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  #1  
Old 09-13-2014, 02:32 PM
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Default Drummers that can't tune drums.

So, I've recently started studying music and sound production with studio-recording specialization, and I've had to be hired by the people in the other classes(above and below) because none of the drummers they hire/got can tune their drums.

I'm not the best at tuning, but I have some general idea on what makes the drums sound good for studio-recordings. As the great Simon Philips said, you can't make a good drum recording when the drums sound bad from the get go(or something like that). No matter how much EQ'ing and expensive compressors you add, it always starts with the drums as a whole.

Anyone else come by a lot of drummers that can't tune for their life? On the positive side, I've gotten a lot of good connections and favors, but on the others side I'm pretty flabbergasted that there are so few that actually can tune the drums without slapping 10 pounds of gaffa-tape and toilet-rolls on their kits.
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Old 09-13-2014, 03:08 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

It happens everywhere/all the time.
Rehearsal studios, jams,shared gigs ......
95% of the time , it sounds like playing on some cardboard boxes.
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Old 09-13-2014, 03:38 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

I've known dozens of drummers over the years. Most of them could play circles around me. Most of them could tune, at least after a fashion.

I can count on one hand the number who could properly manipulate the sounds their instrument made.

For a while I worked sound at a large-ish and rather popular bar. Every time - every single time - a new act came in to play, I'd have to spend an hour telling their drummer to sit down over there, have a beer, watch and learn. I'd tear every head off the kit, remove all their junk/gunk/foam, and patiently reassure them as they grew more and more frantic that I was ruining everything.* After I'd tune their drums, I'd have them go stand in the audience's space while I jammed a couple dozen bars with the other band members.

100% of the time they'd freak. About 80% of the time they'd have an epiphany and commit to learning how to actually make their instruments sound good. (The other 20% were too ego-driven to change their ways. There was one older player who liked that 70s cardboard-box sound so much he told me he wouldn't change if I was Jenna Jameson offering him a hummer.)

The whole point to this is that drums sound different when you're behind them vs. in front, in the mix. Ensuring that they recognize what their instrument sounds like when it's properly tuned and live in the mix was the key to that epiphany.

Most drummers go to great lengths to make their kits sound good to them, or like their favorite drummer's recordings. Trouble is, the sound one hears in the mix is hardly ever anything like what you hear behind the kit. That's just acoustically; I was glad when a drummer started coming to our local open mic (where my drums aren't mic'ed at all), so I could hear my kit from the house. It's especially different when you mic everything up and start throwing electronics in the chain from strike to ear.

So keep doing what you're doing, Thaard. You're doing a Good Thing.

* It didn't help that I told them I was ruining everything - everything they were doing wrong. ;-) Sometimes I'd resort to ridicule, especially when they got snippy with me. I'd do things like point to the lead guitarist and say, "He knows how to tune his instrument. Why don't you?"
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Old 09-13-2014, 03:49 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

For the first fifteen years of my playing I had problems tuning my drums. I could not get the drums to sound as good as I wanted them to. I eventually settled on a method I got from some recording studio that emulated the way a very famous drummer had his drums tuned in the studio. I did some recordings with an engineer who worked with this famous drummer and I decided to use that method myself. The engineer had taken strips of towel and placed them between the heads and the rims. The engineer also had used only one head on the drums. The same engineer would put a ton of tape on the cymbals to deaden the sound and he would tell me when I was playing to not crash the cymbals, they would over dub the crash cymbals later so they could record them at a faster speed and so when it was played back on a slower speed it would have a longer sustain. I did not adopt that method on my cymbals. In my youth I figured if it was good enough for Ringo it was good enough for me.

I took a long absence from playing, and when I started playing again, I decided to figure out how to tune the drums using two heads and without the muting strips. This time around there are a lot more head companies and choices of heads available. Back then it was either remo ambassador or remo emperor. I knew that some drummers used calf skin heads at the time, but I knew nothing about them except they were expensive and needed to be tuned a lot.

