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Old 07-07-2012, 06:44 AM
Bill Denton Bill Denton is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Pittsburgh PA
Posts: 2,644
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...
Note that all opinions, observations, whatever, in this post are mine, unless I'm being mean or am wrong, in which case it's somebody else's fault. I do not work for Avid (their loss) only relationship with Avid is that of a customer (when I'm not too poor to buy stuff, like now)...and that hot administrative assistant...that's more of a "thing" than a "relationship" (that should keep them guessing for a while...)

Just rockin'...what more is there?

Bill in Pittsburgh
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