Ringo´s cymbal sound

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Sheik Yerbouti, Apr 22, 2007.

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  1. Sheik Yerbouti

    Sheik Yerbouti Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Germany
    ... during the Beatles years is unique to my ears. No matter whether (for example) you listen to "In my Life" or "I want you (She´s so heavy)", his ride cymbal sound has never changed and has a high recognition value. I would almost call it an integral part of the Beatles´ overall sound.
     
  2. 905

    905 Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis area
    Definitely an integral part of the overall sound. I like his cymbal sound on 'I'll Cry Instead.'
     
  3. BillyBuck

    BillyBuck Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    I'm not an expert on Ringo's setup (I'm sure there are some out there) but I do know that one of the tricks to getting that trademark Merseybeat "wash" was to hang a chain on your ride cymbal and/or use a large, thin cymbal. I have an old, very thin 24" Zildjian that's pretty much useless for anything but that particular sound.

    To my ears, Ringo is probably using a pretty thin pair of hi-hats also. It's difficult to find cymbals that thin these days, as the trend has been towards thicker, more rigid cymbals.
     
  4. Tim S

    Tim S Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Tennessee
    Oh yeah, that cymbal sound HAS to be there.

    I'm not a drummer (far from it) but as a cymbal nut, that ride sounds heavy as hell to me. I know a lot of the sound comes from the way he hits it, very much with a tilted downstroke aiming the middle of the stick (not the tip) at the very edge - this gives it a big "woooosh" sound which decays forever and ever...another case of Ringo doing something most drummers consider "wrong" but for HIM and the band was oh, so RIGHT
     
  5. Maidenpriest

    Maidenpriest Setting the controls for the heart of the sun :)

    Location:
    Europe
    Not the best drummer ever BUT what a drummer, rock solid with a very distinct sound! without Ringo it doesnt sound like The Beatles, for example I think 'It Dont Come Easy' sounds more like The Beatles than 'Back In The USSR'!
     
  6. jwoverho

    jwoverho Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mobile, AL USA
    George Martin has always been extremely complimentary about Ringo's sound, especially how Ringo tunes his drum heads to his own liking (IIRC, he tunes them a bit lower than usual). Also, I believe GM said that he only had to stop a handful of takes out of the years of sessions due to Ringo making a mistake- he considered him a very steady and solid drummer.

    I guess Ringo doesn't get the recognition because he was never flashy- but what he played and how he played was absolutely perfect for the band.
     
  7. stevemoss

    stevemoss Forum Resident

    Ringo said at one point that his still-preferred cymbals were heavy old Zildjian As that he's hung onto since the days of the Beatles.

    On the other hand, this site (which says 18" crash and 18 or 20" ride) says that someplace in Washington has Ringo's "original" cymbals.

    Most photos I've seen of him at a kit show a larger ride than crash, so 18" crash with a 20" ride is very likely.

    Regardless, watching the band on Ed Sullivan, you can see that at the least, Ringo's cymbal nearest his hi-hat has a cross of 4 rivets on it, which increase the liveliness of his cymbal sound a significant amount. Also, as Steve's said elsewhere on the site, the specific limiters that the Beatles mixes were passed through also contribute a noticeable characteristic to his cymbal sound.

    Andy Babiuk's Beatles Gear book is likely to have the exact answer... I don't have the book, though.


    UPDATE - Zildjian.com says: "Ringo has always been an advocate of the 'A Zildjian' line, using them on all of the classic Beatles recordings...He still uses his 20" A Zildjian Medium Ride from the 1960's"
     
  8. stevemoss

    stevemoss Forum Resident

    Ringo didn't play the drums on 'Back in the U.S.S.R.'... so that makes sense! ;)
     
  9. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    I think that's exactly what maidenpriest is saying!! ;)
     
  10. stevemoss

    stevemoss Forum Resident


    I know! and I'm agreeing with him. ;) And it's funny, because just as many Beatles played on It Don't Come Easy as on Back in the U.S.S.R... but Back in the U.S.S.R. sounds more like a solo track in general. Fleshing out It Don't Come Easy with Badfinger on harmonies, and Klaus Voorman on bass (the 5th solo Beatle, in a lot of ways considering how many of the first batch of their solo albums he played on) helps. But also the arrangement helps hugely - It Don't Come Easy wouldn't have sounded out of place on Abbey Road... Back in the U.S.S.R. only screams 'Beatles' because of Paul's voice and the retrospect fact that we all know it's on the White Album... but the different drummer does stand out at least as much as if Jimmy Nichol had been a Beatle on record.
     
  11. Jeff H.

    Jeff H. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northern, OR
    I love Ringo's hi-hat sound especially on the early Beatles records. He could make that thing sizzle like a pan of bacon frying!:D
     
  12. Maidenpriest

    Maidenpriest Setting the controls for the heart of the sun :)

    Location:
    Europe
    Correct!:righton:
     
  13. Maidenpriest

    Maidenpriest Setting the controls for the heart of the sun :)

    Location:
    Europe
    :righton: and 'It Dont Come Easy' is not even a Lennon/McCartney song! this proves that take anyone of them away from the Beatles and it isn't The Beatles ie they all played their part!
     
