When did rock bands start micing the drums live

Patrick

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Hi,

This intriguing question came up in another thread and set me off on a lot of hunting. It seems obvious enough, but who marked it on the calendar?

There is some terrific reading about the technological developments around sound reinforcement from the 60's -- 70's. If you can find "Where the Action Is" by Mark "Hoss" Abrams, you will find some great stuff from one of the earliest "roadies."

Anywho, Keith Moon used to argue that he needed lots of drums to combat the amplifiers, and you can see plenty of early pics of himself playing without mics, at least up to 1967 or 68. Technological changes in mixing boards and amplification was developing by leaps and bounds at the time, but the moves weren't a seamless transition, more like somebody got a good idea on one side of the world, and somebody got a complementary idea a thousand miles away.

Found this comment that gives some sort of ballpark:

"As the Who began to play larger venues and saw success with Tommy, PA also progressed, growing larger, reportedly using 12 to 16 WEM columns per stage-side by 1969. Also in 1969, WEM had pioneered the festival sound system. Likely around this time, bands began miking up the drums and instrument amplifiers, bringing a more balanced mix to the overall sound, projecting both vocals and instruments. The Who had long established themselves as the loudest act, but were known for high-quality PA, not just brute volume."

http://www.thewho.net/whotabs/gear/pa/pa6970.html

cheers,

Patrick
 

atomicmorganic

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First time I ever saw miked drums live was at a rock festival in 1968. First time I ever saw a huge P.A. as well.
 
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Yup, 1968. I saw Hendrix, Cream, and The Who a few times in 1968. Early in the year drums were miked with only a couple mikes. At the end of the year the sets were all miked up. The venues got bigger that year. The 3 bands I mentioned went from small theaters and ballrooms to small arenas, and bigger venues.
 

67Mopar

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When Marshall, and Orange came out with 4\12 cabs and the combo amp went away for a while, not to mention better pa systems, and mixing consoles.

Mid to late 60's, even a crap set sounds good through a mixer.
 

GeneZ

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I saw the Jeff Beck group making its USA debut at the Fillmore East back in 67/ 68. Mick Waller was on drums. Mic'ed beautifully! I felt that I was listening to a fantastic stereo system. To date it was the best live performance I ever heard. Much better then when I heard Hendrix.

That same night I heard Jeff Beck? We walked out on the top billing band who came on right after. The Greatful Dead. Lousy sounding drums in comparison. Lousy sound man...
 

SteveB

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Whenever you saw a band on tv live, technically they were being mic'd, even though it may have been sparse...the Rascals, Vanilla Fudge, etc. As far as bar bands went there were a few around that mic'd portions of the kit as far back as 67, give or take. Joe Kramer used to stick a 545S Unidyne under his mounted toms aimed at the snare and another one in his bass drum; this was in 69. He had them going into 2 channels of an Ampeg SVT, sitting behind him, to help cut through the Marshalls on stage the other guys were using, and I know Perry was using a 50 watt head for small gigs and a 100 watt head for college mixers and other large rooms. Brad wasn't in the band in those days.

The vast majority of local drummers weren't mic'd at all until around 1974 or 75; that's when it became common place in the night clubs...in the northeast anyway, when every piece of the kit was mic'd separately. PA's went from Shure Vocal Masters, which Aerosmith used, believe it or not, to Sunn and Voice of the Theaters, which was probably the most common pa around at that time. Some bands only used University horns and no bottoms at all early on with Bogen amps.

Also, up to about the early 80s bottom and front heads stayed at home usually. Very few drummers played two headed, although I did for a short while.
 

TommyWells

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In the 60s, the drums were mic'd using just 2 or 3 mics. In the late 60s, early 70s, the bottom heads came off the toms, and individual mic'ing of the drums became the norm. It depends on where you were playing. In the 60s, if it was a club or a dance, etc. No mic's at all. But if you were in an arena, then it was the minimal mic'ing technique. The Voice of the Theater stuff was happening then, too. Crown DC-300 amps, and the reverse 15 cabinets. The multi-cellular Altec horns with dual 100 watt drivers sat on top. Rock n roll!
 

rhythmace

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I took the family to see Neil Diamond, maybe '79? Anyway I was disappointed. Didn't play a lot of the old stuff and the sound was so-so. The next time he came, I told Karen, I want to give it a second chance. This was when he starred in "The Jazz Singer." The huge difference was the synthesizers. The great orchestra sounds and BASS to rattle you teeth. It was a whole new world in sound. Plus he played the old stuff along with the great movie music. It was unreal. Like I said in the other thread, ZZTop was the first time I heard a drummer mic'd, and it was fabulous. The sound just pulsated without hurting your ears. Then after seeing them at the rodeo this year, the friggin sound was muddled and almost no bass. I hate that! LOL! Ace
 


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