DW Collector's Series Tuning Woes

jpipdw

Member
I'm having an interesting issue with my DW Toms - I've been able to get a great tuning out of my 10 and 12 inch VLT rack toms, and my 14 inch X shell floor tom.

The problem I am having is with my 16 inch VLX floor tom.

I cannot tune the 16 inch floor tom to get a decent thump without a horrible rattling, shaking and buzzing. The only way I'm able to get a good sound out of it is if I tune it up quite a ways - unfortunately this resulted in having to tune up all the other toms higher than I want them, and they sound choked in a way.

I ended up tuning the 16 inch VLX reso to a C#, and the batter until I got a good thump, it actually sounds like what my 14 inch floor tom sounds like when that's tuned to my taste. The 16 inch ends up resonating at around a C# where the reso sits at, however the rest of the drums are tuned much higher for my taste.

Has anyone else experienced trouble tuning their DW Collector's Series toms? This 16 inch is driving me nuts. I've spent hours and made countless phone calls to friends and relatives, tried everyone's recommendations. I'm at the point where I don't even want to play with the 16 inch anymore, however it's such a waste. I cannot get rid of the buzzing and the 16 inch floor tom tends to cause the 14 inch (which is tuned to my taste) to rattle and shake, which gets picked up in the microphones in my studio big time. The 14 and 16 seem to interfere with each other.

My ultimate goal is to be happy with the pitch at which my other toms are tuned at, while still being able to get this 16 inch to hum.

The heads are only a few months old - maybe I'll replace the reso's to test. I'm using clear ambassadors for the resos and coated emperors on the batter side.

Here is my shell specs:

10 - VLT - Timbre Note B
12 - VLT - Timbre Note F
14 - X - Timbre Note D
16 - X - Timbre Note F
 
A

audiotech

Guest
I don't own the DW Collectors, but I've tuned more than I can shake a stick at. Not being able to hear them is a disadvantage to me, but it really sounds as if the heads on the 16" are too loose. What I do is tune the largest tom first and work backwards to the smallest. It may bring your smallest toms a bit higher in pitch than what you have now, but you'll have floor toms that will sound great and each drum in succession will fit perfectly in place.

Where you are right now, the only thing that will rectify your problem would be an 18" floor tom because your 16" can't get any looser. BTW, what type of music do you play?

Dennis
 

Soupy

Silver Member
Ignore the labeled notes for each drum and tune normally. Also, I've never heard a tom that I could describe as rattling, shaking, and buzzing, except when there was so loose hardware somewhere. Maybe pull a head and make sure all the lug screws and hardware are tight?
 

cornelius

Silver Member
I'm assuming the 16" is also an X?

I agree that I've never heard a drum rattle or buzz unless there was something wrong with it - and also tuning from the kick drum, up is a good start.

I've never had a problem tuning any DW kit - the timbre matched shells always made it very easy to get a cohesive set. I never paid attention to the notes that are stamped...
 

SgtThump

Platinum Member
I wasn't happy with the tone of my DW Collectors set UNTIL I decided to try tuning to the note stamped inside the shells. Once I started doing that, I realized that I was tuning everything too high.

Tuning to the note inside the shell really taught me how to recognize when the shell is resonating. As I got closer to the note, I could hear what I was supposed to hear (a nicely tuned drum with the shell resonating alot.)

Once I learned that (fairly recently), I followed that same approach on another set without any notes stamped inside and had KILLER results.

Check all of the hardware on the bigger floor tom for the rattling and buzzing issues.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My 16 x 16 Collectors tunes up stupid easy. It sounds like you like to tune low low. You could be tuning too low. Sounds good to you, but out front, low tuned drums don't carry well. If you like your batter loose, at least tighten those resos up, higher than the batter by at least a 4th. A 4th, or a 5th, or an octave works well on the reso in relation to the batter. I would take it up to an octave, since you like your batters low, to get some life from the drum.
 

