Drum Tuning Bible

Elvis

Silver Member
Whenever I see a snare drum in a drum shop and it has plastic strips attaching the snare wires I know that the manufacturer doesn't really understand much about the product they are making or they just don't care and use the cheapest, easiest material they can find. Convenient for them and actually, convenient for me - I make drums and they make my customers.

One of the questions I get asked quite often has to do with snare wires not completely disengaging. "When I throw the wires off and hit the drum the wires are still slapping back.".

Plastic attachments act as springs. They never completely relax and so the wires are never fully released from the bottom head. It takes very little energy input to make the wires bounce upward and create that snare slapback. Apart from that, plastic strips have absolutely no flex. You want some flex to allow the snare set to move.

And while we are on the subject - stay away from that dam blue steel cable that Pures__t includes with their wires. That stuff acts like a cheese cutter on your edges and will eventually wear through the snare side head and chew into the snare bed. It is Purecrap and I have no idea why they still use that.

The best solution is 5/8" grosgrain (pronounced grow grain) polyester ribbon. You can find this almost anywhere - on ebay or at Michael's crafts etc. It costs about $3 for a roll that will last you years. It has some flex and it is exceptionally durable.
...no one loves kite string or old tennis shoe strings anymore....=(
 

Elvis

Silver Member
Seriously, though, Dunnett has a point.
I contributed to the original version of the DTB way back...whenever.
Scott and I were members of a forum known as Drum Web.
He had a recording studio and seemed to know a lot about how to get different sounds out of drums through head selection and tuning.
After a while, he noticed the same questions were being asked over and over. At first, he would just link back to posts where he'd already answered that question, but as time went on, the posts became harder to find.
So, he decided to write a manual that would explain the solution to "challenges" he had faced in various recording and live scenarios.
…..and The Drum Tuning Bible was born.
He asked the members of the forum to contribute any tuning "tricks" we had learned along the way and they would be included in the DTB.
Mine had to do with a variation on the old felt strip to dry out a bass drum.
What I discovered is that bed linen makes a great muffling material because its extremely thin. Thinner than felt. It won't distort the head and/or rim, so tuning can be more accurate. It cuts easily and rips very straight, but the uncut section is very strong and can become quite taut easily (there doesn't seem to be as much "give" as with felt).
If you run a strip about 3-4" wide across each head, 90 degrees apart from each other, you can dry a bass drum out pretty well, but if you don't put anything inside the drum, it will retain a very resonant and musical sound.
It's kinda like having a very resonant and musical block of wood under your foot.
The effect is different than stacking pillows against the BD head, but our esteemed "Professor" couldn't wrap his head around that fact, despite a rather long correspondence where I explained why it wasn't the same thing, over and over again.
In the end, he printed his variation of my technique, because he simply couldn't believe that there's a difference in the sound of the drum....and that's what you've been reading in that Bible for almost 20 years now...HIS impression of things you can do to get certain sounds out of a drum.
...something to remember.
However, that's not to say he's absolutely wrong. One reason why he sort of became The Shell Answer Man at that forum is because people would post positive reactions to his advice, so if you do have a question about getting a certain sound from a drum, by all means, reference the manual. It is, however, not an end-all solution guide to tuning, only one man's opinion.
If it works for you, great! But if it doesn't, there are other avenues to explore.



Elvis
 
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Gottliver

Senior Member
After reading the tuning instructions, I think this manual needs to updated. We know so much more now that a lot of what is written is misleading. Hair dryers or stretching a head for 12 hours just isn’t necessary. Nor is cracking the glue of a remo head. Also shell fundamentals have been demystified.
 

Elvis

Silver Member
I've heard this before, about not having to seat the head, but the source the person who told me about it was referencing were employees of drum head companies.....employees who's job it was to sell the heads made by the company's they represented...and the advice this person was relaying was that if the head doesn't work, just toss it and "get" another one....to me, it sounds like someone bought into their marketing strategy.
 

donzo74

Junior Member
I must agree with Dunnett on not using the plastic straps or the blue Puresound plastic cables. I only use the grosgrain ribbon or I use a black or white braided cord, depending on the drum's color scheme. All of this stuff was bought cheap at Michael's craft store and with one spool of each I feel like I'm set for life for snare attachment media. With these much lighter and more flexible materials, you get MUCH more sensitive snare response, a more natural snare sound, less muffling of the snare-side head and less residual garbage snare buzz . Any new snare I get immediately has the plastic strips removed. My first choice is the braided cord, close second is the grosgrain ribbon. The added bonus that gives the cord the edge over the ribbon is the ability tie knots in the cord once the snares are set. This means that even if a screw strips out on your strainer attachment, the knot can still hold the snares on in many situations. At that point, the ribbon would slip out just like the plastic strap would. Some throwoffs, like the Dunnett 4-L, are very difficult to thread cord through so I use the grosgrain for those but it will always be one or the other for my snares and NEVER plastic straps.
 

Elvis

Silver Member
donzo,

The "grosgrain ribbon" you mentioned. I've heard people mention this in other posts, but still not sure what it is.
Is that the same ribbon you wrap Christmas gifts with?
 

donzo74

Junior Member
I didn't know it was called that until I saw that term from Dunnett's post so I just borrowed that term from him. It's a ribbon that is made using very thin polyester fibers in a cross-grain woven pattern. It's strong yet very light and flexible. It comes on a spool like the Christmas wrapping stuff but is a bit wider. The first time I saw this material used as snare straps was on some Tama snares. Tama used to use some really thick woven material that was too thick and I didn't like it. I think that came on an older Starclassic snare I had but they changed to a thinner material that is perfect. I think some of my SLP snares came with that type of attachment straps. I went looking for something similar in bulk and found the woven ribbon material was the ticket. Very strong but thinner than the plastic straps and no springy or muffling effect.
 

Elvis

Silver Member
Ok, so its a plastic strap. Got it. Thanks!….KIDDDING!.

I'll have to stop by Joann fabrics next time I'm out that way and see if they have any.
Thanks for your time. =)

Elvis
 

donzo74

Junior Member
Ok, so its a plastic strap. Got it. Thanks!….KIDDDING!.
Thankfully, everyone on this site is capable of providing their own rimshots, which sound best while performed on a snare without Mylar strips holding the snares on.

Best wishes!
 
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