I think it is a lot easier now to find out how to tune the drums, and experiment with different heads to see how they react to the sound. Also high quality recordings are also very easy to do now. With inflation prices it is much cheaper to purchase a recording device now then it was back then, so it is now easy to tune the heads, record and listen how it records.

When I first started playing there were no videos on tuning drums. I did not know of any books on the subject either. The method drum books did not say much about tuning the drums.

I was taking lessons from a very good jazz drummer who had some fame at the time. He did not discuss tuning of the drums with me. If I can extrapolate my own experiences with what may have been common to a lot of drummers at the time, tuning was not something that was taught or talked about too much. So if there are a lot of drummers out there that do not know how to tune the drums, it may be left over from the last generation of drummers.
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  #5  
Old 09-13-2014, 03:54 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

...

Thaardy, Im over 50 years old. When I was growing up there were plenty of guys whose drums were too choked, or too taped up, or over-muffled etc etc..

We had nobody to teach us. Heck, I learned so many drum parts by rewinding cassette tapes over and over again ( remember those... nah, you won't... ) to hear what Cobham, Lenny White, Ian Paice, Bonham etc were doing.

Today, I think there is no excuse. With the information age just youtube drum tuning and you'll find 15 ways of doing it. Pick a card, any card.

...
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Old 09-13-2014, 03:57 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

Constantly. I'd say around 70% or more of the drummers I see don't know how to tune their drums. My drummer friends actually often ask me to tune theirs for them. One of my buddies will periodically ask me to meet him at the gig a little early so I can help him tune his drums.

I just don't understand why somebody wouldn't take the time to learn something so important. Most guitarists wouldn't go on stage (or even play at all) without first tuning their guitars, so why should anybody else do so without tuning their respective instruments?
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Old 09-13-2014, 04:05 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

Tuning drums is really ridiculous, when you think about it; eight or ten lugs on each side, times four or five or maybe more drums; an ambiguous fundamental with overtones; intervals between batter and reso; intervals between drums; snare beds; muffling; ports. And let's not even get started about drums that are out of round or have bearing edge issues. It's like a cruel joke. A guitarist turns six knobs and she's done.

We must like things to be hard to keep building them this way. Or we like all the options we have, but most of them are bad and only certain magic combinations work.
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Old 09-13-2014, 04:10 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by 8Mile View Post
Tuning drums is really ridiculous, when you think about it; eight or ten lugs on each side, times four or five or maybe more drums; an ambiguous fundamental with overtones; intervals between batter and reso; intervals between drums; snare beds; muffling; ports. And let's not even get started about drums that are out of round or have bearing edge issues. It's like a cruel joke. A guitarist turns six knobs and she's done.

We must like things to be hard to keep building them this way. Or we like all the options we have, but most of them are bad and only certain magic combinations work.
I love this post. So true!
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Old 09-13-2014, 04:17 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by 8Mile View Post
Tuning drums is really ridiculous, when you think about it; eight or ten lugs on each side, times four or five or maybe more drums; an ambiguous fundamental with overtones; intervals between batter and reso; intervals between drums; snare beds; muffling; ports. And let's not even get started about drums that are out of round or have bearing edge issues. It's like a cruel joke. A guitarist turns six knobs and she's done.

We must like things to be hard to keep building them this way. Or we like all the options we have, but most of them are bad and only certain magic combinations work.
Still not a reason to not tune, but...
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  #10  
Old 09-13-2014, 04:52 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

Thanks Evolving Machine - you covered everything for me. When I started out it was fashionable to dampen the hell out of everything. That was the "pro" sound every drummer I knew was trying to emulate at the time. These days the spoiled puppies of today with all their resources and hi tech engineered drums spit on us for it ;-)

Example - a recording from a local band's album who a bunch of us local kid musos used to go and see and looked up to ... note the dampened toms ... I still think his drums sound cool but might not have much company at the forum :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lAtQT0tfO8

And thanks Larry - never thought of it like that, just taking it for granted but so true!

