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  • Tuning drums and SR

    In many, many threads there have been statements concerning the importance of tuned drums. I for one, do not have a clue what tuned drums sound like!! How critical is it for any soundman to know that? If I did know what they sounded like, how do you inform the drummer his instrument needs tuning? How common is it to find drummers who cannot tune their own drums? How many of you guys can do it?

    As a guitarist, I understand the obviousness of being in tune, with drums I'm not so well informed.

    A&H GL2800 console, BagEnd Crystals over D-18's, 12"and 15" BagEnd and EAW wedges powered and processed by QSC, Klark, BSS, Symetrix, Valley, Sabine, Peavey and BagEnd INFRA.

  • #2
    Tuning is subjective, but generally a drum kit that's in tune has lots of "resonance" and "sustain" but no "ring". They will resonate at a clear and defined pitch. Drums that are out of tune generally don't sustain very long after they've been hit, and also tend to "ring" at various frequencies which can cause feedback. That's the basis of tuning drums; the relationship of tension at each lug, and also the relationship between the batter and resonant heads. I have a go-to method of tuning drums that gets me a sound I like, but depending on the style of music I may change drum heads and tune them differently or add or remove muffling for different tones and textures.

    I can tune drums, but then again, I'm also a drummer and do session work as a drummer. I play guitar, bass, and drums professionally and have a mild understanding of the mechanics of most any other instrument. A high percentage of bar bands and such don't know how to tune drums, while a high percentage of professionals either know it well or have a tech do it for them. If I come across a kit that sounds horrible, I'll say something like "wow this kit sounds awful" to the drummer, but I won't bother telling him to fix it. It might be a good idea to look up some youtube videos on drum tuning, Bob Gatzen's videos are good.

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    • #3
      Good post. I can tune drums, but I don't play. I find a lot of times bar drummers tune too low, and with close mic'ing you get the sound of a thuddy paper bag. Tune them higher so they sing.
      Originally Posted By Trace-P38
      Flogger wins.








      Originally Posted by Uma Floresta View Post
      Because we floggers won the music war some time ago.








      Originally Posted by Mike Riley View Post
      Preaching to the choir Rush in on a whole different level to quote a movie You might listen to Rush but you cant here Rush



      http://www.box.net/shared/x85lhnst14

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      • #4
        Another problem is with the standard tom sizes 12 13 16. The 12 and 13 inch toms, if tuned too close, will sound like hell while the frequencies clash.

        It seems harder to tune cheaper drums sets too. I've always had trouble tuning. I never had any friends that played drums and I've never had anything other than YouTube videos to reference. I think I might be doing it right?
        Harmony Central - helping me put my foot in my mouth since '06

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        • #5


          It seems harder to tune cheaper drums.

          If they're round and the hardware actually allows for keeping tension, it shouldn't be any harder.
          At all.
          For cripe's sake, somebody buy that kid a freaking DICTIONARY already!

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          • #6
            I see few (well none) drum tuning tips offered that include any kind of feedback loop (involved with the tuning) that involves a PA and the sound out to the end user (unless that end user is strictly the performer (drummer) and there-in lies the basic problem as I see it).

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            • #7
              I see few (well none) drum tuning tips offered that include any kind of feedback loop (involved with the tuning) that involves a PA and the sound out to the end user (unless that end user is strictly the performer (drummer) and there-in lies the basic problem as I see it).



              Well then I guess it's high time.

              A&H GL2800 console, BagEnd Crystals over D-18's, 12"and 15" BagEnd and EAW wedges powered and processed by QSC, Klark, BSS, Symetrix, Valley, Sabine, Peavey and BagEnd INFRA.

              Comment


              • #8
                In many, many threads there have been statements concerning the importance of tuned drums. I for one, do not have a clue what tuned drums sound like!! How critical is it for any soundman to know that? If I did know what they sounded like, how do you inform the drummer his instrument needs tuning? How common is it to find drummers who cannot tune their own drums? How many of you guys can do it?

                As a guitarist, I understand the obviousness of being in tune, with drums I'm not so well informed.