  14. Drifter

    Drifter AD survivor

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, CA
    A lot of that sound was because of the compressor/limiter they ran it through.
     
  15. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    :righton:
     
  16. dgsinner

    dgsinner New Member

    Location:
    Far East
    Seems like the article Steve posted on Ringo some time back is appropriate here. It's in the Music Corner Archives with the article title as the thread title.

    Thirteen Reasons To Give Ringo Starr Some Respect
    THIRTEEN REASONS TO GIVE
    RINGO SOME RESPECT
    By John Bryant



    Ringo Starr, the luckiest no-talent on earth. All he had to do was smile and bob his head. Oh yes, and keep a beat for three of the most talented musicians/songwriters of this century. What other impression could one have when judging the role that Ringo played in the success of the Beatles? Did Ringo really make a difference? Upon listening to the latest release by The Beatles, Anthology 1, you get a chance to listen to Pete Best and two other drummers play on over twenty songs. Was Ringo simply in the right place at the right time? The following items may help in going beyond the image:


    Ringo was the first true rock drummer to be seen on TV. All the Rock & Roll drummers featured with Elvis, Bill Haley, Little Richard, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis were mostly R&B drummers that were making the transition from a swing drumming style of the 40's and 50's toward the louder and more "rocking" sound that is associated with "I Want To Hold Your Hand". They were dressed in tuxedos and suits and held the drumsticks in the "traditional" manner of military, orchestra, and jazz drummers. Ringo showed the world that power was needed to put the emphasis on the "rock" in Rock & Roll music, so he gripped both sticks like hammers and proceeded to build a foundation for rock music.


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    Ringo changed the way drummers hold their sticks by making popular the "matched" grip of holding drumsticks. Nearly all drummers in the Western World prior to Ringo held their sticks in what is termed the "traditional" grip, with the left hand stick held like a chopstick. This grip was originally developed by military drummers to accommodate the angle of the drum when strapped over the shoulder. Ringo's grip changes the odd left hand to match the right hand, so that both sticks are held like a flyswatter. Rock drummers along with marching band and orchestral percussionists now mostly play with a "matched" grip, and drum companies have developed straps and accessories to accommodate them.


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    Ringo started a trend of placing drummers on high risers so that they would be as visible as the other musicians. When Ringo appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, he immediately caught the attention of thousands of "drummers to be" by towering over the other three Beatles. Elvis's drummer was looking at a collection of backs.


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    These same "wannabe" drummers also noticed that Ringo was playing Ludwig drums and they immediately went out and bought thousands of these drum sets, thus establishing Ludwig as the definitive name in Rock & Roll drums at that time.


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    Ringo changed the sound of recorded drums. About the time of Rubber Soul (released Dec. 6,1965), the sound of the drum set started to become more distinct. Along with help from the engineers at Abbey Road studios, Ringo popularized a new sound for the drums by tuning them lower, deadening the tonal ring with muffling materials, and making them sound "closer" by putting a microphone on each drum.


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    Ringo has nearly perfect tempo. This allowed the Beatles to record a song 50 or 60 times, and then be able to edit together different parts of numerous takes of the same song for the best possible version. Today an electronic metronome is used for the same purpose, but the Beatles had to depend on Ringo to keep the tempo consistent throughout the dozens of takes of the songs that you know and love so well. Had he not had this ability, the Beatles recordings would sound completely different today.


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    Ringo's "feel" for the beat serves as a standard for pop-rock record producers and drummers alike. It is relaxed, but never dragging. Solid, yet always breathing. And yes, there is a great amount of musical taste in his decisions of what to play and when to play it. In most recording sessions, the drummer's performance acts as a barometer for the rest of the musicians. The stylistic direction, dynamics, and emotions are filtered through the drummer. He is the catcher to whom the pitcher/songwriter is throwing. If the drumming doesn't feel good, the performance of any additional musicians is doomed from the start. The Beatles rarely if ever had this problem with Ringo.


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    Ringo hated drum solos, which should win points with quite a few people. He only took one solo while with the Beatles. His eight measure solo appears during "The End" on the "B" side of Abbey Road. Some might say that it is not a great display of technical virtuosity, but they would be at least partially mistaken. You can set an electronic metronome to a perfect 126 beats per minute, then play it along with Ringo's solo and the two will stay exactly together.


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    Ringo's ability to play odd time signatures helped to push popular songwriting into uncharted areas. Two examples are "All you Need is Love" in 7/4 time, and "Here Comes the Sun" with repeating 11/8, 4/4, and 7/8 passages in the chorus.


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    Ringo's proficiency in many different styles such as two beat swing ("When I'm Sixty-Four"), ballads ("Something"), R&B ("Leave My Kitten Alone" and "Taxman") and country (the Rubber Soul album) helped the Beatles to explore many musical directions with ease. His pre-Beatle experience as a versatile and hard working nightclub musician served him well.


