internal tone control revisited

mandrew

Gold Member
I used to have a vintage Rogers Dynasonic that had an internal tone control. I have read a lot that a lot of guys took the internal control out of drums, citing "rattle" problems. So, my question is this: what was it, exactly, that rattled? Was it the screw that went through the shell that secured the controller to the shell that came loose? What was it that rattled? Did it rattle all the time, or just when on or off? iI think that there is a place for these, but only if the problems can be permanently fixed, so I am willing to "make a better mousetrap." I would revamp the felt, which is rather hard, and adds too much pressure too fast, limiting the dampening window. But first, the rattle issue, and I need direct feedback on the actual problem from those who had experience with them. Thanks!
 

JohnPloughman

Silver Member
The Rogers dampener consisted of a triangular shaped frame that mounted to the shell via two screws. The frame had two holes in it at one end to receive tab ears on the end of the dampener arm. The felt was riveted to the other end of the dampener arm. The Tensioning Rod and spring passed through the outside of the shell through the mounting frame and the spring, then the dampening arm where the backing nut was threaded onto the rod, and the locking nut finished it off. Rattle mostly came from the tabs on the dampening arm rattling in the receiving holes on the frame mount. I have played Rogers drums almost 40 years, and um ....... yea it did but, come on, no one can hear that good. All of my Rogers snares, and theres more than 20 of them, have their dampeners intact. I think the problem mosly existed with close miking in studio work where the rattle of the parts became weird ghost noise in the mix. For live playing, not so much an issue. I think everyone has heard Bonhams speed king pedal.
 
I just bought a Gretsch internal tone control, which is still made and the best one I have seen. Haven't installed it yet, but these don't rattle at all. The Rodgers unit didn't rattle a whole bunch either. I am not sure why internal tone controls went out of vogue, they work really well.
 

longgun

Gold Member
I just bought a Gretsch internal tone control, which is still made and the best one I have seen. Haven't installed it yet, but these don't rattle at all. The Rodgers unit didn't rattle a whole bunch either. I am not sure why internal tone controls went out of vogue, they work really well.
I haven't had an issue with rattling either...........................I have two snare with internal dampeners currently


I think they stopped when head companies started producing different heads that allowed you to tailor your sound. That, and the cost, I'm assuming
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
Actually,none of my vintage Ludwig,Slingerland,Gretsch, or Tama internal mufflers make absolutely minimal noise at times.This almost inperseptible noise can be mitigated by the use of surgical tubing,wrapped around the tensioning rod and tabs.

Steve B
 
My new steel Gretsch snare drum now has a new Gretsch internal tone control installed. I like the way it works really well. This drum has a lot of overtones and using a tone ring pretty much damped it completely. Not to mention the rings interfere with brushes. But with my new tone control I can adjust the amount of damping. For me the amount of damping is different when I play with brushes than with sticks. In short, the ability to adjust the amount of damping gives me better control. Thank you Gretsch for still offering this device.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I had a feeling this would swing around again and become fashionable ;)

We can blame Gadd for getting us all to remove the internal mufflers from our drums and replacing it with a ring made from an old head. Now we can blame Gadd for creating something that got in the way of our brush playing ;)
 

con struct

Platinum Member
It seems that the use of an internal dampener would adversely affect the action of the drumhead, the vibrations of the circular membrane. It wouldn't be able to respond uniformly to being struck because one section of it would be unable to move, so there wouldn't be a completely circular movement in the head, thus adversely affecting the tone.

This, I always thought, was the reason internal dampeners or mufflers were phased out of action, no?
 

moxman

Silver Member
It seems that the use of an internal dampener would adversely affect the action of the drumhead, the vibrations of the circular membrane. It wouldn't be able to respond uniformly to being struck because one section of it would be unable to move, so there wouldn't be a completely circular movement in the head, thus adversely affecting the tone.

This, I always thought, was the reason internal dampeners or mufflers were phased out of action, no?
Yes - that's pretty much it! The internal muffler prevents the downward motion of the head and reduces the tone. It probably creates a sound node inside the drum as well. Much better to dampen from the top head with a small bit of Moongel if needed.

The other reason; if they develop a rattle or buzz problem - then you are hosed - as you have to take the head off to fix it. Never had that problem with Rogers, but I did have a buzzing internal muffler on some Ludwig toms. In any case, the first thing I did was remove all the internal mufflers and begone with them! They are just a bad idea all round..
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I have owned numerous drums with internal tone control pads and have never had a rattle issue with any of them. I don't use them, and honestly I think they are a bit of a dumb idea, but have never had to remove one because of noise.

