Drum Tuning - Tighten heads before tuning?

GuiGeek

Member
So I've been talking with fellow drummers about drum tuning. As usual, we ran through a lot of urban legends about what to do or not.
The one thing that I still have doubts about is the tightening before tuning one.

I've almost always been doing this and I'm not sure if it has a real influence on the sound.
When I put a new drum head on, I tighten both batter and reso heads a lot and leave the drum to rest for a day. Then I come back and tune it lower to get the sound I want.

I've never really had any problem finding the right sound with this method, but maybe I'm wrong? Because I DO have problems with bigger toms, but this seems pretty common so I don't know.
Some drummers tell me they do the same, and some tell me 'Don't do that dude, it's ruining your drum head o_O !' Sorry about the smiley but that was my reaction at this!

So what's your opinion about this?
 

Cameo

Gold Member
There's no right or wrong. You could do most things to it, use your common sense.
You can finger tight the screws and then tune them to desired note.

Do what sounds best for you.
 

tard

Gold Member
According to some drum head makers this can reduce the life span of your head the same as old school "seating" of a head can damage and or reduce life expectancy of the head as well, also I watched a video with I think Buddy Rich that said to be careful tuning and to come up to pitch slowly as not to go to far because if you have to lower your tuning the crease that the bearing edge makes in the head will now be inside the playing area of the drum and that this would distort the vibrations and change the sound of the head.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I'm not sure how much newer heads stretch when installed. When I put on new heads I tune then where I want them and they seem to be in the same place the next day, or week. I use Evans heads if that helps. I have always read to tune down to the note or sound and not up but I don't wait over night to do this.
 

Fuo

Platinum Member
I usually seat Remo heads because new ones make all those glue-popping-crack sounds... With Evans no.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I don't find it necessary. Definitely do not over tighten your heads to "seat" them. If anything I would put a new head on and tighten it to where I like it tuned, then loosen it all the way and then tune it up again. You don't even need to do that, but sometimes I do that on the snare batter if the head doesn't sound right the first time. Never had to do it with the toms. I get the glue pops in the Remo heads, they happen before I get it up to the tension I like. I don't recommend going tighter than you normally play, not at all.
 

Zero Mercury Drummer

Senior Member
According to some drum head makers this can reduce the life span of your head the same as old school "seating" of a head can damage and or reduce life expectancy of the head as well, also I watched a video with I think Buddy Rich that said to be careful tuning and to come up to pitch slowly as not to go to far because if you have to lower your tuning the crease that the bearing edge makes in the head will now be inside the playing area of the drum and that this would distort the vibrations and change the sound of the head.
Haven't head designs changed and improved greatly since his time?
 

GuiGeek

Member
Thanks for all your replies!

'Seating' the head like I was doing does seem to distort the vibrations a bit. I tried both methods and find it easier to get a clear note when muffling the opposite head when tuning up. But in matter of 'real' sound when the head is tuned, I don't know really. I'll see in the future if my 'seated' heads give up too soon!
 

moontheloon

Silver Member
I do the old.....finger tighten then push a fist in the center ......bigger drums drop a knee......then tune

its worked perfectly for 30 years

not about to change now
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I was always told you had to get modern heads to "crack" before tuning to prefered pitch or they will be difficult to keep in tune.
Have I been doing the wrong thing?
Doing this my heads seem to stay in tune and don't need replacing very often.
 

tard

Gold Member
I was always told you had to get modern heads to "crack" before tuning to prefered pitch or they will be difficult to keep in tune.
Have I been doing the wrong thing?
Doing this my heads seem to stay in tune and don't need replacing very often.
Aquarian says absolutly do not, Evans does not recommend it and Remo only recommends it on their vintage polyester type heads and not the newer mylar ones. I personally stopped "seating" 6 or 7 years ago when I ruined 5 out of 9 brand new heads and when I called the Co. to complain they told me not to seat them as this was the problem, and that even if it didnt ruin the other 4 that I still greatly shortened their life expectancy.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
I would never just over tighten and stretch a drum head without it being in tune. Depending on how long it's been stretched, when bringing that head back down to the pitch you want it to be, the bearing edges have already been imprinted into the Mylar. How would you actually know if the head is sitting correctly on the bearing edges with even pressure from side to side with out hearing the pitch of the drum at each tension rod. You could very well be distorting the areas of the head where it rides on the bearing edges.

Just start slow and bring them up to pitch and re-tune latter when you hear that something is not quite right. I won't even switch heads from one kit to another. When I take heads off a kit and they still have a lot of life left in them, I mark their boxes so I know exactly what kit they came off so they can go back on that kit if I want to use them again.

Drum heads are the sound membranes of your kit, don't over stretch them if you want the best possible results.

Dennis
 
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