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  #1  
Old 08-24-2009, 04:13 AM
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Default Is the drumdial worth it?

So basically I'm terrible at tuning so I'm thinking about getting the drumdial. But is it worth the price? Does it actually help me tune or is it just a piece of crap?
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  #2  
Old 08-24-2009, 07:53 AM
ermghoti ermghoti is offline
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

Depends. It can help a lot in diagnosing a mis-tuned drum. I used to find if a drum was a real mess, it was difficult to tell which way a given lug might be out, the tympanic tuners eliminate that confusion. It generally won't get you perfectly in tune, probably due to inconsistencies in the drum, rim and head, and imprecision in the mechanism of the tuner (they vary a bit depending on placement), but it will get you to where you should be able to take over by ear.
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Old 08-24-2009, 03:37 PM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

The drum dial gets you close. You still have to fine tune by ear, so why not learn to tune by ear in the first place?

You'd be better off spending the $60 on a couple of lessons from a drum teacher who can tune.
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Old 08-24-2009, 04:13 PM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

I asked this same question a few months back and i think the consensus was that you're probably better off just learning to tune it on your own.
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Old 08-24-2009, 04:15 PM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

Thread search, http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/s...ight=drum+dial and http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/s...ight=drum+dial
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  #6  
Old 08-24-2009, 04:47 PM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

It is worth the money. I have one and I have tried other devices like the drumkeys that click at a certian setting. This is the only device that actually measures the head tension.

I didn't buy the claims but I met a few people who tune drums for a living in studios and they all use them. I am actually really good at tuning drums but the drumdial really helps.

I don't use it all the time, but sometimes I have to set up in a bar and people are eating dinner and the manager doesn't want us to make noise while we set up. also some gigs there will be another band playing and you can't hear your drums to tune them and it helps then also.

The best use of the drumdial is to take readings when your drums sound really good. I have a notebook of readings that it took off my drums and I can "repeat" certain settings.

Of course having your drum in a perfect reading doesn't mean it's going to sound the best, you can always tweak it by ear a little after that.

if your drums really need new heads and you are trying to decide between this and new heads buy the heads! new heads are the most important thing to your drums sounding good. It never stops surprising me how good new heads sound.
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Old 08-24-2009, 07:49 PM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

The great thing about the drum dial is say you get new heads and you want to maintain the same general sound without having to guess what pitch the heads should be at. Not too difficult if you tune the batter and reso heads to the same pitch, but if you've got your reso higher or lower to control sustain, it comes in handy knowing the head tension. But again, I find you still need to tune by ear once everything is evenly tensioned.

Although, I personally don't touch the thing unless I'm putting on new heads. I've noticed that if I use the dial then fine tune by ear (which will inevitably change the tension in at least a few places) I don't use it again because if I try to get the tension even again I'll have to fine tune by ear once again. Personally once it's in tune, it's a lot quicker and easier going around the drum tuning by ear only.
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Old 08-24-2009, 10:24 PM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcbike View Post
The best use of the drumdial is to take readings when your drums sound really good. I have a notebook of readings that it took off my drums and I can "repeat" certain settings.

Of course having your drum in a perfect reading doesn't mean it's going to sound the best, you can always tweak it by ear a little after that.
Exactly. That's how I use it.
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  #9  
Old 08-25-2009, 05:35 AM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

What I mean by being terrible at tuning is I can never tell the difference in pitch from one tuning thing (I don't know what they're called) to the other. So, will the drum dial help me with getting each tuning thing to the same pitch?
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  #10  
Old 08-25-2009, 05:46 AM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

the drumdial measures tension not pitch. but if they are all the same tension they will be very close to the same pitch assuming the head isn't beat up.
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  #11  
Old 08-25-2009, 04:15 PM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

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Originally Posted by drummerchris666 View Post
What I mean by being terrible at tuning is I can never tell the difference in pitch from one tuning thing (I don't know what they're called) to the other. So, will the drum dial help me with getting each tuning thing to the same pitch?
It will not teach you to tune. It will get you close but not all the way. It's handy for replicating a previous tuning--that you arrived at by ear--and for tuning in noisy environments, i.e., back stage.

