Drum tuning - limited success with method I'm using

GCRoberts

Well-known member
I've heard from numerous sources that you should strive to tune your drums so you don't need to use any mutes or dampeners to minimize snare buzz. I've been attempting to reach this goal with limited success so far. For reference, I have a DW Performance Kit with a 14"x6.5" snare, 22" bass, and 8", 10", 12", 14", 16", 18" toms. I've been doing all my tuning using the tune-bot studio, but I do own a drum dial as well. I'm also using the accompanying iPhone tune-box app. Using the drum set calculator on the app, I enter my 6 tom sizes. For resonance, you can choose minimum, maximum, and two levels in between. I've chosen minimum. I don't do any pitch adjust. You can chose bottom head higher, top head higher, or single head drum...I've chosen bottom head higher. The app tells me to tune (supplying top lug and bottom lug frequencies) to the following: 8" - 3G, 10" - 3D#, 12" - 2B, 14" - 2G, 16" - 2D#, and 18" - 1B. I can supply the frequencies, but that's probably more information that needed for this question. For the 14" x 6.5" snare drum, I chose a pitch of "A". I picked that because it's midway between G and B. Not sure if that's a good decision or not. It's usually the 10" or 12" that wants to create snare buzz. I've tried adjusting the snare wire tension which works but you end up deadening the snare too much. Any advice would be appreciated. If the answer is you'll always have snare buzz, I can live with that...I just don't want to totally miss something obvious.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Generally, snare buzz arises when a snare and a tom are in a competing frequency range. Adjusting the tom can sometimes be effective. Other times, buzz can be mitigated by altering the tension of your snare wires and/or resonant head. Depending on the room and other instruments, however, buzz can have a persistent presence. Unless it's so obtrusive that it's polluting the music beyond a reasonable degree of tolerance, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Usually, it's something only drummers take note of.

I don't use dials, bots, apps, or any other tuning devices on my drums. I'm not implying you shouldn't; I just can't provide guidance in that area.
 
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MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
If the answer is you'll always have snare buzz, I can live with that...I just don't want to totally miss something obvious.
Always. If it isnt your drums, its bass, guitars, keys, people talking, the tv, horns, dogs barking, etc. The idea here is the snare reso vibrates at certain frequencies and it activates the wires. That's what it is supposed to do. Dont worry about it. Its only a tuning problem. Hardly anyone complains about snare buzz when they are actually playing, only tuning. It's the nature of the drum.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Sometimes the snare buzz is where you hit your snare-mine tuned up high buzzes more near edge-center no buzz. Sympathetic buzz from toms is almost inevitable but you can shorten the buzz note-so it doesn't persist. I worked on eliminating it completely awhile back experimenting and TBH it sounded weird with none at all-but that could have been my means of eliminating it too. Hey who doesn't love a little buzz every now and then.
 

ToneT

Well-known member
Have you experimented with loosening the 4 lugs by the snare beds?
A quarter turn to half turn on each lug may help.
How tight / loose is your snare side head? A?
You might want to try lowering the pitch of the snare side to begin with.

I'm currently experimenting too with bottom head tension.
G (392 hz) makes for very crisp snare wire sound but it does choke the drum somewhat.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I've heard from numerous sources that you should strive to tune your drums so you don't need to use any mutes or dampeners to minimize snare buzz. I've been attempting to reach this goal with limited success so far. For reference, I have a DW Performance Kit with a 14"x6.5" snare, 22" bass, and 8", 10", 12", 14", 16", 18" toms. I've been doing all my tuning using the tune-bot studio, but I do own a drum dial as well. I'm also using the accompanying iPhone tune-box app. Using the drum set calculator on the app, I enter my 6 tom sizes. For resonance, you can choose minimum, maximum, and two levels in between. I've chosen minimum. I don't do any pitch adjust. You can chose bottom head higher, top head higher, or single head drum...I've chosen bottom head higher. The app tells me to tune (supplying top lug and bottom lug frequencies) to the following: 8" - 3G, 10" - 3D#, 12" - 2B, 14" - 2G, 16" - 2D#, and 18" - 1B. I can supply the frequencies, but that's probably more information that needed for this question. For the 14" x 6.5" snare drum, I chose a pitch of "A". I picked that because it's midway between G and B. Not sure if that's a good decision or not. It's usually the 10" or 12" that wants to create snare buzz. I've tried adjusting the snare wire tension which works but you end up deadening the snare too much. Any advice would be appreciated. If the answer is you'll always have snare buzz, I can live with that...I just don't want to totally miss something obvious.

So, your snare is tuned lower than your 12" tom? I'd think you'd want it the other way around.
 

Warrenwood

Well-known member
Here's a suggestion from left field: change out your snare drum's bottom hoop from triple flange to die cast. Triple flange hoops are very open and can contribute to the snare drum's reso head picking up a sympathetic vibration. By contract, a die cast head is much more focused, and can reduce snare buzzing.

