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  #1  
Old 06-28-2009, 12:10 PM
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Default Drum Dial- worth it?

Hi guys i was thinking is getting a drum dial worth the money? Basically i seem to have problems tuning my drums so they're exactly the same tension all the way round. The problem is that you can't really seem to tell the actual head tension just from the tension in the screw because they all seem to feel different. i'm just thinking if i'm doing recording i'll want my drums to sound perfect as much as they can. Of course it IS 60. So do you think i should get one or just learn to tune more effectively?
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  #2  
Old 06-28-2009, 12:45 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

What about a Evans torque key? Its quite cheap?
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Old 06-28-2009, 02:06 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

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Originally Posted by frisco68 View Post
What about a Evans torque key? Its quite cheap?
The torque measures how much pressure it takes to turn the lug doesn't it? Those types of tools a very inaccurate because lube/lack of lube etc impact the reading as much as the tension of the head.

The Drum Dial measures deflection of the head. Assuming uniform thickness of the head they can be reasonably accurate. I usually have to fine tune a little by ear after. THe advantage of the drum dial for me is repeatability
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Old 06-28-2009, 02:09 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

I own a drum dial (actually a Tama Tension Watch, same thing). I LOVE it.
There is a certain stigma attached to using a drum dial, but it's total bs. You can tune your drums perfectly every time. Once you find that perfect tension for your drum, you can write down the settings and dial it in everytime you change heads.

You should know HOW to tune drums manually, but once you do the Drum Dial will be your best friend. A solid investment.
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Old 06-28-2009, 02:20 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by frisco68 View Post
What about a Evans torque key? Its quite cheap?
Well this goes back to the precise problem i'm having with manual tuning which is that the lugs all differ in how much torque it takes to tension a head to a certain degree.

Thanks guys, might look at getting one then.
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Old 06-28-2009, 03:32 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

The torque key can only work well if every tension rod/lug insert has precisely the same amount of friction. I've never run into a drum like that.

I have a DD, now gathering dust.

Thing is, it gets you close, but that's it. I've never heard a drum tuned "to perfection" with the DD that didn't need lug-to-lug fine-tuning by ear. I have also seen drums that sound perfect to the ear but show varying readings on the DD.

So: if you need your ear to get a drum really in tune anyway, why not start with your ear?

IMO, most folks who have some trouble tuning (and thus want a drum dial) would be far better off taking the $60 and getting a couple of lessons from a drummer who can tune.
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Old 06-28-2009, 10:32 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

There are many threads already discussing the drum dial.

I use one because my drums are very difficult to tune. The Drum Dial will get you about 80 percent of the way. You need to finish up with your ears to get it just right, but the dial will save lots of time.

I use a torque key as well . It doesn't work as well as the drum dial but it's more convenient if you need to tune between songs.
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  #8  
Old 06-28-2009, 10:37 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

Sure, I agree with you, but you made the statement you should be able to tune or fine tune by ear, then its a much better bet to get the torque key, because its much cheaper than the drum dial. It will save you time by getting it nearly tuned(just like the drum dial) and then you can fine tune it by ear.
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Old 06-29-2009, 01:42 AM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

try importing from the USA - I got my drum dial for 35 including postage from a US ebay seller
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  #10  
Old 06-29-2009, 09:31 AM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

It's worth it. I can't tune drums very well, so I got a professional to tune my kit, I used the drum dial to see what to set it to next time it needed to be tuned, and used that setting ever since.
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  #11  
Old 06-29-2009, 11:59 AM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

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Originally Posted by efpob View Post
try importing from the USA - I got my drum dial for 35 including postage from a US ebay seller
ahh but was this before or after the crashed? Okay well maybe i'll get one some time, i'm sure you do have to tune by ear afterwards but that's not really too much of a problem because i can do the fine tuning, i just need to get the actual tension right in the first place if you see what i mean.
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Old 06-29-2009, 12:06 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

I don't think you will benefit from the Drum Dial. Like others have said, it will get you 80% of the way there, but with enough practice you should be able to get yourself 80% there with a normal set of drums within a minute and the rest of the time is fine-tuning. It's just practice. The best way to learn is to use thin heads (I'm an Ambassador man myself) and it is all about feel. I can feel when I'm getting there. Just practice.
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Old 06-29-2009, 03:17 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

I wholeheartedly endorse the DD. Repeatability is it's strongpoint.
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  #14  
Old 07-01-2009, 08:21 PM
ermghoti ermghoti is offline
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

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Originally Posted by Mediocrefunkybeat View Post
I don't think you will benefit from the Drum Dial. Like others have said, it will get you 80% of the way there, but with enough practice you should be able to get yourself 80% there with a normal set of drums within a minute and the rest of the time is fine-tuning. It's just practice. The best way to learn is to use thin heads (I'm an Ambassador man myself) and it is all about feel. I can feel when I'm getting there. Just practice.