It also depends on the genre. Just as with cymbals, some drummers enjoy drum tuning with a bit of trashiness. Not sure engineers are so keen on trashy, edgy sounds in a drum set, though ...
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Old 09-13-2014, 05:14 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

It's rare that I meet a drummer outside of the pro circuit who can truly appropriately tune a kit taking into account a wide range of rooms/circumstances. The reason for that is often simple, they haven't experienced a wide range of rooms/circumstances over a long period of time. The ability to do that, & do that well is earned through mileage & a willingness to investigate/overcome. It's not something you can pick up out of a book or even from the internet in any meaningful form.

Then there's players on the pro circuit. Sure more of them know what to do & when (still not a big percentage though), but few really understand what they're doing, they just do it because tuning x has always worked for them in situation Y. That's fine, but to truly understand how the instrument reacts opens a path to more informed choices, just in the same way that having better technical mastery of the instrument opens up more musical choices.

The biggest shameful situation I come across is the standard of tuning at trade shows. It's really rare to hear drums that sound good on a manufacturers booth, & it's usually very little to do with the drums themselves. Some staff seem genuinely not to be bothered about this, some clearly have absolutely no idea what they're doing. No excuses for that, non whatsoever. Even worse, many drummers seem untroubled by the sound of the drums either. Their concentration is much more focussed on the latest finish or other largely periphery matters. maybe that's why the staff manning the booth often can't be arsed. Head in hands time for Andy :(

Unfortunately for us, we play an instrument that's arguably the most difficult modern instrument to get right by far in terms of tuning, but the flip side of that is we also have by far the greatest range of sounds available to us outside of electronic processing. No other instrument is as customisable in every respect.
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Old 09-13-2014, 05:53 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

1 in about 25. In my world, only about 1 out of every 25 drumsets I encounter are tuned decent. Maybe about 1 in 50 are tuned freakin awesome. The rest sound like crap to me.
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  #13  
Old 09-13-2014, 08:21 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by STXBob View Post
The whole point to this is that drums sound different when you're behind them vs. in front, in the mix.

Trouble is, the sound one hears in the mix is hardly ever anything like what you hear behind the kit.
So what is the solution to this?

How do you tune your drums so they sound good "in the mix".

.
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  #14  
Old 09-13-2014, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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So what is the solution to this?

How do you tune your drums so they sound good "in the mix".

.
In very broad terms, tune the drums such that they occupy a different sonic space to other low frequency instruments. If in doubt, crank the reso ;)
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Old 09-13-2014, 08:29 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
In very broad terms, tune the drums such that they occupy a different sonic space to other low frequency instruments. If in doubt, crank the reso ;)
Thanks Andy. That helps. Great point about occupying a different sonic space. Love it !


I know how to tune drums pretty well.
What I mean is physically how do you tune drums as if you are standing in the audience, and while the band is playing ????
What technique should be used?

.

Last edited by Hollywood Jim; 09-13-2014 at 08:47 PM.
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Old 09-13-2014, 09:04 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by 8Mile View Post
Tuning drums is really ridiculous, when you think about it; eight or ten lugs on each side, times four or five or maybe more drums; an ambiguous fundamental with overtones; intervals between batter and reso; intervals between drums; snare beds; muffling; ports. And let's not even get started about drums that are out of round or have bearing edge issues. It's like a cruel joke. A guitarist turns six knobs and she's done.
And it gets better. Guitarists and bassists have electronic tuners that work with extreme accuracy, easily and in next to no time with zero training. It takes mere moments for me to tune my 5 string bass and I don't even have to listen to it while I'm tuning it. And it stays in tune for weeks at a time in spite of daily playing (being in a temp/humidity controlled studio certainly helps but hey, that's where my drums are, too).

And then to make your day worse, consider the modern keyboardist. They never have to tune their instruments. NEVER. We're talking parts per million frequency accuracy and stability. I bought a Yamaha stage piano several years ago and I've never had to tune it. In fact, you can't!


