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Drum tuning

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:42 pm
by Lee
I really have an interest in drums. I love recording them but can't play them. For all the drummers on here can you share any intersting tricks, tips for tuning them etc. What are the Toms normally tuned to? Are there any cool websites you frequent that have videos you would recomend watching. We have a Pearl Masters set up in our studio as the house kit and I would like to be able to tune it but and not sure what the methods are for top and bottom skins. I would also like to organise a drum tech to come out to the studio and give us a set up/lesson someday in the future.

Re: Drum tuning

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:21 pm
by Lee
Also any cools books on drums you've read?

Re: Drum tuning

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:30 am
by ChrisW
I always start with Bob Gatzen's methods and concepts.
Until you get experienced and break the rules, the only major rule is that every tension rod across the head should be even.
So place your drum on the ground and tap the head at each tension rod. Try and even them out so they all sound like the same pitch.
Any drum can be high tuned (which rings longer), medium tuned (which is a great all purpose setting) or low tuned (for that fat kit sound). You can shoot for any of those three, as long as your head is in tune with itself (even tension around the head).


Re: Drum tuning

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:15 am
by Lee
Thanks Chris. What do you tune the bottom skin and top skin to are they the Same ? Is it common to tune in thirds between toms? Does anyone tune the drums for a recording so they are in tune to the song?

Re: Drum tuning

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:48 am
by ChrisW
I don't tune for the song, but some other people do.
I just tune for a nice sounding interval between toms. It often ends up as the 'Come to the races' bugle melody.
You can tune both tom heads to the same pitch, or one above the other. It's all a matter of taste. I tend to tune the bottom (resonant) head a little higher than the top (batter).

Re: Drum tuning

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:09 am
by Drumstruck
Everything Chris says, and a few of my preferences:

I generally tune toms to "In The Mood" - it's not a conscious thing, but they always seem to come out with those intervals.

If you touch the centre of the skin lightly with your thumb and then tap adjacent to each lug (with a stick) you can hear the note a little clearer.

If you want the note to bend up tune the bottom skin a little tighter - to bend down tune the bottom skin a little looser. I usually tune to the latter, but my preference is deeper sounding toms.

Practice is the key - and it's best when you're not under pressure - after a while you get very quick at finding the best note for the drum ;-)

Tuning to specific pitches is fine for recording, but bear in mind that the drum can be out of tune for the next song.....

There is also a choke point - when the drum is tuned too high you will hear that.

Re: Drum tuning

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:08 pm
by Aisle 6
I play drums and record drums and end up tuning drums all the time for others. As Ian has said, you need to find a sweet spot for the note. If tuned too high it will choke and if tuned too low, you will lose all tone. The intervals of "Come to the Races" is common.

As said, gently rest one finger in the centre of the drum and tune all lugs to the same pitch, providing the bearing edges are correct. If not, then you will need to tweak one or two lugs differently. The big thing for me is to tune the bottom head one third above the top head. This seems to have the right amount of tone and overtone.

It takes practice and you do get better, although it is a bitch to begin with. Good luck.

Re: Drum tuning

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:16 pm
by Kurt
Can't play drums to save myself!

I bought a tension watch thinking it would be fast and easy, then I watched this guy's videos. He talks too much but it works well for me.

Re: Drum tuning

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:20 pm
by Lee

That was so cool thanks for posting that Chris. I feel much more informed now cheers.

Kurt that video was also interesting and I will try that method one day too.

Re: Drum tuning

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2014 7:28 pm
by ftdrummer
I always tune resonant heads higher than batter, and especially true if the top heads are thicker. Drums will generally have a sweetspot where they want to resonate, but start low and bring them up to pitch by tweaking opposite lugs.

I have never used a guitar or frequency tuner, but I came across a youtube tutorial that suggested tuning the kick batter to 60hz and the resonant to 90hz. With only an iphone app I was able to do this pretty accurately, lug by lug, and it sounded excellent! You can dampen the inside of the kick with a towel as you do this to minimise overtones and keep the fundamental note more prominent. The other thing is to make sure the heads are in good condition with no pits.