I'm less enthusiastic than in the past, but I still feel it's a valuable tool, especially as a training aid for somebody like the OP. The ability to generate a consistent tension reading helped me diagnose a bad edge on my tom, that I would have otherwised assumed was just not a really good sounding drum. With a properly cut set of edges, my toms sing, and I have no urge to go drum shopping.

I have always fine-tuned after drum-dialing, but the dial gets you much farther than 80%, probably over 95%, and for a newb, trying to tune by ear from scratch will get you to a point that you can't tell what's wrong, and you'll just keep aking it worse by guessing wrong.

Also, the repeatability is great. I can go to the studio, record a drum, go back a year later with a fresh head, and duplicate the sound in a minute. That's pretty sweet. Also,you can tune to 95%/good enough in silence, or in a place where background noise would make pitch tuning extremely difficult.

That said, I rarely use it, and couldeasily live without it. I definitely got my money's worth, and don't mind having it around.
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  #15  
Old 07-01-2009, 08:49 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

I owned a Drum Dial for almost a week and had to return it. I have a lot of drums to keep in tune, so I bought a Drum Dial thinking it would be a better mouse trap, it wasn't. It took me almost 20 minutes longer to re-head the batters on one of my kits using the Drum Dial. I asked my girl friend to try it on another kit and I didn't know she knew the words that were coming out of her mouth, just kidding. But it took her much longer also to get the heads in tune with themselves. We both been tuning drums for many years using the old fashion way, our ears, stick and a key.

If you're not experienced with tuning drums, maybe the Drum Dial will get you where you want to be, but I would advise you to practice just using your ears. The Drum Dial cannot hear and in my experience with it, wasn't very reliable with getting repeated tension readings either.

Someone mentioned the Evans Torque Key. This is again not the way to go for reasons already mentioned. I do own a Torque Key and use it only as a tool to get the tension rods to seat at the top of my Yamaha drum's rims since I cannot get my fingers around the tension rods to finger tighten them. I just have it set at a very low tension and after it accomplishes this task it's all ears again.

Just my experience with both.
Dennis
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  #16  
Old 07-03-2009, 03:48 AM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

I will tell you I wholeheartedly Endorse a DD. Thing is I got one from my wife for christmas a couple of years back. I looked at said cool and it sat on the shelf for a year. Then One day I said I'm gonna try that son of a beech out. I think it's an excellent tool to have in your bag of tricks. Anyone who has to change heads in a bar knows it can be quite noisy trying to fine tune a head can be tricky, But if you've written down the tension setting for the tom/head your changing it can be a great help. I will say I usually will do the final twist or too on the tension rod by hand/ear. Overall for me it's become a way to have my heads tuned consistenly and evenly everytime.
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  #17  
Old 07-04-2009, 03:17 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

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Originally Posted by IL DUCE View Post
Anyone who has to change heads in a bar knows it can be quite noisy trying to fine tune a head can be tricky
This is actually the best reason to own one: tuning in noisy environments. Can't think of the last time I had to do that, though, I don't break heads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by audiotech View Post
I bought a Drum Dial thinking it would be a better mouse trap, it wasn't. It took me almost 20 minutes longer to re-head the batters on one of my kits using the Drum Dial. I asked my girl friend to try it on another kit and I didn't know she knew the words that were coming out of her mouth, just kidding. But it took her much longer also to get the heads in tune with themselves. We both been tuning drums for many years using the old fashion way, our ears, stick and a key.
Same here. Takes longer and doesn't do as good a job.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ermghoti View Post
Also, the repeatability is great. I can go to the studio, record a drum, go back a year later with a fresh head, and duplicate the sound in a minute. That's pretty sweet.
I get repeatability with a $15 pitch pipe. And it fits in your pocket!

The bottom line, to me, is: it's your instrument, you ought to learn to tune it. If that takes a lesson or two, then it's worth it--you'll be able to tune for the rest of your life.
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  #18  
Old 07-04-2009, 10:39 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

I'll second DTD. I've never used one. I learned to tune my drums 40 years ago, by ear. So I think I'll save 60 and use my ears for the next 40. After that, I probably won't care.
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:27 AM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

Why do guitar players use tuners then?
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:43 AM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

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Originally Posted by Christ-Hammer View Post
Why do guitar players use tuners then?
Because in music you need exactly the same pitch and tuning for the melodic instruments - otherwise it sounds just wrong.

