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  #1  
Old 07-31-2010, 02:33 AM
sculley sculley is offline
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Default mixing tom heads to get the right sound

I've got three toms in my kit, a 12, 13, and 16 (floor). I would like to tune them to intervals of A/E/B but when I do so, the 13" is starting to sound papery and does not resonate very well. On the other hand, if I tune them up half a step to Bb/F/C, both the 13" and 16" sound great but the 12" sounds choked. I'd like to keep the intervals tuned to fourths (is this fourths or fifths? - I forget) and I'm wondering if there is a way I can make adjustments to get them sounding good using the intervals I want. The resonant heads are tuned to the batters right now. I'm using Coated Ambassadors on the batter and clear on the resonant side. Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 07-31-2010, 05:36 AM
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Winston_Wolf Winston_Wolf is offline
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

I think you should tune each drum to a voice that suits it and sounds good and not worry too much about getting a specific interval. Since the size intervals aren't even between the 12-13-16 combo it'll be hard to make each drum sound its best making them fit an even interval.
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  #3  
Old 07-31-2010, 05:29 PM
sculley sculley is offline
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

I've had a major revelation while playing with the tuning on my heads just now. I've got Yamaha hardware (and maple shells) and for the sake of easier tuning I loosened the "ball" thingy with the "stick" on it that the toms mount to on the 13" and angled it up so that the tom of the head was level with the floor. When I hit the head, it suddenly was not resonating in the same way it was when it was on an angle the way it would normally be. It was dead sounding. So I angled it back to about 45 degrees and hit it again and it resonated beautifully. After toying with it for a bit, I realized that if the "stick" portion of the mount comes through and rests against the little pad on the shell, it kills the sound a lot. I think that when the tom was vertical, the "stick" was pushing into the shell more and than it would when it was on an angle. So, I've backed off the "stick" portion of the mount so that it isn't touching the shell at all. It's almost crazy that it can have such a huge effect.

Last edited by sculley; 07-31-2010 at 06:26 PM.
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  #4  
Old 07-31-2010, 08:00 PM
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

The key to using notes with toms is to first find each tom's sweet spot--usually a range of 2-3 semitones--and then work out a pitch scheme to accommodate them. Never push a drum out of its best range to fit a predetermined pitch scheme.

Second, where the tom sits on the tom arm makes a difference, as you've discovered. It's worth trying each tom all the way in on the mount (nearest the ball), halfway out, and as far out as it will go. You often hear a difference in sustain from the position on the tom arm, and not just with Yammies. You may end up having to rearrange your setup a bit to make things fit again, but it's worth it.
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  #5  
Old 07-31-2010, 08:54 PM
sculley sculley is offline
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

I've since figured out some of why the 12" sounded so choked. The resonant head was tuned much higher than I had thought. It sounds much better now, but here is the thing I just do not get (yet) about tuning. I took all the toms off the kit and placed them on a bed (to mute the head I'm not tuning). I tuned the resonant heads to AEB, then I flipped them over and tuned the batters to AEB. When I put them back on the kit, I'm hearing CGC (all above the AEB notes). I've read a very long forum on Pearl that talks about tuning to notes and this was debated a fair bit. I've watched Bob Gatzen video's on youTube, and read the Drum Tuning Bible online, and I still can't quite get the sound I want. I've only been played for a year and a half, and learning to tune for about a year. At one point I just gave up trying to tune the resos and batters, and just tuned the batters, while on the kit, to what I wanted to hear. That sounded great... to me. However, from reading the DTB, it seems like the kit sounds completely different to an audience, and that the resonant heads determine the pitch of the drum more than the batters do. I don't understand why there is not a definitive answer to getting the "right" sound out of a kit. My drum teacher tunes his kit, until it just "sounds right," and that's fine. I totally understand that the drums have a sweet spot where they want to be (several sweet spot "zones" according to Gatzen). I prefer to tune them to the lowest possible sweet spot, and I want either intervals of AEB or BbFC - I think this second one sounds a little better... especially the F 13". Thanks for your help thus far guys.
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  #6  
Old 08-01-2010, 04:25 AM
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

Do you know that those notes lie in each of the toms' sweet spots, or are you wanting to make them conform to the notes? Find the sweet spots first, see what notes they encompass, and then figure what notes to try.

You've discovered that when you mute the opposite head from the one you're working on, you don't get the same pitch as when you don't mute the opposite head. Solution: don't mute the opposite head.

When running a tom up gradually to find where the sweet spot is, or when you're tuning to a note in that sweet spot, don't mute one head--allow both heads to vibrate. The easiest thing to do is tune the tom on its mount, or stick a tom mount on a stand so you can flip it over easily. Work on both heads at the same time, keep the pitch of both heads the same, and keep the lug-to-lug tuning decent. The better you match the pitch of both heads the better results you'll get.

And remember, you may not be able to get the sound you want , exactly, from your drums and your heads. You're not going to get Bonham-type sound from small fusion sizes. What you need to do is get your drums to sound their best with your head choice. Finding the sweet spots and putting the drums there will make them sound evenly balanced.

