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Wagster 01-28-2013 12:22 PM

Stop poking me with that stick!
Nag, nag, nag. Does your wife/spouse say this a lot too? You'd think she'd be used to it by now...

I've been playing guitar for 30 or 40 years now. Along the way I managed to spend enough time behind a set of drums to learn how to give a bass player a groove he can work with and put a few fills in the right places at the right times....mostly.

The wife and I bought a house and a few acres out in the "country" about 10 years ago. One of the advantages to this self-imposed isolation is, well, the isolation. On most any Saturday night there are musicians out here getting loud into the wee hours with no risk of cranky neighbors throwing shoes at you. A couple of years ago my lovely wife gave me a set of drums for Father's day. They are entry-level Ludwigs, but are more than adequate for me and my Saturday night friends who think drum talent is proportional to shots of tequila consumed.

I guess in the back of my mind I knew this, but it wasn't until I sat staring at those hundreds of Ludwig parts that it dawned on me that drums actually required set-up and tuning and I had no clue how to go about it. After I finally got them together I did make some half-hearted attempts to learn how to tune the things but the whole process seemed so subjective. I'd read a few web pages and they would provide some vague "goals" like, "when it sounds full", "it will ring", "tune it to a C#". I had no point of reference and didn't know if I was gaining or losing ground on these "goals". I finally got frustrated with it and just played the things. They still made all the required noises drums should make and the tequila enhanced their tone wonderfully.

I finally got tired of my ignorance and have been making the effort to figure out what I need to know to get the most out of these drums. I ran across the videos that Bob Gatzen has on youtube and he really explained, and showed, methods for tuning that I could understand and follow. I still have much to learn but now when I tinker with the heads I know what I'm looking for and what I'm listening to. Even with it's worn out skins, my drums are sounding pretty sweet now. Especially the snare. What a difference.

So, I'm going to be putting some new batter heads on my kit soon (Evans Hydraulics) and I was noodling the idea of taking the reso heads off at the same time. My search for info on the pros and cons of removing the reso heads lead me to this forum. While browsing the pages here I learned two things:
(1) Without support from the hoops the shells can warp. This is good information to have! I did not know this could happen and will consider it carefully.
(2) People that kick puppies, don't leave tips and have road rage are held in higher esteem than drummers that have removed the bottom skin from their toms. (However, these drummers are still a notch above the ones who put duct tape on their one remaining head.)
Who'da thunk? This too, is good info to have and will also be considered carefully. I am a product of the 70's and was raised on classic rock. Drums with naked bottoms was a part of that culture that deserves it's due and cannot be denied. Well, I guess if do go that route, maybe kicking a few puppies will improve my reputation.

I am looking looking forward to spending time here and learning the in's and outs. But right now I can see the wife is taking a nap. A perfect opportunity to poke her with my stick!

larryz 02-06-2013 04:09 PM

Re: Stop poking me with that stick!
This is a funny post. Poking your wife with your stick....haha. Now I have 3 Dog Night's "Out in the Country" in my head now..thanks and welcome :)

BacteriumFendYoke 02-06-2013 04:42 PM

Re: Stop poking me with that stick!
Taking the bottom heads off is an option but one I wouldn't necessarily encourage for two reasons:

i) The 'warping' that you talk about. It is unlikely with modern drums but still a possibility. More to the point though, that if there is any contact with hard surfaces you can ruin the bearing edge at the bottom of the shell and that will make tuning very difficult (think of it in terms of the bridge on a guitar - if it's damaged, it's not staying in tune).

ii) Hardware rattling. Drums that are designed for only one head ('concert toms') don't have any hardware on the bottom half of the shell. When the head is taken off, various parts can come loose and rattle noticeably during playing.

With the choice of heads - hydraulics are an archaic option. There is an element of taste here and obviously tastes change with time but the general advice now is that a less-dampened and more 'natural' head will give you more tone, volume and projection. Modern taste is very much towards a more 'natural' sound. The era of 'dead' drums sounding contemporary is - with respect - in the past. That's not to say you can't put hydraulics on or even that you shouldn't it's just something to bear in mind. Also, putting those heads on will significantly reduce the volume of the drums.

You're probably better off going for a two-ply head like an Evans G2. They will give you a lot of options and are just as hard-wearing as any hydraulic head. They'll give you more tone, volume and projection.

As for tuning? Look up 'Bob Gatzen' on YouTube and marvel at the wonder that is free information!

AndyMC 02-06-2013 04:45 PM

Re: Stop poking me with that stick!
Lol, What a great story. A piece of advise, evans hydraulics aren't very good, if you want 70s tone get reverse dot heads like an evans power center or remo controlled sound. Best of luck kicking puppies!

larryace 02-06-2013 08:19 PM

Re: Stop poking me with that stick!
If you put hydraulics with no bottom head on your drums...Step. Away. From. The. Drums.

Well they are your drums so I guess you can...but I wouldn't.
I second Bacterium's G2's suggestion. Over a clear Ambassador on the bottom.
Drums with one head sound awful, eww. JMO.

Wagster 02-11-2013 12:21 AM

Re: Stop poking me with that stick!
Thanks for the welcomes and advice, guys.

I'm still amazed at the passion for using reso heads I see here. As a guitar player, I guess I relate this to someone wanting to tune their guitar to open G and the guitar community saying "The Stones used open G way back in the 60s. Why would you want to use that old tuning"? And of course the answer is, to sound like the Stones! :)

Anyhow, I already had the Evans Hydraulics on order, but I promise to take your advice for the G2s in the future. I installed the Hydraulics last weekend and so far I like what I'm hearing. I suppose anything would sound better than the worn out heads that came off, so we'll see if they still sound good in a month.

And should you be wondering....

I didn't REMOVE the bottom skins, but I did cut huge holes in them! They needed to be replaced anyway so I saw no reason not to experiment. Again, it may not be a sound you would like, but they sound pretty "drummy" to me! Maybe it's the tequila? I wish I could record them. Well, the good news is it isn't permanent so maybe I won't have to kick too many puppies.

Well, thanks again guys. I'm sure I'll have lots of questions for you all in the future!


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