Quote:
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Unfortunately for us, we play an instrument that's arguably the most difficult modern instrument to get right by far in terms of tuning
I've never done it, but I understand that tuning a grand piano is no walk in the park, either.
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Old 09-13-2014, 09:11 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by Thaard View Post
Anyone else come by a lot of drummers that can't tune for their life? On the positive side, I've gotten a lot of good connections and favors, but on the others side I'm pretty flabbergasted that there are so few that actually can tune the drums without slapping 10 pounds of gaffa-tape and toilet-rolls on their kits.
When I had those two DW kits I could've fallen into that category, you know. I just for the life of me make them sound good and had to try a second kit to see if it was just me. When I couldn't make the second one sound good I thought I never knew how to tune a drum! And then when I went to other brands I was back to normal. So maybe you're just running in to a bunch of guys like me with DW drums?
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Old 09-13-2014, 09:25 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

I use a torque wrench to get to where the proper tension is the same on all lugs and dependent on each drums particular diameter. This brings them up and in the ballpark whence I fine tune from there. My drums are tuned in fourths (i.e. Here Comes the Bride) with each other, low to high. The Bass drum is usually a thud for gigs but out in the practice room I take the EQ pad out and let both heads naturally vibrate.

Keeping lug tension in close relation with each other reduces undue wear on the bearing edges. And even pics on this forum shows unevenness and warp due to uneven lug tension.

Are your bearing edges uneven? Strip off the heads and put your drum on a nice sheet of glass. Any gaps?

A couple of drummers I know do it on the fly, by ear. They are good at it and have been playing and tuning for decades and the best drummer I personally know uses the drum head gauge, where the gauge is placed on the head and the head is tuned to a pitch. But that doesn't address the damage to bearing edges caused by uneven torque around the edge. You can be in tune, in great tune, but torques can vary if you are not mindful of even torque around the drum.

I was given my torque wrench by a retired banjo builder and I can and do attest that it works well for me. Banjo builders rely on proper torques around those banjo heads. They have many lugs (25 or so in many configurations) and they are absolute in setting up a banjo head properly with the correct torque all the way around. BTW Banjo builders strive to maintain a G# tuning on most banjo heads.

There are a number of tuning devices for instruments. They are tools and as tools they can help anyone achieve a respectable tune on their instruments.
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Old 09-13-2014, 09:51 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by Hollywood Jim View Post
I know how to tune drums pretty well.
What I mean is physically how do you tune drums as if you are standing in the audience, and while the band is playing ????
What technique should be used?
I too can tune my drums pretty well. I've put in a lot of time to get to know how my drums should sound. But, this is once again only from the driver's seat.

For me, my method for the mounted toms is find a good sweet fundamental note or sound that emanates from the drum and get everything perfectly matched to that sound top and bottom. My floor tom is a bit different. For that I tune the top head where it sounds good to me and then tune the bottom a couple of pitches higher. On the bass, the batter is tuned about in the medium range - No JAW. And the reso is tuned slightly higher - basically medium tight.

I really want to know:
How should drums be tuned for the audience perspective?
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Old 09-13-2014, 10:10 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by Hollywood Jim View Post
I know how to tune drums pretty well.
What I mean is physically how do you tune drums as if you are standing in the audience, and while the band is playing ????
What technique should be used?
Get up and move out front. Let someone else hit your drums. Listen while taking mental notes. At least that's how I've always done it.

Really, what I'm getting at is overuse of dampening/muffling. When they're practicing - either by themselves or with their band in the rehearsal space - they are (? certainly were, when I was working that sound gig) muffling the hell out of everything in order to reduce ring and overtones. They didn't know how everything changes once you step out front.

Drums are a projecting instrument. When you strike them, the majority of sound goes away from you. Plus, what sounds all ringy and boingy won't, not to the audience, not when you play in an ensemble with other instruments. Those high-frequency sounds tend to blend with the other instruments.

I'm explaining this badly. Someone else better step up. Andy? Help? I think you grok what I'm trying to say, but I'm really goofing up the explanation.
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Old 09-13-2014, 10:37 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

I hate seeing moon gels or those plastic rings. I bare no personal grudge against anyone who uses such things, but it's my humble opinion that if you can't get the sound you want out of your drums without those things, then you have to work on your tuning methods. I've played drums for around ten years now, a little more, and when I first started I used these gimmic products, ever since I really focussed on tuning drums I can now get a sound I like without using any of that mess, even on cheaper drums.