You're a musician. Musicians learn to tune their instruments. Why not take a couple of lessons and find out how to "tell the difference in pitch?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcbike View Post
I didn't buy the claims but I met a few people who tune drums for a living in studios and they all use them.
Methinks you haven't quite met them "all." ;-)
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  #12  
Old 08-25-2009, 06:16 PM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

In a perfect world maybe a DrumDial would have more use, but things are far from being perfect. I owned a DrumDial because of all the comments I was hearing about them. I have several kits and I thought maybe it would be a better mouse trap and aid in my almost monthly exercise of installing heads. Our acquaintance was short lived since it went back to the store in less than a week. There were absolutely too many variances using the dial. A 30 to 45 minute job now turned into an hour and a half fiasco and I still had to basically re-tune afterwards because my drums sounded like I was hitting pots and pans. My drum tech, AKA my girlfriend, was ready to throw it though a window and I didn't want to loose the $70. It was very inconsistent, even abiding perfectly to the instructions.

We're happy here again tuning my drums like my dad showed me some 49 years ago. It would be in any one's best interest to invest that money into someone that can show you how to really tune your instruments. It takes some time to train your ears to the pitch variences and with a little finesse it will be well worth it. A DrumDial cannot hear, in fact mine couldn't reliably give me the same indication from a tension rod that I just tuned.

Just my experience.

Dennis
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  #13  
Old 08-25-2009, 07:34 PM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

Again, I have to reiterate (as a few others have as well), the drum dial isn't a tuner, it's a tension gauge... literally. The theory behind it's practical application, at least in my opinion, is to even out the head tension as close as possible in order to get the most out of the head, i.e. an evenly tensioned will last longer if used properly (nothing will help bad stick technique except learning proper and good technique). With that being said, an evenly tensioned head will not amount to a tuned head, because tone is not solely based on tension. But ultimately it will get you close enough to be able to tune it by ear with out too much difficulty.

The drum dial company should really reword what is stated on the packaging to account for this. However I could see how in a live situation where there's a lot of background noise this would get you close enough to sound decent.

Using a drum dial is the only way to get an evenly tensioned head, but using your ears is the only way to get an evenly tuned head. I've got a friend who recently got a kit and only uses a drum dial to "tune" and I think it inadvertently was my fault. The first day he got the set he put new heads on (before I could show up and give him some tips) and CRANKED them down (sounded way too high and choked). He started playing and it sounded atrocious (and I mentioned it to him). The next day he went through with a drum dial and tensioned the heads evenly and I mentioned it sounded a lot better, but could use some work. I don't think he heard the "could use some work" part and still proceeds to use only the dial.
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  #14  
Old 08-27-2009, 07:31 PM
genereaux genereaux is offline
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

Well, I'm a new drummer, but a very long time guitarist. And, have spent a lot of time as a professional guitar tech. If you're onstage (or a crowded loud bar), ear fatigue will render you fairly useless around the third song if you're relying on your ears alone.
And if you have to keep more two guitars in tune through a night, you HAVE to use a tuner, not only for reliability, but for speed as well.

But that's 'notes', and drums are 'pitch' (for lack of better phraseology), True. I get that.
So correct my assumption here, but I would have thought that 'pitch' is head tension + shell (diameter, depth, composition etc) and head material/thickness. Is that a fair assessment?
That being the case, I'd be comfortable calling the Drum Dial a 'tuner'. Granted, you have to assign the tension readings to your desired 'pitch' on any given drum.

I bought on one, and used when I was putting together my little start-up kit. After surfing the net to see if I could find what kind of tensions actual drummers preferred (I have a 24 kick, which the DD ref sheet doesn't really give you a start point for) to no real avail, I finally just cranked everything up to the top end of what the reference sheet suggested (using the 22 tension for the kick) and I think it sounds GREAT. Great meaning, to my unpracticed ears it actually sounds like a kit and less like a bunch of pots and pans. Like Rollingstone said, I'm sure it still needs some work. And as I evolve, I'm sure I'll tweak some bits. But it seems to me if I log the tensions, I'll be that much closer every time I swap heads.

