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  #1  
Old 01-09-2013, 08:13 PM
Brookelea Brookelea is offline
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Default Timpani head adjustment - help please

I am the timpanist in a community orchestra and to date only have one concert under my belt. But I love it. I have been taking percussion lessons for drum set, timp and marimba for as couple of years. We have just started rehearsals for our second concert. My problem is I can't get the timps to tune to the notes I need.
I play on a beautiful set of 4 Ludwig timpani. However, they are owned by a school district and are not properly maintained. I can't get the timps to tune to the notes I need, especially the higher notes. I think the problem is the heads are too loose and are not cleared. Probley because the band director says he "lost" the key for the Ludwigs, and he doesn't know how to do it. I can buy my own key (heck with him), but I don't really know the proper procedure for tuning the heads to the correct pitch range. I don't want to remove the heads as I can't replace them. I just want to tighten the heads and set the range.
Can/will anyone give me advice or instruction on how to do this??
Thank you lots!
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  #2  
Old 01-09-2013, 08:19 PM
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GRUNTERSDAD GRUNTERSDAD is offline
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Default Re: TIMPANI HEAD ADJUSTMENT HELP PLS.

Youtube has a load of videos on tuning typmani. Check them out
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Old 01-09-2013, 11:18 PM
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caddywumpus caddywumpus is offline
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Default Re: Timpani head adjustment - help please

Have your instructor show you how to tune them. It's just like a drum set drum as far as tuning the head evenly, but you have to be sure to tune it by tuning range.
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:39 AM
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Zickos Zickos is offline
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Default Re: Timpani head adjustment - help please

I am the principal percussionist in a community orchestra and have been so for quite some time. Maybe this will help. The drums must be tuned to the proper fundamental note for each drum in order for them to reach their full potential.

First, completely relax the tension on the head and hand tighten the tension rods. Be sure the pedal is in the down position. With your key, gradually tighten the rods until the drum is at the proper fundamental pitch with the same pitch at each tension rod.

32"-D
29"-F
26"-A
23"-C

You need quiet to do this so don't try it at an orchestra rehearsal. A drum dial works well here to get even tension at each lug.

The practical range for most tympani is as follows:

32" D below the staff to A first space
29" F below the staff to C second space
26" A first space to E third space
23" C second space to G forth space

If you need higher notes than this you will need a smaller drum. Also, if you are not getting these ranges, the heads may be old and will need to be replaced. Feel free to PM me with questions.
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Old 01-10-2013, 05:26 PM
vxla vxla is offline
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Default Re: Timpani head adjustment - help please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zickos View Post
First, completely relax the tension on the head and hand tighten the tension rods. Be sure the pedal is in the down position. With your key, gradually tighten the rods until the drum is at the proper fundamental pitch with the same pitch at each tension rod.

32"-D
29"-F
26"-A
23"-C
There's no way he's going to tune those older Ludwig's to the pitches you wrote (Yamaha's yes, older drums no way). The original poster should aim for..

32=D, 29=F, 26=A (though B-flat would probably be better on those drums), 23=D or E-flat

Here's a good video on CLEARING heads:

Good Beats - Clearing Timpani Heads
  1. However, that doesn't necessarily address tuning heads. For the novice, I recommend the following steps:
  2. Take the drums to a quiet spot away from distraction; have a reference pitch for each note you are tuning to in the same octave (a piano works well)
  3. Place the pedal in the lowest position; on balanced drums, place a piece of wood or softball under the pedal to prevent it from moving.
  4. De-tune the tension rods in a cross pattern until each rod is 1 thread away from coming out of the lug
  5. Finger tighten each tension rod with the same amount of turns.
  6. Turn each rod an equal amount of turns with a timpani key
  7. Slowly continue this process until you are at your reference pitch.
  8. Remove the wood/softball from underneath the pedal
  9. Raise the pedal of the drum to the highest pitch and leave it there to let the head settle
  10. Take a 10 minute break
  11. Continue the process for the next 3 drums. You may need a break longer than 10 minutes to refresh your ears. Do not rush the process.

Then, clear the head in two separate "channels", first focusing on the primary channel, and then fine tuning the secondary channel. See the following link:

http://music.nebrwesleyan.edu/wtt/?page_id=2996

Hope that helps. Any other questions, please ask.
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  #6  
Old 01-11-2013, 03:59 AM
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Zickos Zickos is offline
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Default Re: Timpani head adjustment - help please

Well, we disagree on the fundamental pitches of the drums but they have worked for me for over 20 years. BTW, I own a set of Ludwig kettles that are probably over 50 years old and those pitches work fine. Our methods of tuning is essentially the same.
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  #7  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:52 PM
Stixx n Stones Stixx n Stones is offline
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Default Re: Timpani head adjustment - help please

the school I go to has a set of ludwig timpani as a backup set, and they tune just fine!
http://www.vicfirth.com/education/pe...1/timpani1.php
That vic firth guide is actually pretty helpful with timpani maintenance and tuning
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  #8  
Old 01-14-2013, 05:30 AM
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Zickos Zickos is offline
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Default Re: Timpani head adjustment - help please

From the Vic Firth video Percussion 101, Tympani:

GENERAL PITCH RANGES
(These are my personal preferences for most common drums. Refer to your instrument's manufacturer for specific ranges):
32 D to A
29 F to C
26 A to E
23 D to A

To quote Don Adams in Get Smart, "Missed it by that much".
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:45 PM
vxla vxla is offline
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Default Re: Timpani head adjustment - help please

Again, I didn't say those drums couldn't go down that far...they just sound like crap in a the higher range when trying to get notes on the lowest drum. For instance, you'll hardly feel comfortable playing a low "A" on a 32-inch Ludwig drum if the drum is cleared down to "D". Yamahas... no problem. Older Ludwigs, problem. That also depends on the head... if they've got the Remo hazys or clear heads, it should work. Renaissance heads kill an effective major 2nd-minor 3rd of range on those drums.

And yes, I have enough experience to know what I'm talking about. I've played on perhaps 40 sets of Ludwig drums in my lifetime, unfortunately.
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:33 PM
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Zickos Zickos is offline
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Default Re: Timpani head adjustment - help please

OK, you can have the last word. Wait.......
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  #11  
Old 01-14-2013, 09:36 PM
vxla vxla is offline
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Default Re: Timpani head adjustment - help please

Nothing in my replies was intended as trolling. If you've had good experience with Ludwigs in a particular tuning range let us know. Keep the trolling out of here.

Thanks.
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