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  #1  
Old 05-24-2013, 03:55 PM
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Default I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

I cannot tune a floor tom for the life of me :\ Would anyone want to give me hints/walk me through your process of tuning floor toms? Mainly, I'm having trouble with my floor tom droping off pitch after I hit it... I put a little tape on the batter head and it helped a little buut I'm still not getting the sustained, even pitch that I want.

Jacob
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Old 05-24-2013, 04:06 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

Firstly, it would help to know what size it is and, more importantly, what heads you're using!


Are you trying to get that real low THUD out of it or a solid note?
Normally if the head is detuning when you hit it then you've either got it too loose so the lugs are vibrating when you hit it or the heads could be dead/worn out.

But, we need to know more before proper advice is given.

The way I tune is just above the low dead thud when it turns into a proper note. 2-ply coated on top, single ply clear on bottom. tune the top head to where you want it and its all stretched out and stable, then tune the bottom head to match it is you want lots of resonance. Tune slightly higher a bend UP in pitch during the note and slightly lower for a pitch drop.
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Old 05-24-2013, 04:11 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

I guess you can tuna fish, but you can't tuna floor tom.
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Old 05-24-2013, 04:24 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

A guy over here offers Drum Tuning Services. What he does is tune both heads way up higher than you want and let it stretch - preferably overnight. The next day he tunes it down slowly to the desired pitch, hitting the head every now and then so it stretches out.

You could argue if that is necessary with today's heads but his tuning does sound great and stays in tune pretty well.
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Old 05-24-2013, 04:28 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by eric_B View Post
A guy over here offers Drum Tuning Services. What he does is tune both heads way up higher than you want and let it stretch - preferably overnight. The next day he tunes it down slowly to the desired pitch, hitting the head every now and then so it stretches out.

You could argue if that is necessary with today's heads but his tuning does sound great and stays in tune pretty well.
Does he also lean on (stretch) the head as he is tuning it? Just curious, as I am always interested in different methods...I've found, recently, that if I stretch a head (I don't stand on it though, lol) while tuning it, and then tighten the lugs to my desired tension, they sound pretty good and tend to stay in tune.
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Old 05-24-2013, 05:11 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

Sounds like you need to tune up the bottom head. I'm not the best tuner either but I think a loose lug on the batter head will also cause pitch bend.

Also, try tuning it higher than you normally would. Put a piece of moongel to kill some overtones.
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Old 05-24-2013, 05:14 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by StickIt View Post
Does he also lean on (stretch) the head as he is tuning it? Just curious, as I am always interested in different methods...I've found, recently, that if I stretch a head (I don't stand on it though, lol) while tuning it, and then tighten the lugs to my desired tension, they sound pretty good and tend to stay in tune.
Yes, he keeps stretching the head all the time, I think that is the trick.
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Old 05-24-2013, 05:22 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

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Originally Posted by eric_B View Post
What he does is tune both heads way up higher than you want and let it stretch - preferably overnight. The next day he tunes it down slowly to the desired pitch, hitting the head every now and then so it stretches out.
I overtighten with a new head, then come way down in tuning range to near wrinkle, then go up in tuning.
Every drum has a 'sweet spot' where it sounds best. Tune to there and start as a reference spot.
Tune each head the same, get their pitch the same, at the sweet spot.
Then tune reso head up by a 3rd or 4ths in pitch relative to batter (use the notes 'three blind' in the song 3 Blind Mice , lol)
Then adjust batter to get overall pitch you want , re-adjustign resos at same time to be a 3rd or 4th higher in pitch.

Old saying - "Tune reso for pitch batter for feel."

Another hint, if you can record your kit from a few meters away. You'd be surprised how the tom might sound form out there. Higher tuned resos project more, soudn ebtter 'out there' but might not sound so good at the kit.

Bob Gatzen videos too.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:17 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

Use a piano or an online tuning fork. Take the legs off and sit the drum on the floor. If your tom is 16", tune each head to B. It is essential to get the head evenly tensioned so the note is pretty pure when you lightly tap about an inch in from each lug. If you tap too hard at this point, you activate more of the head and it is harder to isolate the pitch at each lug.

This may take you five minutes or an hour, depending. Keep at it until it is right, and both heads are tuned to the same pitch.

The B note is nothing magic but should give you a reasonable starting point. Both heads the same will give you a nice clear note (it will NOT be a B when you play it normally, so don't worry about that). If you want shorter sustain and a bit of a pitch bend try tuning the bottom head to D. But I strongly encourage you to start with both heads the same.

Have someone else hit the drum while you are across the room. It will sound much different than when you are sitting over the drum.

If your floor tom is a 14", do the same process using an E note.

