How To Get Full & Punchy Drums Using EQ & Distortion

Drum Bus EQ

For our new music production lesson, I’m going to show you a really neat drum bus eq technique that will help you get full, warm and punchy drums.

This technique will work well for processing a full drum kit, drum loop, drum bus or group channel. If your drums are sounding thin or lack punch then this tutorial will help you.

In most of my tutorials I always show you how to use subtrative EQ so I decided to also teach you the other side which is additive EQ because in some cases you might want to boost frequencies instead of cutting them out.

Drum Bus EQ Settings

Remember that you need to use additive EQ only if necessary or else you’ll end up with a muddy mix, that is why a lot of people recommend subtrative EQ because it’s much safer. So use this approach wisely and keep in mind that this is a guideline.

Low-End: For your drum bus, you won’t need a drastic high-pass filter. Create a small high-pass filter till around 30Hz and not more.

Boominess: Make a small cut in the 60Hz range to remove some bominess. Don’t use a low-shelf EQ, use a bandpass filter with a narrow Q factor.

Fullness: If you have thin and wimpy drums, make a boost in the 125Hz frequency range. This will add some punch and fullness.

Body: A really small boost in the 250Hz range will add more body and weight helping the drums sound warmer.

Boxiness: Since you’re going to add a lot of frequencies you’ll need a big cut around 500Hz to remove mud and boxiness.

Attack & Presence: 2 boosts, one around 1kHz and another one in the 2kHz range will add attack plus more presence and help the drums cut through.

Harshness: You need to remove some harshness by creating a small narrow cut around 4kHz, this will also make space for other sounds in the mix. Actually I don’t know what this frequency is (name-wise) so I thought harshness will be a good word, but it’s not really harshness.

Clarity & Air: To add some clarity, make a boost around 8kHz and to add some air create another boost around 16kHz.

That’s how you use the additive EQ approach to achieve full and punchy sounding drums that cut through nicely in a mix. But situations that require this approach are really rare so be careful when trying this.

Also add some saturation to make your drums sound warmer and to add more weight.

For a more visual approach check out the video below where I demonstrate how to get Fat & Punchy drums by using an equalizer and some distortion. Also check out my tutorial about how to eq vocals, you’ll find it useful and it will help you improve your EQ skills.

Mixing Technique – Making Drums Punchy With EQ