Jazz guys - bop kit tuning?

gmiller598

Senior Member
Do you guys tune your drums to specific notes?

Right now, I have my bass tuned to an F, floor tom to a C, 8x12 tuned to an F and the snare to A flat in an F minor chord with the resonant drums basically a perfect 5th between the bass and floor tom and a perfect 4th between the 2 mounted toms.

The tuning has some good resonance but I sort of feel its a bit low for bop tuning. I'm debating on raising it up a step to a G on the bass and adjusting the other drums accordingly.

Does anyone do any other sorts of alternate tuning that gets the drums into a higher bop range, yet still uses specific notes?
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I simply crank them up until I hear what I feel is the right sounds.
I don't go as high as some drummers do.
I set the top and bottom heads on my toms at about the same pitch.
The front bass head is higher than the batter.
I recently bought an early 50's Gretsch Broadkaster Bop kit.
I installed real calfskin heads from earthtone on the entire kit.
These heads have modern style aluminum rims so I replaced the original Stick Chopper hoops with modern Stick Saver replica flanged hoops. This allowed the heads to fit perfectly in the hoops.
I played the kit last Monday night with my Jazz band. I was totally blown away!
I felt like I was in a jazz club in the 1950's. I heard that sound that I have heard on old recordings from the Bop era.
The warm attack with the soft ring of the drums was so soothing to my ears.
 
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RickP

Gold Member
I tune my bass,toms and snare to fourths. Think of the tune "I've got Rhythm" or "Here comes the bride". I always tuen the toms and snare from the lowest note up, so you don't end up getting a choked mounted tom. I had always used clear resonant side heads on my toms and recently changed over to coated resonant sides and was quite pleased with the sound and will continue on with the coated resonant sides from now on. They add a little more control and warmth to the sound.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I always tuen the toms and snare from the lowest note up, so you don't end up getting a choked mounted tom.
Yes, choking the high tom can be a problem. I start by tuning the high tom to the highest pitch that I can get out of it before it chokes out. I then back it down slightly and fine tune it until it sounds good. I tune the floor and snare to be in harmony with the mounted tom. I also adjust the high tom so that sympathetic snare buzz is reduced. Not an easy task sometimes :)
 

taiko

Senior Member
Do you guys tune your drums to specific notes?

Right now, I have my bass tuned to an F, floor tom to a C, 8x12 tuned to an F and the snare to A flat in an F minor chord with the resonant drums basically a perfect 5th between the bass and floor tom and a perfect 4th between the 2 mounted toms.

The tuning has some good resonance but I sort of feel its a bit low for bop tuning. I'm debating on raising it up a step to a G on the bass and adjusting the other drums accordingly.

Does anyone do any other sorts of alternate tuning that gets the drums into a higher bop range, yet still uses specific notes?

I used to tune my drums next to my piano and tune to a specific note. I've stopped doing that. Now I simply tune each drum to a pitch that sounds good and then adjust to get a good harmonic feel for the kit. Usually, the top and bottom heads are about the same, but I don't get too worried about this. Basically, I rely on my ear to find a good sound for each drum and then make minor adjustments to the entire kit to make it sound good as a whole. This ends up giving me intervals of thirds or fourths, normally.

I would not be too concerned about getting just the right note for each drum. It doesn't matter that much. I prefer to think of the drum kit as an instrument as a whole that requires careful listening to the relationships among the drums. It's sort of like tuning a piano. If you ever watch a tuner who just uses a machine and tunes each note to what the machine tells him, then you know he isn't any good. It's ok to start out that way, but a good tuner will then listen and play the instrument and make adjustments across the keyboard. It's a long way across the 88 keys and it is necessary to do some compromising across the entire instrument to get it to sound good.

In other words, I would say don't worry about getting the right note. Worry about getting the right sound. Listen, listen, listen and find a good overall harmonic relationship among the drums in your particular kit that works well and sounds good.

And last thing--there is no right way to tune a bop/jazz kit (or any other). If you listen to a lot of jazz drummers, some will tune very high, while others may tune quite a bit lower. The idea that some people have that jazz = high tunings is not actually accurate. It varies from drummer to drummer, even while many jazz drummers do tune fairly high (I do).
 
D

drumming sort of person

Guest
I also adjust the high tom so that sympathetic snare buzz is reduced. Not an easy task sometimes :)

First I tighten the snare-side head on my snare as tight as I can without choking the sound, then I tighten the highest tom as high as I can go without snare buzz. I can get it pretty high that way (I still don't go quite as high as Bill Stewart though - I don't like it that high). Then I get my floor tom adjusted and it usually ends up being about a fourth from the high tom.

When using an 18" bass drum, I like it as loose as I can get it while still getting a nice tone. With a 20" I can go a bit tighter.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
When using an 18" bass drum, I like it as loose as I can get it while still getting a nice tone. With a 20" I can go a bit tighter.
Yes I agree, I tune my 18" bass drum on my 65 Slingerland kit looser than the 22" BD on my 50's Gretsch kit. Keep in mind that during the 50's a standard Bop size kit had a 22" BD.
 

gretsch-o-rama

Senior Member
I haven't owned a true "bop" kit in a long time.... but I always tried to keep the batter in the low end of the bop range. I would crank the reso's to get a higher pitch and woody tone. Never really worried about what pitches they were though.
 
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