Let the drums tell you where they want to be tuned. A tom doesn't "tend to choke:" you just aren't tuning it where it wants to be tuned.
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  #7  
Old 08-01-2010, 04:46 AM
sculley sculley is offline
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

I know where the sweet spots are for the drums. It was getting the intervals to work that I found so hard. I've spent most of the day toying with them. Two things helped: 1) not having the mount touching the shells, and 2) lowering the resonant head on the 12". It rings much nicer now. I've got them at BbFC, and that is where they sound best, if only because the E on the 13" is just too low to get nice resonance. The Bb is definitely the upper end of the 12" and the C on the 16" is perfect. Now the question is whether I want to have the resos tuned to a pitch other than the batters - they are both the same right now. I know that I don't like pitch bending, but I've read so many things about how drummers prefer their tunings. I do now realize (which I did not earlier today) that changing the tuning of one head affects the overall pitch of the drum. This makes sense when I think of it being like chords on a guitar. Sort of. I'll mess with that tomorrow.
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  #8  
Old 08-01-2010, 01:33 PM
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

Part of what you're discovering is the result of using traditional (or "rock") sizes. The 12 and 13 are very close, then there's a big jump to the 16. This is one of the reasons I prefer "fusion" sizes, which tend to be all spaced 2" apart.

You'll never be able to get the same interval between the 12 and 13 as you can between the 13 and the 16 without choking one drum or making one flappy. I advise you not to even try.

Find where each tom sounds best and tune accordingly, to notes or not. That means you're going to have a smaller interval between the two rack toms and a larger one between the 13 and the 16. That's okay--better you should have all the toms sounding their best than have them conform to a pitch scheme and have one or more of them out of their best range.

I wouldn't hope for more than a major or minor third between your rack toms. Then you can probably get a fourth between the 13 and the 16. That will sound good, a nice melodious set of toms.
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  #9  
Old 08-01-2010, 01:51 PM
sculley sculley is offline
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

I will try some different things again today. I'm farther ahead than I was yesterday. Thanks for the input. I have thought that I would go with a 12/14/16 kit should I buy another one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drumtechdad View Post
Part of what you're discovering is the result of using traditional (or "rock") sizes. The 12 and 13 are very close, then there's a big jump to the 16. This is one of the reasons I prefer "fusion" sizes, which tend to be all spaced 2" apart.

You'll never be able to get the same interval between the 12 and 13 as you can between the 13 and the 16 without choking one drum or making one flappy. I advise you not to even try.

Find where each tom sounds best and tune accordingly, to notes or not. That means you're going to have a smaller interval between the two rack toms and a larger one between the 13 and the 16. That's okay--better you should have all the toms sounding their best than have them conform to a pitch scheme and have one or more of them out of their best range.

I wouldn't hope for more than a major or minor third between your rack toms. Then you can probably get a fourth between the 13 and the 16. That will sound good, a nice melodious set of toms.
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  #10  
Old 08-01-2010, 08:15 PM
sculley sculley is offline
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

Okay. So, I'm sick of tuning now! I've changed the 12" so that the toms are A/F/C - I agree, it is more melodic now and the A resonants nicely - much better than before. Now the 12 (A) and 16 (C) sound great, but the 13 (F) sounds terrible. Before I started doing all this tuning, it sounded great. I think it has to do with how I've changed the relationship between the batter and then reso. So this is now where I'm stuck. What are my basic options for the tuning relationship between the batter and resos? I know I don't want pitch bend. I guess the easiest thing would be just to tune the heads so that they are the same.
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  #11  
Old 08-01-2010, 08:22 PM
mediocrefunkybeat
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

Stop.Tuning.To.Notes.And.Tune.To.The.Drums. Drumtech Dad has said this and I'm going to make it clearer. You are tuning the drums outside of their comfortable ranges. Just use your ears - it's much easier than arbitrary pitch assignment.
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  #12  
Old 08-04-2010, 01:50 AM
sculley sculley is offline
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

I get it now - at least more so. I tuned all the heads from scratch (yes, the used heads) in the manner described in the drum tuning bible. I realize now, that in addition to trying to make the heads sound a certain way, I was not seating them properly from the begin. The DTB really helped me understand the ranges where each drum sounds it's best. Thanks for the IN.SIST.ANCE.
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  #13  
Old 08-04-2010, 03:05 PM
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by mediocrefunkybeat View Post
Stop.Tuning.To.Notes.And.Tune.To.The.Drums. Drumtech Dad has said this and I'm going to make it clearer. You are tuning the drums outside of their comfortable ranges. Just use your ears - it's much easier than arbitrary pitch assignment.
Find. The. Best. Range. For. Each. Drum. First. Then. Tune. To. Notes. Within. That. Range. If. You. Want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sculley View Post
I get it now - at least more so. I tuned all the heads from scratch (yes, the used heads) in the manner described in the drum tuning bible. I realize now, that in addition to trying to make the heads sound a certain way, I was not seating them properly from the begin. The DTB really helped me understand the ranges where each drum sounds it's best. Thanks for the IN.SIST.ANCE.
Put your hands in the air and step away from the DTB. Heads do not need to be "seated," and two out of the three major head manufacturers recommend against it. If you've attempted to "seat" heads improperly you may have made the heads essentially untunable.

Follow my easy instructions on finding the sweet spot for each drum. Please.
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  #14  
Old 08-05-2010, 12:07 PM
sculley sculley is offline
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Default Re: mixing tom heads to get the right sound

Thanks. .. . . . .... ...


Quote:
Originally Posted by drumtechdad View Post
Find. The. Best. Range. For. Each. Drum. First. Then. Tune. To. Notes. Within. That. Range. If. You. Want.



Put your hands in the air and step away from the DTB. Heads do not need to be "seated," and two out of the three major head manufacturers recommend against it. If you've attempted to "seat" heads improperly you may have made the heads essentially untunable.

Follow my easy instructions on finding the sweet spot for each drum. Please.
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