, which was the model for most commercial music once he blew up, they were.
 

Sonorholic

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 8, 2005
Messages
5,942
Reaction score
190
Location
Carlisle, MA.
You have to remember how few choices there were back then... calf was another one, but I would stick with unmuffled heads and maybe a felt strip. A piece of Moleskin at the beater impact point was another common sight.
 

dsop

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2014
Messages
426
Reaction score
341
Location
Los Angeles, CA
They were artisans. Don't denigrate. Artisans from the old Country..and elsewhere..immigrants. Like my grandpap
Like my parents, and ME. Artisans are only as good as their tools. No one cared about edges back then.
 

Medellin

Active Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2019
Messages
38
Reaction score
10
Location
Seattle, Washington
Okay so after doing some more listening I have come back with this...

if you listen to the tune So What on the ‘four’ and more album you hear this nice and dead bass drum.

Coincidentally when you listen to The girl I love has long black wavy hair on the Led Zeppelin BBC sessions recording the bass drum is tuned almost to the same note. You can hear it clearly in the first 5 seconds of the song starting.

The difference between the two is that Tony’s bass drum sounds thinner, more resonant and airy than Bonham’s.

Bonham’s also sounds rounder and fuller. He obviously used coated emperors...

I know, I know... the bass drums are completely different in size and make but it leads me to believe that Tony Williams was using coated ambassador heads for his bass drum.

Unknown on the type/level of muting though...
 
  • Like
Reactions: JDA

Seb77

DFO Veteran
Joined
Apr 11, 2013
Messages
1,676
Reaction score
377
Location
Germany
The proof is in the pudding...If you like it, it's fine. We had similar threads over at cymbal holic about which cymbal was close to TW's ride cymbal. In the end, it doesn't really matter (except if you're Agop or Mehmet), it's not about who's right, it's about your sound. People like Bill Stewart were influenced by TW's ride, but came up with their own variation of it, not to mention totally different playing styles.

Why not try a really tight tuning on the 18" bass drum for jazz, going for that boomy fundamental tone (f to g if you want to refer to pitches). Give it a go, get used to the feel, listen from out front, record yourself, with ambient vs. close mics, different angles, rooms. Especially with a completely open batter head, that "boing" you get is a wild sound from the driver's seat.
 

Ickybaby

Very well Known Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
Messages
1,359
Reaction score
394
Location
Normal, IL
The title reminded me of the only time I saw Tony Williams in person. It was in 1986 at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. I went to the late Sunday night show as it was usually a smaller crowd. That night, local Chicago curmudgeon Barrett Deems was in the audience (at the end of the bar...where he was every time I went there). During a very quiet passage in a tune the entire club (TW included) was treated to Barrett exclaiming rather loudly "that bass drum's too GD loud!".

Tony Williams chuckled a bit.
 

multijd

Very well Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2013
Messages
1,210
Reaction score
511
Location
Buffalo, NY
Can you say “natural skin”! Try some Kentville Kangaroo heads on an 18” and you’ll hear that sound. Even just the batter. The heavy weight head gives a bit of natural muffling. You don't need anything else.
 

paulwells73

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2006
Messages
49
Reaction score
9
Location
Brooklyn, NY
.........
better just set that up to your liking
even if you start with a US 14x18 (like I have..)
Powerstroke 3 coated batter, 1 ply coated Reso front. Not exotic is it.
Batter lower, Reso a titch higher. Play.

Tony may have had a no muffling batter with a patch.
When you really whack w/either set up, it's a wash.
With all due respect to Joe, you’ll never get the 60s sound with a Powerstroke 3. Something happens when you introduce the muffling ring that to my ears, gives the drum a "contemporary" punch. I hear it at all tunings, but it’s a bit worse at medium to low tunings. P3s scoop out most of the mids, and especially that high-mid "crack" that defines the attack. I think the timbre of the mid range is the epitome of the 60s bebop/post-bop bass drum sound, and P3 heads just kill it. If you want to replicate Tony’s sound, just use Coated Ambassadors on both sides, maybe tuning the batter slightly lower than the front, felt strip/moleskin patch/or small towel muffling and you’re there.

Oh, and another factor - round badge era Gretsch bass drum shells tend to be a bit thicker than later Gretsch. This helps contribute to that crack you hear in the mids, and also helps add a bit more low end. You can get very close to this sound on 70s-modern Gretsch, but the 1960s 18s have something a bit extra special. They have a little extra "point" and presence.
 

SKINZ

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2013
Messages
216
Reaction score
72
Location
EAST ATL
BIG 24 YELLOW GRETSCH WITH CS BLACKDOTS thats the sound.....:headbang:
 
  • Like
Reactions: JDA

JDA

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
14,143
Reaction score
3,154
Location
Jeannette, Pa.
Love that album. "Old Bum's Rush" 1 st one on the Big set..little known
(there another fact for zen to go check :d)
 

Skyrm

DFO Master
Joined
Apr 1, 2007
Messages
3,729
Reaction score
365
Location
Cleveland, Ohio
I love the sound he got on Joy of Flying...
Did you ever see the pics from the album - Yellow Gretsch kit in the studio with a big blanket hanging off the front of the bass drum like a tunnel, with the mic underneath. :)
 


Top