Another drum tuning thread

Auspicious

Well-known member
Hello, I create this thread today about tuning, some will say that it will be overthinking, I want to study it right the first time and then I'll stop thinking about it after, that's all.

I looked at some youtube videos last evening and so far, I am quite disappointed with most of these tutorials.. I even saw some outrageous things and awe full tuning and drum sounds.

Still I learned some good things and I ended up listening to piano tutorials instead of drum at the end.

***
So I have a bop kit, at least it was sold as Catalina club jazz and I bought it to get a jazz sound. It's probably possible to play anything with that drum but I bought it for jazz 10 years ago. it's a 18" bass drum, 10" high tom, 14" floor tom and 14" snare, I don't remember the exact thickness of the shells right now.

I ordered a Tune-bot which I am going to receive one day hopefully. I want to tune my kit higher to get a good fast rebound response, if I don't like it, ill tune it lower the next time. The heads are mainly G1 and the bass drum is a powerstroke 3 which is good but lifeless a bit for my taste. I tried Ambassadors in the past but I don't like them, not going to use them.

I want to tune my shells according to a specific pitch, I learned from a very small (but good) video from Ari Hoening, where he shows his drum and it tuned like the following:

Hi-Tom = F
Floor Tom = C
Snare = A (At the end of the video the snare is moved to A flat)
Bassdrum = unknown

My questions:
What's the perfect sequence pitches to use with my drum? Or if i don't have a clue so far about the venue, the recording, the room, the mikes, what pitches should I simply pick to start with? just for the sake of getting a logical but nice tuning?

And the last time I worked on that (many years ago), I started with the hi-tom and at the end, the head of the snare was way too loose, I had to start all over with the tuning I liked for the snare. all this was improvisation back then.

Finally there is the bass drum, I could not find anything about the pitch for that one.. I would like to have it with some tone but not too much, a bit of muffling only.. I'll publish a sound sample of what I am looking to achieve later for the bass drum, perhaps something like Joe Morello in the old videos. The best example I can describe, it looks like hitting a thick concrete slab with a metal mass.

I am collecting ideas if some of you are interested.
 
My philosophy is that tuning all instruments is a science... EXCEPT drums... Tuning drums is an art. My tuning doesn't really have a method I could explain in a lesson or youtube video because it comes from years of tweaking and adjusting depending on the heads, the room etc.

I don't tune to pitches. I used to to tune with a drumdial, but it was stolen out of a practice space and that ended up being a good thing for me.

Even the "evenness" thing people mostly talk about I don't follow. I've hit many drums and thought "holy cow this sounds awesome" and then go around check the pitch/tension near each lug and they're all way different.

But if you want to tune to pitches I think there are good reasons for that. Like Ari if you want to literally play a melody. But if you're going to play a whole set I dont think there will be a good universal set of pitches or intervals to follow. I find some of my favorite jazz heads are the old worn out dead sounding ones anyway, then just crank them up some more.

For some studio situations I think it's a good idea. This song wouldn't sound right if that tom were tuned to whatever pitch rather than the tonic:

I guess it's just up to you what you decide. You could come with something cool and unique to your own playing.
 

GOOSE72

Well-known member
Hello, I create this thread today about tuning, some will say that it will be overthinking, I want to study it right the first time and then I'll stop thinking about it after, that's all.

I looked at some youtube videos last evening and so far, I am quite disappointed with most of these tutorials.. I even saw some outrageous things and awe full tuning and drum sounds.

Still I learned some good things and I ended up listening to piano tutorials instead of drum at the end.

***
So I have a bop kit, at least it was sold as Catalina club jazz and I bought it to get a jazz sound. It's probably possible to play anything with that drum but I bought it for jazz 10 years ago. it's a 18" bass drum, 10" high tom, 14" floor tom and 14" snare, I don't remember the exact thickness of the shells right now.

I ordered a Tune-bot which I am going to receive one day hopefully. I want to tune my kit higher to get a good fast rebound response, if I don't like it, ill tune it lower the next time. The heads are mainly G1 and the bass drum is a powerstroke 3 which is good but lifeless a bit for my taste. I tried Ambassadors in the past but I don't like them, not going to use them.

