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  #1  
Old 05-16-2010, 04:05 PM
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dkerwood dkerwood is offline
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Default Snare drum sounds like a paper bag!

Okay, so I haven't been able to play my kit for a couple months. It's set up at church and the last seven or eight weeks I've been assigned to play guitar and someone else plays drums (we've got three drummers and only one electric guitarist). The last time I played, I noticed that my snare head was getting to be pretty dead and that most of the coating had flaked off (I'll never buy Aquarian again), so I threw a new Evans G1 on there. Tuned it, got it sounding pretty good, and then let the other two guys play it for two months.

This morning I finally come up in the drum roster again, so I sat down at my kit and YUCK. The snare sounds like hitting a paper bag, and it now has an awkward metallic ring that I don't remember from before. I checked around the rim and the head is in tune with itself. Similarly checked the reso head and it is in tune with itself. I thought maybe the snares might be too tight and choking the snare, but loosening didn't fix it.

Now let me clarify- I've been playing onstage with these drums for two months and it hasn't bothered me from out front, which tells me it's a very subtle "driver's seat" issue. Further, it sounds good when hit at a moderate to loud volume - it's just the quiet sensitivity that I'm not getting right now.

The snare is an 80's Ludwig 14x5.5 that's aluminum wrapped around a wood shell of some type - they coated the inside so it's hard for me to tell what kind of wood it is. Snare side rim is just a little bit out of round, but not bad.

I've exhausted all of my tricks besides taking the heads all the way slack and starting from scratch. I thought I'd check in here first before trying that, though.
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Old 05-16-2010, 04:18 PM
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Default Re: Snare drum sounds like a paper bag!

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Originally Posted by dkerwood View Post
This morning I finally come up in the drum roster again, so I sat down at my kit and YUCK. The snare sounds like hitting a paper bag, and it now has an awkward metallic ring that I don't remember from before. I checked around the rim and the head is in tune with itself. Similarly checked the reso head and it is in tune with itself. I thought maybe the snares might be too tight and choking the snare, but loosening didn't fix it.
Sounds like the heads are out of tune with each other, though. Might as well spend ten minutes detuning and tuning the thing.

I am going through exactly the same thing as you. I'm one of two drummers in rotation at my church, except the other guy freely admits he picked up drums as another instrument after guitar, and doesn't know much about tuning them. So I took the time to show him the way I tune, and what to look for in a properly tuned drum.

So many people nowadays rely on torque keys and drum dials, the simple art of tuning a drum by feel and by sound seems to have all but died out. I just reheaded our church drumset - five toms and a snare - and tuned them all immediately to the sweet spot. Going in a little early today to retune them now that they've had a chance to stretch a bit.

If the other guy can't tune well, take a few minutes to show him what he's not doing right. If the snare really sounds bad, the worship leader might take note, too. In absolute worst case, a guy who doesn't know how to tune can leave you a completely unplayable drum, so I personally would either show up plenty early every week to check tuning, or bring my own snare just in case.
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Old 05-16-2010, 04:49 PM
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Default Re: Snare drum sounds like a paper bag!

First of all, I play many different brands of coated heads. Aquarian is one of the brands that I play a lot. I have never had a problem with Aquarians coating wearing off prematurely.
I find that wood tip sticks that are worn ruff at the tip and wire brushes tend to wear coatings quicker that plastic tip sticks and plastic brushes.

I have always noted that when I hear a ringing from my snare when sitting above it, The snare sounds great from ten feet away. I regard "Snare Ring" as my friend!
That may be the reason that you had no problem with the sound when you were playing guitar.
I only dampen Snare Ring when I am close mic recording.

If the bottom head is even tensioned and tight, then the snare should be sensitive at low volumes.
There isn't that much else to it besides strainer tension.
I would work with the bottom head tension a bit more and don't worry about the Ring.

The paper bag sound that you are hearing may also just be the stick contacting the head at low impact. From ten feet away the snare may sound great.
Have someone play the snare while you step back and listen.

