Video: How To Get the "Instant Karma" Drum Sound | What's That Sound?

Our What's That Sound? series is back with a new episode that sees Noam and Jessica in the studio trying to recreate the delayed room mic drum sound of John Lennon's "Instant Karma."

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"Instant Karma" Drum Pack
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As Noam describes, the sound of these drums (played by Alan White) is very unique and unlike most of the drum tones that were being used on other tracks around the same time. "They're gooey, they're thick and chunky—they're like everything that is a chocolate chip cookie."

The goal with the drum tone is to get a big '70s-style sound with very little resonance. Jessica's kit is comprised of a 14x6.5 Ludwig Supralite snare, a 13-inch Gretsch rack tom, 16-inch Gretsch floor tom, and a Ludwig Vistalite kick drum missing its front head.

Most of the drums have been draped with towels, pillow cases, and sheets, while the front-headless kick is stuffed with a deadening sleeping bag. The track isn't cymbal heavy, so Jessica is using just a single 18-inch K Series Sweet Crash.

The drum set mic'ing is super simple, with an AKG D12 on the kick and a Shure SM57 on the snare. Instead of classic overhead setups, there's a Coles 4038 placed a few feet in front of the drum set and a second 4038 in the booth up toward the ceiling which was set to a 20 ms delay. That latter mic is what helps get you the ambient/delayed slapback-type sound that you can hear in the original recording.

A third room mic, a Shoeps V4 U, was placed in the back of the room, compressed with a TG-1 limiter, and was only used sparingly. 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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