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  #1  
Old 10-28-2008, 05:09 PM
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dkerwood dkerwood is offline
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Default Tuning question- low sound out of small toms?

I know that the answer will probably be, "Get new heads," but yeah...

I just got a new kit with 10, 12, 16 toms. I've never dealt with a 10" tom before, and I'm having a hard time getting it to work with the 12 and 16 toms. I bought all new single ply coated heads and got to work.

For the 16, I did what I always do with a 16: finger tighten both sides and then barely tighten the lugs, just enough for a good tone. Then, I adjusted from there (I ended up having to tighten the reso head a bit more than usual, but that's just getting used to a new kit).

Usually, I tune the high and low toms to sound great, and then put the middle tom somewhere in the middle, but I was having issues getting the 10 to sing, so I started working on the 12. I was surprised at how high of a fundamental it had. Barely any tension at all, and it was up to the tone I was used to from my old set. Problem is; it's hard to get consistent tuning at such low tension. I tuned the 12" just a little higher and let it be.

Now, it comes to the 10". Low tension gets me almost to the fat sound I've come to enjoy, but it still won't quite get me there. So I've decided to experiment, and really get this tom to sing out. I put it back on the kit, and after tweaking the 12 up a bit, it's really sounding good...

...but then I add in the low tom. It's now tuned a full octave below the 12, not to mention how high the 10 is. I absolutely LOVE the roar of a LOW low tom, and I'm not sure that I want to give it up... but the other two will not come down to match it.

I'm also having an extremely hard time keeping my snare tuned higher than the 10" tom- it's a 14x7 brass snare, and it has a very low fundamental... I've cranked it about as tight as I dare, and it still sounds pretty good, but it's still about a half step lower than the 10"...

Any thoughts on how to bring the other two toms "down" without deadening them? Or thoughts on how to bring the snare and low tom "up" without breaking heads (snare) or losing that fat BOOM of the low tom?
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  #2  
Old 10-28-2008, 05:32 PM
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bermuda bermuda is online now
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Default Re: Tuning question- low sound out of small toms?

A 10" is pretty far from a 16", which is why most kits with 3 toms are either 10/12/14, or 12/13/16. that way, the high & low toms aren't so far apart. Of course shell thickness, hoop type, and the mount affect the range of usable pitches available, but a 10" will only go so low. It would be like expecting a popcorn snare to be fat, or trying to play Led Zeppelin on a bop kit.

I would suggest either embracing the differences... or tune the floor and 12" a bit higher... or get a 13" tom to fill the gap, tune the 12" where you wanted the 10", and use the 10" as a higher tom.

Bermuda
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  #3  
Old 10-28-2008, 05:35 PM
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Default Re: Tuning question- low sound out of small toms?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkerwood View Post
I know that the answer will probably be, "Get new heads," but yeah...

I just got a new kit with 10, 12, 16 toms. I've never dealt with a 10" tom before, and I'm having a hard time getting it to work with the 12 and 16 toms. I bought all new single ply coated heads and got to work.

For the 16, I did what I always do with a 16: finger tighten both sides and then barely tighten the lugs, just enough for a good tone. Then, I adjusted from there (I ended up having to tighten the reso head a bit more than usual, but that's just getting used to a new kit).

Usually, I tune the high and low toms to sound great, and then put the middle tom somewhere in the middle, but I was having issues getting the 10 to sing, so I started working on the 12. I was surprised at how high of a fundamental it had. Barely any tension at all, and it was up to the tone I was used to from my old set. Problem is; it's hard to get consistent tuning at such low tension. I tuned the 12" just a little higher and let it be.

Now, it comes to the 10". Low tension gets me almost to the fat sound I've come to enjoy, but it still won't quite get me there. So I've decided to experiment, and really get this tom to sing out. I put it back on the kit, and after tweaking the 12 up a bit, it's really sounding good...

...but then I add in the low tom. It's now tuned a full octave below the 12, not to mention how high the 10 is. I absolutely LOVE the roar of a LOW low tom, and I'm not sure that I want to give it up... but the other two will not come down to match it.

I'm also having an extremely hard time keeping my snare tuned higher than the 10" tom- it's a 14x7 brass snare, and it has a very low fundamental... I've cranked it about as tight as I dare, and it still sounds pretty good, but it's still about a half step lower than the 10"...

Any thoughts on how to bring the other two toms "down" without deadening them? Or thoughts on how to bring the snare and low tom "up" without breaking heads (snare) or losing that fat BOOM of the low tom?
Although it's part of a kit, each drum will have a range of pitch that it speaks best at, it's sometimes called the sweet spot. Don't expect a 14 inch snare to be comfortable at a pitch that a 10 inch drum can do, that's unreasonable, it 4 inches bigger!! Think less about the actual placement of the notes in the octave, they don't HAVE to be pitched that way, if you LIKE IT that way, fine, but it might not work out. You're also expecting there to be an immense difference between a 10 and a 12 inch toms, that's pretty close, only 2 inches so they'll seem a lot closer than say the 12 and 16 where there's a bit more of a difference in the sizes.
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  #4  
Old 10-28-2008, 07:33 PM
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Default Re: Tuning question- low sound out of small toms?