As far as punch and depth, if you have so much trouble getting a sound you want, then you should buy drums more suited for the sound you like, rather than relying on external muffling devices.
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Old 09-13-2014, 10:46 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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I hate seeing moon gels or those plastic rings. I bare no personal grudge against anyone who uses such things, but it's my humble opinion that if you can't get the sound you want out of your drums without those things, then you have to work on your tuning methods. I've played drums for around ten years now, a little more, and when I first started I used these gimmic products, ever since I really focussed on tuning drums I can now get a sound I like without using any of that mess, even on cheaper drums.

As far as punch and depth, if you have so much trouble getting a sound you want, then you should buy drums more suited for the sound you like, rather than relying on external muffling devices.
This is true for most of the drums except the kick-drum, since you'll always get some nasty tones that you don't want. It's the only thing I dampen. Also, you don't always choose what kit you get to tune. The kit's in the studio are low to mid range Ludwigs..
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Old 09-14-2014, 12:26 AM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by STXBob View Post
Get up and move out front. Let someone else hit your drums. Listen while taking mental notes. At least that's how I've always done it.
Really, what I'm getting at is overuse of dampening/muffling.
They didn't know how everything changes once you step out front.
OK I get it. Yeah your correct !

I tune my drums to sound good and to project from the stage. I'm up against rock and roll guitars with Marshall amps, with no microphones for my drums.

I use plastic rings for small rehearsal rooms so I don't have to retune all the time. I wish I could get the plastic ring sound on stage, but it just does not project to the audience when the band plays.


.
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Old 09-14-2014, 03:18 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by JimFiore View Post
And it gets better. Guitarists and bassists have electronic tuners that work with extreme accuracy, easily and in next to no time with zero training. It takes mere moments for me to tune my 5 string bass and I don't even have to listen to it while I'm tuning it. And it stays in tune for weeks at a time in spite of daily playing (being in a temp/humidity controlled studio certainly helps but hey, that's where my drums are, too).

And then to make your day worse, consider the modern keyboardist. They never have to tune their instruments. NEVER. We're talking parts per million frequency accuracy and stability. I bought a Yamaha stage piano several years ago and I've never had to tune it. In fact, you can't!
I've never done it, but I understand that tuning a grand piano is no walk in the park, either.
It's a shame that no practical single tension system has ever been developed for the drums that truly worked. It's just a much more complex system than tensioning a string until a desired pitch is reached. The list of variables is much longer.

I wish...

And yes, most drum kits sound terrible. (Then again I think most drummers sound terrible but that's another story)
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Old 09-14-2014, 04:47 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

I have always found the drum tuning issue to be very odd and confusing. You can talk to 5 different drummers and run into 5 different ways of tuning. I can get a decent sound with trial and error with a pair of drum keys, but there are so many variables in head choice, drum sizes, room shape, mic'd or not miked, etc, it does seem unneccesarily difficult to explain to a new drummer.

And yet you look at the threads when a product like the tunebot came out, and 1/2 the posters just say "learn how to tune properly." Well, explain what properly is? lol.

Over the years, I've used many different methods, and read articles and books. I have a small book from late 80's called drum tuning, which if you read it now it's hysterically out of date.
I used to have great results with a product called the Drum Torque, which was a torque wrench. Once I learned the best sounding tensions for the heads after great trial and error, I used to write the torque numbers right on the heads in a sharpie, and could get my drums back to their best sounds in around 3 minutes, I really liked the consistency in sound I got. I do like the Tunebot, even though some guys might look down on me for using it. It's what I use now all the time. Again, I like consistency.
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Old 09-14-2014, 04:50 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

Tuning would all be solved if you simply removed all your bottom heads and just stuck the mic up into the drum. Bass drums get a feather down pillow, and the mic goes on the pillow. Toms sound good with gaf tape. Lots of gaf tape ;)
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Old 09-14-2014, 04:50 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by mmulcahy1 View Post

I really want to know:
How should drums be tuned for the audience perspective?
This is what I arrived at from my experiences. Just talking toms here. Doesn't really apply to bass drum or snare.