                It is definetely handy information to know. But as a soundman, especially working throw and go stages, you will probably rarely get a chance to enlighten anyone with this knowledge and would probably offend most, if not all, drummers (many of whom could serious use it) by even suggesting improvements. I would say that having the tools (great mics, gates, comps, eq, etc.) and knowing how to use them to do the best with the drums you have to work with is more important on the other end of the cable. What's a real pleasure is being able to bypass all those devices when a drummer who knows his instrument comes in
                One more time kids; equalizers are not cross overs, vocal mics are not cymbal mics and pan knobs are not three position switches. As you were.

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                • #9
                  FWIW, I feel like I have a clue about tuning... and I like the sound of my main kit... but if it were me, I would welcome input. I may not agree, may not change anything, but I do like to hear feedback on how the sound comes across to others...

                  From reading here, I guess maybe that's not a universal reaction, though...

                  -D44
                  ************************************************** *********************************

                  Old guy, just trying to play through the arthritis...
                  - Balance is a virtue; loud for its own sake is not... and loud won't fix bad
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                  Assume the requisite list of stuff...

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                  • #10
                    FWIW, I feel like I have a clue about tuning... and I like the sound of my main kit... but if it were me, I would welcome input. I may not agree, may not change anything, but I do like to hear feedback on how the sound comes across to others...

                    From reading here, I guess maybe that's not a universal reaction, though...

                    -Chris


                    I'm with you Chis. I take care to properly tune my drums, but I am always interested as to what the sound guy has to say about their sound out front. If there is a weird tone or sustain happening, I would gladly try to retune/dampen the drum to get them to sound right for the venue. I welcome the feedback. Drums that sound good to the drummer may not necessarily sound good to the audience.
                    Greg H.

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                    • #11
                      Is there a "Universal" way to tune drums? I'm sure there are differences between a Rock set and a Jazz or Latin kit? Or is the sound dependant on the size of the drum only? My drummer uses big drums and I think they could sound better, but maybe I just don't like the sound of big drums... I honestly don't know.

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                      • #12
                        Is there a "Universal" way to tune drums? I'm sure there are differences between a Rock set and a Jazz or Latin kit? Or is the sound dependant on the size of the drum only? My drummer uses big drums and I think they could sound better, but maybe I just don't like the sound of big drums... I honestly don't know.


                        There are many factors. Styleinfluence. Type of heads, either thin medium or thick, how you want them tuned, (open or closed), type of wood for the shell, snare or non snare. If you don't like the sound of his big drums chances are they are out of tune, all drummers are guilty at one time or another.

                        To sum up: for a drum to be in tune, you want the same tone on each lug for equal tension and having the head "in tune with itself" once you tune one head then you tune the 2nd head "in tune with itself" then you adjust accordingly, some drummers like the bottom head to be a tighter than the top. Bob Gatzen (spelling) videos are very good (already posted) to watch for explanation.

                        Bass drum generally cannot be tuned by ear due to nature of the low note, I saw a video that works slick, put on head, have someone hold down center of drum of X pressure and hold, tighten each lug until the wrinkle just dissappears, realease pressure from center of head, wallah. Obviously this is done to depending upon preference of head tension/rebound or type of attack and nice way to quick tune the bass drum head. If you overtighten bass drum heads you get unsatisfactory results.

                        Keep in mind some cheap drums can not be tuned due to just being crap or having one lug that won't keep the same pitch as the other lugs due to various reasons (shell that is not perfect, different types of wood, wood changing due to moisture change, wood changing due to abuse/neglect, etc)

                        There are many other theories on this, please keep this in mind. One theor is like a torque wrench on the lugs, like the theory, but if you haev one lug that is rustygoofy threads, it's very possible even though the same torque as another screw/log, does not mean the tone for that lug equals the other lugs.

                        Also the type of hoop makes a huge factor and how the drum is suspended, another chapter on that on another day.

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                        • #13
                          If they're round and the hardware actually allows for keeping tension, it shouldn't be any harder.
                          At all.


                          Bearing edges make a difference, as do round (truly round, not oblate) drums. Cheaper drums have a harder time with those two factors.
                          Originally Posted By Trace-P38
                          Flogger wins.








                          Originally Posted by Uma Floresta View Post
                          Because we floggers won the music war some time ago.








                          Originally Posted by Mike Riley View Post
                          Preaching to the choir Rush in on a whole different level to quote a movie You might listen to Rush but you cant here Rush



                          http://www.box.net/shared/x85lhnst14

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