I think it'd be a handy tool for experienced folks, but definitely INCREDIBLY useful to us newbies. And I don't see that using the dial automatically precludes training the ear. In fact, I've found it helpful for that as well.
I'm certainly gonna throw it in my workbox whenever I get gig to do all the backline.............
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  #15  
Old 08-28-2009, 08:37 PM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by genereaux View Post
Well, I'm a new drummer, but a very long time guitarist. And, have spent a lot of time as a professional guitar tech. If you're onstage (or a crowded loud bar), ear fatigue will render you fairly useless around the third song if you're relying on your ears alone.
And if you have to keep more two guitars in tune through a night, you HAVE to use a tuner, not only for reliability, but for speed as well.

But that's 'notes', and drums are 'pitch' (for lack of better phraseology), True. I get that.
So correct my assumption here, but I would have thought that 'pitch' is head tension + shell (diameter, depth, composition etc) and head material/thickness. Is that a fair assessment?
That being the case, I'd be comfortable calling the Drum Dial a 'tuner'. Granted, you have to assign the tension readings to your desired 'pitch' on any given drum.

I bought on one, and used when I was putting together my little start-up kit. After surfing the net to see if I could find what kind of tensions actual drummers preferred (I have a 24 kick, which the DD ref sheet doesn't really give you a start point for) to no real avail, I finally just cranked everything up to the top end of what the reference sheet suggested (using the 22 tension for the kick) and I think it sounds GREAT. Great meaning, to my unpracticed ears it actually sounds like a kit and less like a bunch of pots and pans. Like Rollingstone said, I'm sure it still needs some work. And as I evolve, I'm sure I'll tweak some bits. But it seems to me if I log the tensions, I'll be that much closer every time I swap heads.

I think it'd be a handy tool for experienced folks, but definitely INCREDIBLY useful to us newbies. And I don't see that using the dial automatically precludes training the ear. In fact, I've found it helpful for that as well.
I'm certainly gonna throw it in my workbox whenever I get gig to do all the backline.............
You make some good points, genereaux. The DD is undisputably useful if you have to tune in a noisy enviornment. However, unless you have to make a head change at the gig, most drummers tune at home. I typically tune at home and do a quick check/touch-up at the gig, by ear. The DD is simply too slow for that.

To your first question, I actually tune to notes. Some drummers do, most don't.

And if your kick sounds great tuned with the DD, then it is great.

My problem with the DD (having one and used it for a while) is that with real drums, real heads, and the minor inperfections they all have, the DD only gets you close. It implies accuracy; all readings say "72" so it must be in tune, right? Well, no. I've never heard a drum tuned to "perfection" with the drum dial that didn't need fine-tuning by ear. And I've applied the DD to a drum that was demonstrably perfectly tuned and had it give varying readings lug-to-lug.

The DD also has the well-known habit of giving a high tension reading to a tension rod that's falling-out loose. Sometimes this is due to the opposite tension rod having too much tension, but other times it's just one of life's mysteries. Imperfect drums and heads, I suspect.

You can tune a guitar by ear if you have to, right? See, you have a great advantage over many newbie drummers who have never played a melodic instrument. When you match the pitch of an open string to a stopped string you are doing precisely the same thing as matching a drum head's tuning lug-to-lug.

Many drummers without that experience are frustrated by their non-ability to tune, so they reach for the DD and find it's "good enough." If they're happy, that's great. My only point is that it's possible for anyone to learn to tune by ear, that it's a damn useful skill to acquire, and that with most drums you'll get even better results.

What's more, it's faster. I tune my kit and my kid's (7-piece!) kit in minutes with nothing more than a pitch-pipe. With the DD it would take me ages and it wouldn't sound as good.

