LOUD snare buzzzzzzzz

Iristone

Active Member
DISCLAIMER: I fully understand that snare buzz is a normal condition. I often use it (on my other snare drums) to my advantage to augment the volume and attack of my toms.
The thing is, this buzz is even louder than the tom itself! More like a huge swarm of bees than a humming snare drum.

It's a Gretsch RB 4157, presumably from the year 1960 (6-ply, but before paper tag and key holder), with the deep, not-too-narrow snare bed. Evans UV1 over Clear 300, tuned to sound like Phil Collins on Duke and Abacab.
The buzz mainly happens with 42-strand wires (Dixon, Tama), but 20-strand wires (Ludwig, Canopus) don't cure it, either. It seems there's a weird resonance if I tighten the snare wire just right (not rattling but also not choking the head). Tried tuning the tom away, and tightening/loosening the reso head, with only marginal improvement at best.

Good news: the drum is in almost pristine condition for its age, and I've got all the original hardware, so I could easily trade it for a new (used) Gretsch snare if all else fails.
Any insights?
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Perhaps the snare bed is just not wide enough to accommodate such a wide snare. Were folks putting 42 strand wires on snares 60 years ago? If the thing cant sit entirely flat, its definitely gonna buzz like crazy.
 

Iristone

Active Member
Perhaps the snare bed is just not wide enough to accommodate such a wide snare. Were folks putting 42 strand wires on snares 60 years ago? If the thing cant sit entirely flat, its definitely gonna buzz like crazy.
I don't think it sits perfectly flat. That could be the problem.
However, I doubt it's because of the number of snare wires. IIRC in the mid-sixties when Gretsch first came out with 42-strand wires, they didn't change the snare bed profile. Also:
20-strand wires (Ludwig, Canopus) don't cure it, either.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I've never had much luck with 42-strand wires, but deep snare beds are always going to make dialing them in even harder.

If the snare buzz is that unruly, there must be some particular sympathetic vibration happening somewhere, whether it's the relationship between the top and bottom snare heads, or between one of the snare heads and one of the tom heads.

I'd start with the snare drum in another room; retune the drum carefully to clear any possible funky overtones between the top and bottom head. Then add the 20-strand wires and see what you have. If the excessive buzzing is gone (or at a reasonable level) switch out for the 42-strands and see what you have now. Once you know it isn't a problem with the tuning of the top and bottom snare heads or the wires, bring the snare back to the kit. If the problem returns, figure out which tom head is closest in pitch to the snare side head and start adjusting that one first. You might need to also tune the top tom head to get the tom sounding agreeable again, but it should fix the problem.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I don't think it sits perfectly flat. That could be the problem.
However, I doubt it's because of the number of snare wires. IIRC in the mid-sixties when Gretsch first came out with 42-strand wires, they didn't change the snare bed profile. Also:
I dunno, just thinking out loud here.

How is the throwoff? Does it have any play? More wires would transfer more vibrations and possibly the throwoff cant keep its tension fully?

Could also be a tuning thing too. Not necessarily out of tune, although that could do it, but the wires reacting to a certain frequency range and the drum is hitting it thus worsening the buzz.

Could also be anything @Winston_Wolf said also.

@Winston_Wolf , I find myself reading your posts in the voice and cadence of Harvey Keitel.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
I've had some luck cleaning up wire response on a few of my snares by being picky about making sure that they lie absolutely flat against the resonant head.

I gently run a finger over the wires in the middle and at both ends to see if they're evenly tensioned or if some wires are looser than others. If I find that (for example) wires 1-3 are looser than say, wires 18-20 then I will tighten or loosen lugs to level out the hoop and distribute the force more evenly. Sometimes I have to re-tension lugs affecting the middle of the wires, other times I have to do this to the lugs at the snare beds.

By doing this, I've been able to dial in wire response and get a pretty good sound out of them. This procedure cures some buzz and harmonic distortion I sometimes hear as well.
 

cbphoto

Platinum Member
I have success minimizing snare buzz by adjusting the tuning of the snare reso head and the tension and placement of the wires.

If you’ve exhausted that, it could be a bad snappy or reso head.
 

Iristone

Active Member
Now that I think of it, could be the ultra-deep snare bed creating an area of lower tension right at the snare plates, which resonates weirdly with the toms and creates weird snare wire seating problem.
I'd try muffling these two ends first. With 42 wires (Gretsch approved) it probably won't lack sensitivity, either.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
whoa, i have never heard of those, kinda wanna try some out

They work great for this problem, and are MORE sensitive than coiled-wire snares. I also have natural hide reso heads on a lot of my snares, which works really well too. Combine the two, and and sympathetic buzz is essentially impossible. But the Grover snares alone work quite well, no real need to use hide heads.
 

Iristone

Active Member
Oops. My bad. 🤦‍♀️
Perhaps the snare bed is just not wide enough to accommodate such a wide snare. Were folks putting 42 strand wires on snares 60 years ago? If the thing cant sit entirely flat, its definitely gonna buzz like crazy.
Turns out that the snare bed, throwoff, and snare side hoop are out of alignment on that old drum, just enough to make a 42-strand wire impossible to seat correctly. Gotta love modern CNC manufacturing!
Currently running a 18-strand Ludwig wire and it helps a bit. I'll look into 30-strand wires in the future, to (hopefully) strike a balance between the Gretsch-approved 42-strand tone and a controlled snare buzz.
 

Iristone

Active Member
I'll look into 30-strand wires in the future, to (hopefully) strike a balance between the Gretsch-approved 42-strand tone and a controlled snare buzz.
I wonder if the Puresound Twisted wire will help? It looks like 40 strands crammed into the space of 20 strands, so hopefully I'll get the 42-strand tone with the wire still staying in my snare bed.
 

Icetech

Gold Member
They work great for this problem, and are MORE sensitive than coiled-wire snares. I also have natural hide reso heads on a lot of my snares, which works really well too. Combine the two, and and sympathetic buzz is essentially impossible. But the Grover snares alone work quite well, no real need to use hide heads.

I actually like snare buzz.. my kit rings and buzzes and feels alive :) but i would like more sensitivity and response.. i will try a set of these at some point
 
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Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I feel like a 42-strand wire set is at cross purposes with Phil Collins' Duke/Abacab-era snare sound. Back then Phil was playing a Ludwig Supersensitive and his snare sound on those two albums (well, all of them, actually) has a very dry snare-wire response.
 

Iristone

Active Member
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I feel like a 42-strand wire set is at cross purposes with Phil Collins' Duke/Abacab-era snare sound. Back then Phil was playing a Ludwig Supersensitive and his snare sound on those two albums (well, all of them, actually) has a very dry snare-wire response.
Thanks for that information! I remember you from the Phil Collins tribute kit thread, so it'll be easier, I know. I've got a Premier (R.I.P) 2000 snare - basically a British knockoff of the Luddy. I want it, I got it, now I know! (y)
Right now, my Gretsch snare (with 18-strand wire) sounds quite like Phil's from The Lamb/A Trick Of The Tail era. Very dry response, too close to the desert of sand. I once found the hotspots of this drum with 42-strand wires, but have since failed to turn it on again. Maybe I'll not get them now. :(
 
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