Gavin Harrison here!

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Also Gavin one more question, what are your thoughts on modern metal drummers like Tomas Haake and Matt Halpern?
and who would you prefer Bonham or Peart? if you don’t mind me asking.
Both Tomas and Matt are excellent players. I'm less familiar with Matt's work than I am with Tomas.

I can't really comment about John Bonham or Neil Peart. They both played in very different bands. Neither of which I really listened to when I was growing up but they both suited their bands very well.

cheers
Gavin
 

drummer.jura

New member
Hello Gavin!

Your drum kit sounds perfect for most of us. How do you tune your resonant drum head against the batter side? I see your toms have e-a-c-e-a tuning. But what about snare and bass drum? Are there some secrets to tuning them?
Thanks for your reply.
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hello Gavin!

Your drum kit sounds perfect for most of us. How do you tune your resonant drum head against the batter side? I see your toms have e-a-c-e-a tuning. But what about snare and bass drum? Are there some secrets to tuning them?
Thanks for your reply.
the last time I checked I was hearing them like this...(bottom head pitch is always higher than the top)
8" tom. Top head = E. Bottom head = G
10" tom. Top head = B. Bottom head = C#
12" tom. Top head = F#. Bottom head = A
15" tom. Top head = B. Bottom head = C#
18" tom. Top head = G. Bottom head = A

they may be a bit flat or sharp or have even moved as far as a semi-tone. It is a constantly moving thing as the drums get played and the heads get worn.

I don't tune the bass drum to a specific note - but just follow my ears until I think it sounds pretty good. It does have padding inside and so that negates the chance of really recognising a pitch from it. The snare drum tuning is always moving as I hit it pretty hard - and I tend to tune the top head to suit the song. The bottom head of the snare is on reasonably tight - but not at bursting point.

I don't use any gadgets or devices or even reference a piano (or something) when I'm tuning the drums. I guess I have just done it so many times there is a lot of instinct involved in the process. However the pitch of the drums is really only a part of the overall picture - that includes 'how' you hit them, and 'how' you balance them whilst you're playing. Then there's a whole load of other variables such as the room, the mics, the mic positions, Phase alignment, EQ, Reverb, Compression and having a really clear idea of what you are trying to achieve.

best of luck
Gavin
 
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Hello Gavin, my name is Samuel and I'm from France.

I'm currently struggling to tune my drums : they are pearl master custom mmx : 10", 12", 13", 16", 22".

I was aiming for a sound similar to yours : The reso heads are all old but since they're reso I haven't changed them (it's a second hand drumset).
On top of toms I use remo vintage emperor coated, and on the kick I use a remo powerstroke 3, with the sonor beater and an evans kickpad to protect the head.

What happens when you go bigger in size of toms ? I have noticed that the bigger I go, the less I like to crank the head. My 10" and 12" are tuned to fingertight +1/2 turn and my 13" and 16" are just fingertight. Is it something you do ?

Do you tune all your reso heads the same ? Or does it depend of the tom ? I enjoy the sound of my 10" and 12" but I just can't get the same feel out of the 13" and 16"...

Do you still muffle your bass drum just with a heavy pillow ? If yes, is it touching both heads ? Or even leaning on the reso head ? Any advice on bass drum muffling ?

Sorry if that's a lot of questions ^^'
Thanks in advance !

*goes back to eating cheese on a baguette*
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hello Gavin, my name is Samuel and I'm from France.

I'm currently struggling to tune my drums : they are pearl master custom mmx : 10", 12", 13", 16", 22".

I was aiming for a sound similar to yours : The reso heads are all old but since they're reso I haven't changed them (it's a second hand drumset).
On top of toms I use remo vintage emperor coated, and on the kick I use a remo powerstroke 3, with the sonor beater and an evans kickpad to protect the head.

