How to tune your drums and decrease that snare buzz?

JTallis

Junior Member
Hello. As most of you may know, I'm a new drummer... in fact some of you might say I've been playing half a year the way I've progressed but only 1 month.

Now getting to the point, how do you tune your drums? I know the heads cannot be wrinkly/creased but how do you know you've got the right sound? Is it just guess work or is there a specific way for it? With guitar... you can tune however you like I suppose... but there are specific tunings most people like to go by. EG: E standard, Drop D... etc etc.

Secondly, how do you rid that nasty snare buzz? The snare buzz is a drummers way I life I suppose... it's nearly always there but for me, it's exceptionally bad! With the silencers on, it's quite unnoticeable, but I just took them off to get a better sound out my floor tom and boom... it's very noticeable, noisy.. and just horrid.

What's the trick guys?
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Toms http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ9Unab1OzU
Snare http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxm3QunDjUs
Kick http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga8Q12mKYxI

These are a good basic guide to get you started. Once you've tuned your drums a few times, start experimenting. Each drum has at least one sweet spot. You'll learn how to find that later on. For now, just copy Bob's instruction, & take it from there. Tip: Don't worry too much about snare buzz, it's part of the kit sound, & becomes almost obscured in a band mix. If your buzz is excessive, try slacking off the two tension screws either side of the snare wires. Do this both ends of the wires. Half a turn should be enough. Hope you fall in love with drum tuning, it's an important part of a drummer's skillset.
 

matthew

Senior Member
I just read in a drum tuning book the most important factor that cannot be overlooked in the snare buzz problem is to make sure the snares hang parallel to the bottom head.

moutn them properly then you can start to adjust tuning and tightness of the snares.

hope that helps..

surprisingly after reading that i went to my drums and my snares were hanging uneven!
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
Noble & Cooley--Bob Gatzen worked for them for years--sells and uses what they call "cam action snare wires," which are 20-strand snare wires but spaced into thirds: a couple of wires, a gap, a meaty set of wires, a gap, and then the final third of wires. N&C claims that this design, counter to the general strand design, helps to reduce sympathetic vibration/buzzing.

Do a search for "Noble and Cooley cam action snares"--you can purchase them directly from N&C's Web site.
 

jonescrusher

Pioneer Member
Usually, the worst of any sympathetic snare buzz can be tuned out by tweaking the reso head of the offending tom, usually the high tom. This is not always satisfactory as you may lose the required tuning of the tom. Snare buzz has to be tolerated to an extent, you won't notice it in higher volume situations.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
The products above work with varying degrees of effectiveness and can be expensive. But, they may solve your problem. Go for it if you have money to spend on experimentation.

I'd try tuning first. The buzz is caused by sympathetic vibrations. The heads of your drums are more than likely either at similar pitches or close to strong intervals like 4ths and 5ths. Try tuning your snare side head up or down a 1/2 a tone, or try tuning your toms up or down a little, especially the resonant heads. Try both together. You can *reduce* a lot of snare buzz this way. Getting rid of it totally is the Holy Grail. Seek it at your own peril.

BTW, have you ever stood out front of another person's kit and thought "darn snare buzz! I can't hear the pitch of his toms!" I never have, so we have to bear in mind that there is a heap of difference between what we're hearing and what the audience hears. In fact, a little sympathetic vibration often makes the individual pieces of the kit sound bigger.
 

Sjogras

Silver Member
I recently followed Gavin Harrisons advice and cut down to 12 snare strands, and with reso head tuned fairly low I don't get any snare buzz at all. There was buzz from 10" and 12" tom, and a little bit from the BD, I'm really glad I got rid of it :)
 

JTallis

Junior Member
Hey. My snare buzz is still quite noisy however, like mentioned - it's not the case where I can't hear the other drums.

