Intervals baby!


Senior Member
There have been a few threads involving tuning lately. I've been messing with it myself because I got a tune-bot for Xmas, got new reso heads, etc.

My question for you is: for those of you that tune your toms to specific intervals, what do you go for? I know 3rds are popular but I'm playing a 4 piece kit (toms are 13 x 9 and 16 x 16). I think I actually like a flat 5th for the interval. This gives me a chance to have a fairly high rack tom (2B) and still have the floor tom on the low side (2F).

What do you think?



Senior Member
Lol, I did this same thing when I first got my tune-bot. Best advice I have for you is find your favorite tom, and tune it to its favorite note. Then take your 2nd favorite tom and tune it to its happy place and then see what intervals those two line up on. Then add in the 3rd and 4th drums to finish the toms and add bass and snare if desired. Major 3rds, Perfect 4ths or 5ths are the most common, or you can tune to a chord, but let the drums tell you where they want to be instead of forcing them into line. However that was me with 4 toms, with just two forget intervals unless you plan on keeping the bass and snare in the same intervals, just tune them till they sound their best and check that it sounds good when played in unison.


Senior Member
Yeah Andy, that's good advice and it's sort of how this interval came about anyway. The rack tom sounds pretty good a bit lower but I think it sounds best where I have it now. Same with the floor. The fact that it's a flat fifth is incidental to that.

It seems like a pretty weird interval though. I guess my real question is whether anyone else with this type of setup has such a wide interval between rack and floor.


Senior Member
Right now I'm using my 10,14,16 without my 12. They were all tuned to perfect 4ths so now the interval between the 10 and 14 is a 7th, so large intervals work fine.


Platinum Member
Bring that floor tom down to an E for a fifth and you'll be amazed at how good a unison between the rack and floor can sound! If the 16 already sounds good, you probably only need to loosen the reso head a bit.


Senior Member
Brent, I like that idea. You're probably right. A quarter turn all the way around on the reso and I bet I'll be there. I'll try that tomorrow.

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
What do you think?
I've never used any kind of tuning devices to tune my toms., instead I play a simple song on them.

I prefer to leave a 2" gap in diameter in all my toms and floor toms, currently using 10", 12" and 14".

I tune my toms that they're in "tune" with each other, to "check it" I play the main melody of this simple song (the first 15 seconds in the vid, which is repeated twice at the beginning), it requires 3 toms, if I have more than 3 toms to tune, I just move up or down 1 tom and play the melody again, all the toms should be tuned so you can play the melody, it's a simple but efficient way to keep my intervals.


Junior Member

In a live setting, I'll tune to where the drums resonate/project their best. When you're tuning them, the drums will "tell you" where they are happiest. You'll know it! If you're cool with this, and you're band is cool with this, THEN DO NOT READ ON.

Ok, i warned you. But this is what I do:
In a studio setting, there is a little more room to experiment. I'll take the key of the song, and tune the drums around the chord (major or minor) and then stack 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths - or however many toms/roto toms/ Octobans/ you have!!!
It's a pain, and you have to keep checking to make sure the drums stay in tune. But to me (maybe not to most people) it's worth it. You end up playing this giant marimba that really adds and extra dimension. Especially when you hit two different toms at once and get this interval that's in the key of the tune.
On the snare, I'll disengage the clutch and tune to the fundamental note (or first note of the scale/key) . I'll do the same thing to the bottom head. When I engage the clutch, I use minimal damping on the top head for control. When I hit slightly off center, you get this boing harmonic which is, in key with the tune. So you get your snare beats that are "saying" a little more than "bang" or "pop"!
Sure, it may seem a little ridiculous to tune your drum set with a tone generator, but I dig it.

It's just a little more musical to me. I started out playing guitar, so while it's a little more involved than tuning a guitar, it make sense to me to do it this way. My band mates hate me because I have to schedule our sessions around tuning my drums to the keys of our tunes -until they hear the end product!. We'll get all our songs in the key of A Maj out of the way first, then the two in the key of Emaj, ect. You get better at it with practice, and it forces one to think a little more musically.


I've been tuning C G C for the longest time with a 10, 12, 14 or 10, 12, 16 setup. After I finish my insane experiments that may change a little, but I tend to like 4ths with my floor an octave below my highest tom.


Senior Member
Bonzo !!!!!

i have no idea what the intervals are, but it's ingrained in my mind.

even though i'm running 12 / 13 / 16 as opposed to Bonzo's 14 / 16 / 18 , i still go for that and pretty much nail it.

after getting the 13 there, the rest falls in line.