TOM TUNING

Elvis

Silver Member
Skinner said:
Most drum tuning experts recommend not tuning your toms too tight. Many say to tune just past where the wrinkles are gone.
Oh yeah and I do have an issue with the above statement.
That's so much BS and I'm sick of hearing about it.
That's a Rock Drummer's perspective and people have been playing Rock for too long.
A tom has a range of pitches that it can speak in. One should know how to work with that range and then find a spot they prefer, or use their knowledge to fit the gig.


..."just past the wrinkles". OOOOOOO!!!!!






Elvis
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
Re: THE TOM TUNING THREAD

I probably don't have any business posting here since I'm guessing that you guys are all rock drummers and I'm rather an old guy. But what I do, once the new heads are well placed and stretched on the shells, is to first adjust the tension on the batter head to suit the way I play. I rely on a decent amount of "bounce," so I adjust the tension to give me just the feel I'm looking for. Then I adjust the tension on the bottom head for pitch, and there isn't a great deal a variance there. A good drum will always sound good if you get your heads vibrating correctly.
As far as pitch is concerned, that's not all that important to me. A good drum will "sound" at its natural resonant capacity. If you try to make it too high or too low then you're wasting a good drum.
Look at it like this: you wouldn't want your drum to feel like you're playing on a table, nor would you want it to feel like you're playing on a mattress. You want it to feel like you're playing on a drum, and you want the drum to sound as good as it's made to sound. Head tension is very important, but pitch is rather beside the point as long as you have a well made drum.
Although I respect your opinion, I must disagree with the pitch not being important statement. I agree with your point that the drum has to feel good and have the proper tension. That is absolutley correct. But, there is more to it than that in my opinion to truly get the toms to sound musical as a whole. Just as two keys on a piano struck together don't always sound good, some do and some don't, the point is that there is a pitch relationship that can be achieved between the toms and within the parameters of the tension and feel of the drum being right, to make the toms sound better as a whole. Having a correct pitch relationship helps to reduce unwanted overtones and allows the drums to compliment each other when played together or in a pattern. It is a technique used by many drummers (Gavin Harrison gives a detailed example of this tuning on his kit in his posts here on Drummerworld) it's practical, makes sense and truly does make a diffence.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Re: THE TOM TUNING THREAD

Although I respect your opinion, I must disagree with the pitch not being important statement. I agree with your point that the drum has to feel good and have the proper tension. That is absolutley correct. But, there is more to it than that in my opinion to truly get the toms to sound musical as a whole. Just as two keys on a piano struck together don't always sound good, some do and some don't, the point is that there is a pitch relationship that can be achieved between the toms and within the parameters of the tension and feel of the drum being right, to make the toms sound better as a whole. Having a correct pitch relationship helps to reduce unwanted overtones and allows the drums to compliment each other when played together or in a pattern. It is a technique used by many drummers (Gavin Harrison gives a detailed example of this tuning on his kit in his posts here on Drummerworld) it's practical, makes sense and truly does make a diffence.
Agreed CDrums. There is a lot of space between a drum feeling like a table and feeling like a mattress. My drums are tuned to no specific pitch, that I aim for, but they are tuned to each other. ALL FOUR of them.
 

mind_drummer

Platinum Member
...

2) Use a thinner resonant side head. Thin bottom heads give off a darker and more resonant sound. They also seem to lower the pitch a little, thus (just like with the larger toms) you'll need to pull the batter side head up a little tighter to enjoy the pitch that you like.
The sound with a thin bottom head will always be darker and more resonant (more "tympani-like" if you will) compared to a medium weight head or thicker, but you can "balance" that out by pulling the batter side up to higher pitch.


Elvis
I thought too that thinner reso would resonate more until I saw the Bob Gatzen "forgotten head" video.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=P2ibBol23hs

Watch and conclude by yourself
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I think the terms he uses are "less mass, less resonance." There is simply less material to resonate.
 

m1ck

Senior Member
It took some time - basically all day - but I think I finally got a grip on CD's tuning method. I must admit, the kit sounds good - round and punchy with a nice, natural interval between toms.

At first I tried matching the pitch to a keyboard, by ear, but that wore me out. My ears started playing tricks on me. I resorted to an acoustic guitar tuner, WHICH, as it turns out, was not only useful but taught me a lesson about tuning and what to listen for. This entire experiment was educational.