I want to tune my shells according to a specific pitch, I learned from a very small (but good) video from Ari Hoening, where he shows his drum and it tuned like the following:

Hi-Tom = F
Floor Tom = C
Snare = A (At the end of the video the snare is moved to A flat)
Bassdrum = unknown

My questions:
What's the perfect sequence pitches to use with my drum? Or if i don't have a clue so far about the venue, the recording, the room, the mikes, what pitches should I simply pick to start with? just for the sake of getting a logical but nice tuning?

And the last time I worked on that (many years ago), I started with the hi-tom and at the end, the head of the snare was way too loose, I had to start all over with the tuning I liked for the snare. all this was improvisation back then.

Finally there is the bass drum, I could not find anything about the pitch for that one.. I would like to have it with some tone but not too much, a bit of muffling only.. I'll publish a sound sample of what I am looking to achieve later for the bass drum, perhaps something like Joe Morello in the old videos. The best example I can describe, it looks like hitting a thick concrete slab with a metal mass.

I am collecting ideas if some of you are interested.

I watched that video of Ari. That made no sense to me at all. He did a lot of boo boo booooo and then put his elbow into the drums. Maybe you got something out of it that I missed, if so let me know. This is yet another topic that is common among alot of drummers. Good luck hope you get some clarity.
 

thebarak

Senior Member
I'm possibly wrong, but I think it is a bad idea to tune the kit to specific musical pitches. Each drum has a perfect pitch that you can find with your ears, and that changes to another pitch when you use different heads. The drum knows nothing about what piano note it is singing. You can have it high and tight for bop, or lower for more different genres. And the Powerstroke 3 on your bass drum is fine as long as you tune the front reso head and take all muffling out from inside. I myself prefer Remo Ambassadors to Evans G1, but I'm probably just used to their sound. Finally, I thought the bop kits all had a 12" high tom. Your 10" makes it another kind of kit.
 

Yamaha Rider

Well-known member
My philosophy is that tuning all instruments is a science... EXCEPT drums... Tuning drums is an art. My tuning doesn't really have a method I could explain in a lesson or youtube video because it comes from years of tweaking and adjusting depending on the heads, the room etc.

I don't tune to pitches. I used to to tune with a drumdial, but it was stolen out of a practice space and that ended up being a good thing for me.

Even the "evenness" thing people mostly talk about I don't follow. I've hit many drums and thought "holy cow this sounds awesome" and then go around check the pitch/tension near each lug and they're all way different.

But if you want to tune to pitches I think there are good reasons for that. Like Ari if you want to literally play a melody. But if you're going to play a whole set I dont think there will be a good universal set of pitches or intervals to follow. I find some of my favorite jazz heads are the old worn out dead sounding ones anyway, then just crank them up some more.

For some studio situations I think it's a good idea. This song wouldn't sound right if that tom were tuned to whatever pitch rather than the tonic:

I guess it's just up to you what you decide. You could come with something cool and unique to your own playing.
I'm liking the no-BS approach there.
How about the top vs bottom tuning though?
Read yesterday they need to be an octave apart! (What do they think I am? Some kind of musician?)
 

Auspicious

Well-known member
@GoAndPractice

Thanks for the advise, I spoke about that with my mom and she said the same thing to me, not to make tuning the drum a science. The tuning is art and I believe you, perhaps that's why I ear too much thing I don't like. (n) 🤣

This makes me even mad a bit, today.

I am listening to your Liam Gallagher link now.. I listened to Oasis quite a bit in the past and he kept his style as I hear now, I prefer his style over Noel. Thanks for the music link.

So, I will come up with something, cool I hope but satisfying. I am also an amateur astronomer and the owner of a Newtonian telescope which require collimation on a regular basis, the alignment of the mirrors to get the best views of the celestial objects, to get better resolution at higher power, etc. At the beginning I was highly concerned with the collimation.. but today, I do it very quickly with basic tools.. no big deal really, It's not a struggle anymore and I don't use a $300 Laser to collimate my telescope, (refering to Tune-Bot)

For the drums it could turn out to be the exact same thing in the end, but I really want to try to get the pitches, for the experience at least, I'll decide after if it's worth the efforts or a waste of time.

There a full acceptation of the facts today that I might be following the wrong path.

@GOOSE72

I checked the sounds of his drums with an online piano, the notes are spot on. In my opinion, I think his toms and snare have an amazing sound for jazz, very good and pleasent to my ear.

For me, it's as good as it can be, especially when he changed the A to a A flat, I am amazed by his musical knowledge.


