Tuning toms

I recently switched the batter heads on all my toms to coated Emperors but I've been having some difficulty in dialing in the right tone. Previously, I always tuned coated Ambassadors to the same pitch as the clear Ambassadors (medium tension), but I'm finding the 2 ply heads don't respond as well when tuning to the same pitch as the resonant heads. Any tips?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
What are you using for resos? I find a thin or medium reso works well, tuned a little higher than I want the tom to be. The top head - 1 or 2-ply - should then dial right in.

Bermuda
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Any tips?
When you get down to the fundamentals of it...

A head has 4 tunings... low, medium, high, and cranked. This translates into:

Low - a half turn past finger tight (JAJAW, or Just Above Just Above Wrinkle)
Medium - 1 to 1.5 turns past finger tight
High - 2 to 2.5 turns past finger tight
Cranked - >=3 turns past finger tight.

With two heads on the drum, this gives you 16 different combinations. It takes about a minute to tune the drum to each, and 5 minutes of playing to listen to what sound is produced. About 2h to explore them all.

I play a lot of rock, and it took me two beers to figure out that I'm typically a low-over-medium guy.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
My resos are clear Ambassadors. I've always been pleased with them so I never saw the need to try something else.
Should be fine. Are they old? When a reso head has been on a drum for a long while, like 3 or 4 years, it doesn't have the same elasticity (ability to vibrate) as it did when new.

Most of the tone comes from the reso. Is it tuned evenly for the purest tone? Are the edges on both sides of the shells even?

Also, Emperors (and Pinstripes) frequently don't tune well, because the plies don't lay flat against each other (a quality control issue.) It's possible you've just got a bad batter (or two or three - I've had that happen.)

Bermuda
 
The resos are less than a year old so they should still be fine I would assume.

I am by no means an expert at tuning, but I've managed to get a solid even tone. At least to my ears the resos sound good on their own.

The edges seem to be even on both sides while passing my hand around them. I also laid the shells without the hoops on a flat surface to see if they wobbled at all but nope, they seem even on both sides. It's also a brand new Classic Maple kit.

I did run in to some dud Pinstripes and this is my first experience with Emperors. I'll keep trying and see if I can manage to get a nice tone out of them. If not, well I may just end up going back to my trusty Ambassadors!
 

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
Is it that you have problems hearing a clear tone? If this is the case, then take the tom one by one, put it on a carpet or pillow, something that will dampen/deaden the resohead. Put on the batterhead, make the screws on ach lug fingertight, then go half a turn up. Then tune the batterhead evenly and check the tone you get at each lug by fingertipping the head, about an inch towards the center from each lug. Tune up or down accordingly, use one lug as the reference point. Once you have all even, tune the tom up to where you want it to be sonically. Now take it off and listen to how it sounds together with the resohead. Retune the batter and/or resohead as needed.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I did run in to some dud Pinstripes and this is my first experience with Emperors. I'll keep trying and see if I can manage to get a nice tone out of them. If not, well I may just end up going back to my trusty Ambassadors!
I would stick with a 1-ply for easier tuning, and add a little tape/gel to get the darker, punchier 2-ply vibe.

Bermuda
 
Well with a lot of persistence I was able to tune the coated Emps to my liking. I went with a medium tuning on the resos (clear Ambs) and low tuning on the batter. It took me a bit to achieve an even pitch around the drum but I got it. Really digging the coated 2 ply heads!
 

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
Btw, if you experience tuning problems again and again with a certain tom, check if the hoops are okay (apparently that has not been done yet, based on your previous answers). Maybe they are nor really round or flat which will make tuning more difficult.
 

w3r1_drums

Senior Member
Might as well ask

I have coated emperors on my two rack toms and the first one is quite a bit ringier. It's noticeable by itself, but it doesn't matter too much to me as for the genres I play it won't matter too much. But if I can fix this, I would love to know how.

I have them both tuned to about the same tension. The second (less ringy) tom might be tuned a bit tighter to straighten out the wrinkles

tbh it doesn't bother me that much tho and I would only change it if I knew it would sound better. The reso heads are ludwig stock heads, but I did make an effort to tune them evenly on both toms (and I would like to see after much hard work I succeeded!)
 

hippy chip

Silver Member
I understand that there are plenty of You Tube videos on drum tuning, but if you really want the best sound out of you kit stop wasting your time and learn to do it properly! tunadrum.com takes you through the whole process from checking the shells to setting intervals, to fine tuning. The downside is you have to actually READ THE DIRECTIONS! If you take the time to go through the whole site you will never have trouble tuning drums again. I can tune my whole kit in less time than it took me to read this whiney thread!
 

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
The ring of drums is normal and to a certain degree will not affect any music in a negative way (and the ring wil be different, depending on the tuning, shell-material and the shellconstruction). What you hear when you sit behind your drums is really different to what you hear from a few feet away, from the audience and/or through the mics. Drums are resonanting shells and shells do have a tone. We should allow that musical instrument to sound musical and natural. Those dead synthetic sounds that some people believe is what drums should sound like, is IMO a turn-off. If I play with brushes e.g. I really love the ring that a good steel snare offers. It's a nice facet, the personality of the drum and should be used properly. IF the drum is too ringy, put half a moongel near the rim and check again. If it is still too ringy, place the second half of the gel a few inches away near the rim.

I remember that I also had fears that e.g. my steel shell snares would be too ringy when playing with the band. Ambassador on top, no moongel and tuned up for funky stuff. I asked the band afterwards if the snare was too ringy, if it had too cutting overtones. They looked at me and didn't know what I was talking about.

If you have problems with tuning drums, visit a teacher/capable drummer or any sort, go to workshops,read on it, experiment. Tuning drums ain't hard once you have understood the principles.
 
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