Annoying newbie question No: 10,000,000,000.

AdamI

Well-known member
I've recently discovered that i'm WAY overtightening (if i took a ruler to it, at the lugs the gap between the head and top of the hoop would be around 3mm, even closer on the lugs next to the snare beds) my snare side head. I bought new heads recently, thought I'd try out this don't crank your snare side head thing I have been hearing about and really liked the sound.... i checked it the next day and thought I'd even it out some, which led to me cranking the head down too tight again. What was a big fat resonant sound which maybe needed to be reigned in and fine tuned a bit is now that familiar choked and ping-ey annoying sound I'm used to.

I'm using a tension watch to get everything evenly in tune and I believe it is giving me a false reading on the lugs closest to the snare beds, which leads to me cranking them down really tight, cranking down the other lugs to match and then tightening further still to match the pitches.

I also find one or two lugs are tightened down significantly more than the others by the time it is in tune. Is that a result of me not seating the head correctly? Is it the bent hoop.... or is it an issue with the drum itself?

As a result of overtightening my hoop is slightly bent, it rocks back and forth a little bit on a flat surface, maybe by a millimeter or two and I'm not sure about the integrity of the head.

Should I replace the hoop and head and start again? Or will a slightly bent hoop still find its way home under tension?

Any insights into this issue or general snare side head tuning tips would be greatly appreciated.
 

BonsaiMagpie

Junior Member
The ruler method is great for getting a good sound, but due to the snare bed you will experience a different depth at the 4 lugs around the bed. The best video I have seen on the matter is Sounds Like a Drum
They go very in depth, but also give great tuning knowledge. I believe the ruler method is explained on another of their snare videos.
There are loads of videos on bent hoops, some people have success with them and others spend ages tuning only to replace the hoop and find everything easy as sin. If you've over-tightened your head, there's not a lot for it. Grab a new one and get your sound dialed in, but keep the old one as it might come in handy to fatten up the sound once you've retuned.
The lugs being tighter is probably due to a bent hoop, or overtightening lugs before moving on. As infuriating as it is, use the star pattern, and keep going little by little. If you're finger tight on some lugs and down to the nub on others the pressure is not equal even if the tone is and this will slip out of tune more easily, damage your heads and hoop.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
That’s a drag, for sure, and you’re not alone. I did the same thing back in the day. Take it as a lesson.

The drum dial and other tools like the Tune-Bot are to assist you in getting the sound you want. While they give you readings, you still need to [always] listen to how the drum sounds. I’ve never used the hoop-bearing edge measurement system in determining the amount of tension on my drums, so I can’t comment on that other than to say, it looks like it might have misled you to over-tighten.

It’s important that you can tune a drum by ear. You will be relieved when that day comes. It makes tuning a pleasure, not a chore.

Your hoop: bend it back to flat. It doesn’t have to be laser-level, but a little tweak will help. You will also learn during this process.

Get a new resonant head (and a new batter head if needed) and try again.

There are hundreds of tuning videos on YT, but here are a couple that should get you closer to what you want:


 

bongoman

Junior Member
One of the mistakes I used to make was after finger tightening, I used the star pattern with the key, but let’s say the first rod I tightened one full turn, the third one would be so loose that I’d think “I better tighten this one til it feels like the same resistance” even though that might mean two full turns. From there, the rest of the tensions get thrown off by that error, and I ended up with half the lugs way tighter than the others, or some lugs loose, and a warped hoop.

This problem basically went away when I took greater care to only tighten the same amount as I went around the head, regardless of whether it felt like “enough”.
 

Capital D

Member
I've never heard of using a ruler to help tune drums. To be honest, that seems like a gimmicky short cut. Does it work consistently on all drums? Say it measured 6mm on one snare and it sounds great (arbitrary measurement), would the same measurement sound great on a different snare? Is the measurement a "universal" setting?

I agree with bongoman's advice. Turn all of the lugs the same amount of turns until you get enough tension to create a pleasing sound, then stop and play it.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I've never heard of using a ruler to help tune drums. To be honest, that seems like a gimmicky short cut. Does it work consistently on all drums?
This gives me an idea. If distance is a thing in tuning, and to a degree it is, we should be able to use a spacer between the lug and the head as a guide. Place the spacer between the two and tighten the rod until you cant. Then do the rest the same way, still doing opposites of course.
 

AdamI

Well-known member
One of the mistakes I used to make was after finger tightening, I used the star pattern with the key, but let’s say the first rod I tightened one full turn, the third one would be so loose that I’d think “I better tighten this one til it feels like the same resistance” even though that might mean two full turns. From there, the rest of the tensions get thrown off by that error, and I ended up with half the lugs way tighter than the others, or some lugs loose, and a warped hoop.

This problem basically went away when I took greater care to only tighten the same amount as I went around the head, regardless of whether it felt like “enough”.
Thanks!

This is what I've been doing! And the results are exactly as you described. I end up cranking down to match those tighter lugs on one side.... I think this might be the fundamental error I'm making that is leading me down the path to overtightening every time.

I'm going to get a new head today and start again.
 

AdamI

Well-known member
I've never heard of using a ruler to help tune drums. To be honest, that seems like a gimmicky short cut. Does it work consistently on all drums? Say it measured 6mm on one snare and it sounds great (arbitrary measurement), would the same measurement sound great on a different snare? Is the measurement a "universal" setting?