With drums you have under normal conditions much more freedom to tune ...some like it higher, some lower...it's individual.

Bernhard
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  #21  
Old 07-13-2009, 11:55 AM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

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Originally Posted by Christ-Hammer View Post
Why do guitar players use tuners then?
haha i don't use a tuner for playing a guitar, so maybe i don't need a drumdial either.

Thanks for all your responses guys. Guess i'll just have to learn how to tune it properly eh? Maybe one day when i'm rich i'll get one but not now probably, i have too much other drum stuff to buy!
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:58 AM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

Ha ha ha I was actually just cracking a joke with that one, but thats why I love the drums *FREEDOM*. Tell me another instrument that is as versatile as a drum set....
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Old 07-13-2009, 12:01 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

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Originally Posted by Christ-Hammer View Post
Why do guitar players use tuners then?
There was a time when guitar players tuned "by ear" also. ............. "The first Peterson strobe tuner, called the Model 400, was introduced in 1967. It was the first solid-state strobe tuner, did not require calibration, and allowed musicians to select one-cent increments. This was a major breakthrough for the strobe tuner and helped pave the way for Peterson to become the leading tuner company in the world." Acoustic guitar type instruments date back some 3,300 years. The electric guitar was invented around 1930.
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Old 07-15-2009, 09:31 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

Torque keys are useless unless every screw has the same amount of friction in it's socket - independent of the head. That rarely happens.

Drum Dial's are useful to get back - at least close - to where you were when you change heads. When I swap a head I put it on, do the palm push method, tune it up 3 or so pounds too much, wait 24hrs, palm push again, dial in the setting I have posted on my wall and then fine tune by ear.

(Since I am not a fan of snare buzz it took quite a while to find snare and tom tuning ranges that sounded good and minimized buzz. I would hate to refigure that out if I changed mutiple heads at once. As I have 6 toms that would be quite the hassle. So - the drum dial is simply a tool and part of the solution)
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  #25  
Old 07-16-2009, 01:31 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

thought id post here instead of making a new thread about it

im really worried that my drums sound "wrong"
as ive only once taken them out to play at a gig


with a drum dial, would i have to know what setting to have it on? or are there sites that have this sort of information?
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Old 07-16-2009, 04:43 PM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

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Originally Posted by hellohal View Post
thought id post here instead of making a new thread about it

im really worried that my drums sound "wrong"
as ive only once taken them out to play at a gig


with a drum dial, would i have to know what setting to have it on? or are there sites that have this sort of information?
Yes--the idea is to find the sound you like, then equalize things with the drum dial and make a note of the readings so you can replicate them later when you retune or change heads.

There are suggested settings with the drum dial instructions, but it would be a matter of sheer luck for them to work for you. Either those suggestions or suggestions from other drummers are worthless because they have different drums and different heads and may be going for a totally different sound than you.

I recommend you do the following whether you end up using a drum dial or not. Every drummer needs to learn where his drums sound best. It may take you an afternoon, but doing it will teach you a whole bunch.

Do this with each tom, preferably right on its mount:

First, loosen both heads down to finger tight. For the purposes of this experiment we'll tune both heads the same, even if you decide later to have them tuned to different pitches.

Add 1/4 turn to all tension rods, top and bottom, using the criss-cross pattern. If the heads still sound flappy/papery add another 1/4 turn, and keep adding 1/4 turn until you get the first real sound without distortion. Make sure both heads are the same pitch and touch up the lug-to-lug tuning.

You have now found the lowest note this drum will play.

Now add another 1/4 turn, top and bottom, keeping the lug-to-lug tuning good. Stop and listen. Keep doing this 1/4 turn at a time until you've reached a point where the drum is obviously choked, then back off until the drum sings again. This is the highest note the drum will play well.

In-between these two points there was probably one range--as small as one note but more usually 2-3 half-steps--where the drum really sings. (I.e., where it has the most sustain and is loudest and punchiest.) That's the range where you want to keep that drum.

Do this for all your toms. Once you're done you'll know exactly where to tune all your toms so they all sound their best.

After you've done that you can see what readings you get with a drum dial so you can find those sweet spots again without repeating the whole experiment.

Meanwhile, if you're new to tuning, or just want another perspective, these vids are pretty good:

Tuning toms

Tuning snares

Tuning bass drums

Why reso heads are important

Reducing snare buzz part 1 and part 2.
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  #27  
Old 11-29-2009, 06:00 AM
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Default Re: Drum Dial- worth it?

Which one is better...drumdial or Tama tension watch?
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