Hi guys. I cant tune

TomFleety

Junior Member
So for the last 3 months i have had my first acoustic drum kit and basically i am terrible at tuning. I bought the digital drum tuner but they all read the same. I play metal/grunge/rock but my drums ring out too much and the same with the snare drum i can hear the snare beads vibrating. I watched videos but i still dont get it. Many thnks in advance if anybody could help me. ;)
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
You have a lot of work ahead of you :).

You might search for The Drum Tuning Bible I have seen somewhere or search Drum Tuning in this forum.

The only thing I know is that the tuning of the toms can make the snare buzz badly. That had never occurred to me until someone showed me
 

Otto

Platinum Member
This is agreat chance for you to experiment not just with tuning but with playing so that you get different sounds that you might think you can only get with tuning.

Try leaving the stick on the head a little longer, or pressing just a lttle as you take the stick off the head...or softening the impact by relaxing your grip a little on imact...or... etc... use your imagination!

Loads of what a durm sounds like is in how you play it...be sure to experiment....alot!

You are in for a treat when you find you can get great sounds from just about any tuning!

Have fun!!!
 

opentune

Platinum Member
If you type 'tuning' in the search function you get pages of threads, ....simply pick a title that suits you. Lots of links to youtubes to get started.
Warning: You need an afternoon to learn and experiment to get to know your drums. No shortcuts really. Enjoy.
 

williamsbclontz

Silver Member
It took me about 10 years to actually get good at tuning my drums and getting the sound I want. It just takes a lot of practice, look up YouTube videos there's tons of different ways people tune their drums and there's really no wrong way to do it

You'd be surprised by how much respect and attention you'll get for being able to tune your drums good. You can be worse than a lot of drummers around town but if your drums sound better than theirs people will recognize
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My suggestion is to tune with 2 keys opposite each other.

The goal is to have the head parallel with the bearing edge....on all 360 degrees of the drum. Not lower anywhere, all even. Parallel.

2 keys is much easier because you can feel the evenness or un-evenness of the head tension. Obviously the goal is to have them feel even all the way around the drum. Start there. Even tension at all lugs.

For advanced tuning, you have to tune the top and bottom heads to compliment, not compete, with one another

3 basic options:

Batter and reso the same tension
Batter tighter than reso
Reso tighter than batter

The first step is hard enough to get right. Get good at getting heads seated friggin perfectly parallel to the bearing edge. That should take some time. When you're good at installing an even head, then tackle the intervals between top and bottom heads.

It took me literally hundreds of hours learning to tune without tuning aids to get good at it.
 

BradGunnerSGT

Silver Member
Rob Brown on Youtube has some good tuning videos. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChR2UZr__AZjYV1dHGUp-Mg

Also the Sounds Like a Drum channel is really good. They use a single mic placed about "ear height" away from the drum to try to get a good representation of what a drum does and should sound like when sitting in the room. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYTmGAbCD30Mr1z_pgp3ypw

One thing to remember is that drums in person never sound like they do on the record or live through a PA. This goes double when you are sitting at the drums instead of 10 to 15 to 30 feet away from the drums while the rest of the band is playing, too.

The snare will ring, you will hear sympathetic buzz from the snare wires, your bass player will hit a certain note and the floor tom will hum a little bit. Chant that out loud one thousand times.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I agree. I wonder if it is an issue with truly not being able to tune, or just a false expectation of what a real drum should sound like.

Drums are loud and messy in real life. That perfect, isolated, concise "boop!" of a sound heard on recordings isn't what ANY drum sounds like when you are in the room.
 

Trigger

Senior Member
I agree. I wonder if it is an issue with truly not being able to tune, or just a false expectation of what a real drum should sound like.

Drums are loud and messy in real life. That perfect, isolated, concise "boop!" of a sound heard on recordings isn't what ANY drum sounds like when you are in the room.
This should be repeated. Drums in real life arent going to sound anything like recorded drums. It took me way too long to realise this.

