Drum Dial accuracy?

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
For you Drum Dial users, do you get different readings depending on the type of head?

Example: if you were to set an even tension all the way around a 14" drum with a 1-ply 10mil clear head, and set that same tension on the same drum with a 2-ply 7+7mil coated head, would the pitch be the same?

More simply, will the same readings on the same drum with different type heads result in the same pitch?

I ask because I know the torque keys are easily fooled by sticky rods, and I was wondering if there's anything that can skew the consistency of the Drum Dial.

Bermuda
 

zarrdoss

Gold Member
Thats kind of what I was asking, When people say make the bottom snare reso tighter do they mean higher tension? because when I set the tension the same on my Drumdial the reso is definitely higher pitch.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Yes, most definitely the readings vary with head thickness and number of plies.
Coated heads also read different.
Use the dial as a tool to get in tuning range and tune by pitch sound for fine tuning.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Thats kind of what I was asking, When people say make the bottom snare reso tighter do they mean higher tension? because when I set the tension the same on my Drumdial the reso is definitely higher pitch.
A thin 3 mil snare bottom will be super tight and high pitched with a dial reading of 78. A 10 mil snare batter will be looser and lower in pitch than a reso at 78.
 
The pitches will be different (though, probably only slightly), since tension is not the only variable in the equation of sound.

I know we're talking drums here, but here's an interesting online calculator for determining how much string tension is required for a specific pitch on steel stringed instruments. You'll notice it's not as simple as just setting an arbitrary tension to hit a certain note. Key variables such as string length, thickness, and composition (whether it's wound or not, steel or nylon, etc) have a major effect on how much tension is required to achieve a certain pitch. Drums follow similar physical principals.

Sound is simply vibration, and not all materials vibrate in the same manner. Typically, thicker materials require more tension to vibrate at the same frequency of thinner materials.

The drum dial (and torque keys) only account for one variable - tension. If surgical accuracy is needed, you'll need tools that can either accurately measure all other major variables, or one which simply measures the end result (that being the actual sound coming off the drum.)
 

zarrdoss

Gold Member
A thin 3 mil snare bottom will be super tight and high pitched with a dial reading of 78. A 10 mil snare batter will be looser and lower in pitch than a reso at 78.
Thank you, but still when people say to have the reso on a snare tighter are they actually referring to higher pitch?
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
The thinner the drumhead the deeper the plunger on the dial will sink in.
This will give a lower reading.
Your head will sink lower into a softer pillow than it will into a firmer pillow.
The weight of your head and the spring tension on the dial plunger are the constants.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
OK thats what I thought. I did try one time and got the reso to like 86 and it sounded like crap. Thank you!
I have never set a 3 mil reso head over 80 on my DD. I didn't want the pitch to be any higher.
Use your ears for the sound that you desire.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
So... if always using the same heads, the same numbers should result in the same tuning, but using different heads results in a different set of numbers to get the same pitch.

Does the shell's edge make a difference? Will a number for a sharp edge be the same for a vintagy roundover in order to get the same pitch?

I'm just trying to determine if a device intended to make tuning easy and consistent can be relied on from kit to kit.

Bermuda
 

topgun2021

Gold Member
So... if always using the same heads, the same numbers should result in the same tuning, but using different heads results in a different set of numbers to get the same pitch.

Does the shell's edge make a difference? Will a number for a sharp edge be the same for a vintagy roundover in order to get the same pitch?

I'm just trying to determine if a device intended to make tuning easy and consistent can be relied on from kit to kit.

Bermuda
I would say no, just based on mathematics. The bearing edge is a variable that determines pitch. However, the difference may not be noticeable to the human ear or very small.

You have to find out how big of a discrepancy between readings of different drums you would accept.
 

zarrdoss

Gold Member
I use the drumdial to get in the ballpark on my snares and drums and it makes it easier for sure, but from what I read the tunebot is the way to go for duplicating the same pitch from drum to drum. I will have to see one day.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Does the shell's edge make a difference? Will a number for a sharp edge be the same for a vintagy roundover in order to get the same pitch?

I'm just trying to determine if a device intended to make tuning easy and consistent can be relied on from kit to kit.
The variables are numerous and the dial numbers are only general.
Bearing edges, drum shell composition, heads. room sound, temp and humidity.
The dial only gets the drum in a range that is reasonably close.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
One good thing about the dd is that all 10 mil clear heads for instance will read the same numbers at a given pitch. So once you know the numbers for your head type, well, you know the numbers for your head type. To throw another opinion in here, I tension my 3 mil snare reso in the 90's, all the time. I disagree, I think the drum really starts becoming alive with a tight snare reso. But I like a tight tuning, Buddy Rich type snare sound. Horses for courses. I also can get my drumheads pitch perfect with the dd, if the hoop is level all the way around.

The hardest part about tuning a drum is getting the hoop perfectly even, on every axis, all the way around. You get wonky tensions and overtones when the hoops dip down somewhere. The goal is to get it perfectly level with the bearing edge on all planes and axes, all the way around. Using two keys across from each other is a great way to feel the evenness on the heads, on that plane. There are 3 different planes on most rack toms and 4 different planes on floor toms, which all have to be even, separately, and with each other. The "with each other" part is the hard part. That's why drums are so hard to tune properly. Whenever possible, I use 2 keys. Which usually means when I am changing heads. Evenly tensioned heads with perfectly leveled hoops gets the best tone from your heads, and therefore, your drum. I learned all this from the drum dial. Everyone has experienced where one rod feels really tight, and the rod next to it feels really loose, but read close to the same tension... Yea, that's the telltale sign of a non leveled hoop.

That's my big gripe with Gretsch, their 5 lug tuning on the racks. No two rods are across from each other so the 2 key thing doesn't work.
 
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rtliquid

Senior Member
[/I]. .......... Everyone has experienced where one rod feels really tight, and the rod next to it feels really loose, but read close to the same tension... Yea, that's the telltale sign of a non leveled hoop QUOTE].

I HATE that! That's GOT to be the most frustrating thing in the world! That ... and when my cat bolts out the front door just as its closing .....
 
A

audiotech

Guest
I owned one for about a week, two or three years ago. The process just took too long when comparing it to using just my ears and a key. As many have said, there are many factors that contribute to the DD accuracy and one is the way the DD is set down at each tension rod point. Neither me or my girlfriend could tune faster or more accurately using the Drum Dial. I bought it basically because I had quite a few drums that I changed heads on and wanted to keep in tune, so I thought this would be a better mouse trap, I was wrong. Another thing is that the drum must be sitting completely horizontal, so the DD won't work if the drum is on the kit at any kind of angle that would cause this weighty device to slip.

Again, for those who use it and find it an asset when tuning your drums, all well and good.

Dennis
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
The DD seems to work better for me when I tune on the tight side. I.e. snares, jazz and funk toms.
If I am doing loose tunings I simply turn the rods about a half turn above hoop contact and I fine tune from there by pitch.

As Jon mentioned round edge kits. I tune my round edge kit much tighter than I tune my sharp edge kit. I don't like loosely tuned round edge kits.
I am also a fan of my reso being equal to or higher in pitch than my batter.
The DD doesn't tell the pitch so the ear is needed for a complete tune.
 
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