Have you ever wondered about how to get that big fat snare sound similar to Phil Rudd’s backbeat on “Back in Black”? That heavy, round backbeat that hits your body more like a bass drum than the crack of a snare. Aside from the tuning of the drum, I thought it was just hit hard and nail that thing! But I was wrong. I grew up trying to perfect the “rimshot” technique, which is hitting the snare skin and the rim of the snare at the same time. This produces a fantastic popping crack, and while it may work in certain funk or pop tunes, it doesn’t produce the heaviest sounding backbeat.
It wasn’t until I recorded with producer Jack Douglas that I learned how to really fatten up the backbeat. Jack, who recorded Joey Kramer’s “Walk This Way” groove, showed me how by hitting the drum dead center(sometimes just off center depending on the drum) and without hitting the rim, you get this great tone and warmth from the drum. It was a huge difference from the thin sounding rimshot crack. It actually took me a while to get comfortable with hitting just the skin of the snare, and I realized that you don’t have to hit it as hard to make it sound fat. It’s similar to the soft touch of a bass player, who will turn their volume up, but play softly so the bass really sings.
Most drummers may know this already, but if this technique is new to you, give it spin. The snare drum is the most expressive drum in the kit, and experimenting with all of the many sounds it can produce will take your playing to the next level for sure!