Bernhard

Founder Drummerworld
Staff member
I have two DW Collectors - and yes: the 16' give me also trouble. The 14' is just fine and easy to tune. The 16' i have to tune down, till the wrinkles come. Doesn't matter which head i try. This seems to be the way how all these gospel drummers tune and with miking it works well. But not for me in a not amplified setting.

No comparison to the wonderful old Ludwig 16 i have, which is so easy to tune.

Bernhard
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
I have a DW collector's series kit with 14x12 and 16x14 floor toms, both the X shells. I disregard the timbre pitch of the shell too. The pitch that is stamped is way off for the tuning of the drums. It would either be way to high or so low that it would be below no tension at all on the lugs. I have my 14" floor tom tuned so that when you tap the head in front of a lug on the batter side, the pitch is a D#. The bottom head is tuned 3 notes higher (minor third) to an F#. The 16" tom is tuned to a B on top and 3 notes higher to a D on the bottom. The drums sound awesome, no buzzing or rattling at all. If that doesn't work for you or you don't get better results, it could possibly be the head. The drum should tune up easily.
 

jpipdw

Member
Wow guys - I really appreciate all of the feedback. I also disregard the timbre note on the inside of the shell, however it has been a pretty good starting point for me.

I included the timbre notes just so you would all get a relative idea of where my drums are from a tonal standpoint.

I like to tune my drums like Gavin Harrison does, and yesterday I did an experiment. I guess the best way to resolve this is for you to hear the drum track I recorded to see if I am just tuning too low.

Thank you all for your feedback.

I will post the recording shortly, I just need to bounce it down to disk.
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
Take a look at your timbre notes of the 14" and 16" toms. The 14" tom is a D and the 16" is an F, right? Well, in normal circumstances, drums that have a two inch difference in diameter sound good with an interval of a minor third (3 notes), major third (4 notes) or a fourth (5 notes) seperating them. If you look at the timbre notes on your floor toms, the interval between an F and a D is 9 notes! That doesn't work, so the timbre note theory for tuning those two drums sorta goes out the window. As I mentioned, my 14" floor tom batter head is tuned to a D#, vintage emperors over clear ambassadors. If I went lower than that, I would be risking one or more of the lugs having almost no tension on them at all. So, the D# is the lowest I want to go on that drum. The tighter resonant head helps to make it sound punchy and round and feel nice, not too floppy feeling. Since the 16" tom would probably sound good in an interval of 3 to 5 notes lower, I tried those notes and found the major third interval of a B worked the best on the 16" tom. A "C" sounded good too, but the B created a little more low end and less sustain when struck. The drums are tuned low, that's where DW's seem to sound best, but not so low as to sound floppy or feel loose. Since your 14" tom's timbre note is a D, if you tune it to that, then your 16" tom should sound good 3 to 5 notes lower, which would be about a B note. Anyway, let us know what you come up with.
 

jpipdw

Member
To me, in the recording I am posting, the 14 inch floor tom seems a bit choked, and I couldn't find a good EQ frequency to really boost the lows of that 14 inch without compressing the hell out of it.

Let me know what you guys think, perhaps I will go buy some new heads today and try tuning the toms differently all around.

I think yesterday I had my 10, 12, and 14 tuned a bit high, but the end result was the toms resonated at the following notes:

10 - F
12 - C#
14 - G#
16 - C#


Audio file attached.
 

Attachments

cdrums21

Gold Member
Judging from the notes you posted, they seem tuned a tad high. That's not saying it's bad, they probably sound pretty punchy, but I think you may be able to tune the batter heads a little lower and the bottom heads up 3 notes higher than the batter and get those toms sounding great, every one of them. They should have relatively the same fundamental pitch as mine, so I don't know....personal preference I guess, but mine are tuned lower on the batter side than yours are. Mind you, I'm not a guy that goes for that JAW tuning and has everything just barely tensioned. On the contrary, I like my toms to sing and sound punchy, but at the same time, having a nice full deep tone, especially my floor toms. I really can't offer much more advice or tips other than what I have already done. Good luck man, hope you get them to sound the way you want.
 

jpipdw

Member
Interesting that you say you have your reso heads tuned higher....I've been watching John Good's DW tuning tips, and he mentions that he does the opposite and tunes the batter head up to a minor third higher.