What happens when you go bigger in size of toms ? I have noticed that the bigger I go, the less I like to crank the head. My 10" and 12" are tuned to fingertight +1/2 turn and my 13" and 16" are just fingertight. Is it something you do ?

Do you tune all your reso heads the same ? Or does it depend of the tom ? I enjoy the sound of my 10" and 12" but I just can't get the same feel out of the 13" and 16"...

Do you still muffle your bass drum just with a heavy pillow ? If yes, is it touching both heads ? Or even leaning on the reso head ? Any advice on bass drum muffling ?

Sorry if that's a lot of questions ^^'
Thanks in advance !

*goes back to eating cheese on a baguette*
Hi Samuel

can you give me a bit more info? What heads are on the reso sides of the toms? What are the depths of the drums?
Personally, I don't tune by 'finger tight +' method. It's a bit too random for me.

Certainly I tune the reso heads differently between the toms.

Regarding muffling of the bass drum. For the past few years I have been using KickPro Pillow https://kickpropillow.com/ plus a small pillow that lays behind it. That is because I use internal bass drum mics and you need to eliminate the 'standing wave' "ping" sound that you can get from an empty drum when the mic is inside. The second pillow sometimes touches the front head - or I use a device (currently being developed for manufacturing) to keep the pillow away from the front head - if I want the front head to ring.

enjoy your baguette !!!

cheers
Gavin
 
Hi Samuel

can you give me a bit more info? What heads are on the reso sides of the toms? What are the depths of the drums?
Personally, I don't tune by 'finger tight +' method. It's a bit too random for me.

Certainly I tune the reso heads differently between the toms.

Regarding muffling of the bass drum. For the past few years I have been using KickPro Pillow https://kickpropillow.com/ plus a small pillow that lays behind it. That is because I use internal bass drum mics and you need to eliminate the 'standing wave' "ping" sound that you can get from an empty drum when the mic is inside. The second pillow sometimes touches the front head - or I use a device (currently being developed for manufacturing) to keep the pillow away from the front head - if I want the front head to ring.

enjoy your baguette !!!

cheers
Gavin
Hey Gavin !
I did some measurements :
Tom tom : 10"x8" (Top Remo vintage coated, Reso Remo clear ambassador)
Tom tom : 12"x9" (Top Remo vintage coated, Reso Remo clear ambassador)
Tom tom : 13"x10" (Top Remo vintage coated, Reso Remo clear ambassador)
Floor tom : 16"x14" (Top Remo vintage coated, Reso Remo Pinstripe clear)
Bass drum : 22"x18" (Top Remo Powerstroke 3 clear, Reso Remo Master head)
I plan on replacing the pinstripe with a clear ambassador, and to pierce the remo master head with a 5" hole.

I placed a heavy blanket inside the bass drum wich muffles it(it touches both heads). I'm getting close to you, but not quite there(I'm using white mist and sonor performance drum videos as my references). I don't know how to get closer.
It doesn't need more muffling clearly. How is your bass drum tuned ? I just did tuned it finger tight, do you actually crank it on the top or reso side ?

After cleaning the whole drumset, I put the heads back on and of course, it sounds terrible because every head is just put on finger tight.
For toms, do you tune the top head before putting the reso head on ? It would make a lot of sense, because I can't tune proprely the top one with the reso head on. I just tried and failed.

Thanks for yesterday, I couldn't answer quickly because I have no clue how to mesure depth in a drumset.

*stops eating baguette and cheese because of a diet, but clearly still loves them*
 

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Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hey Gavin !
I did some measurements :
Tom tom : 10"x8" (Top Remo vintage coated, Reso Remo clear ambassador)
Tom tom : 12"x9" (Top Remo vintage coated, Reso Remo clear ambassador)
Tom tom : 13"x10" (Top Remo vintage coated, Reso Remo clear ambassador)
Floor tom : 16"x14" (Top Remo vintage coated, Reso Remo Pinstripe clear)
Bass drum : 22"x18" (Top Remo Powerstroke 3 clear, Reso Remo Master head)
I plan on replacing the pinstripe with a clear ambassador, and to pierce the remo master head with a 5" hole.

