How to keep drum from going out of tune while playing?

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
This may have been covered before, so my apologies if it has.

I'm having some trouble keeping my drums in tune while I play. Are there any devices, washers, etc. that I can use to keep my toms from detuning?
 

cbphoto

Diamond Member



I have and use the Tama and Gibraltar products. I prefer the Tama lock ‘cuz of its detents. The Gibraltar have round holes and once you’ve put on on a lug, it’s formed that way. I’ve not tried the Gauger product.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Ive never had that problem. Tama Superstar and StarClassics stay in tune forever. You must be a really hard hitter

Not really. I gig a lot, and my drums (Ludwig Classic Maples) are stored in a trailer, in a road case, in soft cases. Temperatures vary A LOT throughout the week, and when I get them out to play while they are being stored, I always have to tune something. Even though I tune before I play, the drums will either continue to cool off or heat up at whatever venue I'm at and will detune. For example, if I go from a hot trailer to a cold air-conditioned room, they will detune. I'm sure different humidity at various places has an effect as well. There's a little more control when I play my vintage Ludwigs in terms of temperature or whatnot, but the rack tom has a tendency to flatten out a little while playing.
 

1 hit wonder

Well-known Member
Just wondering if the plastic heads being hot and cold are going to do that regardless of lug locks?
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
Just wondering if the plastic heads being hot and cold are going to do that regardless of lug locks?
No. Heat and humidity dont affect the head, they affect the shell. The wood expands and contracts depending on humidity and temperature. When the wood expands, the pitch of the head goes up. When the wood contracts, the pitch of the head goes down.
 

classikdrummr

Active Member
Not really. I gig a lot, and my drums (Ludwig Classic Maples) are stored in a trailer, in a road case, in soft cases. Temperatures vary A LOT throughout the week, and when I get them out to play while they are being stored, I always have to tune something. Even though I tune before I play, the drums will either continue to cool off or heat up at whatever venue I'm at and will detune. For example, if I go from a hot trailer to a cold air-conditioned room, they will detune. I'm sure different humidity at various places has an effect as well. There's a little more control when I play my vintage Ludwigs in terms of temperature or whatnot, but the rack tom has a tendency to flatten out a little while playing.
Makes Sense Temp variations can cause tuning issues. Question for you.. Do you recommend Hard Cases? i store my drums in the garage , and it gets close to100 Degrees in summer. Should I spend the Money on Hard Cases?
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Makes Sense Temp variations can cause tuning issues. Question for you.. Do you recommend Hard Cases? i store my drums in the garage , and it gets close to100 Degrees in summer. Should I spend the Money on Hard Cases?
Hard cases will help keep keep drums dry but I don't think they will keep them any cooler.

I use both hard cases and bags. I use bags when I use my really large drum case (everything goes in there except hardware. The cases keeps them from rubbing together and does a great job. Bags also help with scratches coming in and out of doorways. I use hard cases whenever I take all of my drums in the back of my pickup truck (with tonneau cover). If they slide around back there, they aren't gonna get hurt or wet if the cover leaks at all. Also, if they are dropped, they protect much better. The main con is how heavy and expensive they can be.
 

classikdrummr

Active Member
Hard cases will help keep keep drums dry but I don't think they will keep them any cooler.

I use both hard cases and bags. I use bags when I use my really large drum case (everything goes in there except hardware. The cases keeps them from rubbing together and does a great job. Bags also help with scratches coming in and out of doorways. I use hard cases whenever I take all of my drums in the back of my pickup truck (with tonneau cover). If they slide around back there, they aren't gonna get hurt or wet if the cover leaks at all. Also, if they are dropped, they protect much better. The main con is how heavy and expensive they can be.
Thanks for the feedback Brother
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
No. Heat and humidity dont affect the head, they affect the shell. The wood expands and contracts depending on humidity and temperature. When the wood expands, the pitch of the head goes up. When the wood contracts, the pitch of the head goes down.
I'm not so sure about that. I don't have anything but anecdotal evidence, but I've played a couple of gigs where the drums ended up being in direct sunlight on hot days, and the pitches of the toms definitely dropped throughout those gigs. There was enough change that the heads even felt softer when I hit them.

I have no way of measuring exactly what caused the heads to detune, but they did, without a doubt.

I always felt the claim that plastic drumheads were impervious to weather was like the belief that stainless steel never rusts. Both are far better at resisting the elements than their predecessors under normal operating conditions, but extremes *can* affect them.
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
I'm not so sure about that. I don't have anything but anecdotal evidence, but I've played a couple of gigs where the drums ended up being in direct sunlight on hot days, and the pitches of the toms definitely dropped throughout those gigs. There was enough change that the heads even felt softer when I hit them.
A hot day can still be dry, the desert for example. Heat does not always equal expand either. Plastics shrink when hot. Windowfilm comes to mind.

To find out for sure I suppose we can put a head in direct sunlight and see what happens. It would have to be measured tonally before and after.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
A hot day can still be dry, the desert for example. Heat does not always equal expand either. Plastics shrink when hot. Windowfilm comes to mind.

To find out for sure I suppose we can put a head in direct sunlight and see what happens. It would have to be measured tonally before and after.
Yeah, the shrinkwrap stuff is a great example that points out the fact that different plastics respond differently.

Another example I thought of that is drum and temperature related is the time my buddy was playing a winter festival gig. Outdoor stage with inadequate heating. It was well below freezing. His snare reso head popped. A big split from side to side, perpendicular to the snare wires. Usually when a snare reso breaks it's along a bearing edge or at a spot where the snare wires have worn, but this one wasn't. He showed me, between sets, because he was amazed. He'd never broken a snare reso head at all, and this one basically just popped spontaneously. We both figured it was due to the extreme cold.

It would actually be a great deal of fun to go all myth-busters on this stuff, and thoroughly test all these questions we have.
 
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loach71

Senior Member
I use knurled, circular brass jam nuts on the tension rods. McMaster-Carr supplies these jam nuts. The tension rods on most of my drums are 1/4 inch diameter with a thread pitch of 20 turns per inch.
 
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C. Dave Run

Gold Member
It would actually be a great deal of fun to go all myth-busters on this stuff, and thoroughly test all these questions we have.
Absolutely. Then we can really get into the nitty gritty, like how many btu's to raise the head pitch one step in a 250 cubic foot room lol.
 

pinstripe

Active Member
Something I've noticed is that steel tuning lug inserts seem to be more common now versus the traditional brass. I wonder if brass might be grabbier making a tuning rod less likely to slip during hard playing. If that's the case, then maybe upgrading from steel to brass inserts could improve tuning stability? Pure speculation FWIW...
 

cbphoto

Diamond Member
Based on my experience in my poorly insulated studio/shed, when it’s very cold the Evans heads feel like a Formica countertop. They sound very artificial. Not fun to play. When it’s 90° inside and 85% humidity, they feel and sound normal/good.

This summer, my Evans coated G14 heads on my toms did not need much retuning since temps warmed up.

Way back when, I had a 13” Slingerland tom with an actual calf skin head. That’s how it came from the pawn shop. That thing would be floppy sad when it rained and glass hard when there was Santa Ana conditions. It broke during a dry spell and when I replaced it with a Remo coated 1-ply I never had another problem. I thought Remo was a genius.
 
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