I'm going to try your suggestions now and see how it works - thanks again man, I'll report back hopefully with another recording.
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
Interesting that you say you have your reso heads tuned higher....I've been watching John Good's DW tuning tips, and he mentions that he does the opposite and tunes the batter head up to a minor third higher.

I'm going to try your suggestions now and see how it works - thanks again man, I'll report back hopefully with another recording.
I don't know about John Good, but I have been involved in alot of recording and live work and have conversed with many drummers, some pretty well known. Almost all of them tune their drums with the bottom head tuned higher. Some tuned the heads to the same pitch and almost no one tuned the resonant side lower. The resonant head higher does a couple of things that are advantageous. One, it livens the drums up..makes them punchier and rounder sounding. That's great for mic'ing and seperating the drums in the mix from the bass guitar and other low frequencies. You can tune the top heads a little lower and get great bottom end out of the drum without sacrificing feel with the bottom head tighter. Also, it shortens the sustain, which really helps with floor toms. Sometimes when tuning floor tom heads to the same pitch or lower resonant, the drum just rings forever. Having the bottom heads tuned higher eliminates that. You mentioned Gavin Harrison....he tunes his drums that way, bottom skin higher in pitch. I got a response from him on his thread here on DW about tuning and he outlined the notes he uses and mentioned that he tuned the bottom heads higher. I think you'll have good results, but I guess we'll see. Keep us in the loop!
 

jpipdw

Member
Wow....I've tuned up the 14 and 16 inch and they sound PERFECT.

I replaced the coated emperors I had on the batter side as I couldn't tune them properly - so I figured the heads were bad - turns out I was right!!! You are the man!

Now that I've had such great luck with your tuning method - what notes do you normally tune your 10 and 12 inch rack toms to?

I am very thankful for your tips, you've saved me hours of frustration and I was about to lose my mind thinking I spent all this money on these drums and I can't tune them right!!
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
Ha ha! Yeah baby! That's what I'm talking about! I have my 12" tom tuned to a G on top and an A# on the bottom. You can try that. I would think your 10" tom would sound good 3 to four notes higher than a G, so you're looking at a B flat or B on top and a C# or D on the bottom. Let me know how they sound as a whole when you get them all tuned to your liking. They should sound very musical when you do fills on the toms.
 

jpipdw

Member
Wow - incredible.

As you were responding, I ended up with:

10 inch reso - C, batter - B

12 inch reso - A, batter - G

!!!

Once again, many thanks. I'll set these things up and slap the mics back on them, and post another snippet.

thanks again man, much appreciated.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Interesting that you say you have your reso heads tuned higher....I've been watching John Good's DW tuning tips, and he mentions that he does the opposite and tunes the batter head up to a minor third higher.
.
I don't know why John says this, I totally disagree. Drums sound boingy to me with a lower reso.
 

jpipdw

Member
I'll render down this audio to disk in a bit.

The 12 inch seems to have much more sustain than the other drums. I'll have to fine tune that, but I am more than pleased with the results!!

Burn-4 - it is a collectors series ten by six snare. I just re-positioned the sm57 a bit differently pointing almost straight and covering about an inch or so past the rim over the batter head. You can see some somewhat recent pics on my forum (unfortunate has not taken off)

I have some pics on there that include....yes....me being unhappy with the wrap and myself being impatient, I wanted a natural finish. Tung oil to the rescue!

http://dwdrummerforum.com/dw-collector-s-series-refinish-t14.html
 
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