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  #1  
Old 10-01-2013, 09:23 PM
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Default Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

Since I had a little luck with my snare, I would like to work on tuning my toms a little. I'm just curious..should you start with the reso head every time you tune? I will definitely this time because other than when I first received my kit, it'll really be the first time I've tried any serious tuning on my own. But after that...do you always adjust your resos before the batters or are they something that have to be done less often?

Also, what's the major difference in tuning a tom versus tuning a snare? Same basic technique or should I be doing something different?

BTW, I'm not using a drum tuner, just by ear at this point.

Thanks for any advice. And remember, the KISS method is always best when speaking with me about tuning :)
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:29 PM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

I always tune my batters first....on any drum. I get a tone that's in the ballpark of where I want it and then get the reso sorted after that. A final tweak wherever I think it's needed and the job is done.

Check out those Bob Gatzen vids on youtube. He goes through toms and bass drum as well as a snare. They're an excellent example of the process. Good to see you developing your ears too. They don't run out of batteries.....and they're free!!
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:02 PM
ermghoti ermghoti is offline
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

Same. I tune the batter first, for no other reason than I don't have to do anything to get at it, I guess. I start with the most troublesome tom, in my case, the 12", and tune it so it sounds its best solo. I tune the reso a fourth above the batter, and each drum a fourth up or down from the next (the My Dog Has Fleas or Here Comes the Bride interval). The objection to doing this would be that there will be a lot of sympathetic vibration, and there is, however, it's all in tune with itself. I do not mute anything unless I can't get the snare to play along with the toms without weird resonances.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:25 PM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

I have no scientific reason to explain why but i too always start with the batter head. I also always start with the floor tom first. It's much easier for me to tune up from there with the rest of the kit.

That's the fun or pain with drums....there's no rules.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:32 PM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

I am by no means great at drum tuning, but I have always heard that you tune the batter to feel and the reso to tone. That is why I start with the batter. I pretty much know how everything should feel, so I tune the batters to feel, then flip them over and tune the reso's to pitch. Then I go back to the batter and make sure it sounds and feels like it should.

I do pretty much everything else backwards too, so I am sure I am screwing this up as well.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:53 PM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

I don't tune in any particular order, although I think I usually tune my resos first, but not for any real reason.

I treat the snare as a separate entity from the toms. Getting a good snare sound can involve different intervals between batter and resonant head. There may also be a need to de-tune the lugs around the snare bed on the reso side. The way I see it, the concept of getting an even pitch from lug-to-lug on the snare side is rendered pointless by the snare bed anyway. Tuning that might make a tom sound good can lead to a terrible snare sound. So, completely different animals for me.

I tune toms depending on the music. For small group jazz, I like the maximum resonance achieved by tuning batter and reso to the same pitch. I also like the fundamental pitch of each the toms to be specific intervals apart. I find perfect fourths work nicely.

For rock music, I like to tune the reso head higher in pitch on the toms, about a fourth higher than the batter. That gives them a punchy sound with less head sustain.

Of course, every drum has certain tuning ranges where the shell really gets excited and sings out.

So many options. That's the hard part about drum tuning. No one right way, but you have so many combinations to try before getting a sound you'll like.
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Old 10-01-2013, 11:47 PM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

I'm in roughly the same boat as everyone else, except I like to tune batters and resos on toms to about the same pitch. That makes for a longer note and a slightly tighter batter head which feels better to me.

It's an art, not a science.
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:07 AM
EricT43 EricT43 is offline
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

It doesn't really matter which head you tune first. Generally, the difference in tunings between batter and reso is greater on a snare than a tom I think, but aside from that, the principal is the same. Although on a snare, the bottom head tuning also affects how the snares will behave, whereas on a tom you don't have to worry about that.

I bought an app for my iPhone called iDrumTech, and it has helped me make a significant improvement in my tuning skills.

You tell the app the diameter of your drum, whether it has a resonant head, what pitch you want to tune it to, how much sustain you want (min to max), and if you want the top head higher than the bottom, or the opposite. From that information it tells you what frequency to tune your top and bottom heads to. It uses the microphone on your phone to measure the frequency at each lug. You tune up and down until each lug is tuned to the desired frequency, then flip it over and repeat for the other side.

It's very easy to tune once you get the hang of it. After using it a few times, I can now tune my drums reasonably well with my ear. Having the app makes experimenting with tuning much easier as well. Before, once I got my drum sounding good, I was afraid to touch it again because I had no idea how I got there. Now I can try all sorts of things with the batter and reso heads. If I want to go back, I just recall my saved presets and tune the heads to the original frequencies.

I would highly recommend it to anyone struggling with tuning, because it helps you get a really good tune-up right away, and it's a great learning tool.

Best $4.99 I've spent in a looooong time...

(I am not affiliated with this product in any way, just a satisfied customer)
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:13 AM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

I start with the resos' because they go quicker to me, and I get them out of the way. Here is my tuning tip. Finger tighten all of the screws. Then going in a star pattern, turn each screw one turn. Now here is the trick. As you tighten some of the screws, others will appear to be very loose. DO NOT FINGER TIGHTEN THEM AGAIN. As you go around the drum turning each screw one turn, when you are finished they will all be one turn tight. If you finger tighten more than once and then use the key for a full turn, some will be tighter than others. I then tighten them all 1/2 turn, and see what I have. For me that usually puts me in the ball park. Adjust as needed tapping at all screws until they all sound alike. And congrats on using your ear. Then I do the batters the same.
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  #10  
Old 10-02-2013, 12:42 AM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
Here is my tuning tip. Finger tighten all of the screws. Then going in a star pattern, turn each screw one turn.
Sorry, I have to disagree with this and would advise to not follow this way of tuning. You obviously can do what you want but turning the tension rod one full turn before any of the other rods have significant tension on them only leads to very uneven tension and stress on the head. Maybe you're thinking about a half turn, which is the most difference you want across each rod but even then it's best to start small and work your way up.
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  #11  
Old 10-02-2013, 12:48 AM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

Thanks for all the advice although after reading all of it, it seems that in the end it will come down to trial and error :).
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Old 10-02-2013, 01:03 AM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryO View Post
Thanks for any advice. And remember, the KISS method is always best when speaking with me about tuning :)
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  #13  
Old 10-02-2013, 01:42 AM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

Your snare is basically white noise while your toms are resonating at a fundamental frequency. In other words, the snare goes crack or splat while the toms go doooom.