@thebarak
I am looking at my tom right now and yes, it's a 12", little mistake. I will try to add more tension to my bass drum powerstroke head later, I think it's way too loose, the rebound of the beater is not good and the sound is dead. On the inside, there is a package of wool or.. I don't rember what's inthere but its a square of clothing maybe and it's not touching any heads.. I will remove it to perhaps to get improved resonance inside of the shell.

I feel unable to identify the perfect natural pitch of each of my shells right now...
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
Tuning a drum is certainly not a science and as far as I'm concerned it doesn't even qualify as art. No more than hammering a nail or eating an apple. Please don't watch any more Ari Hoenig "how to" videos. There is no reason to tune drum heads as though you're tuning an instrument whose note is sustained for any length of time. The "ring" of a drum doesn't last long enough for anyone to say it's not tuned to Ab or F#. Also DO NOT tune your bottom head an octave lower than the top. (thanks for bringing it up YamahaRider)
Even the "evenness" thing people mostly talk about I don't follow. I've hit many drums and thought "holy cow this sounds awesome" and then go around check the pitch/tension near each lug and they're all way different.
Very true. I use a drum dial only to get the tensions as close as possible, then tune mostly from the center of the drum to the best sound. Some times all tensions are still very close, sometimes not. As I said in the beginning this ain't a science or art. The art of drums is how you play, not how you tune, no matter what crackpot videos out there profess. Enjoy.
 

GOOSE72

Well-known member
Tuning a drum is certainly not a science and as far as I'm concerned it doesn't even qualify as art. No more than hammering a nail or eating an apple. Please don't watch any more Ari Hoenig "how to" videos. There is no reason to tune drum heads as though you're tuning an instrument whose note is sustained for any length of time. The "ring" of a drum doesn't last long enough for anyone to say it's not tuned to Ab or F#. Also DO NOT tune your bottom head an octave lower than the top. (thanks for bringing it up YamahaRider)

Very true. I use a drum dial only to get the tensions as close as possible, then tune mostly from the center of the drum to the best sound. Some times all tensions are still very close, sometimes not. As I said in the beginning this ain't a science or art. The art of drums is how you play, not how you tune, no matter what crackpot videos out there profess. Enjoy.

What John said.
 

Auspicious

Well-known member
@johnwesley

Waaaa I can't unlike something that easily. :D not watching Hoenig's videos, I already like some of his ideas and style. You remember it was a recommendation of his books from another thread, it's because of another member of this forum I know Ari Heonig today.

I will not commit not to listen to instructional video from Hoenig's. 😄 because his jazz drumming is very satisfying to me. That's one major thing to help me juge if I can or can't follow the ideas of a person.


I hear you John and Goose but if there is a person thinking that it's good to tune with the pitch and everything, don't kill him directly, let the person come forward and talk before 🤣, for me to capture the knowledge.

Plus, I might very well dismiss everything pitch related at the end of the day.
 

GOOSE72

Well-known member
@johnwesley

Waaaa I can't unlike something that easily. :D not watching Hoenig's videos, I already like some of his ideas and style. You remember it was a recommendation of his books from another thread, it's because of another member of this forum I know Ari Heonig today.

I will not commit not to listen to instructional video from Hoenig's. 😄 because his jazz drumming is very satisfying to me. That's one major thing to help me juge if I can or can't follow the ideas of a person.


I hear you John and Goose but if there is a person thinking that it's good to tune with the pitch and everything, don't kill him directly, let the person come forward and talk before 🤣, for me to capture the knowledge.

Plus, I might very well dismiss everything pitch related at the end of the day.
It was Johns idea, he said all the cool kids are doing it. I just went along.
 

Auspicious

Well-known member
I've go an idea, without referencing the drum bible or an external website, Google or Youtube, in your opinion, how would you start the tuning journey if you were at my place? and considering my previous criteria in order to reach approximately my goal?

Like searching for the perfect pitch of the shells.. the tension of the resonant head and the batter head for instance. Where should I start with that to reach my goal?

And what should be the first drum I should tune, the bass drum, the tom, the snare? Where do you like to start usually?
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
As I've outlined in similar threads, often to riotous reception, I don't tune my drums to notes; I tune them to compatible tones. Some will retort, "You tune to notes regardless, as every sound produces a note of some sort." To that I will repeat, "I don't tune my drums to notes; I tune them to compatible tones."

The discussion is thus concluded -- temporarily, that is.
 