I agree with bongoman's advice. Turn all of the lugs the same amount of turns until you get enough tension to create a pleasing sound, then stop and play it.
My understanding is to use it to make sure they're even more so than to go to a predetermined depth.

But it may not be necessarry. I was using it because, as mentioned by bongoman, I wasn't starting the process correctly and running into the problem of having lugs cranked down much tighter on one side. I would lose count of how many turns I had done and figured the ruler method would help me even them out.... but as it turns out I had already screwed up the process by that point.
 

AdamI

Well-known member
Thanks for all the advice everyone. This issue has been a real pita for me. I've never been satisfied with my snare tone and hadn't been able to figure out where I was going wrong, even after repeated attempts at replacing the heads.
 

AdamI

Well-known member
I've never heard of using a ruler to help tune drums. To be honest, that seems like a gimmicky short cut. Does it work consistently on all drums? Say it measured 6mm on one snare and it sounds great (arbitrary measurement), would the same measurement sound great on a different snare? Is the measurement a "universal" setting?

I agree with bongoman's advice. Turn all of the lugs the same amount of turns until you get enough tension to create a pleasing sound, then stop and play it.
The idea was to use it as a guide to make sure nothing was getting too far out of whack as i brought it up to pitch due to the repeated issue i was having putting new heads on evenly.... similar to the ruler i was trying to find ways to remedy something i had already screwed up.
 

Fred D

Pioneer Member
I've never heard of using a ruler to help tune drums

The ruler is used to level the snare side head prior to tuning. This method goes back to the times of using heads made of hide but is still valid today. That way the head isn't stretched on one side more than another and you don't end up with warped hoops like the OP.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
The ruler is used to level the snare side head prior to tuning. This method goes back to the times of using heads made of hide but is still valid today. That way the head isn't stretched on one side more than another and you don't end up with warped hoops like the OP.
These guys mention that around 7:30 in this informative video:

 

SomeBadDrummer

Well-known member
These guys mention that around 7:30 in this informative video:

The whole ruler thing is so unnecessary.
How to replace heads on a drum:
Take care to set the head evenly across the shell and then carefully place the rim in alignment with the lugs. Finger tighten each lug and then symmetrically tune to taste.
Flip and repeat.
 

AdamI

Well-known member
I d
The whole ruler thing is so unnecessary.
How to replace heads on a drum:
Take care to set the head evenly across the shell and then carefully place the rim in alignment with the lugs. Finger tighten each lug and then symmetrically tune to taste.
Flip and repeat.
I really don't get this approach to things. Some stuff is necessary to some people some of the time. Some people like to be precise and some people like to go off of feel and experience.

I'm brand new to tuning drums. For me any reference points/guides I can use to help facilitate the learning process moves things along more quickly.

I learned the very basics of tuning from the tension watch, i learned i was cranking down way too much from the ruler and I've learned that my pitches weren't nearly as close as i thought they were using a tune bot.... all of this has led me to a drum sound I'm really happy with. Something i hadn't been able to achieve without these aides.

I had no reference points to work with at all. Now I have a bunch of measurements and tones i'm familiar with, which will make replacing heads and tuning repeatable and easier each time I do it. I can also mess with things and find my way back to the original sound I had (something I was struggling to do) much easier.

It would have taken me a lot longer to learn without those aides. I found them necessary for what I was trying to achieve.
 

SomeBadDrummer

Well-known member
I d

I really don't get this approach to things. Some stuff is necessary to some people some of the time. Some people like to be precise and some people like to go off of feel and experience.

I'm brand new to tuning drums. For me any reference points/guides I can use to help facilitate the learning process moves things along more quickly.

I learned the very basics of tuning from the tension watch, i learned i was cranking down way too much from the ruler and I've learned that my pitches weren't nearly as close as i thought they were using a tune bot.... all of this has led me to a drum sound I'm really happy with. Something i hadn't been able to achieve without these aides.

I had no reference points to work with at all. Now I have a bunch of measurements and tones i'm familiar with, which will make replacing heads and tuning repeatable and easier each time I do it. I can also mess with things and find my way back to the original sound I had (something I was struggling to do) much easier.

It would have taken me a lot longer to learn without those aides. I found them necessary for what I was trying to achieve.
My approach is based on a lifetime of experience starting in earnest about 40 years ago. Sounds like you got there a lot quicker than me using modern devices, so kudos for learning how in short order. (y):)
 

someguy01

Well-known member
One of 12341043756018734650816350871608374561 videos on YouTube about snare tuning. However, this man's snare sounds amazing (mmm, titanium) and I'm gonna go with, he knows what he's doing.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
I'm pretty sure its obvious...but experimentation is king...never stop de-tuning then re-tuning your kit...its a skill all its own and needs development and maintenance like any other.

I've kinda settled on a very tight batter with very tight 16 wire snare...on a very solid old pearl snare shell(wrap removed) with super tight screws on all components. Feels and sounds like a firearm going off.

i should really get a new snare just to keep my tuning skills building.
 

AdamI

Well-known member
One of 12341043756018734650816350871608374561 videos on YouTube about snare tuning. However, this man's snare sounds amazing (mmm, titanium) and I'm gonna go with, he knows what he's doing.
I had watched a whole heap of these and none of them pointed out the dumb mistake i was making so I asked the forum out of frustration and got the answer I needed in short order.
 
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