I am not fanatical about tuning to notes, exactly, but it can be an easy way to get you into the ballpark and is easily repeatable.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:20 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

I also want to add, tuning a big drum is not easy, so don't get discouraged. The head can sound like it is making the same note at each lug when it reality it may be at a different tension, because the whole head is trying to produce sound and uneven tensions muddle the fundamental note.

In time you will learn to discern subtle differences in overtones, timbre, and feel of the head that will help you do a better job.
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  #11  
Old 05-24-2013, 06:22 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by (Future)DWdrummer View Post
Mainly, I'm having trouble with my floor tom droping off pitch after I hit it...
Is it detuning as you play or does it have a huge pitch bend?

If the pitch drops after the initial attack, it means either that the two heads are tune too far apart, or for instance, that the head tuned higher has one lug that's tuned too high, and the lower tuned head has a one lug that's too low. The most important factor is having the heads themselves evenly tuned, which is also the hardest part about tuning. I personally don't really agree with tuning the heads a 3rd or 4th apart, you'll get a lot of pitch drop that way. But a lot of people like that.

To get you in the ballpark, on a 14" floor tom tune the reso around C or a little higher, and play the drum as you're tuning up the batter head to try different pitches. If you reach C on the batter and you still think the tom is growling too much, tune up the reso a seminote or a full note and repeat the batter head process. I have my 14" floor tom reso tuned C and the batter tuned B, my 16" reso is tuned A and batter G#.
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  #12  
Old 05-24-2013, 07:46 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

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Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
I also want to add, tuning a big drum is not easy, so don't get discouraged.
I agree, the human hearing is not very good at hearing small differences at low frequencies.
If these tips don't help you out, you could consider a Tune-bot, it works pretty well.
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Old 05-24-2013, 08:06 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by eric_B View Post
I agree, the human hearing is not very good at hearing small differences at low frequencies.
If these tips don't help you out, you could consider a Tune-bot, it works pretty well.
I've always found it easier to tune the larger drums, perhaps it's because I like all my toms tuned pretty low and the bigger floor toms always sound awesome that way.
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Old 05-24-2013, 08:27 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by eric_B View Post
A guy over here offers Drum Tuning Services. What he does is tune both heads way up higher than you want and let it stretch - preferably overnight. The next day he tunes it down slowly to the desired pitch, hitting the head every now and then so it stretches out.
Note to the OP, though- never tune down to a pitch, always up. Leaving a head in a down 'orientation' IIRC causes it to produce more inharmonic overtones, a.k.a. a generally worse sound.
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  #15  
Old 05-24-2013, 10:03 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

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Originally Posted by porter View Post
Note to the OP, though- never tune down to a pitch, always up. Leaving a head in a down 'orientation' IIRC causes it to produce more inharmonic overtones, a.k.a. a generally worse sound.
Yes, a good point: if you want to tune a head lower, turn the lugs down but then up again (a bit).
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Old 05-24-2013, 10:14 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

Took me ages to get control over my floor tom tuning. Every drum in my kit would sound just the way I wanted it except the floor. Then one day it just stopped. I don't know if I finally just learned to live with it, or if I honed in my tuning to the point that I could get just what I was looking for.

So I guess my advice, if you haven't tried it yet... Take an hour or so with just floor tom. Completely loosen all the tension and start tuning from scratch. I believe, sooner or later, you'll get it. Pointers on tuning go a long way, but ultimately no one can teach how to do it. There are too many variants.
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  #17  
Old 05-24-2013, 11:43 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

I too find it much easier and faster to tune a large diameter drum than lets say an 8" tom. The smaller drums tend to choke up easier and they also need both heads exactly the same pitch for the most sustain the drum is capable of. This is actually true of most drums, but a small diameter drum's sustain and resonance for that matter will fall off much more quickly.

Dennis
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  #18  
Old 05-25-2013, 09:49 AM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

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Originally Posted by audiotech View Post
I too find it much easier and faster to tune a large diameter drum than lets say an 8" tom. The smaller drums tend to choke up easier and they also need both heads exactly the same pitch for the most sustain the drum is capable of. This is actually true of most drums, but a small diameter drum's sustain and resonance for that matter will fall off much more quickly.
It takes me longer to tune a larger drum because, usually, the sustain doesn't sound even and the head not completely in tune with itself. I hear a rumble and can see the head is not fading out evenly so I keep adjusting it.
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Old 05-25-2013, 08:16 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

Some might call this cheating but what I do is I use coated Ambassadors on the tom heads except the 16", on that one I use an Emperor. I find it's WAY easier to tune when I do that.
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  #20  
Old 05-25-2013, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: I just can't tune a floor tom :-(

I find it really interesting that some people find large drums harder to tune, and some find small drums harder. I personally find small drums extremely easy.

I wonder if this has anything to do with our hearing, or perception of sound in general?
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