BY MIKE SNYDER
Two things made it easier to be cramped on a small stage the other night: The bass player had recently showered, and I had an internal microphone set up in my kick. I know they seem inconsequential, but I try to enjoy the small things in life. You see, while the bass player’s recent shower activity speaks for itself, that internal mike in my kick allowed me to move my kit another 8” forward. This prevented a very nasty piece of rigging from poking me in the back during the entire two-hour set! This got me thinking; I’ve had an internal miking system in every one of my kick drums for some 23 years. Randy May personally installed my first one sometime in 1983, using an AKG D-12E. It was so cool — you just had to plug the mike cord into the side of the drum, and it was ready to go! I have been a convert to internal kick mikes ever since.
THE FATHER OF INTERNAL DRUM MOUNTS
The May Internal Drum Miking System was first on the scene. Now distributed by DW Drums, the May System offers internal mounts for all types of drums: toms, snares, and kicks. May’s great designs — and patents — have helped this system dominate the market. The May system currently offers two different internal kick-drum mounts — one is shock mounted, one isn’t. Both mount to the inside of the kick without any modification to the drum itself (earlier models required drilling holes in the drum). This is accomplished by using the drum’s lug-mounting screws to mount the internal mike bracket (see Fig. A, shown without a mike mounted). There is enough adjustment between the articulating arm and slotted mounting bracket to get any mike in a good position. Additionally, there is an uber cool, patented cable/XLR jack assembly that mounts in the breather hole, yet still allows air to pass through (Fig. B). This is mandatory when using a front head without a vent hole; otherwise the drum wouldn’t sound right.
THE OTHER SHU’S DROPPED
Enter a newcomer, the Kelly Shu. Currently, this mount is available only for the kick drum. The Kelly Shu mounts in the kick via a series of elastic cords, hooks, and clips — a design that would make Rube Goldberg proud. It essentially turns the drum into one big microphone shock mount. Positioning is no problem; one can tweak it by lengthening and shortening the elastic cords (see Fig. C, shown without a mounted mike). By far, the coolest thing about this system is that it can be mounted on the outside of the kick, in front of the resonate head. This is a popular mike placement (Fig. D) that can’t be achieved with the May internal mount. As a big bonus, in both the internal and external mounting configurations, the drum can be put in its case with the mount still attached! Love it!
In addition to giving a bit of extra room, installing either of these two internal microphone systems has other pluses. On the practical side, the control over microphone choice is yours — it no longer defaults to what is left over in the mike box. If your experiences are anything like mine, this orphaned mike is usually an SM-58 that’s been dropped, poked, prodded, spit on, and relentlessly smacked by seemingly everyone this side of the Atlantic. (Not that a SM-58 is a bad mike, just not my first choice for a kick drum.) With either of these internal miking systems you’ll notice that sound-people instantly become your friends — you have just made their life easier.
This added love is especially evident when you have a universally accepted pro-level mike on the internal mount. Remember, when the sound folk are your friends, the monitor mix and front-of-house sound is miraculously better! Both mounting systems’ retail prices begin around $150 (without the mike). If you ever mike your drums, do yourself a huge favor and get one of these internal mounting systems.
May System: http://dwdrums.com/may/
Kelly Shu: http://kellyshu.com/