Snare: Tight Vs Loose bottom head

Jerome

Junior Member
Hi drummers,

I've always read everywhere that the bottom head of a snare drum should be tuned tight, almost cranked all the way up. You will probably tell me it depends on the drummer's taste but it seems to be THE unbreakable rule of drum tuning.

I've got a Ludwig LM402 and it happens to sound better to me, when the bottom head is not too tight. I tune the top head pretty low and I feel like it sounds fatter and more consistent when the reso head is not too tight. Still tighter than the top, but not too tight.

Your thoughts?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Tuning methods and sounds are very subjective. I happen to tune the snare side pretty tight, and that works well for me. Each year at NAMM, I tune the 50+ snares in the Ludwig booth starting with a tight bottom head, and everyone seems to like the results. :)

Bermuda
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
What a drum sounds to you is way different than to someone 20 feet away. Altimately, you're in control of your sound and there are guys out there that will detune a lug or few to get a fat sound.

With respect to the reso, tighter will provide far better stick response, but there's a point where the sound chocks. No drum will sound good or carry when tuned beyond its range in either direction.

I'd think you'd get a far better sound if you tuned it to where it performs best, then throw on a Big Fat Snare Drum head on it or make your own. Should get you the same type of sound, but will carry more and respond better. Head will last longer too.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
One drummers' "not too tight" could still be pretty tight. Its a subjective word maybe. If it sounds good, its likely tight enough.
 

TheElectricCompany

Senior Member
Tight or loose, I've never been able to get a good snare sound from any snare I've owned. Whether I sit down with a drum for an hour, an afternoon, or two minutes before a show, it's just not in me.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
IMHO a "tight" reso head is more sensitive. How tight and how sensitive is up to you of course. A loose reso head can lead to excessive buzz in many situations. Try a variety of tensions and see what you like.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Tight or loose, I've never been able to get a good snare sound from any snare I've owned. Whether I sit down with a drum for an hour, an afternoon, or two minutes before a show, it's just not in me.
The first thing I think of....crank that reso at least twice where you have it now!
 

Bull

Gold Member
I've said it before. My reso is extremely tight. If you pricked it with a pin,the drum would explode. :)

A tight snare reso also helps control sympathetic buzz.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
One drummers' "not too tight" could still be pretty tight. Its a subjective word maybe.
It's very subjective.

When I say "pretty tight", that means tapping with the finger and getting a high note with a clear tone but a short decay. Too tight means tapping with the finger, and getting a staccato blip or pop, no discernable note or decay.

If the head can't vibrate enough to produce a note, the wires also can't respond well enough to make a useful sound.

Bermuda
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
Tight or loose, I've never been able to get a good snare sound from any snare I've owned. Whether I sit down with a drum for an hour, an afternoon, or two minutes before a show, it's just not in me.
I recommend investing in a tune-bot. Great device which will get you perfect results. There's also a dedicated app for it that I use with mine.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.overtone.tunebot&hl=en_GB
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/drum-tuning-calculator/id851864924?mt=8

It has recommended Hz frequency settings for snare, toms and bass drums for batter and reso heads, and you can choose which fundamental notes and octaves you prefer.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I've always read everywhere that the bottom head of a snare drum should be tuned tight, almost cranked all the way up. You will probably tell me it depends on the drummer's taste but it seems to be THE unbreakable rule of drum tuning.
I wouldn't say that. The range where the snare side head sounds good is usually in the higher end-- I would never do a true medium or low tuning with it. But probably the worst sounding drums I've encountered had the bottom head cranked way too high. Usually accompanied by way-too-tight snares.
 

DrumWild

Senior Member
I recommend investing in a tune-bot. Great device which will get you perfect results. There's also a dedicated app for it that I use with mine.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.overtone.tunebot&hl=en_GB
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/drum-tuning-calculator/id851864924?mt=8

It has recommended Hz frequency settings for snare, toms and bass drums for batter and reso heads, and you can choose which fundamental notes and octaves you prefer.
Thanks for this. I just got my tune-bot recently, and had no idea that this app existed.
 

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
Tight or loose, I've never been able to get a good snare sound from any snare I've owned. Whether I sit down with a drum for an hour, an afternoon, or two minutes before a show, it's just not in me.
Been there. Some snares I just can never get right. I have a Drum Dial that helps balance the two heads pretty well and that helped a lot. But even with that, some drums you just can't reach.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
I wouldn't say that. The range where the snare side head sounds good is usually in the higher end-- I would never do a true medium or low tuning with it. But probably the worst sounding drums I've encountered had the bottom head cranked way too high. Usually accompanied by way-too-tight snares.
My experience as well, especially in the Guitar Center drum rooms where snares, batter and reso are wayyyyyy to tight to breathe.
 
G

Ghostnote

Guest
I get better results with a tight snare-side head, whether the batter is loose, medium, or tight. No sense getting crazy with the snare-side tension though- someone on here posted a while back about cranking their bottom head super tight on several occasions and after checking it with a drum dial afterward, the head would settle back down at a consistent reading after having sit for a while. Makes sense, as a snare-side head is usually only 2 or 2 mils thick and will stretch out eventually if subjected to excessive tension. At that point, you're just eating up space on the collar of the head and using up future tweak space for tune ups down the road.
 

Frank

Gold Member
I find there is a sweet spot between loose and super tight. Too tight and it chokes the whole snare. Back off from there, and with my snares, I find something I like very much.
 

Brian

Gold Member
My LM 400 is my goto snare drum.

The reso is pretty simple to me. I evenly tension each rod, testing for evenness of pitch, until I feel it's near a subjective "medium" to tight tension range, as well as in tune with itself. Then, I'll put some pressure on the head with my finger tips. IF there is a just a little give, (not tabletop tight), but it also takes a little bit of force to push it in, it's pretty close to where I want it.

From there I'm tuning the batter, seeing where the sound lies, then perhaps making a few final adjustments up or down on the reso and wire tensions
 

Tone Laborer

Senior Member
Recently got a Tune Bot Gig, it's nice on toms and bass, I haven't had as much luck on snares, especially snare reso, where I can't get frequency near as high as the calculator is calling for., head has chocked out long before that point.

I'm no tuning expert, but how lively a sound or how dampened a sound your looking for / the drum will tolerate, would seem to me a critical consideration, when people talk about tuning snare drums.
 
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