Sizes recorded (Classic):
14x 26“ 2xKicks (10 lugs) – 3-ply
14x 28“ Kick (10 lugs) – 3-ply
8×12“ Rack Tom (6 lugs) – 3-ply
9×13“ Rack Tom (6 lugs) – 3-ply
10×14“ Rack Tom (6 lugs) – 3-ply
12×15“ Rack Tom (8 lugs) – 3-ply
16×16“ Rack Tom (8 lugs) – 3-ply
16×18“ Floor Tom (8 lugs) – 3-ply
18×20“ Floor Tom (8 lugs) – 3-ply
Sizes recorded (Concert):
14×24“ Kick (10 lugs) – 3-ply
6“ Concert Tom (4 lugs) – 3-ply
8“ Concert Tom (4 lugs) – 3-ply
10“ Concert Tom (6 lugs) – 3-ply
12“ Concert Tom (6 lugs) – 3-ply
13“ Concert Tom (6 lugs) – 3-ply
14“ Concert Tom (8 lugs) – 3-ply
15“ Concert Tom (8 lugs) – 3-ply
16“ Concert Tom (8 lugs) – 3-ply
18“ Concert Tom (8 lugs) – 3-ply
20“ Concert Tom (8 lugs) – 3-ply
Vic Firth 5A American Hickory (sticks)
Kick (batter side):
Remo Ambassador Coated (all kicks)
Kick (resonance side):
Ludwig WeatherMaster 3D-Bass Drum DB 1000 Heavy (all kicks)
Classic toms (batter side):
Remo Ambassador Coated (Diplomat on lower toms)
Classic toms (resonance side):
Remo Ambassador Clear
Concert toms (batter side):
Remo CS Black Dot
Concert toms (resonance side):
SOME KIND OF MONSTER.
One can argue that tom sizes that range from a mere six- to a whopping 20 inches may be pushing it in any real-life context. But when it comes to Superior Drummer 3, we figured that Yngwie Malmsteen’s famous logic about “more is more” rather applied. We already knew that Fredrik Thordendal (of Meshuggah fame) had a really unique Ludwig kit that he was willing to let us sample. On paper, this kit had the perfect tonal characteristics and shell dimension range we felt we still needed for the core library collection. As soon as we had set it up, we knew we got even more than we bargained for.
“I remember when the shipment company started carrying the massive amount of cases and all of us just dropping our jaws. As we we started setting up the drums in the Galaxy hall, the kit just grew bigger and bigger. If the look was overwhelming, it doesn’t even compare to when I started playing it. The power, punch, ring and pure energy that came out of these drums – all combined with the ambience in the giant hall – was seriously flabbergasting. These drums literally sounded like thunder and lightning at the same time,” sampling drummer Norman Garschke recalls.
Finished in beautiful “White Cortex”, these all-maple three-ply drums with reinforcement rings give a brighter and slightly more focussed sound compared to the mahogany, poplar and maple shells Ludwig used in its ’50s and ‘60s kits. Actually, drums from Ludwig’s ‘70s era are widely considered some of the company’s best sounding. In latter years, these models have been re-issued as the ‘Legacy’ series.
“I am beyond happy that we got to sample a kit from Ludwig’s historic era. A rare gem and a true classic,” Norman says.
Formed in 1909 by William Ludwig and his brother Theodore, the Ludwig company is one of the oldest drum brands in the world. However, to break through to the mainstream consumer market took almost half a century and didn’t happen until Ringo Starr appeared with the classic “Black Oyster Pearl” kit on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. After that, sales doubled and Ludwig became synonymous with rock music. Fast forward to early seventies and Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham once again cemented Ludwig’s solid place in rock.
“I can’t imagine a better kit to be in the forefront of a loud rock song than this. Looking back, it’s an obvious choice for guys like Bonham who have that larger-than-life style. However, although these Ludwig drums probably are the loudest and most obnoxious ones I have ever played, they’re at the same time the most subtle and nuanced ones. The amount of depth an detail in the each instrument is fantastic,” says Norman.
THE TOONTRACK WAY.
And speaking of nuance, sampling drums the “Toontrack way” is an exhausting task. The lengths we go to capture every last detail of each drum manifest themselves in a very material way. Norman explains:
“We really went out of our way to record more articulations than ever before for this library. One articulation we recorded for each tom (in addition to the regular center hits) was rimshots. Performing consistently sounding rimshots in different intensities on a six inch tom turned out to be quite challenging, especially those in low velocities. The same goes for hits on the other end of the scale – rimshots on a 20“ drum are not easy to produce consistently. In addition, I had to alter my technique for the regular hits during sampling quite a lot. The difference in sizes of the toms are so extreme that you have to gradually adjust your playing to the response of the drum when you approach the bigger-sized toms to still get the sound from each drum to be consistent. Even though this monster took several days to capture, I enjoyed every last second of it. And the sound truly speaks for itself!”
ONE KIT BECAME TWO.
With a tom selection this huge combined with the fact that we had four different-sized bass drums, we eventually decided to configure this set as two separate instances in the final version of the software. One with the ‘Classic’ toms that have resonance heads on them along with a double bass drum configuration featuring the two colossal 26“x14“ Ludwigs. The other setup has the complete set of ‘Concert’ toms without resonance heads and a 24“x14“ bass drum. To capture that very resonant, open, warm and punchy ‘70s rock sound, we went for standard coated Remo Ambassador heads on the batter side and clear Ambassadors as resonance heads on the toms of the ’Classic’ configuration. We eventually ended up recording the 26“ bass drums on the left and the right side in their real playing positions and also added an additional 28“ model. All bass drums were sampled both completely open, without any muffling at all as well as with a slight dampening.
“For the ‘Concert’ setup, I have to say that this was something very special. Not only did this configuration look extremely impressive after I had set it up, but playing on it was really great fun. When in life do you have a full set of ten toms ranging from 6“ all the way up to 20“, set up in probably the best room in the world, miked up and ready to be recorded by a legend like George Massenburg, haha… Just hearing me say this makes it sound made up and too good to be true. Pure heaven for a drum and studio nerd like me,” Norman says.
Here’s a selection of drums-only demos.