Leveling the snare drum resonant head. Do you bother?

yammyfan

Senior Member
Any consensus on this practice or do you treat the resonant side just like the batter?

It's pretty clear to me that the snare beds really affect the topography of the underside of the snare drum. How much extra effort should I put into leveling the snare side head?

I installed sleeved washers on a snare drum yesterday which necessitated removing the bottom hoop. I kind of wish I hadn't because I'm not convinced that the wires are responding as well as they did before the "upgrade". It's really bothering me, truthfully.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
The snare side head is the one head on the whole kit that, to me, defies formula. I honestly don't have a precise enough ruler (or true enough eye) to accurately level it to my satisfaction, so I don't bother. I basically try to get the pitches equal all the way around the head, and start from there. Even that can be difficult, depending on the head and the drum. I've got an Aquarian reso on one snare drum that I simply can't identify a pitch on, no matter what. It just doesn't give a pure tone like the Remo or Evans resos I've used. I get it as close as I can, and the drum sounds okay, so that's fine.

The thing is, once you get to a starting point, I find the heads always take a little adjustment to get the snare response just where you want it. Tighten or loosen the rods on either side of the snare bed, and you get a big difference in response, without a huge change in pitch (or depth, if you're thinking in terms of leveling.) You just have to keep tinkering, IME.

Don't regret the upgrade, just keep at it.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I don't. In my mind the film stretches so much due to it's thinness, that it evens itself out tension-wise. I do try and keep it even as I can, but I go so tight on the reso that I don't think it matters. I use 2 keys opposite one another and I always start at the lowest point, the snare beds. This is usually enough to keep it level enough. I'm also a huge fan of the collarless Remo snare side head. Huge fan. That head proves that 3 mil reso head film stretches because when I put it on it looks like a diaphragm, no collar whatsoever. Not even a hint of collar. Completely flat. When I remove the head, there is a definite collar formed into the head. So in my mind the film conforms to the edges and makes a better fit to the shell than a head with a pre-formed collar. The reo behaves completely opposite of how the batter head behaves. I don't think the batter head forms itself to the shell to nearly the degree that the reso head does, if at all.
 
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yammyfan

Senior Member
Thanks for the reply. I tried the ruler method for the first time yesterday and found it a lot more difficult than it looks. I think I'll go back to my tried and true method which is exactly what you've described.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I don't really treat the snare side like the batter, but I don't level it either.

I generally go for equal pitch at every lug, but then I fine tune the head while the wires are engaged to see if any of the strands curve and then adjust one lug at a time until they all lay perfectly straight. I've noticed uneven tension of the head can change the way the wires lay on the head.

Nylon washers can affect the feel of turning the key while tuning so you may be higher or lower in tension than you had before, which would certainly affect sensitivity.
 

drumnut87

Well-known member
i am for even tension across every lug, even pitch across every lug, and try my best to level the head out, though i dont go overboard on it. usuall i dont have to because the aquarian heads i use come with a pre-formed collar so they fit my drums really well.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I deal with this on the marching side more than with my drumset, and pretty much do what some have mentioned where I just get everything pitched the same, and deal with the inequities of the film. I use either a 1955 and 1962 metal Ludwig Supraphonic snare for my kit, and I feel that the head reacts better to the metal "dip" than the wood of my marching snares.

I also feel that I hear weird sounds - overtones and buzzes - more on the wood shelled marching drums than the metal, and also that the wire snares of the Ludwigs allow the over all sound to me more forgiving than the synthetic "gut" snares of the marching drums
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
How much extra effort should I put into leveling the snare side head?
I have one snare with a fairly deep snare bed. I go by how it sounds and tighten until I’m pleased. Turn on the snare, tap around & tweak until it sounds right.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
I think it's worth doing. It has more to do with how the snares engage the head than a tension issue. Just watch sounds like a drum. They have covered most of it.
 

motleyh

Senior Member
So what's the primary function of a snare reso head? It's to interact with the wires by vibrating against them.

That premise and a little logic will tell you that sensitivity/responsiveness of the snare drum comes from maximizing that interaction. One part of doing that (there are others also) is to give the head the most vibration possible -- at all available frequencies and harmonics -- by tuning for even pitch at all the lugs.

Bear in mind that some snare bed designs make this difficult.
 

roncadillac

Member
The snare side head is the one head on the whole kit that, to me, defies formula. I honestly don't have a precise enough ruler (or true enough eye) to accurately level it to my satisfaction, so I don't bother. I basically try to get the pitches equal all the way around the head, and start from there. Even that can be difficult, depending on the head and the drum. I've got an Aquarian reso on one snare drum that I simply can't identify a pitch on, no matter what. It just doesn't give a pure tone like the Remo or Evans resos I've used. I get it as close as I can, and the drum sounds okay, so that's fine.

The thing is, once you get to a starting point, I find the heads always take a little adjustment to get the snare response just where you want it. Tighten or loosen the rods on either side of the snare bed, and you get a big difference in response, without a huge change in pitch (or depth, if you're thinking in terms of leveling.) You just have to keep tinkering, IME.

Don't regret the upgrade, just keep at it.
My "ruler": counting the threads on each tension rod one by one with my finger nail. Sounds crazy but it works.

As far as OP's question: I've been there after an upgrade and that's a bummer. Since I started experimenting with tighter snare reso's I've not had any issues achieving even tuning across all lugs and flat hoop/drum without ripples at the bed lugs.
 
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