For unmiced:

I tune to a higher note than you would think. It sounds on the high side from the throne, even my floor tom. IMO, the overwhelming majority of unmiced drummers tune too low at gigs. You have to have a certain amount of tension on the head to fully excite the shell, so the shell can contribute to the tone. When heads are tuned too slack, the shell can't really contribute as much, and it's mostly just head tone. Head tone just doesn't carry as far. Yea it sounds great from the the throne, but that's the only place it sounds great.

In my experience from hearing others play my kit, a kit that sounds high tuned from the throne sounds well balanced in the audience. The bass freqs takes some distance to come together, bass waves are long. I think a 60 hz soundwave is close to twenty feet long. You don't hear the bass tones from the throne as much when you tune high, but you do in the audience.

The overtones that you get from an unmuffled drum that most people try and tune out...those overtones are the magic carpet that carries the tone to the audience. Even a tiny bit of tape will yield a wet cardboard tone in the audience. Those "stray" overtones are so freaking important to an unmiced drum, but most people try and eliminate them, resulting in the beloved (not) wet cardboard sound. It doesn't have to be like that, but it takes a sacrifice in throne tone that most can't deal with.

I developed a thing where I listen to the purity of the fundamental, get that as pure as I can, and just listen straight through the overtones. I ignore them, and simply focus on a pure fundamental, at a high enough tension. Overtones are your bestest friend if your drums are unmiced. Learn to embrace and love them is my advice.

For miced drums:

I'm not miced much, but when I am (last night I was) I still tune the same, with one caveat. I don't want any mics close to my toms. Overheads for me rather than close micing. That way I can get that lively sound that I love so much. If you want to tune low and muffle, as long as it's miced, it should be fine. Unmiced, tuning low and muffling is giving your drum tone a death sentence.

I run a full front head and no muffling on the kick. I position the BD mic halfway between center and edge, and about 4" away from the head. I don't have nearly as much experience miced compared to unmiced, so I'll stop here.
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Old 09-14-2014, 04:53 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

I did not begin to play the drums until after I learned how to tune them. Or, I wasn't seduced by the trap kit until I applied the appropriate lipstick to the pig.

Being a guitarist/singer type for decades had cultivated an "ear" of sorts. And when the drums sounded like a cascade of road apples, I could tell, and it turned me off and away from the drums.

Almost on a whim one day I challenged myself to outsmart a hunk of wood, bolts, and Mylar. I began to tweak. Once I learned how to tune a single drum TO ITSELF, tuning a kit in intervals was easy.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Now when I hear a poorly arranged kit, I am keenly aware of it's detrimental effect on the quality of life.

Drums don't kill people; incompetent drummers kill people.
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Last edited by johnnylaw; 09-14-2014 at 05:17 PM. Reason: Correct the auto correct
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Old 09-14-2014, 05:10 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

Concerning tuning for the audience: First it depends whether or not the kit is running through the PA.
Second, in my experience most drummers tend to tune their drums too low, so that they
sound "dead" a few meters away.
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Old 09-14-2014, 05:37 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

I'm totally in agreement with Larryace on tuning for the audience. I tune mine tighter than you'd think too for the toms. I learned this years ago, when I started intentionally tuning my toms higher, so it'd be easier to play Wipeout. lmao. It used to be the last song of the night, and sometimes my arms would just be tired, so I wanted more rebound, to make it a little less work. It was a happy coincidence that they sounded great out front.
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Old 09-14-2014, 05:45 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by whiteknightx View Post
I'm totally in agreement with Larryace on tuning for the audience. I tune mine tighter than you'd think too for the toms. I learned this years ago, when I started intentionally tuning my toms higher, so it'd be easier to play Wipeout. lmao. It used to be the last song of the night, and sometimes my arms would just be tired, so I wanted more rebound, to make it a little less work. It was a happy coincidence that they sounded great out front.
Bonus, right? A higher tuned drum is much easier to play, and sounds better in the crowd. Win/win.
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Old 09-14-2014, 06:46 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
Overtones are your bestest friend if your drums are unmiced. Learn to embrace and love them is my advice.
Yes ! Thank you for the great ideas Larry ! I am going to retune my drums at the next gig.

