Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold
All drums and cymbals produce overtones, not all of them are bad.
An overtone is simply the extra harmonics heard above and beyond the fundamental note. When you strike a drum, the fundamental note is produced with the attack (when the stick first hits the head). The overtones are the resulting harmonics heard after that. Sometimes they are truely horrible (which is what is being focused on in the previous posts). But a well tuned drum still produces overtones. It's just that they that add to the overall tone and projection of the drum by working far more harmonically in support of that fundamental note.
Bingo. That's how I think about overtones too.
Also you will get a different amount of overtones out of a drum depending on how you hit it. In the centre = less overtones. Off centre = more overtones. I usually hit my snare a little off centre because I like the way it sounds like that.