Timbre notes on my DW's..

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
So true. I have many memories from growing where I'd get my drums sounding awesome in my room then take would take them to school or a venue and they'd suddenly sound like poop. Nothing like learning by experimentation.

As for the DW marketing machine - you gotta give credit where it's due. When I was in High School (mid nineties) DWs were like these things of myth. They'd be talked about in my local drum shop, but the shop never got any in. Then by the time I was out of college, Guitar Center was selling them and practically every pro player is endorsing them. Not to mention, by and large, their rep for quality is largely undiminished. I say kudos.

Also, the offshoot of the DW market flood is that there are far more used kits to had at very competitive prices - especially in the current buyer's market.
True. But we can thank our economy for the market flood of everything ;)
 

con struct

Platinum Member
To illustrate the timbre thing... Imagine two identical 14" floor toms where one is tuned higher and the other is tuned lower. This will result in the drums having two different timbres (even if the shells are otherwise identical).
Well, but that's not strictly correct. It will result in two different pitches, but the tonal color of the two drums will be fundamentally the same.

Four trumpets, each playing a different pitch, will all share the same basic timbre.
 

Artstar

Platinum Member
Whatever happened to the days when you just got some drums, then spent alot of time figuring out where they liked to sing at yourself?
That is what probably 90 + % still do... including the dw owners. It will always be that way IMO.

What cracks me up.. is the guys on ebay etc.... who put the notes in the description.. like the people looking at the ad.. might not want one drum or another etc..
 

Rith

New member
Agreed....................................................
Ok, is it a gimmick? Maybe. A good marketing concept. Definitely. I have six drum kits. Three Gretsch, a vintage Slingerland, a Mapex and a Ludwig. No DW’s. But about 20-25 years ago I thought, if every DW drum shell has a optimal note, hell every drum shell must. So I every kit I mentioned above I’ve used it for all
rack toms, not floor toms. Floor Tom I tune as low as I can get to do bass dri patterns and configurations where you can replicate a double peddle without having one. And yes I took heads off, try to balance drum on suspended on finger with finger on inside screws so it resonates as much as possible. Then lolling like a complete idiot you put the shell to your ear and tap inside with a stick.
You WILL get a resonant tone! That’s the optimal note of the shell ! Years ago I had a portable keyboard and found the note it was that way. When that keyboard crashed, I bought a simple pitch pipe with all the notes of the scale on it. I matched the tone of the shell to the pitch pipe got the note. After getting the note tuned both batter and resonant heads to it. Trust me it works. No matter what kit I use, they all sound amazing. And not just my opinion. I’ve used four of my kits with only one band over the years. I use different size kit depending on how small or big the gig is be it space constraints or huge fairs and anything in between. Every time I brought in a different kit for the first time they would say “wow this kit sounds amazing too!”
“All your kits sound so good.” It also takes the guess work out of tuning by ear or other methods. So, call it a marketing ploy, call it a gimmick, stupid, BS. Call it what ever you want to call it. I call it legit. And not just for DW shells. It works. Any kit I buy new or used, it’s the first thing I do before I play the first gig
with it. Just did it to the Ludwig.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
try to balance drum on suspended on finger with finger on inside screws so it resonates as much as possible. Then lolling like a complete idiot you put the shell to your ear and tap inside with a stick.
You WILL get a resonant tone! That’s the optimal note of the shell !
Unfortunately, you're not getting the "optimal" note of the shell, because such a note doesn't exist. You're getting the note at which the shell + lugs resonates, which changes the moment you add/remove mass (heads/hoops) to it.

I have no doubt that you can make your drums sound great. It's really not that difficult or complicated as long as you tune within the drum's usable range, but there's no magical frequency that will suddenly make a drum sound any better than other frequencies within it's range.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
but there's no magical frequency that will suddenly make a drum sound any better than other frequencies within it's range.
Off topic for this thread, but I believe there is. And it has to do mainly with shell depth. The frequency that isa 1/4 wavelength of the shell depth will cancel itself out (at least in one mode of shell vibration). So if you tune to where that actual frequency is sounded it will subtract itself from the harmonics. Now whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on what you want/expect to hear. OTOH if you purposely tune to where that frequency is not part of the harmonics it doesn’t really matter.
 