I tuned the 10" batter to a B, and the 12" and 14" batters down a major 3rd each. The resos are all up a minor third from the respective batters. The tension on the heads for that range of pitches seems to be what the shells want: between 70-75 on the DrumDial.

The 10" tom still rattles the snare - hence the next technical obsession begins.
 
J

jay norem

Guest
But any well made drum will have a natural resonant frequency that can only be fully exploited by the proper tensioning of the heads, both heads. The two must work together. Looking at it this way you can see that both heads are actually "resonant" heads.
A drum is one vibrating system. All the components in that system have to work together for the whole to achieve its full resonant and tonal potential. No magic, just physics. Very simple.
 

Elvis

Silver Member
mind_drummer said:
I thought too that thinner reso would resonate more until I saw the Bob Gatzen "forgotten head" video.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=P2ibBol23hs

Watch and conclude by yourself
I think the terms he uses are "less mass, less resonance." There is simply less material to resonate.
Sorry guys, I think I didn't make my point clear enough.
When I stated that a thin weight bottom head would give off a darker and more resonant sound, I meant its impact on the sound of the drum, as a whole.

Your statements are absolutely correct (as are Bob's). I just didn't convey my point clearly enough.

Again, sorry about that and I am in complete agreement with you guys.






Elvis
 

Elvis

Silver Member
But any well made drum will have a natural resonant frequency that can only be fully exploited by the proper tensioning of the heads, both heads. The two must work together. Looking at it this way you can see that both heads are actually "resonant" heads.
A drum is one vibrating system. All the components in that system have to work together for the whole to achieve its full resonant and tonal potential. No magic, just physics. Very simple.
"Resonant Head", "Batter Head", "Snare Side Head", Bass Drum Head"...these are all technical terms to convey the purpose and/or the POSITION of the head, when its placed on the drum.
It has nothing to do with how resonant the head is or isn't.




Elvis
 

sssssssss

Senior Member
clean tom sound

I just got my beautiful new Mapex M Birch Cherry Red kit (22", 14", 8", 10", 12", 14"). Nice drumset, really (not only for the price!). I got a nice sound for the bass drum, snare, 8" tom and 10" tom, but I'm not completely satisfied with the 12" & 14" toms. They're inherently OK, but I can't seem to get a really clean sound out of them. Any tips or tricks that you use to do that? How do you obtain your clean sound from 12" & 14" toms?
 

Doug Masters

Silver Member
Re: clean tom sound

Are you using the stock heads? If so, I'd start by putting quality heads on top and bottom. While doing that carefully inspect the bearing edges. Make sure they are smooth with no nicks or dings. If they are not perfect, return the kit. Good luck.
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
Re: clean tom sound

You need to figure out the tuning range of your drum and the tuning ranges of the heads you're using. Tune each head into an even tuning within its optimal tuning range, and you shouldn't get any funny overtones. Also experiment with different pitch invervals between the batter and resonant heads -- usually I tune the resonant head a tad higher than the batter in order to further diminsh the overtones emanating from the resonant head.
 

Guillermo

Senior Member
Re: clean tom sound

OK... there's a couple of things here.

FIrst off, JUST DIAMETER should not be considered... the size of a drum is it's ACOUSTIC CHAMBER... for example I use a 10" and a 12"... but they're both 8" deep... and my floor tom is 14"x14" this setup was custom made that way.

If in your case the drums are 6"x8" it's very different than a 8"x8" and so on.

So after you consider THAT, you should then figure out what INTERVALS you want between toms...

REMEMBER the drumset is an instrument COMPRISED of instruments... it's like a small ensemble, in which all sounds combine in harmony... sometimes a drummer gets a tone they want from a tuning on ONE tom that DOES NOT MATCH the other toms sizes WITH THE INTERVALS you are going for.

I'd say, start WITH the 14", then the 12"... and BUILD UP instead of build down the tuning.

A good starting point is MEDIUM tension and both heads equal.. and move on from there.

A good tip id to tap the shell WITH A MALLET or your finger and catch the inherent tone of the shell... quality drumsets are tone MATCHED... sometimes you get a drum with a fundamental tone that's higher or lower than what you want to tune it so start with the fundamentals and correct from there... maybe the 10" will not be EXACTLY where you wanted, but you will have a HARMONIOUS drum sound.

