Rick Beato shows how to recreate Alex Van Halen's 1984 snare drum sound

There are many contenders for the title of Greatest Snare Sound In Rock, but we'd say that Alex Van Halen's is up there with some of the best. 

Rick Beato clearly thinks so too because in a recent video, the musical polymath and YouTuber decided to turn his attention to recreating Alex Van Halen's snare drum sound. 

While Rick isn't specific about which specific album he is aiming to recreate, he does mention at the start of the video that he is particularly fond of the snare on Diver Down and follow-up 1984, using the song I'll Wait as a reference.

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In the video, Rick talks through the drum (a 14"x6.5" Ludwig Supraphonic) and head choice (Remo Clear CS Dot on the batter side), as well as swapping out the hoops for die-cast models, and fitting 20-strand snares for greater authenticity.

Perhaps one of the biggest influences on the sound, though, is the extreme gaffer-taped 'A' which Rick fits to the underside of the batter head, replicating Alex's dampening pattern. The snare is then mic'd by a single SM57 on the top side, and run through BAE 1032 preamp and Neve 542 Portico tape simulator before being captured in Pro Tools.

The recorded sound is then processed with EQ - specifically around 800hZ, which as Rick and his engineer Ken 'GL' Lanyon explain imparts a key element of the snare's character - and compression.

While there are some slight differences, it does sound extremely close and produces a quintessential classic rock snare sound. Watch the video above to see how it's done.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.