Steve Maxwell Tuning Video

newoldie

Silver Member
I found this interesting, since in watching Steve's videos the drums always sound fantastic, full and open. His video link is pasted below, check it out.

I know he plays mostly jazz, but I re-tuned my mount tom and floor tom to be tighter on the batter and a little lower on the resos. The sound is definitely fuller with more resonance.
On the bass drum, I tried to tune the reso lower but had to watch for wrinkling so I settled for lower than usual, not as low as I thought; and still tightened up the batter higher than before.

I play some small venue gigs where I don't have an amp for the bass drum and the other drums aren't miced, so I'm trying this modified tuning out tonight. I'm using my Sonor Player kit basics- 20x12, 10x8, snare.
I can't tell how the end result will turn out to the audience's ear, since I haven't sat 15+ feet in front with someone else on the kit to hear this tuning but on at 2 feet away it sounded pretty full:)

Does anyone else modify their tuning for no micing, smaller venues/gigs, to produce a more resonant sound in this manner?

I recall Larry has advocated tuning the bass drum head higher to reach the audience's hearing, but I'm wondering if Steve's approach might sound even louder.

Anyone compare tuning techniques- Steve's style to the tighter-resonant style (with no mics)?
https://youtu.be/KkF80DigKzk
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
For my Rock kits; When my drums are mic-ed I tune the bottom head to a higher pitch than I do if I am not using mic-s.
For my Jazz kits; I use coated Ambassador heads top and bottom. I tune the bottom head slightly higher than the top whether I am mic-ed or not. I tune the toms near the tension where the drum starts to choke.
On my bass drums the front head is always higher than the batter head. I tune looser for rock then I do for Jazz.
Steve Maxwell is an excellent tuner. I have also studied his videos.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Thanks for posting that. I love this guy. Tremendous knowledge and playing ability. This guy talks the talk and walks the walk. All of his videos are great.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
thanks. so wonderful to listen to him and his take-home messages:
1. do what works for you
2. tune by ear
3. think of the sound 'out there' not at the kit

Funny, he never once measured about tuning all drums to C!? ;/
 

drumdevil9

Platinum Member
There's some good info there. I generally tune reso higher than batter but I spent most of my life playing rock gigs with mics and like he says, it works great for that situation. I'm very accustomed to that sound. Lately though, I've been playing more gigs with little to mics at all on the drums but have not modified my tuning much. I should probably try what he suggests but on the other hand I loved the sound of my drums from the audience when someone else played them recently on a multi-band gig. So I'm conflicted but it might be worth a try.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
I've compared just about every conceivable tuning method you can imagine, & more besides. The first thing to take on board is there's no broad spectrum "better way", but there are a set of basics that apply universally.

Specific to the question of resonant / batter head relationship, the higher resonant head method can work very well at higher tuning ranges, but not so much at lower pitch tuning. The best method, & pitch relationship between batter & resonant head, very much depend on the results you want, the playing environment, & the drum construction. I employ several tuning methods on the same kit depending on the playing environment, & I vary default tuning methods depending on drum construction. For example, overall pitch considerations aside, I'll tune a heavy shell stave drum very differently to a medium thickness ply shell, & differently to a thin solid shell. Similarly, I'll tune differently for close mic'ing compared to 3 mic capture compared to acoustic performance. I'm not just talking different overall pitches, I'm referring to resonant / batter intervals.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
It's not intuitive to me that having the reso head with less tension could give you more resonance (assuming both heads are the same). Seems to me the way to get the most resonance would be to have both heads the same and not fighting each other.
But what do I know ;)
 

newoldie

Silver Member
I've compared just about every conceivable tuning method you can imagine, & more besides. The first thing to take on board is there's no broad spectrum "better way", but there are a set of basics that apply universally.

Specific to the question of resonant / batter head relationship, the higher resonant head method can work very well at higher tuning ranges, but not so much at lower pitch tuning. The best method, & pitch relationship between batter & resonant head, very much depend on the results you want, the playing environment, & the drum construction. I employ several tuning methods on the same kit depending on the playing environment, & I vary default tuning methods depending on drum construction. For example, overall pitch considerations aside, I'll tune a heavy shell stave drum very differently to a medium thickness ply shell, & differently to a thin solid shell. Similarly, I'll tune differently for close mic'ing compared to 3 mic capture compared to acoustic performance. I'm not just talking different overall pitches, I'm referring to resonant / batter intervals.
Andy, based on your experience and knowledge of these issues, could you suggest any specifics for optimal tuning of my Sonor Player kit for maximum resonance/volume for a small gig w/no mics? I used it last night but didn't have a chance to hear it from the audience area myself, tuned them higher on batters and a 25% lower on the resos. Bass drum was a bit lower on the reso.
Heads used- Batters are Remo Ambassadors/ bass drum is clear PS3. Resos are clear single ply, bass drum is ebony PS3 w/port hole. According to Sonor, shells are Poplar wood, 9 plies:
http://us.sonor.com/instruments/drums/special-edition-series/player-se/
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My problem with the lower reso is the quality of the tone. Drums sound boingy to me. That said, on a short sustaining drum like a 10" tom, a slightly lower reso can help to lengthen the note. That boingy sound probably doesn't carry like that to the audience. I don't prefer it at the kit. But universally, I prefer the tone of the drum when the reso is tight tight tight. Especially the big drums. And live, the tighter the batter, the more the drum sounds like a drum in the audience, even though it sounds pingy from the throne.
 
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