By Jeff Strong

Recording your own music means finding the best way to use your microphone with each instrument. Hand drums can be anything from the familiar conga to unusual drums, such as the North African tar. Because you may encounter many types of hand drums, here are some general guidelines when recording any hand drum.

Your selection in mics depends on the type of drum and its tonal characteristics. For example, conga drums occupy the middle of the frequency spectrum and produce a loud sound that a large-diaphragm condenser mic can capture well. Or, if you want a tighter, drier sound, you can use a dynamic mic. If you choose the dynamic mic, the mic colors the sound of your recording.

If you want to record any of the smaller, higher-pitched hand drums, use either a large- or small-diaphragm condenser mic and skip the dynamic mic altogether.

Mic placement also varies considerably among the various hand drums. Listen to the sound of the drum, and find a place where you like what you hear.

For the most part, placing the mic 1 to 3 feet from the drum creates the fullest sound. If you want a lot of attack, you can place the mic closer. You lose some of the drum’s depth, however, when you place the mic closer than a foot.