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  #1  
Old 07-06-2012, 09:12 PM
necjamc necjamc is offline
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Default Drum tuning question. Real kit

Ok I am not enough of a drummer to say I play drums. I have a kit in my studio. Nothing special, it's a Pearl Forum series. The toms are 12", 13", and the floor is 16". I just put new batter and resonant heads on them and I'm tuning them. What is a good reference point for tuning them. I'm going nuts reading forums and YouTube etc. I'm ok using notes but what should I use. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I want them to be tuned for mixing them for recording only. Its never gonna leave my room. I'm finding I'm always to high or low and in 4ths apart the 12's to high or the 16's too low.
Thanks for any help
Neil
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  #2  
Old 07-07-2012, 07:44 AM
Bill Denton Bill Denton is offline
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Default Re: Drum tuning question. Real kit

To each his own, but I've never deliberately tuned my drums to a specific note.

My thinking is that you want the drums, especially the toms, to stick out, often when everybody else is playing loud. If you're tuned to specific notes you'll just blend with the other instruments, which kinda defeats the purpose of providing emphasis and punctuation.

Besides #1...If you're tuned to specific notes, what happens if the band is playing a song in a key that doesn't include those notes?

Besides #2...I know, I know, harmonic rich and all that, but you can't tune your cymbals. I suppose you could take a grinder to them, but I'm sure not going to do it!

Here's how I do it, YMMV...

First, I consider the instrumentation of the band I'll be playing with, then try to put my drums into the holes in the sonic space that aren't occupied by other instruments.

Typically this will result in the bass drum and low toms occupying the space above the bass guitar and below the rhythm instrument(s), such as rhythm guitar or keyboards.

I'll then try to put my high toms just above the rhythm instruments.

In order to accomplish these ends my drums are often tuned higher than the tunings most other drummers use.

The tuning process...

I usually start with the snare. I try to find the drum's resonant frequency, which is where the drum almost "sings", with a full and open tone. I'll then work with the snares to get the sharp "crack" sound that I prefer. Sometimes it's necessary to go a little bit above or below the resonant frequency to get the exact tone I want. I also check the tone with the snares off as I sometimes use the snare as an extra "tom", and I check rimshot and sideclick tone.

I use a 20" bass drum, which by its nature gives me a higher tone than the 22"-ers that most guys use. Again, I start with the resonant frequency, then adjust to give me the exact tone I want. I somewhat "choke" my bass with a felt strip under the batter head. And as with my snare, I'm looking for a particular "crack".

For the toms, I usually tune the high and low toms to their resonant frequencies, then space the other toms equally between those two. I tune the bottom heads either slightly lower or slightly higher, depending upon which tuning article I read the previous week.

Again, to each his own...but I don't really obsess over my drum tuning. I want them to sound good, but I just don't want to spend my life in the often fruitless pursuit of some perfect tone. I'd rather spend the time to work on my technique.

Hope this is useful...
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  #3  
Old 07-07-2012, 09:21 AM
albee1952 albee1952 is online now
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Default Re: Drum tuning question. Real kit

Good advice from Bill^^^. I would also search youtube(as great as Bill's explanation is, seeing it in practice can make a big difference). Be forewarned, not every drummer is good at it, so judge what you see on youtube. You may learn how to do it well, and you may also learn how NOT to do it.

BTW, if you have any drum VI, you might call up various samples and use them as a comparison(assuming they sound good to you)
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  #4  
Old 07-07-2012, 11:14 AM
necjamc necjamc is offline
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Default Re: Drum tuning question. Real kit

Quote:
Originally Posted by albee1952 View Post
Good advice from Bill^^^. I would also search youtube(as great as Bill's explanation is, seeing it in practice can make a big difference). Be forewarned, not every drummer is good at it, so judge what you see on youtube. You may learn how to do it well, and you may also learn how NOT to do it.