But yeah if you want a good rock sound just buy some Remo Pinstripes and tune them relatively low.
 

Groov-E

Silver Member
Sure you can.

Start now and practice until you get it right.

Kind of like everything drum related.

Keep calm and tune on.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
But yeah if you want a good rock sound just buy some Remo Pinstripes and tune them relatively low.
So how does someone who admittedly can't tune do this?

TomFleety, try counting your drumkey rotations. Finger tight at first, then use the key. Use two keys like Uncle Larry suggested. It will make tuning easier and make understanding how tuning works easier as well. Be consistent with your turns. If you tighten 1 lug 2 complete turns (720 degrees), tighten them all 2 complete turns. Don't worry that the lugs may feel different in their tensions. If the drum is round and the bearing edge is level, the head will seat itself flat and fairly even when all the lugs are tightened evenly. Then tap at each lug to dial in the sound. Everything must be the same to remain consistent.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
So for the last 3 months i have had my first acoustic drum kit and basically i am terrible at tuning. I bought the digital drum tuner but they all read the same. I play metal/grunge/rock but my drums ring out too much and the same with the snare drum i can hear the snare beads vibrating. I watched videos but i still dont get it. Many thnks in advance if anybody could help me. ;)
1st up, if your digital tuner isn't registering differences in lug frequencies, you need to go back to basics with the tuner instructions. You're obviously doing something very wrong, or the tuner is malfunctioning.

Tuning aids aside, here's a basic "visual" way of tuning to the low sound you're likely chasing from your description:

a/ Loosen off all the screws on both heads until they're not even contacting the hoop.

b/ Press on the exact centre of the head with your finger or thumb.

c/ Screw down each screw until it just contacts the hoop / you feel the slightest resistance. Do this on opposite screw positions until all are barely touching the hoop.

d/ Still with your finger pressing the centre of the head, tension each screw as evenly as you can, using opposite positions, about 1/4 turn at a time, & watch what happens to the wrinkles in the head.

e/ Keep repeating this whilst keeping a strong pressure on the centre of the head. All the while you're shooting for keeping those wrinkles completely even around the circumference of the head - it should look like the spokes on a wheel. With good finger pressure, if the wrinkles disappear near to one or two screws, back them off until the wrinkles reappear, & are even in both depth & direction to the rest - then continue.

f/ On the batter head, keep a firm pressure on the centre of the head, & adjust evenly until the wrinkles are nearly gone.

g/ Now press really hard to encourage those wrinkles to show up, with your thumb if necessary, & continue until the wrinkles are just about still there, but absolutely even.

Repeat the same process for the resonant head, but finally adjust a stage further until all the wrinkles are gone. It's important that this is done gradually in stages, & critical that you started off with that even contact of screws around the hoop.

This will get you into a basic low tuning position. It's a method that's used when hearing the drum is impossible (like an emergency head change during a gig - just to get you by), & it's also a great head "seating" regime from which to move forward. It's much more difficult to do on coated heads. According to the finger / thumb pressure you applied, & the thickness of your heads, adjust up or down from that point to suit, in very small increments evenly across all screws.

This isn't just a starter method, it's the regime I use on every head change, & I've been doing this a long time.
 
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Erberderber

Senior Member
This maybe an odd thing to say, but as you are new to drumming, you may not be aware that what you're hearing is what a drum kit actually sounds like. Maybe your tuning is fine but you may be expecting to hear what you hear on tracks by your favourite bands. Maybe this is the first time you have actually heard drums being played raw from behind the kit with no other musucians, no miking and no effects such as compression EQ and reverb. Try getting another person to play your drums together with other musicians and listen from around 5-10 metres away. You may find that they sound totally different. Also take into consideration the room you're playing in. Does it have carpet on the floor or is it hardwood or concrete? There are so many more factors other than tuning.
 

Gottliver

Senior Member
As always, lots of great info here. Please allow me to add to it.

Assuming your drums are of good quality and your heads are NEW, you should be able to dial in a good sound with relative ease.