Auspicious

Well-known member
As I've outlined in similar threads, often to riotous reception, I don't tune my drums to notes; I tune them to compatible tones. Some will retort, "You tune to notes regardless, as every sound produces a note of some sort." To that I will repeat, "I don't tune my drums to notes; I tune them to compatible tones."

The discussion is thus concluded -- temporarily, that is.
That's an interesting point, but to be continued.. what's the difference between a note and a tone..

I see that the sky is clear outside, it's time to morph into an amateur astronomer now.. time to go under the stars and to look at Jupiter and Saturn, visit clusters and nebulae.. it's time for a trip in space.

Thanks for the help here, see you tomorrow, when I am back from Jupiter.
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
@johnwesley

Waaaa I can't unlike something that easily. :D not watching Hoenig's videos, I already like some of his ideas and style. You remember it was a recommendation of his books from another thread, it's because of another member of this forum I know Ari Heonig today.

I will not commit not to listen to instructional video from Hoenig's. 😄 because his jazz drumming is very satisfying to me. That's one major thing to help me juge if I can or can't follow the ideas of a person.


I hear you John and Goose but if there is a person thinking that it's good to tune with the pitch and everything, don't kill him directly, let the person come forward and talk before 🤣, for me to capture the knowledge.

Plus, I might very well dismiss everything pitch related at the end of the day.
Think for yourself my friend and learn. However you achieve what you're after is the way it should be done. But play from the heart, not the brain.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
That's an interesting point, but to be continued.. what's the difference between a note and a tone..
Some would say the terms are synonymous. When I refer to tuning my drums to tones rather than to notes, I mean I tune my drums so that they sound good to me, a subjective measurement of frequency, not so that I can confirm with the use of a device that I've achieved a given note. I've always tuned in this manner with positive results. Tuning-gadget proponents might charge that relying upon one's ear produces spurious outcomes. They have their system; I have mine. Better to live and let live than go to war over the topic.

You'll find your own method in time. Keep exploring.
 
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opentune

Platinum Member
Like searching for the perfect pitch of the shells.. the tension of the resonant head and the batter head for instance. Where should I start with that to reach my goal?
And what should be the first drum I should tune, the bass drum, the tom, the snare? Where do you like to start usually?
Reso higher than batter, get the best overall tone of a given drum you can.
You then have 3 drums with nice tone 10 tom, 14 tom, bass drum.
Now sing out loud "three-blind-mice".
You can put the 10 tom at any starting pitch you want, jazz tuning or low rock thud, just get the 3 drums in the sequence "three-blind-mice".
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
Get a Tune-bot. I did and I learned so much.
My puppy chewed it up after having it for like a year. I then found out how much I had learned and yup, lots. I can confidently and quickly get any kit ready to go now. All the fiddling and experimenting that you'l do with the Tune-bot is also giving the brain huge amounts of other extraneous information. You will see the terms that the "by ear" guys use start to make sense and even seem better suited to the subject. Like the "perfect pitch of a drum," it's just the one pitch that that drum cannot not make. (more of a higher or lower thud than a pitch)

Get the Tune-bot (no affiliation)

Find out that their suggestions are terrible for the sound you want

Stop listening to the sounds you don't like, and hear the ones that you need instead, like a cymbal.

since you asked for suggestions
 

bud7h4

Silver Member
Regarding tuning to notes, I do this only after I have determined how the drums all sound best together. After getting them tuned, then I document what notes the heads are tuned to, only for the purpose of taking the guesswork out of future tuning / head changes.
And the LAST thing I want is a melodic sounding kit, as I've said before; I intentionally tune my toms to NOT create a melody - or at least not something easily recognizable as such.
 
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Morrisman

Platinum Member
I suggest you download the tunebot App, which includes tables of suggested frequencies for different sized drums at various pitches.

As for the relative pitch of top and bottom heads, in Rock music I tune the bottom a third higher than the top, but for Jazz I tune the top a bit higher. In practice I leave the bottom heads at medium and bring the top up or down for different styles.

Remember that when you tap next to a lug you are hearing a harmonic - the actual pitch of the drum will be approx. one octave lower.
 
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You could give the iTune Pro app a go. There's quite a bit of technical explanation to be had with this piece of soft. They also have some nice explanatory videos on their website. Even if it doesn't work out for you in particular there's some insight to be had into the internal workings of the chaos that be drums. At the very least it gives you insight into pitch and relation between batter and reso head on your shells.
 
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