I placed a heavy blanket inside the bass drum wich muffles it(it touches both heads). I'm getting close to you, but not quite there(I'm using white mist and sonor performance drum videos as my references). I don't know how to get closer.
It doesn't need more muffling clearly. How is your bass drum tuned ? I just did tuned it finger tight, do you actually crank it on the top or reso side ?

After cleaning the whole drumset, I put the heads back on and of course, it sounds terrible because every head is just put on finger tight.
For toms, do you tune the top head before putting the reso head on ? It would make a lot of sense, because I can't tune proprely the top one with the reso head on. I just tried and failed.

Thanks for yesterday, I couldn't answer quickly because I have no clue how to mesure depth in a drumset.

*stops eating baguette and cheese because of a diet, but clearly still loves them*
Hi Samuel

it looks like you have sensible drum sizes and good head choice (apart from the Pinstripe on the reso side of the floor tom).
I always tune the reso head first. Also make sure that you have completely muted the opposite head by placing the drum on your lap so you can only hear the head you are working on.
As far as getting them close to the tuning I use - you could match the 10" and 12" and just adapt the others as they bigger.

here are clear recordings of my isolated heads

https://soundcloud.com/user-405179938%2Fsets%2Fdec-2020-tom-tuning
in these recordings the drums were resting on a large towel so that the head on the other side of drum is not heard. I play each side and reference a pitch - in case you have a piano or something close to hand. The pitches that drums make are not easy to hear because of all the complex overtones. At the end of each recording I hit the drum with a stick. The mic is a vocal mic (Shure SM58) and quite a distance from the head - so you can hear that the lower drums sound pretty thin because of that.

also here's a video I made a few years ago about the Sonor Protean snare drum - but it does show my method of tuning with two keys...


Bass drum tuning is not easy to recognise but I certainly have the batter head on a lot tighter than 'finger tight'.

best of luck !
Gavin
 
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Hi Samuel

it looks like you have sensible drum sizes and good head choice (apart from the Pinstripe on the reso side of the floor tom).
I always tune the reso head first. Also make sure that you have completely muted the opposite head by placing the drum on your lap so you can only hear the head you are working on.
As far as getting them close to the tuning I use - you could match the 10" and 12" and just adapt the others as they bigger.

here are clear recordings of my isolated heads

https://soundcloud.com/user-405179938%2Fsets%2Ftom-tuning-dec-2020
in these recordings the drums were resting on a large towel so that the head on the other side of drum is not heard. I play each side and reference a pitch - in case you have a piano or something close to hand. The pitches that drums make are not easy to hear because of all the complex overtones. At the end of each recording I hit the drum with a stick. The mic is a vocal mic (Shure SM58) and quite a distance from the head - so you can hear that the lower drums sound pretty thin because of that.

also here's a video I made a few years ago about the Sonor Protean snare drum - but it does show my method of tuning with two keys...


Bass drum tuning is not easy to recognise but I certainly have the batter head on a lot tighter than 'finger tight'.

best of luck !
Gavin
Hey Gavin !
Thank a lot for the recordings, unfortunately, it says it is an empty playlist on the soudcloud, I don't know why. I asked some friends to test the link, and they have the same problem...

About the protean snare drum video -I forgot about the tuning part, my bad. Luckly for me, I have bought 2 singature drum keys a while ago, so I'll have no trouble trying to follow you instructions.
I'll test my bass drum tomorrow with a higher tuning. Do the soundcloud videos work for you ?
Thanks !
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Hi Gavin,

I'm pleased you got the files sorted. Most coincidentally, & FWIW, my default top & bottom head pitch relationships pretty much mirror yours.