When I am going to play another drummers kit, I always bring my own cymbals and snare. That would be a good solution for this situation.
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Last edited by bobdadruma; 05-16-2010 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 05-16-2010, 06:41 PM
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Default Re: Snare drum sounds like a paper bag!

Excellent thoughts, all.

I should reiterate that this whole set is mine. The church owns a Roland V-Drum kit, but I hated playing that so much that I brought my own in (back when I was playing drums 2 or 3 weeks a month). They liked it a lot, but I was left with nothing to practice on at home. The compromise was that I was able to take the Roland home and left my kit set up at church. Thus, when I have time to practice (which isn't as often as I would prefer), it's on the Roland and not on "real" drums. My gear sits either on stage at church all week long or sits in storage (my poor Starclassic brass snare sits in its case most of the time). Thus, my snare isn't really even "my" snare anymore.

Anyway, before second service I detuned and retuned the top head a bit, and that seemed to help. I'm also behind a shield, which emphasizes strange harmonics and makes everything sound more plastic or papery- kick, toms, snare... even the cymbals sound clanky back there. For some reason I only noticed it on snare earlier, but now I'm hearing it on everything- I think the shield is entirely to blame.

Isn't it a shame that we so rarely get to hear our own drums sounding as good as they can? If it sounds great in the driver's seat, it often sounds terrible in the house, and vice versa. My ear has gotten used to that, but then a shield comes along and throws it all off again... :-)

Thanks, guys!
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:37 PM
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Default Re: Snare drum sounds like a paper bag!

I tried a Drum shield once without using mic's and head phones.
It was a terrible experience.
I hate drum shields!
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Old 05-16-2010, 11:38 PM
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Default Re: Snare drum sounds like a paper bag!

Oh yes, for sure, if you're behind a drum shield and not using in-ear or headphones, it's going to be terrible for you. Even if nobody else in the church uses in-ears, a drummer behind glass should.
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Old 05-16-2010, 11:50 PM
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Default Re: Snare drum sounds like a paper bag!

I actually set up my jazz kit and I practice in a small room in my house that is mostly composed of large windows. I do this to hear the reflective sound. It makes me hear all of the nuances when I play as low as I can. It helps me with control when I play jazz. It forces me to play at the lowest possible levels.
If I can sound good in there, I can sound good anywhere!
I still wouldn't want to gig that way!
Here is a pic of the room. There are four large 4 foot by 5 foot windows with no curtains.
Just a thin carpet. It is an exercise equipment room.
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Last edited by bobdadruma; 05-17-2010 at 01:11 AM.
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Old 05-18-2010, 07:59 PM
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Default Re: Snare drum sounds like a paper bag!

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Originally Posted by alparrott View Post
Oh yes, for sure, if you're behind a drum shield and not using in-ear or headphones, it's going to be terrible for you. Even if nobody else in the church uses in-ears, a drummer behind glass should.
We're just not set up for that. We run four monitor mixes- A is up front for vocalists, B is shared between bass and drums, and C and D are hot spots used for keyboard or guitar, depending on who's playing that week.

And honestly, we can't get people running sound to realize that volume is not best tweaked by changing the gain, so even if it was pre-fade, I'm not sure I'd want it in my ears. I do end up wearing earplugs regularly in church due to the reflection of the shield... I just forgot to do that this time.
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Old 05-19-2010, 01:53 AM
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Default Re: Snare drum sounds like a paper bag!

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We're just not set up for that. We run four monitor mixes- A is up front for vocalists, B is shared between bass and drums, and C and D are hot spots used for keyboard or guitar, depending on who's playing that week.

And honestly, we can't get people running sound to realize that volume is not best tweaked by changing the gain, so even if it was pre-fade, I'm not sure I'd want it in my ears. I do end up wearing earplugs regularly in church due to the reflection of the shield... I just forgot to do that this time.
Man, I feel for you. I was in a similar sitch with another church I was in. All I could get was an open wedge behind me which was on a channel shared with the pianist's monitor... and of course we had entirely different requirements for what we needed to hear.

As far as a snare head in that sound sitch, I would definitely go Ambassador. Are you miked at all?
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