My Dynasonic still has its, and it is solid as a rock, quiet as can be in the down position. Perhaps this is only an issue for drums that had the tone control felt in the on position, thus opening it up to abuse and wear.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
My first kit - a westbury - had them... I remember at least one of them rattled when it was disengaged. I don't know what it is that I don't like about them, you just imagine them interfering with the sound of the drum and they look flimsy (and were flimsy on my kit).
 

groove1

Silver Member
When I began playing in the 1950's, internal mufflers were the norm. Gretsch even had some models that had individual mufflers for the top and bottom heads. A concensus way to adjust them back then was to apply them so they just barely touched the head...just took the ring out a bit.....at least with the drummers I was around. I still like them and install them in snare drums that don't come with them. With a Ludwig muffler (the round felt, not the baseball bat type), I like to bend the spring steel so that when the muffler first touches the
batter head, the edge of the felt closest to the drum shell touches first. Tighten the control knob and eventually the felt will flatten out on the batter head....that's too much for my taste.
Sometimes I use the muffler, sometimes moon gel with no muffler, sometimes nothing at all....just depends on the music and sound I'm after.
 
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Anon La Ply

Renegade
A concensus way to adjust them back then was to apply them so they just barely touched the head...just took the ring out a bit.....
Yes, that's my impression rather than cranking the pad into the head, although the possibility is there to use it for a different effect in some songs - a bit like sticking a splash on the top head.
 

brady

Platinum Member
It seems that the use of an internal dampener would adversely affect the action of the drumhead, the vibrations of the circular membrane. It wouldn't be able to respond uniformly to being struck because one section of it would be unable to move, so there wouldn't be a completely circular movement in the head, thus adversely affecting the tone.

This, I always thought, was the reason internal dampeners or mufflers were phased out of action, no?
That makes sense.

How does that logic apply to using felt strips though? Or are they flexible enough to move with the head?
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
It seems that the use of an internal dampener would adversely affect the action of the drumhead, the vibrations of the circular membrane. It wouldn't be able to respond uniformly to being struck because one section of it would be unable to move, so there wouldn't be a completely circular movement in the head, thus adversely affecting the tone.

This, I always thought, was the reason internal dampeners or mufflers were phased out of action, no?
This is true, additionally, anything inside the shell is just another errant overtone creator. Internal dampers can significantly affect the dynamic ability of a drum too, because they halt the strike stroke of the head, rather than choking off the return stroke/subsequent cycles. With the advent of so many head choices, I fail to see a use for them outside of providing a ready range of tones on the fly.

As for control of errant overtones / unwanted ringing - buy a good quality drum, select appropriate heads, & learn how to tune it.
 
When I began playing in the 1950's, internal mufflers were the norm. Gretsch even had some models that had individual mufflers for the top and bottom heads. A concensus way to adjust them back then was to apply them so they just barely touched the head...just took the ring out a bit.....at least with the drummers I was around. I still like them and install them in snare drums that don't come with them. With a Ludwig muffler (the round felt, not the baseball bat type), I like to bend the spring steel so that when the muffler first touches the
batter head, the edge of the felt closest to the drum shell touches first. Tighten the control knob and eventually the felt will flatten out on the batter head....that's too much for my taste.
Sometimes I use the muffler, sometimes moon gel with no muffler, sometimes nothing at all....just depends on the music and sound I'm after.
You and I are of an age and your description of how to use internal tone controls is identical to what I was taught almost 60 years ago. Adjusted properly I can't feel any change in batter head response. I use brushes a lot and prefer a thin head like a Diplomat, which in the coated version is bright and has a lot of ring. Some damping in one form or another is desirable and of the options, having the head clear of rings or gels is nicer. A felt strip damps too much for me, just dry it out a wee bit ya know? All things considered I like the Gretsch tone control real well. It doesn't rattle, it doesn't change the sound of the drum unless you want it to, and it can be adjusted to suit the music and the mood. To each his own, but I am liking this old tech solution.
 
This is true, additionally, anything inside the shell is just another errant overtone creator. Internal dampers can significantly affect the dynamic ability of a drum too, because they halt the strike stroke of the head, rather than choking off the return stroke/subsequent cycles. With the advent of so many head choices, I fail to see a use for them outside of providing a ready range of tones on the fly.

As for control of errant overtones / unwanted ringing - buy a good quality drum, select appropriate heads, & learn how to tune it.
I think you are over analyzing this a bit, but you reach correct conclusions. Internal tone controls have no use unless "providing a ready range of tones on the fly" is desirable. That is it in a nutshell. The very reason the things have merit. Well said. Too, your points about drum and head selection are spot on, as is learning how to tune the drum. But even with the very best drums and heads, a master tuner can only get one tonality out of the combination unless the drummer does something to alter the response of the head(s) such as adding damping. The other key is that a little goes a long way. Adjusted so that the felt is just barely in contact with the head, there is no perceptible change in how the drum plays or feels. I tested this by playing a soft buzz roll, first with the felt pads (there are two on the Gretsch unit) not touching the head, and then again with the pads just lightly in contact. Subjectively, I could not feel any difference, but the drum sounded just a bit drier. Nice. Of course if the pads are cranked hard against the head, your thoughts have credence. I am very pleased.
 

wsabol

Gold Member
The pad just barely touching the head is the way to go. I use the tone control on some of my vintage drums and I don't feel a change in head response.

Andy, you're right, the tone controller creates overtones inside the shell, adds non-uniform mass to the shell, etc. But with the muffler engaged, all that stuff should be muffled out, right? So its really no big deal. If that's the sound your going for, then go for it.
 
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