Rith

New member
Kamak, ok so you say theirs no such thing as a shells optimal note. At least not the note I’m hearing when I tap inside of the shell because of lugs/hardware/mount ect. You could be very well correct and I wouldn’t dispute that.
However, when you tap inside that shell, you still get a resonant tone, a specific note if you will. Maybe the shell sounded different when it was bare. Makes sense. So is DW giving you that note of the bare shell? Who knows? All I know is I’m getting a note in the toms when I tap inside. I’ve noticed many times if I tune too far outside that note, I get weird tonal frequencies, goofy harmonics. The drums just don’t sound as good. Two of my kits rack toms are tuned to C & G. Hmmmm. That’s two thirds of an actual musical chord. So just in that example alone, hitting them together or going quickly around the kit they sonically, harmonically sound beautiful together.
So, the system works out great fo me. It’s funny when I play with a group for the first time and I ask the keyboard player or bass player for a C and then a G. Or another kits rack toms A and the a E. To make sure the batter heads are in tune. They look at me like I’m wacko. With all the drummers they played with over the years no one ever asked them for a note. If later on they ask me what the deal is I explain it to them. All I’m saying is try it. If your drum already sound good to your ear tuning, maybe that can sound even better. If not I’m sure you can get them tuned back to your ear again where they were.
Play tasteful, make your sound be pretty and musical. Just because you play an instrument that you physically hit, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t sound pleasing to the ear and through the mix. You can play great how you play technically. Blow other drummers away. But if you can’t tune a drum worth a shit and you have trashy, harsh, gongy trash can lid cymbals, don’t matter how good or incredible you play. Your still gonna sound like shit.
Tune a choose equipment wisely. Just some things I’ve learned in my touring with some top name radio hit makers and 53 years of playing. Above all have fun!
 

incrementalg

Gold Member
Kamak, ok so you say theirs no such thing as a shells optimal note. At least not the note I’m hearing when I tap inside of the shell because of lugs/hardware/mount ect. You could be very well correct and I wouldn’t dispute that.
However, when you tap inside that shell, you still get a resonant tone, a specific note if you will. Maybe the shell sounded different when it was bare. Makes sense. So is DW giving you that note of the bare shell? Who knows? All I know is I’m getting a note in the toms when I tap inside. I’ve noticed many times if I tune too far outside that note, I get weird tonal frequencies, goofy harmonics. The drums just don’t sound as good. Two of my kits rack toms are tuned to C & G. Hmmmm. That’s two thirds of an actual musical chord. So just in that example alone, hitting them together or going quickly around the kit they sonically, harmonically sound beautiful together.
So, the system works out great fo me. It’s funny when I play with a group for the first time and I ask the keyboard player or bass player for a C and then a G. Or another kits rack toms A and the a E. To make sure the batter heads are in tune. They look at me like I’m wacko. With all the drummers they played with over the years no one ever asked them for a note. If later on they ask me what the deal is I explain it to them. All I’m saying is try it. If your drum already sound good to your ear tuning, maybe that can sound even better. If not I’m sure you can get them tuned back to your ear again where they were.
Play tasteful, make your sound be pretty and musical. Just because you play an instrument that you physically hit, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t sound pleasing to the ear and through the mix. You can play great how you play technically. Blow other drummers away. But if you can’t tune a drum worth a shit and you have trashy, harsh, gongy trash can lid cymbals, don’t matter how good or incredible you play. Your still gonna sound like shit.
Tune a choose equipment wisely. Just some things I’ve learned in my touring with some top name radio hit makers and 53 years of playing. Above all have fun!
Yeah, DW is giving you the note of the bare shell. Once a shell is made, someone taps it then records the note it makes on the inside of the drum. Then all the hardware is attached. Then DW likes to pair certain notes together in their sets.

You can do the same with any drum shell. Take off all the hardware, tap it and make note of the note it produces. Put all the hardware back on and try tuning to that note.

I tried it with a Gretsch USA tom that took apart for cleaning. Once back together I found the drum sang at a completely different note than what was heard when tapping the shell. I also tapped the shell once all the hardware was back on and there wasn’t really any discernible note. More like a clunk sound.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Kamak, ok so you say theirs no such thing as a shells optimal note. At least not the note I’m hearing when I tap inside of the shell because of lugs/hardware/mount ect. You could be very well correct and I wouldn’t dispute that.
However, when you tap inside that shell, you still get a resonant tone, a specific note if you will. Maybe the shell sounded different when it was bare. Makes sense. So is DW giving you that note of the bare shell? Who knows? All I know is I’m getting a note in the toms when I tap inside.
Yes, when you tap on the shell (even with hardware/heads), you get a note... And if you perfectly match the heads to a harmonic or dead-on the note, you "might" get an extra DB or second of sustain.... And that result stands just as great a chance of sounding uncanny and horrible, as it does being an improvement, as it does being totally indiscernible from any other tuning.

All that number can do is give an indication of range as an aid/guide for pairing with other shells or measuring consistency of manufacture.

Similarly, when I strike the top of my head with a drumstick, it makes a note. If I tune all my drums in key with that note, will they sound better to me?
 

KarlCrafton

Platinum Member
Wow, a 7 year old thread resurrected!!!
I like DW's stuff, but the Collectors is my least favorite shell offering from them. Love the Classic and Jazz shell, and the Mahogany Maple is great, The Cherry...
I did really like the original Keller 6 ply w/6 ply ring shell they had though. They change that lay up at least 3 times, maybe 4, before they settled on what they've used the last decade or so.
 
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