Optimum settings

evilg99

Platinum Member
I am totally with Bo on this too -
Having been in this situation before myself on a festival stage, you simply do NOT provide a drum set with the expectation that the drummers who play them are not going to tune and adjust them to their requirements.

Also - you should not be providing drums at all for others to play if they are not in a bare minumum- playable state. A quick tuning, heads in good condition, spurs that work, hardware that won't fall over, pedals within the sphere of normal, etc. There is such a thing.

I have both provided (multiple)kits and been the guy playing provided kits. I've played excellent kits and I've played kits that seemed like they had never,ever seen a drum key and had original heads on them, with everything set the way it was out of the boxes. Total crap.

Can you imagine handing a bass player a 6 year old bass with the factory strings on it, action 1/2" too high, intonation way out, broken strap and an intermittent output jack that is ok if you just hold the cable 'like this' ?
 

FreDrummer

Silver Member
It's a problem with expectations. If you hand any other instrument to another musician, you wouldn't care at all if they immediately checked and adjusted the tuning. In fact, if I hand my guitar, or bass, or saxophone, to another player, I'd be concerned if they didn't fiddle with the tuning; I'd have less respect for them as musicians. But drums are somehow different? They're exempt? Please.
OK, I've never done a shared-kit event in my life, so I am beginning to see everyone's point.

But, please, let's keep the analogies realistic. If one hands a guitar player a guitar grossly out of tune, the guitarist cannot even begin to perform his skill of making something commonly defined as "music" on the instrument -- even a non-musician's ears would be assaulted and confused by the result. Drums, OTOH, go Thump, Thud, Crack. etc...any casual non-musician is still going to recognize it as a drum and it will not even occur to them the drum could have been tuned better.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
OK, I've never done a shared-kit event in my life, so I am beginning to see everyone's point.

But, please, let's keep the analogies realistic. If one hands a guitar player a guitar grossly out of tune, the guitarist cannot even begin to perform his skill of making something commonly defined as "music" on the instrument -- even a non-musician's ears would be assaulted and confused by the result. Drums, OTOH, go Thump, Thud, Crack. etc...any casual non-musician is still going to recognize it as a drum and it will not even occur to them the drum could have been tuned better.
Well, at what point did I say I was trying to make the audience happy? The person that hired me is the one I'm making happy. If we rehearse and I give them the sound they like, then I'm trying to give them the same sound especially at the time they need it the most. During the actual show. Believe me, I'm not thinking of the audience. For the amount of $$ they're paying, if they want full and thuddy, that's what they should get, on top of me playing it right. That's just how it works.

And as this all seems so common sense, I moan about it because the current attitude of "here's some drums, have at it, but don't change anything" really cements the idea that drummers are really second-class citizens, and most drummers prefer to be that way.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Well, at what point did I say I was trying to make the audience happy? The person that hired me is the one I'm making happy. If we rehearse and I give them the sound they like, then I'm trying to give them the same sound especially at the time they need it the most. During the actual show. Believe me, I'm not thinking of the audience. For the amount of $$ they're paying, if they want full and thuddy, that's what they should get, on top of me playing it right. That's just how it works.

And as this all seems so common sense, I moan about it because the current attitude of "here's some drums, have at it, but don't change anything" really cements the idea that drummers are really second-class citizens, and most drummers prefer to be that way.
Ignorance is bliss in a lot of cases. A lot of folk think you're being anal over something but if you have a good ear a badly tuned kit really can really make a gig suck even more so if you have to play it.

Haven't done a gig with hired/someone else's kit in years and I'm proud of it. You get sound guys who have a preset on the desk and woe betide anyone who makes them mess with an eq dial or you get ignorant drummers but I guess that's another topic altogether.

I got the stage where I'd be bringing everything but the bass drum and toms so you could switch over without messing with anyone's setup and if I'm happy enough with hats/crash/ride for those gigs.
 
I assume whomever last "tuned" the kit, wasn't very knowledgeable or experienced. So, you tuned it. Cool.