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    The idea that Ringo was a lucky Johnny-on-the-spot-with-a-showbiz-stage-name is wrong. In fact, when Beatle producer George Martin expressed his unhappiness after the first session with original drummer Pete Best, the decision was made by Paul, George, and John to hire who they considered to be the best drummer in Liverpool - Ringo Starr. His personality was a bonus.


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    The rumors that Ringo did not play on many of the Beatle songs because he was not good enough are also false. In fact, he played on every released Beatles recording (not including Anthology 1) that include drums except for the following: "Back In The USSR" and "Dear Prudence", on which Paul played drums due to Ringo temporarily quitting the band, "The Ballad of John and Yoko", again featuring Paul on drums because Ringo was off making a movie, and a 1962 release of "Love Me Do" featuring session drummer Andy White.


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    When the Beatles broke up and they were all trying to get away from each other, John Lennon chose Ringo to play drums on his first solo record. As John once said, "If I get a thing going Ringo knows where to go, just like that.." A great songwriter could ask no more of a drummer. Except maybe to smile and bob his head.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    John Bryant is a 43-year-old session drummer and producer in Dallas, Texas. He has recorded and toured with Ray Charles, the Paul Winter Consort, and currently is a member of the percussion ensemble, D'Drum. In 1976, Mr. Bryant played a rehea rsal with Paul McCartney and Wings when regular drummer Joe English became ill and could not make it. Mr. Bryant started playing drums after seeing Ringo Starr on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.



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    JOHN BRYANT NOTES: This story was written in reply to a previous story for The Dallas Morning News which described Ringo as an average drummer who got lucky. It is written within the context of modern Pop music, not to compare Ringo with jazz drummers of the 30's, 40's, and 50's. Certainly Ringo was not the first drummer on a riser, but his visibility did proclaim him to be an equal member of the band. This is significant because the earlier drummers were sidemen. Ringo was not the "first" drummer to play matched grip or to muffle his drums, but his exposure as a Beatle made him the leader to the masses.




    Nik Everett has since noted that there were other drummers who "were just as 'untrained' as Ringo. Two examples being Jerry Allison from Buddy Holly & The Crickets, and D.J. Fontana from Elvis Presley's first band. Both were just regular guys who appeared on TV with their respective bands in 1956-58."
     
  17. Drifter

    Drifter AD survivor

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, CA
    Fantastic article, thanks for reposting it. I missed it the first time. Ringo, the human metronome. The first thing I always mention to those who criticize him is his impeccable timing.
     
  18. Grant

    Grant C'mon let me show you where it's at!

    Location:
    United States
    They also used to record the drums at a faster tape speed and then slow the tape back down to normal to make the drums sound heavier.
     
  19. double nickels

    double nickels New Member

    Location:
    washington
    Yeah his cymbals sound great but the snare is what knocks me
    out! The early and middle period snare sound is always a resonant CRACK
    that just drives the song (see "in my life").

    Matt
     
  20. Maidenpriest

    Maidenpriest Setting the controls for the heart of the sun :)

    Location:
    Europe
    Yes! Ringo's snare sound's when he hits it almost like a double beat (but too fast to judge!) like a dud-dud instead of dud! always fasinated me!
     
  21. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    I agree he is generally solid sounding over short time scales but you'd be surprised how the tempo can slowly drift on a Beatles tune.

    "And I Love Her" comes to mind.

    It's not the only one either.....

    I love Ringo by the way - as a small kid I used to play along to my parents copy of "With The Beatles" on carboard boxes wearing a huge ring I found in a Christmas cracker. I ended up playing drums properly for many years all thanks to "Ring" :righton:
     
  22. BillyBuck

    BillyBuck Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    IMO, therein lies one of the hidden qualities of a great drummer and the X factor that separates man from machine. I'm sure I'll get some disagreement on this, but lightly leaning on a tempo during a guitar solo to add excitement, or building up a little momentum over the course of an otherwise monotonous tune is an art unto itself. The operative word there being "slightly," as in imperceptibly. Obviously this doesn't work in all genres but it's pretty common to hear it in blues, R&B, even jazz.
     
  23. bhazen

    bhazen Infinitely Baffled

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    The only time I can recall a "serious" lapse, tempo-wise, from Ringo is on "You Won't See Me", which slows down a wee bit near the end IIRC. He also needed a little help with the "heavy" groove on "Walrus" too (which he got from a sympathetic Paul, who stood by him banging a tambourine during the basic track).

    Apart from that, he was (for all intents) immaculate; I used to get pissed off with writers saying that Charlie Watts (bless 'im) or maybe Ginger Baker was the superior drummer.
     
  24. Wilkie

    Wilkie New Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA, USA
    Ringo's Cymbal Sound

    Here is Steve's post from the FAQ about Mono Limiter Splatter from the Altec compressor/limiter used to record and mix the Beatles ...especially what it did to the sound of Ringo's cymbals...

    http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showpost.php?p=26506&postcount=3
     
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