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Originally Posted by Vipercussionist View Post
Although it's part of a kit, each drum will have a range of pitch that it speaks best at, it's sometimes called the sweet spot. Don't expect a 14 inch snare to be comfortable at a pitch that a 10 inch drum can do, that's unreasonable, it 4 inches bigger!! Think less about the actual placement of the notes in the octave, they don't HAVE to be pitched that way, if you LIKE IT that way, fine, but it might not work out. You're also expecting there to be an immense difference between a 10 and a 12 inch toms, that's pretty close, only 2 inches so they'll seem a lot closer than say the 12 and 16 where there's a bit more of a difference in the sizes.
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I guess it's really just part of the fun of getting a new kit. I find that it's actually changing the way that I play- setting up fills and grooves- to have a high tom pitched higher than the snare. I've been playing 12, 13, 16 all my life and always sort of laughed at that dinky little 10" tom... now I love the high tom, but it's just getting all the pieces to "sit" in a way that I also love.

I had my old set for the better part of ten years (and I'd had my REALLY old set for almost all of my drumming life), and I was just getting all of ITS quirks figured out. :-) I'm really just looking for more ideas of things to try rather than catch-all solutions.

Finally, the 10 12 16 configuration can't be too rare... I'm seeing it more and more- especially when a 14 won't cut it as a floor tom. My band's drummer has a 10 12 16 kit, and I see a lot of guys playing them. They can't ALL be aftermarket additions to a 4 piece, can they?
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  #5  
Old 10-29-2008, 05:09 AM
phil_qc phil_qc is offline
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Default Re: Tuning question- low sound out of small toms?

Oh I know how you feel...
I have a 10" tom, a 14" floor tom and a 14" snare with a 18" bass drum...

I'm able to tune my 10" to sound like a 11,5" and it sound good, but
I need to use coated heads to ad more bass and cut some overtone...

But I realy like the big gap between the 10" and the 14" and find myself
tuning higher, both the 14" and the 10"... At first it was weird but now I
just love the way it sound... It's different in a good way... I use my snare
a lot more... In my opinion, a tom (8" to 13") should sing high and a floor
tom (14" to 18") should growl low... I don't care for the big gap between
them, I love that...

If you want a low sound from the 10", try a G1 coated over a G1 clear...
Try tuning both heads (reso and batter) to the same pitch...

Philippe
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  #6  
Old 10-29-2008, 08:24 AM
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Default Re: Tuning question- low sound out of small toms?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkerwood View Post
.....the 10 12 16 configuration can't be too rare... I'm seeing it more and more- especially when a 14 won't cut it as a floor tom. My band's drummer has a 10 12 16 kit, and I see a lot of guys playing them.
Going back some 5 decades, the 20, 12, 14 and the 22, 13, 16 were "standard" 3 piece combo's. Add a second rack tom, you get the 12, 13 pairing. The 10" and the 14" are kinda both "odd men out", so to speak. But with a million drummers out there, it's hard to find anything "rare", or "unique". But certainly, a 10, 12, 16 combo is "less common" than a 12, 13, 16 combo. Score yourself a 14x14 floor tom, 'cause a man can never own too many drums.
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  #7  
Old 10-29-2008, 01:57 PM
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Default Re: Tuning question- low sound out of small toms?

I think Viper nailed it. The way I think of it is we should let the drums tell us where they want to be tuned. This is especially true when we're fooling with new drums or new head combinations.

Best way to do this is to take each drum and bring it up through its tuning range very gradually, keeping the batter and reso at the same pitch as you go, and keeping the lug-to-lug tuning decent.

In most cases, drums start to sing somewhat above the lowest tone it will play. In many cases there will be more than one "zone" where the drum sings out--that's why you do the experiment gradually, so you won't skip past them. So it may be that there are spots where you can tune the 10" higher than that low, fat tuning range yet have it still sing. As you experiment with each drum you can note the pitches where it rings best.

Meanwhile, if you bring your floor tom up from its lowest possible tuning you may find that the sweet spot gives you a lot more volume and projection than the lowest possible tuning does.

Different heads will give you different results, so it's worth experimenting a bit. There's no reason to assume that the heads that sounded great on your old kit will sould as good on the new one.

Finally, if I were in the same situation I'd be seriously contemplating getting a 14" floor to fill the gap.
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  #8  
Old 10-29-2008, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: Tuning question- low sound out of small toms?

I've never been a 6-piece guy. My Luddie kit is a 7 piece with 5 toms, and I never even pulled the stock heads off of the 14 and 15 inch toms. With the new kit, I've been playing it more like a 4 piece, with the 10" serving as an accent tom.

Plus, since my kit is a custom build (and ten years old), adding a 14" tom becomes difficult.
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  #9  
Old 10-29-2008, 09:09 PM
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Default Re: Tuning question- low sound out of small toms?

2-ply heads have a lower pitch than 1-ply heads. You should go for a coated G2 over a G1 clear. I love my 10" DW tom. I actually like it more then my 12" tom. The thing has such a wide tuning range, and it sustains for days...
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