And if the drums are miced or you are in the studio; I think maybe use something to slightly dampen the toms. And maybe only on the bottom head. Tiny piece of tape, maybe plastic rings on the top head, etc.


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Old 09-14-2014, 07:01 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

It's pretty obvious Larry has never had to play in a disco cover band, or in a Ramones-type band. All this talk of higher-pitched ringy drums is just crazy.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:04 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
It's pretty obvious Larry has never had to play in a disco cover band, or in a Ramones-type band. All this talk of higher-pitched ringy drums is just crazy.
This is actually a good point. The music would dictate the general tuning style.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:19 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

I've been a hobbyist for 12 years and still can't tune my drums. I do struggle with pitch differentiation though, but have never had anyone show me how to tune and haven't found the method that works for me or my drums :(. One day I hope to understand
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:30 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

There are definitely guys who can tune low and get a really good sound. I'm not dissing low tuning. Wet cardboard tone I will diss all day, but in the right hands, low tunings can sound really satisfying. I'm not that good at it, because it's not the sound I am hearing in my head, plus playing on a tighter head is less work, but I definitely enjoy hearing others who can tune low well.

Acoustically speaking, higher tuned unmiced, unmuffled drums sound more like actual drums from a distance compared to lower tuned and muffled unmiced drums, which sound more like mud. JMO. The lower tunings work good in smaller rooms, but they don't carry in larger rooms with a lot of bodies.

Micing changes everything of course. Then you can do whatever you want.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:31 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
The music would dictate the general tuning style.
I'm usually on stage with two to three guitar players, a bass player, a keyboard player and a singer.
Playing Honky Tonk Woman and each musician is trying to play louder than everyone else.
And me with unmiced drums.

Last month I played outside at a car show in the same situation.
So I need drum tuning that will cut through this so I can play loud when I need to.

PS: I can tell you one thing, my 1928 chrome on brass Super Ludwig Snare can always be heard.

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Old 09-14-2014, 07:52 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
Micing changes everything of course. Then you can do whatever you want.
Not really Larry, although it does remove the need to "project".

Actually, I hear the term projection used often, but it commonly refers to higher end cut / head slap, rarely projection of tone. Acoustically, that requires a few elements to be in place, namely drums that are actually capable of producing a dominant fundamental, & having their own sonic space in which to operate.

Tuning for mic'ing, either in the studio or live, but especially live, is a skill in itself. Outside of the higher end pro circuit, & good tech's, I rarely encounter a drummer who has the slightest idea of how to tune for live mic'ing. Essentially, you have to tune to what the mic's are capable of hearing, & on a loud soundstage, that almost never includes a resolved sound. You also need to take into account how the sound engineer intends on driving your sound. Does he/she intend to drive mostly from the close mic's leaving the overheads as mainly "ambience", or does the engineer drive mostly from the overheads leaving the close mic's as (usually low end) reinforcement. The former approach being by far the most commonplace.
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Old 09-14-2014, 08:03 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
Not really Larry, although it does remove the need to "project".

Actually, I hear the term projection used often, but it commonly refers to higher end cut / head slap, rarely projection of tone. Acoustically, that requires a few elements to be in place, namely drums that are actually capable of producing a dominant fundamental, & having their own sonic space in which to operate.

Tuning for mic'ing, either in the studio or live, but especially live, is a skill in itself. Outside of the higher end pro circuit, & good tech's, I rarely encounter a drummer who has the slightest idea of how to tune for live mic'ing. Essentially, you have to tune to what the mic's are capable of hearing, & on a loud soundstage, that almost never includes a resolved sound. You also need to take into account how the sound engineer intends on driving your sound. Does he/she intend to drive mostly from the close mic's leaving the overheads as mainly "ambience", or does the engineer drive mostly from the overheads leaving the close mic's as (usually low end) reinforcement. The former approach being by far the most commonplace.
What's a resolved sound?
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Old 09-14-2014, 08:47 PM
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Default Re: Drummers that can't tune drums.