When I play, I hardly notice it. Thanks for your replies :)
 

Witterings

Silver Member
I'd try tuning first. The buzz is caused by sympathetic vibrations. The heads of your drums are more than likely either at similar pitches or close to strong intervals like 4ths and 5ths. Try tuning your snare side head up or down a 1/2 a tone, or try tuning your toms up or down a little, especially the resonant heads. Try both together. You can *reduce* a lot of snare buzz this way. Getting rid of it totally is the Holy Grail. Seek it at your own peril.
I saw a Gavin Harrison video that said pretty much the same as this, it's normally caused when another drum is at a near identical pitch to the snare and it's normally the 1st rack tom.
He tends to tune his 1st tom higher than his snare and 2nd tom lower with the snare in between but did say if you're getting buzz but you paticularily like the sound if the snare then change the pitch of the tom and if you paticularily like the sound of the tom then change the pitch of the snare.
 

RollingStone000

Silver Member
Just a random question, but how does the snare bed look?

I'm not entirely sure what your playing on, but I recall picking up a cheap snare off of ebay a while back, and there wasn't a snare bed cut into it so no matter how I tuned the drum (or the rest of the kit) it would still have an atrocious buzz. One of my friends picked up a Mapex Chris Adler Sig snare (12" x 5.5") and it didn't have a snare bed cut in it either and would buzz all over the place.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Another method that will help, not eliminate, is to losed the four lugs on the snare side head on either side of the snares or snare bed. this will help put the snare is better contact with the head and lessen the buzz.The snare bed is a slightly arced cut in the snare side bearing egde to allow the snares to sit in the depression it makes.
 

daredrummer

Gold Member
Personally I love snare buzz. It helps the snare sound bigger than it really is, but gets cut out in the mix anyway.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
Snare buzz is also an essential component of the sound of a kick drum. The kick always sounds a bit odd without the snare wires engaged.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
I try to eliminate as much sympathetic vibrations as I can. Over the years, I don't recall any of my clients accepting snare buzz with open arms, especially in close miked situations. When loosely miking drums you can be a bit more lenient about the buzz, but to me it's still an unwanted parasite.

Dennis
 

aaajn

Silver Member
Toms http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ9Unab1OzU
Snare http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxm3QunDjUs
Kick http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga8Q12mKYxI

These are a good basic guide to get you started. Once you've tuned your drums a few times, start experimenting. Each drum has at least one sweet spot. You'll learn how to find that later on. For now, just copy Bob's instruction, & take it from there. Tip: Don't worry too much about snare buzz, it's part of the kit sound, & becomes almost obscured in a band mix. If your buzz is excessive, try slacking off the two tension screws either side of the snare wires. Do this both ends of the wires. Half a turn should be enough. Hope you fall in love with drum tuning, it's an important part of a drummer's skillset.
These were a great set of clips. He clarifies a lot of stuff. Thanks for posting.
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
Hehe, i sat up one night and watched just about every vid that guy has on the net, as well as Tommy Igoe's groove lessons just for kicks.

Very good videos.
 

Bull

Gold Member
I have never had a snare buzz issue on my own kits but I've noticed it when playing other people's . I 've always assumed it was because I usually keep my snares tuned pretty high. The resos are cranked. Nothing else is tuned nearly that high.
 

Jim Mattingly

Senior Member
Snare buzz to me is most definitely a pain, to my ears only, it can literally drive me bonkers when it pops up. Usually the first tom just being out of tune or both snare and tom. I have followed Gavin' advice for many years without even knowing it. I first tune my snare to the sound I am looking for, because lets face it, along with the kick the most important sound(s) on your kit, it is for me anyway. I then tune the first and second toms around the snare, third tom has never been an issue with buzz. Once again I believe it is a personal preference issue, we all have different ears for tuning.
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
I just posted this comment elsewhere before seeing this old thread, but I thought I'd share Gavin Harrison's method for eliminating snare buzz:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxSHmg5Nkf8

If you scroll towards the end of the short clip here, Gavin explains that he uses Puresound wires that he cuts down to eight (8) strands--8!--which, he claims, helps to eliminate snare buzz by having fewer wires to vibrate along the outer edges.

Has anyone tried using this method? The smallest amount of strands I've seen available, generally, is 12. Most snares have 20 as a standard.
 
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