Do remember that as others have said, sympathetic snare buzz is normal and to be expected, it’s inaudible during play.

Excessive tom sustain is normal as well and inaudible during play. If it bugs you, you can add a moon gel to deaden both the tom sound and its sustain. You CANNOT do one without the other. If you want a big fat tom, you’re going to have to live with the sustain.

My tuning tip is simple, choose the right heads for your music/sound. Low tuned for metal, choose thicker heads like a G14, G2, EC2S or the Remo equivalents.

G1 or Ambassors for the reso head is pretty sandard.

Remove both heads and tighten all the screws in you drum. Wipe down the bearing edges and find a sort place to lay the drum, couch, pillow, carpet et

Next, install them and finger tighten the tension rods in an opposing lug star pattern (nothing new here).
NEXT apply pressure with the palm of your hand above each tension rod and tighten the lug to remove slack from the head. Do this is an opposing lug star pattern. Now hit it, sound good? Probably not.
NEXT increase the tension by 1/8-1/4 of a turn, use 2 tuning keys and do this to opposing lugs in a star pattern. Check the pitch of each lug and adjust
Do the same thing with reso head but bring it up at least to 1/2-3/4 turns.

You will have to play with the interval between the reso and batter head. At first try raising the batter until you get the sound you want.

It will take you awhile to figure it out so have fun doing it.
 

sacco

Senior Member
Oh, and you know what? This will be a never-ending story! Like most of us you will struggle with tuning for the rest of your (drumming) life! You will always find that you could have done better, that the sound of your toms could be slightly more / less open, that your bass drum is too / not enough boomy, that your snare has too much / not enough ring, that ... Not to say what will happen every time you will set up your kit in a new room or on a new stage: well, these will be among the most frustrating moments of your musical life, believe me!

But there is a good new: you can learn how to tune your drums, it takes time but at the end you will, as most of us, understand a few basic rules about how a drum resonates and reacts to different types of heads and different types of tuning! At least I hope so ... Just kidding! Don't give up, if I was able to make my drums sound decently I am sure you will make yours sound fantastic!
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Well are you sure you can't tune? I mean have you recorded your drums after tuning-sometimes what sounds bad behind kit sounds great in front-and vice versa. Andy offered a great suggestion putting your finger in middle-now I use by drum dial in center to do that-then move to edges to evenly tune each lug. Most likely, as most beginning tuners do, you are concentrating a lot on batter head, but it's the reso-batter interaction you don't want to miss. That reso head contributes way more to pitch and sustain than you realize-and you'll find tiny adjustment of either will dial it in. Course I'm terrible at tuning now cause I can't hear well-so I use a pitch app to help me hear and tune it.
 

hippy chip

Silver Member
I have 2 pieces of advice---1) go to tunadrum.com, and follow the directions (you have to read it---no videos) 2) realize that if you are tuning your drums to sound good from the throne they most likely sound like crap from out front, and definitely sound like crap in a band setting!
 

Icetech

Gold Member
So for the last 3 months i have had my first acoustic drum kit and basically i am terrible at tuning. I bought the digital drum tuner but they all read the same. I play metal/grunge/rock but my drums ring out too much and the same with the snare drum i can hear the snare beads vibrating. I watched videos but i still dont get it. Many thnks in advance if anybody could help me. ;)
I spent a year when i started. every sunday i would de-tune my entire kit and re-tune it.. over and over just to get it down.. it's honestly just practice and learning like everything else..

As far as the ringing goes, the best tip i ever got (thanks Jared) was pitch match your lugs.. once you get near the tuning you want make sure the lugs match each other as much as possible.. so like tap around the snare head a inch or so in.. listen for ones that are too low or high, make small adjustements. that pretty much cured my ringing issues.. although i like a little ring in my snare now and noisey snares.. good luck!

P.S. not fan of drumdial my self, it measures tension not tone, which can be different. i have a tunebot but only used it like 5 times.. just practice and it will come..
 
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