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Originally Posted by dat yeti View Post
I've been a hobbyist for 12 years and still can't tune my drums. I do struggle with pitch differentiation though, but have never had anyone show me how to tune and haven't found the method that works for me or my drums :(. One day I hope to understand
If you don't mind, I'm gonna give this a shot. This is one way to do it. This is just for toms.

Put the drum on a carpet. Lay a fingertip dead center of the head (important!) and lightly tap the head, about an inch in front of a tension rod, with a stick tip. This will produce a harmonic sounding tone. Without moving your dead center fingertip, tap near every rod and just listen. Listen to the harmonics. Notice which ones are higher and lower. Select the purest best sounding rod. Notice the note it sings. Remember where that rod is by noticing the relationship to the head logo. Use that rod as a reference and tune all the other rods to it. Once they all sing the same tone, that's called clearing the head.

Once the head is clear, or in tune with itself, now you have to determine if your head pitch is too low for that drum, too high, or just right. Adjust if necessary and re-clear. I like to get the drum head even at a very low tuning, then bring it up slowly from there. Getting it even is key.

After that's done flip the drum and repeat.

OK both heads are cleared. Not done yet.

There is the pitch relation thing going on between the batter and reso. This is where the real fine tuning of the drum happens. Basically, there's 3 general roads to take, you can tune the reso head lower, the same as, or higher...than the batter. That's a whole discussion unto itself, and it is mostly personal preference.

OK pitch relationship tweaking....mute with your fingertip and tap the cleared batter near a rod, remember the note, even better try and sing it, and flip it over and do the tap thing on the cleared reso near a rod.... and evaluate if you like the pitch relationship. Does it sound like part of the same chord? Or is it dissonant? Do you like it? You kind of have to know whether you prefer the /lower than/same as/higher than/ relationship. This is where the real hours get burned up learning to tune drums and where your personal preferences lie.

Once your heads are cleared, and they are at the correct pitch for that diameter drum, and in addition, you have a complimentary pitch relationship between the batter and the reso going on...you're done....with that drum.

Now you have the rest of the kit to tune, and getting a pleasing relationship between all the drums adds to the task. With experience, you know where you like your toms pitch-wise and naturally go right to it.

Piece of cake. Walk in the park. Falling off a log. Shooting fish in a barrel....are all easier than tuning drums lol.

Phase cancellation involves two heads, you can't get phase cancellation on a concert tom. It's where the 2 respective pitches.....there's a zone where those pitches cancel each other out and the drum sounds castrated, hollow. There are multiple zones where you can get phase cancellation. The good news is that a good tone is pretty close. Adjusting one head will do it.

In my experience, tuning the reso lower sounds boingy. Tuning the reso the same as the batter is real nice, but reso higher than batter is what I go for, sometimes a full octave higher, sometimes a fourth or fifth higher. Sometimes I tune both equally, especially on the higher toms, but I stay away from tuning the reso lower on any of my drums.

Tuning the snare and bass drum are 2 separate discussions. Too broad to even tackle.

A few other notes, no more than a 1/4 turn when adjusting rods, small moves. I use 1/8 turns. Using 2 opposing keys really gives you a pretty good feel for even-ness. Rods that are lubricated tune easier, a sticking rod or anything that binds a rod makes it almost impossible to tune by feel. Think in terms of "pairs" of opposing rods. Like to me an 8 lug drum is 4 pairs of rods. 4 tuning planes. When I check tuning, I tap a rod, then I tap it's opposite rod. I do that with all 4 pairs, comparing pairs to each other. If a drum is out of tune, one of the tuning "pairs" doesn't sound like the others, and adjusting that pair of rods clears it. The 5 lug tuning on Gretsch rack toms was the only reason I'm not playing them now. That's not anal at all. I had some nice Renowns.
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