Bass Drum Tone/Tuning Question

jackfiasco

Junior Member
Hey all,

I have been getting frustrated lately by my lack of ability to get a good low thump out of a standard 22" kick drum and decided it was time to turn to the internet drumming hive mind for advice.

Recently I played a couple different kits with 22" Powerstroke 3s and they sounded great, super low and punchy. So I bought one for a 22" of mine at a shared rehearsal space I run after the previous head broke. I couldn't get it to sound anywhere clost to as low and punchy. I tried dampening with a pillow, a towel, and nothing. (The one I played that sounded great had nothing in it, but I don't recall the reso head).

At another space I played a PDP kit with a 22" SKII and it sounded amazing. It sounded like it was mic'd and eq'd there was so much low end! I have the same head on another 22" bass drum of mine and I spent hours tuning both heads (res was an Aquarian Regulator), trying different pillows, towels, or nothing inside for dampening, and couldn't get it to come close either.

I realize there are plenty of other factors involved like the size of the room, reflective surfaces, shell wood type, bearing edges, playing style, and on and on.. but I feel like I should be able to at least get close with the same size drum and same head.. no?

The PDP kit was in a tiny rehearsal space and I was shocked at how big and boomy it sounded. My kit is in a nice sounding carpeted rehearsal space 4 times as large and it sounds awful. WTF am I missing here?

Thanks!
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
It sounds to me like the kicks owned and tuned by other people sound great, but your own personal bass drums don't. Is that accurate? That could mean your approach to tuning isn't quite right.

You should have no trouble getting a SuperKick II to sound good. (given there are no defects in the head, hoops, bearing edges, etc.)

For best results, typically a SuperKick II or PowerStroke 3 should be tuned low to very low, just above wrinkles.

The resonant side can vary a lot more, but is typically tuned either slightly higher, or much higher than the batter side.
 

roncadillac

Member
Eq4 or ps3 front and back, small port on the reso, no muffling of any other sort. Reso tuned medium to medium high depending on your pitch preference and batter tuned a step below. This will give you focused punch but with enough overtone that your bass drum doesn't sound like a box. Behind the kit it may not have the "pre eq'ed" sound you are going for but 1. It will out front and 2. You hear and feel you kick while playing behind the kit which doesn't happen with those other heads.
 

jackfiasco

Junior Member
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I watched that video and tried following those tuning directions with the kick I had at home here (a Gretsch 20" with an SKI beater and Remo Fiberskyn reso). Ironically this kick sounded pretty low and punchy - at least for a 20" - already. But I tried Rob's tuning instructions just to see how it would go. The drum ended up tuned way higher following his steps! It sounded high and ringy and not like a kick at all. I ended up tuning it back to where it was, just a half turn or so per lug over finger tight on the beater and a step or so higher on the reso and it sounds pretty good.

Now I'm off to my rehearsal space to mess with tuning my 22" PS3 and try to get more low end out of it.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier - it seems odd that this would make so much of a difference, but the kit at my space used to be on the floor, and it sounded decent. Then we put a big ass drum riser in there and I feel like it lost some low end after being put on the riser. It's a pretty big and solid riser, so it should emulate the floor pretty well, but it seems to have made a differene for the worse..
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I like the batter just above JAW... to move a lot of air...and the resonant head I keep tight like a tympani so when I thump it, it goes boing! The front moves air and the back resonates with the punchy note. This would be my guess if I only had one, the reso isn't near tight enough.

A slack reso sounds muddy to me and is usually the culprit with a bad sounding drum, no matter what kind of drum, even if it's a bass drum and it's ported and muffled.

A 2 ply reso with control rings on a bass drum sounds like a blanket to me, yuck. Give me a 10 or 12 mil single ply reso with no control rings or pinhole air vents. They sound the crispest to me.

A 2 ply batter, I have no issues with if you like a little more weight.

Also, getting the heads tensioned evenly is important too.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
If you elevate a kick drum (or a subwoofer speaker) 4’ above the deck you will cause a 1/4 wave cancellation at about 70Hz (right in the punch range). Take that same drum and put it down on the deck and the bass will come back.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
If you elevate a kick drum (or a subwoofer speaker) 4’ above the deck you will cause a 1/4 wave cancellation at about 70Hz (right in the punch range). Take that same drum and put it down on the deck and the bass will come back.
Could you elaborate? Are you saying 4 feet, not inches?
 

dboomer

Senior Member
Yes, 4 feet

To simplify ... 70 Hz has a wavelength of just a hair over 16 feet long. So when you look at a sinewave 16 feet long the centerpoint is 8’ (where the wave crosses over from a positive half to a negative half). At the centerpoint of the wave there is no sound. So when you lift the tone generator (your bass drum) up 4 feet, the part of the sound that goes straight down bounces off the deck and comes straight back up. At this point it is 8 feet long and is out of phase from the way ot left your drum so the sound cancels that exact frequency a lot

Forget the theory ... with the help of some friends, beat the drum flat on the deck. Then lift the drum up 4 feet and beat it again. You’ll notice a lot of thump falling off.

Now your riser might not be 4 feet tall. But you will get cancellation directly related to riser height. So if your riser is 3 feet tall, you’ll be cancelling out 90 Hz. If it’s 2 feet tall you’ll cancel 140Hz. Get the idea?

