Advice on Gretsch Renown tuning.

Hey guys. I finally took the plunge and bought the Gretsch Renown kit that I was drooling over for years, in the 24" 13" 16" configuration. It's awesome, I really love it. Huge sounding, and huge feeling. But right now I'm kind of in the stage where I'm experimenting in head combinations and tuning range. No brand preference, headwise...

I have typically used Remo c.s., coated emperor (occasionally coated ambassador), and pinstripe heads in the past, and their Evan's equivalents. Typically a single ply head on bottom.
I shoot for a good blend of warmth and sustain, so coated batter heads are typically my go-to.
With all of that out of the way, story time:

The kit came stock with clear emperors on top and the remo stock single ply heads on bottom (which have always been hit or miss for me but I can work with them.) I was... alright with the sound I got from them, but I found it a tid bit bright for my liking. Went to my local music store for some coated G2's. They were out, but talked me into trying some pinstripes.
And MAN... I don't like them. Not on this kit. The floor tom tuned up pretty good (if not a tiny bit dead) and I'm pretty familiar with 24" kicks so that wasn't an issue.
But this rack tom is gonna be the death of me.
It's like no matter what tensions on top and bottom I use, no matter how tight or loose over all, pitches matched on tension rods... Ugh. It just warbles like crazy. I've never had problems with a pinstripe this much before. I'm thinking I'm gonna try putting a different head on the resonate side and then switching to a coated head to add more warmth, but here's where you guys come in.

How would you approach tuning this kit up and why? What head combos, methods, tensions, forms of dampening... I'm all ears.

You can try to account for the "warmth-with-max-sustain" tone I want, or disregard it entirely. I really don't care. Really just want the sound that best suits the kit.

Thanks!
 
I should probably also specify that I know tuning is a SUPER common topic on here in terms of people that are both new to drumming, as well as more established. Don't mean to beat a dead horse. I'm just really shocked that I'm having as much trouble here as I am. Tuning isn't ordinarily an issue for me.
 

basset52

Senior Member
Hi, I have a Gretsch Renown RN2 and like you tried Pinstripes on the the 13" tom and 16" tom , and like you, absolutely hated them. Like you also I didn't mind the clear Emporers and stock single ply on the bottom. I currently use Coated G2's over coated G1's on both toms and really like the sound. I experiment all the time with with tuning. Heres what I currently use and like the warmth I get. I use minimal dampening. ie a couple of moongels when I practice with the band in a small room, other than that, wide open on the toms. I use a Tunebot. For the 13 x9, 164 hz batter 206 reso. For the 16" 120hz top, 130 reso. Sorry I can't describe how many turns that is on the lugs. Cheers
 
Hi, I have a Gretsch Renown RN2 and like you tried Pinstripes on the the 13" tom and 16" tom , and like you, absolutely hated them. Like you also I didn't mind the clear Emporers and stock single ply on the bottom. I currently use Coated G2's over coated G1's on both toms and really like the sound. I experiment all the time with with tuning. Heres what I currently use and like the warmth I get. I use minimal dampening. ie a couple of moongels when I practice with the band in a small room, other than that, wide open on the toms. I use a Tunebot. For the 13 x9, 164 hz batter 206 reso. For the 16" 120hz top, 130 reso. Sorry I can't describe how many turns that is on the lugs. Cheers
Thanks for the advice! Out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on the mounting system for the 13"?
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
My RN1's favored single ply heads. It could be an vanilla Ambassador, a dot, or a ring.

Anything with two plies performed really poorly, to the extent that I now firmly believe that all two-ply heads are defective by design.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
What do you mean by warble on the 13" tom? Does it give off a weird overtone or buzz? This could be due to a bad bearing edge or a shell that's not in round. Does it also do this with the clear Emperor head? That's probably the easiest way to tell if there's something off with that tom.

In terms of brightness, you can instantly warm up your toms with some O-rings. The change is dramatic when I put the O-rings on.....and believe it or not they STILL have tons of resonance. The resonance is so good that I've resorted to putting puffs of cotton balls in the 12, 14 and 16" toms.

I like the mounting system on my RN2 Renowns, I've had no issues with them. Is your kit an RN2, or RN1 with the rims mounts?

The only quirk I've noticed with tuning my Renowns is that small key turns are all it takes to change the tuning dramatically.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
You can try to account for the "warmth-with-max-sustain" tone I want, or disregard it entirely. I really don't care. Really just want the sound that best suits the kit.
To me, "warmth with maximum sustain" just screams coated Ambassadors over clear Ambassadors. Top head medium-loose to medium, and the bottom head about an even third higher than the top head. And be absolutely certain that both heads are tensioned to perfectly even pitches all the way around.

If you do that, you'll get a HUGE yet warm, resonant sound, no dampening needed.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
To me, "warmth with maximum sustain" just screams coated Ambassadors over clear Ambassadors. Top head medium-loose to medium, and the bottom head about an even third higher than the top head.
I agree 100%

To me, CO/CL Ambassadors represent the baseline for what a drum sounds like. Once I have that baseline, I can ask, "Does this need a dot, or a ring, or a control top, or nothing at all" .. If a dab of moon gel in the center does the trick, I change out to a dot. If a dab of moon gel on the outer inch does the trick, I change to a ring. If I need two dabs of moongel.... I need a control-top.

The challenge for me (recording various stuff in my basement studio) is that I need to change the sounds to suit each song. So I just stay with Ambassadors and toss gel on them for the 30 minutes it is needed.
 
What do you mean by warble on the 13" tom? Does it give off a weird overtone or buzz? This could be due to a bad bearing edge or a shell that's not in round. Does it also do this with the clear Emperor head? That's probably the easiest way to tell if there's something off with that tom.
I'm not gonna say that didn't cross my mind, but I neglected to check that because I didn't really have that issue with the clear emperor on it (though it was still very sensitive to tuning. Needed to be PERFECT to sound good). But tonight I popped the heads off, did some measuring from lug to lug and did the good old light test; just to be sure. It definitely isn't out of round, and the edges seem fine on it too. I'm 90% sure it's a head thing.
Also it's the rn2. I dig the mounting system but I have 2 issues with it. Getting it positioned comfortably with a 13x9" tom over a 24" bass drum is a pain, and that tom is so heavy that you REALLY have to crank the ball joint down to get it to hold. Currently have the tom mounted from a cymbal stand, so that negated those issues.
 

basset52

Senior Member
Thanks for the advice! Out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on the mounting system for the 13"?
I play 1 up 1 down so I bought myself a Gretsch single tom mount that fits into the top of the bass drum where the double tom mount goes, I really like the mount system on the toms. Nice and firm on the tom lugs.
 
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