Rage Against The Machine’s Brad Wilk has had a huge influence since the band’s debut album was released in 1992, and aside from his groovesome blend of funk/hip-hop and hard rock, one other big reason Brad is so well loved is down to his drum sound.
Now, in a recent video produced by microphone company, Lauten Audio in order to promote its new Snare Mic (more on that in a moment), Brad has given us a glimpse of three of his favourite snare drums.
Pearl Free Floating Brass 14"x6.5" - Rage Against The Machine: Rage Against The Machine
Starting with a 14”x6.5” Pearl Free Floating Brass, Brad recalls how he came to purchase the drum on the instruction of producer Garth ‘GGGarth’ Richardson, who famously recorded Rage Against The Machine’s debut album live at the now-legendary Sound City Studios.
“Right before we started recording, Garth was like ‘Brad, go to Guitar Center right now and pick a snare drum’. My eyes lit up immediately, I was like ‘Really?! Fuck yeah, I’m gonna go do that!’”
"I forget which Guitar Center I went to…But I remember going in there and hitting all the snare drums and [the Pearl Free Floater] just spoke to me. It was super loud and was cutting through…it might have just been tuned right at the store. I was like, ‘This is great, I wanna grab this’. I used that for the entire record.”
Pearl’s Free Floating range is designed around the resonance-boosting concept of not having any of the hardware mounted to the shell. Instead, the tension lugs and strainer are suspended between two die-cast hoops (although Brad’s snare features a triple-flanged Powerhoop on the batter side), with the additional bonus of allowing for interchangeable shells by simply removing the hoops.
Tama Bell Brass 14"x6.5" - Rage Against The Machine: Evil Empire
Next up is another ’80s classic, a 14”x6.5” Tama Bell Brass. Brad rented the legendary ‘Terminator’ (which was the same drum that Dave Grohl hired for Nirvana’s Nevermind) from the equally revered Drum Doctor (Ross Garfield) to record RATM’s second album, Evil Empire.
Known for its phenomenally heavy weight and incredibly loud response, the ‘Bell Brass’ is actually something of a misnomer in that it’s actually made of bronze. The Tama Bell Brass snares were cast rather than rolled or welded, then the 12mm-thick shells were machined down to 3mm. Today, the Tama Bell Brass is one of the world's most sought-after snare drums, with prices (when the rare drums do come up) reaching into thousands.
“I’ve got to credit Brendan O’Brien" says Brad, "Because I don’t think I’d even touched a Bell Brass until he called Ross up and said ‘Make sure you bring the ‘Terminator’ down’. Bulls on Parade was one of the first songs we recorded at Cole Rehearsal, and I just hit it and instantly just loved it. It just stood out to me way more than any other drum.”
Ludwig Black Beauty 14"x6.5" - Black Sabbath: 13
Finally, Brad highlights a 14” x 6.5” Ludwig Black Beauty. The Black Beauty name refers to Ludwig’s family of black-on-brass-shelled snares, and needs little introduction. However, it’s the 6.5”-deep model — thanks to its beefy, yet still bright performance — which has become the archetype sound of a rock backbeat. Brad used his when he was enlisted to record drums for Black Sabbath’s final studio album, 2013’s 13.
“I think it made a lot of sense for a Black Sabbath record. When I hear Black Sabbath records, it sounds like a Black Beauty of some sort to me. I could be wrong about that, but I just think ‘Black Beauty’, and not even the deep ones necessarily, even the shallower ones. But the Black Beauties, they just have a certain sound.”
Lauten Audio Snare Mic
Now, we mentioned earlier that the purpose of the video (and forthcoming episodes) was to promote Lauten Audio’s Snare mic. Lauten says that unlike other instrument mics, its Snare mic has been designed specifically for use on snare drums. So much so, that it claims it can replace the standard two-mic (top and bottom) setup.
It does so by using a FET condenser design, but more importantly, it features a huge 28dB off-axis rejection. This means that it will produce a highly focused sound, capturing more detail in your snare drum, while also rejecting other parts of the kit (most notably the hi-hat, as demonstrated in the Brad Wilk video).
Spec-wise, it features a response of 20Hz-20kHz, a bombproof dynamic range of 135dB, super low <15dB self-noise level. It’s equipped with multi-position filter switches, and comes with its own adjustable mount and storage bag.
For more information on Snare Mic, check out Lauten Audio’s website.