Also, when it comes to making drums sound good, I know tuning isn't a simple thing. Heck, I'm not very good at it myself.

Which blows, as I'm taking lessons to improve my playing skills, but I'm not being taught to develop my drum tuning skills. :(
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Bottom line, if I'm going to play a certain kit for money, and it sounds janky, I'm going to tune it. I don't need that kind of distraction taking me away from my center and my zone.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
I'm taking lessons to improve my playing skills, but I'm not being taught to develop my drum tuning skills. :(
Great question!

Tuning is a bitch to get right when you're first learning the ropes because you'll only have heard a kit from out front or on a record so you sit down behind one and there's all these overtones going on. Plus you're thinking about your playing and not the sound.

I suppose you don't appreciate it until you reach a decent standard. Trial and error is your best bet. But even then your technique effects how a drum will sound. Here's the worst bit, there's no standard tuning for a drum kit, there's no right way but definitely lots of wrong ways!

As regards technique effecting sound think if it as any other instrument. You hear how a violin should sound and how a beginner sounds, the latter is closer to animal cruelty regardless of tuning!
 

FreDrummer

Silver Member
Well, at what point did I say I was trying to make the audience happy? The person that hired me is the one I'm making happy. If we rehearse and I give them the sound they like, then I'm trying to give them the same sound especially at the time they need it the most. During the actual show. Believe me, I'm not thinking of the audience. For the amount of $$ they're paying, if they want full and thuddy, that's what they should get, on top of me playing it right. That's just how it works.

And as this all seems so common sense, I moan about it because the current attitude of "here's some drums, have at it, but don't change anything" really cements the idea that drummers are really second-class citizens, and most drummers prefer to be that way.
Well, Bo, in the first line of my post I said I was getting the point -- that it was cool for you to make the changes, especially given my lack of experience with shared kits and complete ignorance of the show-choir scene. The second paragraph dealt entirely with analogies: if one feels the need to post an analogy, let's keep it real (and logical).
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Great question!

Tuning is a bitch to get right when you're first learning the ropes because you'll only have heard a kit from out front or on a record so you sit down behind one and there's all these overtones going on. Plus you're thinking about your playing and not the sound.
For me, learning to tune came down to:

1: Buy three different sets of heads.
2: Rotate heads every 1-2 weeks.

In about 4-6 months, I could tune (quickly) by ear and had a working understanding of the sonic difference between clear/coated Ambassador/Emperor.
 

hyruleherojoe

Senior Member
The only issue I have with Bo's post is the adjusting of the Pedal. To me, pedal, snare, cymbals are personal things a drummer should always use that's their own. I would not like someone messing with my coil tension, or beater length/angle that I poured hours trying to set it just so. Maybe the pedal was set low for heel down purposes? Never know.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
After reading this all I would say is that:

If you're on a loaner or a rental who would expect you NOT to make some changes to suit. Tuning included. The set is provided for one to play and if would that include a detailed tuning and re-arrangement?
 
Last edited:

Juniper

Gold Member
Bo, questions to ask.

Was the loaner of the kit(s) asked to tune/set up the drums in a perticular way before the show? or was their job simply to drop off drums to the event?

Did anyone complain about the changes you made? Your post points to a presumption the owner may be put out but no mention of an issue.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Bo, questions to ask.

Was the loaner of the kit(s) asked to tune/set up the drums in a perticular way before the show? or was their job simply to drop off drums to the event?

Did anyone complain about the changes you made? Your post points to a presumption the owner may be put out but no mention of an issue.
I'm gonna go with "drop drums off at the event". And throughout the day I heard a couple of people mention that they liked the drums (after I altered them). The second set that was delivered I believe was somebody else's (not a rental, maybe?) and as soon as I altered it and used it, I left ;) The show I was playing for was funny - they had a live band in it up until the last song, which was a track being played through a sound system via iPod. So naturally, since I had already been there for 12 hours, I packed my sticks and walked off the stage as the kids finished their show to the taped music.