Like 8 Mile said, the snare bed messes up even pitches around the drum. It doesn't matter because you are not looking for that type of performance from a snare.

The good basic beginner rule for snares is both heads should be tight.
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:07 AM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryO View Post
Thanks for all the advice although after reading all of it, it seems that in the end it will come down to trial and error :).
Yeah, absolutely. My best advice is, once you get a good tuning on the drum(s), record them! so you never lose your "spot". At first, anyway.
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Old 10-02-2013, 04:38 PM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryO View Post
Thanks for all the advice although after reading all of it, it seems that in the end it will come down to trial and error :).
True enough, and it's a learning curve that never ends!

For a first go at tom tuning, I would suggest trying to tune both heads to the same pitch.
It's a nice way to learn without having to mess with any more fourth intervals than absolutely necessary :-)

Also I remember being amazed at how good my toms sounded the first time I did that.

I like the suggestion of starting with your middle tom (if you have 3), then doing higher and lower. That way will avoid the risk of having to re-tune any of them later for tricky intervals.

Good luck Mary! Your tuning adventures are an inspiration. Bringing back fond memories for me :-)
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:24 PM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

When I first started out, I didn't even know enough to tune the resos. My procedure is resos first simply because I tighten them very tight, mount the tom and tune the top. Just me but I think tuning the resos second, changes the drum enough to lose the note you had on the top head and defeats the purpose of getting the top where you wanted it. or...tune it one the floor, seems to be popular.
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:46 PM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

Here's some varied tuning advice that we all chimed in on: http://www.moderndrummer.com/site/20.../#.Ukw_eoYqiPo
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Old 10-02-2013, 06:43 PM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

So here's my plan. For whatever reason I just feel more comfortable starting with the reso head, so I'll do that first. I also like the idea of tuning my middle tom first and then adjusting the others higher or lower according to that one. I'll probably go for tuning the top and bottom the same just because I'm not sure my ear is developed enough to judge a fourth interval of a pitch. My only worry is that I'm going to screw everything up and then it will all be so out of whack I can't stand it. I guess if that happens, I'll just haul the toms to my next lesson and my teacher can help me out. He would gladly help with that.

It will probably be this weekend before I can get to it but I'll definitely let you know how it all turns out! Thanks again for all the great suggestions and advice.
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Old 10-03-2013, 12:35 AM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryO View Post
So here's my plan. For whatever reason I just feel more comfortable starting with the reso head, so I'll do that first. I also like the idea of tuning my middle tom first and then adjusting the others higher or lower according to that one. I'll probably go for tuning the top and bottom the same just because I'm not sure my ear is developed enough to judge a fourth interval of a pitch.
I do the same, resos first and start in the middle. Don't worry about pitch intervals at this point. Decide if you want the body of the drum to sound thuddy or boingy. This is what the resos do. The tighter they are, obviously the more boingy the drums will sound. Once you get the resos where you want, do the batters. Tune these to the approximate note and attack you want. Once you have everything in the ballpark of what you want, you can then tweak accordingly.
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Old 10-03-2013, 01:12 AM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

One thing I found is the batter and the reso head numbers were exactly the same no matter the diameter of the drum. (using a drum dial) It was the diameter of the drum that changed the note, as all the tensions were the same. So the floor tom head was exactly as tight as my 10" tom head. Just an observation.

I also suggest turning the key no more than 1/8 turn at a time after the head starts registering tension. Slowly tighten it down. Slowly. You can go around the drum, across the drum, star pattern, it just has to be done evenly. Check the note by putting the drum on the floor. then putting a finger tip dead center of the head and tapping near a lug. The goal is all lug taps singing the same note.

Then you do this to the reso.

Then you compare the batter note to the reso note. They should not clash.

Adjust as necessary. When you get it where you want it, you can see what notes each head sings and write it down. Then the next time you tune, just tune to those notes. Me I use the DD so I know the tensions. And the notes. 10" tom sings an A flat, 12" sings an E flat and 16" sings an A flat. That's kinda high though.
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  #21  
Old 10-03-2013, 01:33 AM
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Default Re: Another (probably stupid) tuning question...

Tuning is a lot of trial and error - but here's a cool way to try as a starting point, (for toms)....

Take all of the toms off of the kit.
Put a drum on the floor, or a stable surface. Detune all of the tension rods and make them all finger-tight.
With the palm of your hand, firmly press down on the center of the head and begin tensioning up each lug. Stop on each one, right when you see the wrinkles begin to disappear on the edge of the head near that lug - then move on to the next one.
Repeat with the batter head - if it's a coated head it might be a little more difficult to see the wrinkles, but it's doable...

I do this on my practice kit - and it's worked every time. This will get the heads around the same pitch, and from here you can tweak up or down, etc. From here, you can also practice tweaking each lug so the pitch of the drum is the same at every lug. The wrinkle method won't get you with each spot on the head sounding the same - but you'll get close, and from there you start training your ear to get the pitches around the head to be uniform...

Have fun! It's great when you get the drums singin' !
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