AND THEN TINKER... you need to do that to KNOW your drums... each drum is different... if you want to have good tone for each drum and a similar resonance and sustain, you may need to tweak the tuning... ont reso head could be higher than the batter on one drum... another could be equal on both heads, but with a lower tension... stuff like that... get to know your drums, it takes time and patience, but once you do it's like a whole world opening up.. you can sopund anyway you want... it's better to deal with this in principle, instead of just slapping some heads and muffling that will give the tone for you, instead of the shell.
 

zzdrummer

Senior Member
Re: clean tom sound

Also experiment with different pitch invervals between the batter and resonant heads -- usually I tune the resonant head a tad higher than the batter in order to further diminsh the overtones emanating from the resonant head.
I'm getting new heads soon and I really haven't expiramented much with reso tuning. Anyone else have any suggestions? That's the most common I've heard and I think I'm going to go with that. It would be no use trying now because my stock Gretsch batters are pretty crappy and it would useless toying with the reso's.
 

zzdrummer

Senior Member
Re: THE TOM TUNING THREAD

I probably don't have any business posting here since I'm guessing that you guys are all rock drummers and I'm rather an old guy. But what I do, once the new heads are well placed and stretched on the shells, is to first adjust the tension on the batter head to suit the way I play. I rely on a decent amount of "bounce," so I adjust the tension to give me just the feel I'm looking for. Then I adjust the tension on the bottom head for pitch, and there isn't a great deal a variance there. A good drum will always sound good if you get your heads vibrating correctly.
As far as pitch is concerned, that's not all that important to me. A good drum will "sound" at its natural resonant capacity. If you try to make it too high or too low then you're wasting a good drum.
Look at it like this: you wouldn't want your drum to feel like you're playing on a table, nor would you want it to feel like you're playing on a mattress. You want it to feel like you're playing on a drum, and you want the drum to sound as good as it's made to sound. Head tension is very important, but pitch is rather beside the point as long as you have a well made drum.
Dang man, never thought of it like that. That's genius because I too like the feel playing on tight toms but don't so much like the sound of the point where I can get some good rebound on my kit. Will definitley keep that in mind.
 

drumdruid

Member
Hi folks,

Ok its not writen in stone but to heres how I do it , as a pro drum tech my work reputation relies on tuning so here you go...

Resonant heads first as this is where the tone comes from - Baater heads 2nd as thins where the attack comes from

Take the batter heads off
Turn all the toms resonant head up and place them on a piece of carpet
tune the bottom heads so they cascade with an even tone ( internation is everything if you want them to sit musicaly in a band situation)
Now hang the toms and start on the batter heads , decide if you want a rise in tone after the strike or a falling tone - batter head lower in pitch and the tone will fall - batter head higher in pitch and the tone will rise.
If the batter heads are properly seated it should only take a turn or 2 of the drum key before they start to work .
You may need a small piece of gaffer tape or moongel to control overtone or ring depending on the make of drum / wood type / head type

Only my oppinion

- Remo Heads are like cheap tyres - they work everywhere but need constant correction after an hour or 2 of playing - will last for years

Evans heads are just a pain in the Arse to get right

Aquarian heads are the Rolls Royce , only ever needs a little tweak , sound very musical and will last if your a good player - Not good for metal punk ect
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
- Remo Heads are like cheap tyres - they work everywhere but need constant correction after an hour or 2 of playing - will last for years
I've never had such experiences with Remo heads. I can dial in the tuning I want and it will stay right there -- unless I'm constantly hitting loud rim shots on a loosely tuned drum.
 

drumdruid

Member
I think it depends on the kit , and its only a general observation as actualy I also rarely have had problems with snare drums only with toms . I have founs that a lot of remo heads need to have the folds where the skin is fixed in the hoop `cracked`out properly before you seat them. climate is also an issue over here , moving from warm rehearsal room to cold transport , where as the aquarians are constant.
 
B

Big_Philly

Guest
decide if you want a rise in tone after the strike or a falling tone - batter head lower in pitch and the tone will fall - batter head higher in pitch and the tone will rise.
I'll see if that is correct as soon as I can; I have had some tuning issues with my 14" tom, I can't get the low rumble I want out of it (I used to be able to) without a very unwanted downward pitch bend. The resonant head might be out of shape somehow but it appears to be fine.
I don't want any pitch bending in my toms, just a clean tone... I can get that from every drum just how I want it except from the 14x11" one, unless I tune it to a higher pitch (that I don't like). Very frustrating. If anyone has any helpful ideas on this that would be great. Batter head is fine, reso head is a stock tama batter head, quite similar to a clear ambassador.
 
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