I had never gotten to do that as a drummer. Ever. So I decided to experience that ;)

But in the heat of the moment, when everyone is loading in and that's the first time you're seeing a strange kit - you literally have no time for any kind of adjustments and most drummers would just be forced to play it as it is.

And I just wish people would take more care in how the kit is presented. Have bass drum pedals you can actually play. Do a lot of people here on this forum actually play their bass drum pedals with the beater shaft half-way down into the holder, severely shortening the beater swing length? Or how about having the beater close to vertical to the head so your swing is only about 3-inches? Or do people like their thrones so their knees are actually higher than their hips when sitting?

These are just those basic ergonomic adjustments so you can actually play the kit. I'm not talking about tom angles. Almost every drummer who's out there worth his salt plays in an ergonomic fashion. You hear of almost no one that has a funky way of sitting, or has a 'special' and "quieter" way of playing his bass drum pedal. And I believe that's because people who do that would have given up because it's physically hard to play that way for years as people discover who you are. You'd develop low back problems and maybe hip displascia from slamming a pedal that has no length of swing. I'm all for people learning how to play and set up on their own, that's the cool thing about music. But jeez, find the right way and stick to it, eh? Especially in this day and age when info is so much easier to come by thanks to the Internets. How did we ever learn back in the Dark Ages?
 

Bull

Gold Member
never
Or do people like their thrones so their knees are actually higher than their hips when sitting?
I know several rock drummers who sit extremely low. I am 5'11" and use a DW airlift throne at its lowest position. I am not even close to these guys and they are taller than me.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I know several rock drummers who sit extremely low. I am 5'11" and use a DW airlift throne at its lowest position. I am not even close to these guys and they are taller than me.
Since I've always been shorter than everyone, I've never really known what it's like to sit in a chair for your own height. I read somewhere Will Calhoun from Living Colour said your throne should be like sitting on a toilet seat, which I didn't really understand either since there hasn't really been toilet seats that accommodate shorter people. So my example was from watching Tony Williams and Buddy Rich, they sit up higher and tend to balance so they can 'dance' on the pedals. So I've never sat low enough, or else I couldn't reach the rest of the kit!
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Since I've always been shorter than everyone, I've never really known what it's like to sit in a chair for your own height.
I'm the polar opposite, I'm bigger than most and I like to blend in with the rest of the kit. If I ever played on a stool that was too high it looked stupid.

I do sit low but it's comfortable and works with moeller if I'm sat too high it messes my back up because I'm leaning over and down on the kit and it gets worse if the toms are tilted towards you. Ever wondered why Phil Collins got injured?

I've used a Pearl Speed seat for years so it always comes with me if I'm using another kit. It's uber portable.
 

Captain Bash

Silver Member
Well I think it's good form to ask before re- tensioning or adjusting anything other than seat, snare and hi- hat stand height. I need these three elements to fit my size. But the truth is most kits can tune 2 or 3 ways and sound just fine. Generally the better the kit the greater the number of sweet tuning spots.


I think it is respectful to ask the owner of the kit or whomever is supplying the kit. I have had my MCAN yamahas used at multi band gigs and experienced the whole range e.g an idiot who stood on the kick drum and made Keith Moon on drugs seem like a nice chap through to an unknown but phenomenal 18 yr old who was so humble and grateful for playing a top end kitten didn't move a thing.

Ultimately it boils down to treating others gear as if it is your own.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
I have used my drums in multi band situations a few times. I do ask them to bring their own cymbals and snare. The last time the drummer moved my memory locks! That is going too far in my view.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
A piano player would adjust the seat and maybe open or close the lid a notch. A bass player or guitarist using your amp would tweak the controls, so it makes sense to tweak a drum kit accordingly.

For the poster above who didn't like having his memory locks moved - I presume someone just needed to lower some toms or cymbals - which seems perfectly reasonable to me.
 
Top