Video: Stewart Copeland's Dub-Pop Drums | What's That Sound?

In this episode of our What's That Sound series, Noam and Jessica explore the recorded drum sound of British new wave legends The Police and their drummer Stewart Copeland. The Police's percussion sound has long been influenced by reggae, but the way the drums were recorded differs distinctly from the genre.

Dub-Pop Drums Sample Pack
Dub-Pop Drums in the Style of The Police's Stewart Copeland
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This time, Jessica's kit is comprised of a 5x14” Ludwig Acrolite snare (dampening courtesy of a case of Newman's Own mints), 12", 13" & 16" Gretsch toms, a Ludwig Vistalite kick drum with the front head removed and stuffed with a blanket, a 18" Zildjian K-Sweet Crash, and finally a set of 13" UFIP hi-hats to recreate Copeland's signature crispness.

As far as the mics are concerned, the setup is relatively cut-and-dry, with a Neumann FET U47 on the kick and a trusty Shure SM-57 on the snare—the three toms each receive their own Sennheiser 421 dynamic mic. While individual drums in a reggae kit usually sound separate from each other, Copeland's drums sound much more like a cohesive whole—this can be credited to relying mostly on the overhead mics, which were a pair of Coles 4038s. Finally, we top it off with a pair of Schoeps V4U condensers for the room.

In order to get the correct balance in volume between the snare, toms, and the cymbals, the cymbals are set further back from the kit and closer to the drummer. Noam treated the signal with some heavy EQ for further enhancement.

Separate from the kit, the key ingredient here is an analog tape delay: Noam patched the close-snare microphone into an Echoplex-style analog tape delay machine and used the SSL console's push/pull FX send knob to periodically send the snare signal to the delay, creating that dubby delight we all know and love.

How close did we get to the original? Watch the full video above.

Learn more about how your favorite artists created their signature sounds in our ongoing What's That Sound? series.

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