Many newer players (absolutely including myself way back in the day) will gravitate to lower head tensions in search of that elusive recorded sound, not realising that higher tensions (especially the bottom head) are required to "excite" the instrument.

I'd like to add my voice to those grateful for your participation here, & hoping you + those dear to you have a contented festive season.

My fondest regards,

Andy.
 

Botiarazman

Well-known member
Hi Gavin!

Wanted to ask you about your drum parts. I'm a lyricist as well as a drummer, and so I was wondering about whether you take into consideration the lyrics of a song when writing the drum part. Do you think about the themes and emotions, do you try to understand and analyze them or do you only write to the music, also does your approach vary from project to project?

Thx and merry Christmas (to you and to everyone else reading this)!
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi Gavin!

Wanted to ask you about your drum parts. I'm a lyricist as well as a drummer, and so I was wondering about whether you take into consideration the lyrics of a song when writing the drum part. Do you think about the themes and emotions, do you try to understand and analyze them or do you only write to the music, also does your approach vary from project to project?

Thx and merry Christmas (to you and to everyone else reading this)!
That's an interesting question. Ideally I'd like to know what the lyrics are about (if it's not exactly obvious from the words that they are singing) but I work on SO many songs where (at the time of the drum recording) the lyrics are not finished or haven't even been written. I do insist that if they haven't written the lyrics yet that they record some kind of vocals (even if it's it's just "la la la") so that I can hear where the melody is - and the exact rhythm of the melody. Then I just need to understand 'how' dynamic they are singing it (super soft / aggressive etc) to be able to know how best to approach it from a drum point of view. To be honest - if the lyrics are about unrequited love or that the local shop has run out of toilet paper - it probably won't influence how I compose the drum patterns - as long as I have a clear picture to work to. Most times I'll just ask the writer to get it closer to a finished thing before I work on it.

cheers
Gavin
 

bjarne-jepsen

New member
Hi Gavin. I hope that you are enjoying Christmas.

I think that it is safe to say, that you have reached a level that quite a lot of drummers would give their right arm - hmmm, for a drummer that would probably not be the best career advice - to be on. Besides an insane amount of practicing and respect for the drums as an musical instrument, how do you stay "hungry"? What keeps you going and motivated? Are you drawing on inspiration from other genres/drummers or are you able to evolve by yourself?

I saw you (with Pineapple Thief) and Morgan Aagren (with Devin Townsend) right before COVID-19 decided to enter the stage. And I remember that after the shows, I was wondering how on earth you guys are able to keep the inspiration and grow as drummers. I know that you have been connected to progressive rock for quite some years now, but do you have as musically diverse interests as Morgan...whom I know is also very much into fusion-jazzy projects?

All the best from Copenhagen Denmark, and thank you very much for all of your wonderful contributions to the music that I am listening to.

All the best
Bjarne
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
HI Bjarne

I think what keeps me motivated the most are the projects that I'm involved with. I'm in a happy place working with The Pineapple Thief and the creative freedom that it gives me. Same with the new record with Antoine Fafard. I can do whatever I think is right on the instrument. There are some other musical projects I'm involved in (such as King Crimson) that I have the same feeling about. Regarding outside influence - I'm sure I hear things that other musicians play that creep into my own playing in one way or another - it's not necessarily other drummers - it could be other instruments too. Plus lots of practise and improvising help me discover new things.

I guess I'm an eternal student of the instrument. It seems endlessly fascinating to me.

cheers
Gavin
 

bjarne-jepsen

New member
Thank you very much for your reply Gavin. It is inspiring to read how connected and dedicated you are to your instrument...still eager to explore.

I didn't know that much about Pineapple Thief before I saw the band in Copenhagen 2 years ago. And...what an excellent surprise that was. I look forward to listen to your collaboration with Antoine Fafard

All the best in the year to come.

B
 
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alexson

New member
He is the best and amazing English musician and known for playing with the progressive rock bands Porcupine Tree and King Crimson.
 
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