Edit: To add one thing: the DD can't tell you where to tune your drums. (The suggestions in the booklet are worthless--they don't have your drums, your heads, or your sound in mind.) Every drummer has to experiement with his own gear to see where his drums sound best, and that's done by listening to them. Once you've got that, then you can use the DD to record your tensions so you can more easily replicate them later on.
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Old 08-30-2009, 03:24 AM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

Hey Guys
I was just wondering about how many rotations you do on each lug to get the right pitch
for everyone to compare (: Just list the size of the drum, How many rotations and possibly resonant or batter side.
THANKS!!!!
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Old 08-30-2009, 06:14 AM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ermghoti View Post
Depends. It can help a lot in diagnosing a mis-tuned drum. I used to find if a drum was a real mess, it was difficult to tell which way a given lug might be out, the tympanic tuners eliminate that confusion. It generally won't get you perfectly in tune, probably due to inconsistencies in the drum, rim and head, and imprecision in the mechanism of the tuner (they vary a bit depending on placement), but it will get you to where you should be able to take over by ear.
This is true. I have used a Drum Dial for three years and it will get you about 80 percent of the way. Exact tympanic tension around the head doesn't necessarily lead to correct tuning due to the inconsistencies you mention,but it will get you close and save much time. You will need to use your ears to get the rest of the way.
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Old 09-01-2009, 12:51 AM
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

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Originally Posted by drummerboi81 View Post
Hey Guys
I was just wondering about how many rotations you do on each lug to get the right pitch
for everyone to compare (: Just list the size of the drum, How many rotations and possibly resonant or batter side.
THANKS!!!!
This is impossible to do for you, because every drum and head combination is different. What works for me is very unlikely to work for you. What's more, you cannot tune a drum by counting turns.

If by "the right pitch" you mean, "how do I find out where my drum sounds best," that's simple. Time-consuming, but simple.

Take the tom you're working on and reduce the tension rods on both heads to finger-tight. Now add 1/4 turn to all tension rods, top and bottom. Use a star-pattern or better yet use two keys simultaneously on opposite tension rods.

Now strike the batter in the middle and see what you've got. You probably have a flappy/papery sound.

Keep adding 1/4 turn to all tension rods and checking what it sounds like between every round. Eventually that flappy sound goes away and you get the first real tone.

This is the lowest note the drum will play.

Now keep adding 1/4 turns, keeping the pitch of both heads the same and the lug-to-lug tuning decent. Keep striking the batter in the middle after every round of tension.

Eventually you will come to a point where the drum gets louder and punchier--where it starts to sing and sustain. When you go above this point the drum begins to be choked--it gets softer and has less sustain.

That point you found, where the drum sounds roundest and loudest, is where you should tune it. Once you get it back to that point you can fool around with raising the reso relative to the batter in order to cut down the sustain if you wish. You can use a drum dial to record the tensions or you can use your ear to determine the pitch of the drum, so you can replicate your tuning later.

Now do this with all your other toms.

Everyone should do this no matter what method they use to tune. This way you know your drums are sounding as good as they can sound.

If you're a n00b at tuning, you may find the following links helpful:

Tuning toms

Tuning snares

Tuning bass drums

Why reso heads are important

Reducing snare buzz part 1 and part 2.
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  #19  
Old 09-01-2009, 09:04 AM
QC_On_Vacation QC_On_Vacation is offline
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Default Re: Is the drumdial worth it?

drumdials how do they work: http://mikedrums.com/drumdial.html

drum tuning bible:http://home.earthlink.net/~prof.sound/index.html

bob gatzen pro drum tips: http://www.youtube.com/user/prodrumtips

I use the Drumdial and personally could not live without it. I mostly use it to get to the ballpark area in tuning and to record my tunings and sometimes to diagnose a problem. It actually one time made me money when selling drums. I simply did show that after tuning I can get same readings from every lug so the beginner could also see that the drum was okay. A word of warning: for a beginner it could come as a shock that this device can reveal weak points in drums that you did not even know existed. It don't replace your ears it is a tool and as in all tools you have to understand it's limitations. It actually can tune most drums much better than an inexperienced drummer would but never could compete with a pro. I know pros who deny using it and still use it :) It is totally worth the price. A nice drumshop could lend you one for a day or two, just ask them.

Happy tuning

QC
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