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What makes Bonham's drumming sound so heavy?


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All of that, but so much more. The reverb, for example, could be an effect, but far more likely a miking technique or

naturally occurring reverb from a staircase or basement, etc. Let others try to answer this monumental question,

the incredible overall Bonzo onslaught.

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he hit the drums really hard not with finesse like most. even when he was trying to go light it seemed hard for him to not start slamming on them. also another thing that sets his drumming apart from most is that drummers like bill ward and ginger baker would get a really good swing going with the bass guitar while john bonham would play along with the guitar. I favor bonham because he has a really deep and bassy sound (not just his bass drum) while a lot of drummer have a really snappy drum sound that I dont like.

on when the levee breaks (arguable one of his most influential tracks) they used an echo machine while recording.

Edited by sk8rat
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It's a cosmic combination of a few vital elements

 

Bonzo himself. Incredibly powerful drummer but blessed with impeccable timing and feel.

Bonzo knew how to tune his drums correctly to give them maximum impact.

Jimmys truly brilliant production and mic techniques that placed special emphasis on the drums in the mix, which hadn't ever been done before Zep and consequently changed the sound of rock music forever.

and lastly, the material itself was beyond brilliant.  

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I went to a talk by Carl Palmer back in 2013 and he mentioned that only he and Bonham (amongst rock drummers, I assume he meant) used stainless steel drums.  Apparently you have to be a very precise player to use that kind: it gives a very clean, snappy sound and it's unforgiving of sloppiness. I'm not a drummer, so I'm not familiar with the specifications of their gear and whatnot. But perhaps that's part of what gave Bonham his distinctive sound?

That and POWER!

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He, and especially Page, wanted to feature the drums a lot more.  Most band drummers up until him were basically background timekeepers.  He was well miked and the sound was captured well.  Add to that Bonzo's phenomenal technique, wrist-power, and the biggest sticks on the market.

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On Friday, April 22, 2016 at 5:31 AM, kingzoso said:

If you are referring to my post, I will say thanks.  I know what I say and I know what I think.  John Bonham is the most influential drummer of all-time.

I think Bonham and Ward are the two most influential.

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Jonesy said that Bonzo 'sounded like John Bonham on any kit he played' - which suggests that it's Bonzo himself, not the gear. But when it came to recording, Jimmy said that if you listen to non-Zeppelin records that Bonzo had played on, he didn't sound like himself 'because of the way he'd been recorded' - so the way that Jimmy recorded Bonzo's drums for Zeppelin was also a major part of it. Then there's Robert, who said that the reason Zeppelin didn't sound dated was that, unlike a lot of his contemporaries, Bonzo 'didn't play like he'd got eight arms' - which brings it back to Bonham himself. However, there's a couple of stories from the early days which suggest that it was actually Jimmy who insisted that Bonzo kept it simple. From all of this, the key seems to be the combination of Bonzo himself and Jimmy's direction and recording techniques. Bonzo's still my favourite drummer and the Zeppelin drum sound is still the best I've ever heard, so it was certainly a magical combination!

Edited by Brigante
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here are some high quality non zeppelin song with bonzo on drums. (jimmy is only on rhythm not lead guitar). If you listen to the right side you can really hear the drums clear. I think it is pretty easy to hear that it's bonzo.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you also listen to Fool in the Rain, Bonzo is not just approximating a Latin drummer/style, he's got all the moves

down. Perhaps going a bit far, but IMO he could play anything he put his mind to. Anybody care to point out any

real ?!?!?! Weaknesses ?????

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I think he smashed the drums really hard, plus he had a natural ability, to make little variations within those fills,

and ofcourse a tremendous imagination and motoric ability and he had a lot of structure from Page, around which

he could built his drumming. And he always returned to basics within the song, which he could do really well,

but those basics almost always included subtle additions, not just bass snare bass snare.

I think it was just him, his sound, which a lot of people really like, warm and subtle.

 

Oh yeah and Page knew how to record him and the tuning of the drums, as others have said.

 

Edited by Matjaz1
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Very informing post. But I must say, after Zep Page had so much trouble finding a suitable drummer for his material.

Bonzo also functioned as kind of rhythm guitar for Page. I have seen and played in many bands doing some Zep

covers. As great as Page's riffs/rhythm guitar are, some of his stuff played with a drummer not well versed in Bonzo's

style actually make the whole song sound weird. Going back to the Yardbirds even, Page could not play Zep riffs 

in that situation, it just wouldn't work. Bonzo was perfect, live later on they used 16 ?? mikes ? on the drums, Page's

insistence. Correct me if wrong, but a huge amount of mikes.

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It's sad he passed away, I think to a degree, he definitely functioned as a disabled person and smashing the drums so hard

and not being understood by the critics sometimes and by some people around him and missing his family on the road,

it all contributed to loosing him. Sad! I'm glad he didn't strugle with success, although that was hard for him too,

I think today in present musical world, if you do good music, you are especially happy with mostly smaller gigs and some bigger as time goes by. 

Edited by Matjaz1
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The music world is not the same, but even in the old days, they might wanted to be musicians and felt they were talented and didn't have anything against success, perhaps even big one, but they just wanted to be musicians, they almost had no choice! 

 

 

 

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On 4/25/2016 at 6:21 AM, Brigante said:

Jonesy said that Bonzo 'sounded like John Bonham on any kit he played' - which suggests that it's Bonzo himself, not the gear. But when it came to recording, Jimmy said that if you listen to non-Zeppelin records that Bonzo had played on, he didn't sound like himself 'because of the way he'd been recorded' - so the way that Jimmy recorded Bonzo's drums for Zeppelin was also a major part of it. Then there's Robert, who said that the reason Zeppelin didn't sound dated was that, unlike a lot of his contemporaries, Bonzo 'didn't play like he'd got eight arms' - which brings it back to Bonham himself. However, there's a couple of stories from the early days which suggest that it was actually Jimmy who insisted that Bonzo kept it simple. From all of this, the key seems to be the combination of Bonzo himself and Jimmy's direction and recording techniques. Bonzo's still my favourite drummer and the Zeppelin drum sound is still the best I've ever heard, so it was certainly a magical combination!

Take a listen to Roy Wood's  On the Road Again . Bonzo played on a couple of tracks on that lp. I believe this may be Bonzo's last studio recording. (It was recorded in 1979) The power is there but his sound is not exactly the same. I believe he was using Wood's kit on those tracks; (multiple tom toms) so the tuning is not as he would have tuned his own kit.

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  • 4 years later...

I saw an interview with Jason Bonham, he said that his dad didn't hit hard, at least not as hard as you might think, but used a technique to add emphasis. Do you know what that might be? I'm not a drummer so it could be a really basic thing I just don't know.

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