BTW, if you have any drum VI, you might call up various samples and use them as a comparison(assuming they sound good to you)
Thanks guys! I actually did use Superior Drummer to reference to. But the Toms on the kits that I have are not the same size, so the tones are off. The kit I have on SD is 10, 12, 14, 16. Mine is 12,13, 16 so I don't know if the 12 in SD would be where I would put my 12. I'm a guitar player. lol this is very new territory. Usually make the drummer fix the issues. But now that's me. I'm having trouble setting my 12" to the proper tone. So the other two suffer. I think I'm having the most trouble knowing how high or low to put the 12". I'm gonna try to find a similar drum sample on youtube or google and use that. Clear as mud right? Thanks
Neil
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  #5  
Old 07-08-2012, 07:03 PM
510man 510man is offline
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Default Re: Drum tuning question. Real kit

Tuning drums is a bit of an art. Try this and see if it helps you.

1) Low drums are harder to tune so start at the floor tom and work up.
2) Loosen the top head on the floor tom. Tighten the bolts directly across from each other finger tight (one bolt with your left hand; bolt straight across in your right hand). Move around the drum until they all finger tight.
3) Do the same on the bottom head.
4) Now turn each lug a half turn on the top and bottom head. If it's flappy sounding, turn them all an eighth turn more. Repeat until the flap is gone.
Once you get a tone you like, and each drum will be different in each room, move to the mid tom and then the high tom.
5) Use the same process to tune the drums in thirds or fourths from each other. I often tune the toms and snare so they play an arpeggio (toms in thirds with snare a fourth above the high tom). The low tom note can be any pitch. You want the drums to be within their sweet spot. Whether that's C, D, or whatever in between doesn't matter.

If this is something you'll need to do often, I recommend getting the DTS system for your toms. Your drums then tune like timpani and anyone can tune them. You then turn a single tuner to tighten the head much like a guitar tuner works to raise and lower the pitch of the string. The head stays in tune with itself. Kind of spendy but the system does work well.

http://www.drumtech.com/dts.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvp_lTzv6gU

Hope it helps.
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  #6  
Old 07-08-2012, 09:08 PM
necjamc necjamc is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 510man View Post
Tuning drums is a bit of an art. Try this and see if it helps you.

1) Low drums are harder to tune so start at the floor tom and work up.
2) Loosen the top head on the floor tom. Tighten the bolts directly across from each other finger tight (one bolt with your left hand; bolt straight across in your right hand). Move around the drum until they all finger tight.
3) Do the same on the bottom head.
4) Now turn each lug a half turn on the top and bottom head. If it's flappy sounding, turn them all an eighth turn more. Repeat until the flap is gone.
Once you get a tone you like, and each drum will be different in each room, move to the mid tom and then the high tom.
5) Use the same process to tune the drums in thirds or fourths from each other. I often tune the toms and snare so they play an arpeggio (toms in thirds with snare a fourth above the high tom). The low tom note can be any pitch. You want the drums to be within their sweet spot. Whether that's C, D, or whatever in between doesn't matter.

If this is something you'll need to do often, I recommend getting the DTS system for your toms. Your drums then tune like timpani and anyone can tune them. You then turn a single tuner to tighten the head much like a guitar tuner works to raise and lower the pitch of the string. The head stays in tune with itself. Kind of spendy but the system does work well.

http://www.drumtech.com/dts.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvp_lTzv6gU

Hope it helps.
Thank you. This does help actually as I was really unsure of where to start as far as the initial tone should be. I have my kick and snare sounding really good and no ring. I noticed although my Toms were getting better, they were vibrating the kit alot and sounding awful together. I'm gonna try this approach and I'll let you know how Make out. Thanks for the in depth post.
Neil
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  #7  
Old 07-30-2012, 12:53 PM
djmaxey djmaxey is offline
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Default Re: Drum tuning question. Real kit

Hey necjamc,

One resource I found a while back that has helped me out a ton is called the "Drum Tuning Bible" http://www.peabody.jhu.edu/data/46/link/3402/DTBv3.pdf

Lots a great stuff in their, good luck!
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