I have a Ludwig Classic Maple snare that drove me crazy with buzzing. It was on a vintage Ludwig set, 12/13/16/22 with these tunings: 12" - 3C, 13" - 2G, 16" - 2D, 22" - 1E. The 12" tom ALWAYS set off the snare, no matter how I tuned the snare. I was about to give up when I talked to a drum builder who suggested the die case hoop. I bought one, installed it and... problem solved!

So while tuning can clear most problems, once i a while you have to look at other changes.
 

ToneT

Well-known member
I wish they'd let you hear the actual reso pitch as reference in these videos.
I don't understand why they don't include some episodes utilizing the dials and bots.
We all know that using our ears for tuning is essential.
When I purchased my first TuneBot I found out how good my ears were at tuning. Within 1 hz or less!
I was very encouraged!
However, my ears can't tell the difference between 261.6 and / or 261.2 or 261.4.
The TuneBot can! I welcome that kind of accuracy with clearing a drumhead. It's NOT a gimmick!
 

ToneT

Well-known member
I wish they'd let you hear the actual reso pitch as reference in these videos.
I don't understand why they don't include some episodes utilizing the dials and bots.
We all know that using our ears for tuning is essential.
When I purchased my first TuneBot I found out how good my ears were at tuning. Within 1 hz or less!
I was very encouraged!
However, my ears can't tell the difference between 261.6 and / or 261.2 or 261.4.
The TuneBot can! I welcome that kind of accuracy with clearing a drumhead. It's NOT a gimmick!
 

madjack956

Well-known member
I've heard from numerous sources that you should strive to tune your drums so you don't need to use any mutes or dampeners to minimize snare buzz. I've been attempting to reach this goal with limited success so far. For reference, I have a DW Performance Kit with a 14"x6.5" snare, 22" bass, and 8", 10", 12", 14", 16", 18" toms. I've been doing all my tuning using the tune-bot studio, but I do own a drum dial as well. I'm also using the accompanying iPhone tune-box app. Using the drum set calculator on the app, I enter my 6 tom sizes. For resonance, you can choose minimum, maximum, and two levels in between. I've chosen minimum. I don't do any pitch adjust. You can chose bottom head higher, top head higher, or single head drum...I've chosen bottom head higher. The app tells me to tune (supplying top lug and bottom lug frequencies) to the following: 8" - 3G, 10" - 3D#, 12" - 2B, 14" - 2G, 16" - 2D#, and 18" - 1B. I can supply the frequencies, but that's probably more information that needed for this question. For the 14" x 6.5" snare drum, I chose a pitch of "A". I picked that because it's midway between G and B. Not sure if that's a good decision or not. It's usually the 10" or 12" that wants to create snare buzz. I've tried adjusting the snare wire tension which works but you end up deadening the snare too much. Any advice would be appreciated. If the answer is you'll always have snare buzz, I can live with that...I just don't want to totally miss something obvious.
GCRoberts,
I too have a Performance Series and have the same size drums sans the 18" tom. I am using the exact same tunings you have except the snare. I left it as is from the factory as I like the sound very much. It has a nice crack to it. Its tuned to F3. I get a slight buzz if I really lay into my 12'' tom, but other than that I'm good. I am running Evans Hydraulic heads so that may be a factor.

I tried different tunings and actually found a grouping that eliminated the snare buzz (see below) but I did not like the sound of the kit. To me the 8'', 10'' and 12" toms sounded like high pitched bongos. I spent the afternoon playing them to try and get used to them but I really didn't like what I was hearing in the end. I went back to my original tune. I can deal with the minute buzz.

Everyone's ear is different so here are the tunings in case you are interested. I did like the rebound of the heads with this tuning. Reminded me of my practice pad.

8" - A#3 - 401/401
10" - F3 - 300/300
12" - C3 - 225/225
14" - G2 - 169/169
16" - D2 - 126/126


Good Luck!

p.s. Warrenwood, thanks for the post, that's good info to know.
 
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iCe

Senior Member
I tune my toms fairly low and my snare is tuned very high which seems good to avoid sympathetic resonance. The only buzz i sometimes get is when a guitar player hits the exact note my snare is tuned in.
Gavin Harisson explains in a vid that you can minimize snare buzz to tune your snare between the intervals of 2 toms. And he uses something like an 8 strand wire or so that also reduces snare buzz.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
With so many toms and two heads each its going to be almost impossible to eliminate buzzing from at least one of them. Find the drum that causes it the most then tweak the bottom head a bit, but it will be hard to eliminate it completely.
 

GCRoberts

Well-known member
Have you experimented with loosening the 4 lugs by the snare beds?
A quarter turn to half turn on each lug may help.
How tight / loose is your snare side head? A?
You might want to try lowering the pitch of the snare side to begin with.

I'm currently experimenting too with bottom head tension.
G (392 hz) makes for very crisp snare wire sound but it does choke the drum somewhat.
No, but I have heard about that technique.
 
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