Of course your bass drum is a much more complex bunch of frequencies but lifting a bass generating device, your kick drum, your bass amp or your subwoofers up in the air will result in the loss of some bass frequencies.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
Yes, 4 feet

To simplify ... 70 Hz has a wavelength of just a hair over 16 feet long. So when you look at a sinewave 16 feet long the centerpoint is 8’ (where the wave crosses over from a positive half to a negative half). At the centerpoint of the wave there is no sound. So when you lift the tone generator (your bass drum) up 4 feet, the part of the sound that goes straight down bounces off the deck and comes straight back up. At this point it is 8 feet long and is out of phase from the way ot left your drum so the sound cancels that exact frequency a lot

Forget the theory ... with the help of some friends, beat the drum flat on the deck. Then lift the drum up 4 feet and beat it again. You’ll notice a lot of thump falling off.

Now your riser might not be 4 feet tall. But you will get cancellation directly related to riser height. So if your riser is 3 feet tall, you’ll be cancelling out 90 Hz. If it’s 2 feet tall you’ll cancel 140Hz. Get the idea?

Of course your bass drum is a much more complex bunch of frequencies but lifting a bass generating device, your kick drum, your bass amp or your subwoofers up in the air will result in the loss of some bass frequencies.
So it's the length of a particular wavelength, and its proximity to the walls, floor, or ceiling.

That could possibly explain why gigs in smaller rooms sometimes sound good, and sometimes sound bad.

I had a vague understanding of this before, but I'm piecing this all together now. So that's the technical reason why it's important to find the sweet spot for the drums in a recording room. Very cool.
 

V-Four

Senior Member
Yes, 4 feet

To simplify ... 70 Hz has a wavelength of just a hair over 16 feet long. So when you look at a sinewave 16 feet long the centerpoint is 8’ (where the wave crosses over from a positive half to a negative half). At the centerpoint of the wave there is no sound. So when you lift the tone generator (your bass drum) up 4 feet, the part of the sound that goes straight down bounces off the deck and comes straight back up. At this point it is 8 feet long and is out of phase from the way ot left your drum so the sound cancels that exact frequency a lot

Forget the theory ... with the help of some friends, beat the drum flat on the deck. Then lift the drum up 4 feet and beat it again. You’ll notice a lot of thump falling off.

Now your riser might not be 4 feet tall. But you will get cancellation directly related to riser height. So if your riser is 3 feet tall, you’ll be cancelling out 90 Hz. If it’s 2 feet tall you’ll cancel 140Hz. Get the idea?

Of course your bass drum is a much more complex bunch of frequencies but lifting a bass generating device, your kick drum, your bass amp or your subwoofers up in the air will result in the loss of some bass frequencies.
+1
The bass player site I used to frequent had this discussion all the time. Lots of people had lots of "theories" about it, but the fact remains, when you take the bass cab off the floor, the low end changed- a lot.


T.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
I had a vague understanding of this before, but I'm piecing this all together now. So that's the technical reason why it's important to find the sweet spot for the drums in a recording room. Very cool.
Just when you think it’s easy ... it’s not. The sound of your drums (well anything actually) depends on your distance to the listener (indoors). Picture a single sine wave. Starts at zero then bends up to full at the 1/4 wave length, then back down to zero at the half wave point. Then it goes down to full negative at the 3/4 wave mark and finally back up to zero. When your ear is at a zero point there is no sound. And when your ear is at the 1/4 or 3/4 point the sound is the loudest as the energy there is the strongest. So if we are considering 70 Hz, with a wavelength of 16’, every time you move exactly 8’ you are in a null and there is no sound (if we were considering only one dimension). Of course in the real 3D world you may not lose the sound from the reflections in the other dimensions. But you lose some of it. If your room was a cube of 16’, you would completely lose 70Hz completely at the dead center of the 3 dimensions.

I used to teach sound reinforcement classes for Peavey. One of my favorite demos was to ask the class to stand and listen. I would play a 70Hz tone and then a 80Hz tone and ask the listeners “Did the sound get louder or softer?” About half the class would say louder and half would say weaker. In fact the level was the same. So even though no one moved, the null spots in the room move so if you were holding an spl meter you would see it go up and down at the listening position even though the original sound level hadn’t changed.

So yes, moving your microphone in relationship to your drums will change the sound that is going into them. Likewise moving your speakers will change the sound you hear at a fixed listening position. Thank you Mother Nature.
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
If you elevate a kick drum (or a subwoofer speaker) 4’ above the deck you will cause a 1/4 wave cancellation at about 70Hz (right in the punch range). Take that same drum and put it down on the deck and the bass will come back.
This. Your problem is your room and the arrangement therein. There is nothing wrong with your drums, the heads, or you as a tuner. The drums will sound fine in a proper room.

GeeDeeEmm
 

dboomer

Senior Member
Same as above the deck. Any time you are a 1/4 wave distance you can expect some cancellation. So 4 feet from the back wall will cost you.

OTOH ... setup backwards with your kick drum inches from the wall and it will boost the lows. Even better, setup in a corner for enhanced low end (or let your bass player do it).
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
If the shell is warped, it won't give the low overtone punch. If the shell is warped and the bass drum is made out of birch, it will be even less punchy.
It doesn't have to be warped much.

*edit - Its probably the riser. You might be able to jam a 2x4 or some other brace type thing under there to change the vibrations from being sucked up.
 
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jackfiasco

Junior Member
This all sounds very correct, as there was more low end before the riser and even more low end when the drums were in a corner.

I also agree with larryace that the reso most likely needs to be tuned tighter. It hit me when I was lowering my snare batter head to get a lower 80s snare sound for a particular song. I was realizing how low this little 13" snare sounded and the reso head is tuned super tight. So moving that same concept to a kick drum - tune the reso high and the batter low!
 
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