Please Share Drum Dial Settings Bonham Sized Kit

tank

Member
Hello,
Was hoping someone out there may have a kit like mine and also use a drum dial and be willing to share their drum dial settings with me.

Here are my drum sizes and info:
1978 ludwig six ply maple shells
1978 ludwig 402 snare ludalloy
batter heads, remo coated emperors
reso heads, remo coated ambassadors
snare reso head, remo ambassador snare side

Drum sizes as follows:
14 x 6 1/2 ludwig 402 snare drum
26 x14 bass drum
14 x 12 rack tom
16 x 16 floor tom
18 x 16 floor tom

Also sometimes use:
24 x 14 ludwig six ply maple shell bass drum
14 x 6 1/2 ludwig black beauty snare drum

If you have drum dial settings for these size drums and or heads please pass on the numbers. Thanks in advance.
Sincerely,
Dan
 

utdrummer

Senior Member
Tank--please write to Steve Fischer--the "owner" of DrumDial and give him your kit specs as you listed here. Great guy and will probably write you back within a day or two as he did when I wrote him. I actually called their toll free number and spoke to him, gave him my email, etc, and received a detailed mail about tuning specs for my oversized Slingerland kit. Write him at drumdial@gmail.com. He can hook you right up. My drums never sounded better.
 
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bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Bonham tuned his kit tight. There are vids both here on DW, and also the net that describe how to tune this size kit.
I would suggest researching the information and experimenting with your kit until you find the tuning that you like. Use your Drum Dial to note these settings.
That is what I did with my kits when I got my Drum Dial.

Be patient, It takes time and experimentation to learn how to use the Drum Dial to your advantage.
Once you master it, you will become fluent in tuning your kit with your dial.

John also used thick felt strips on both of the bass drum heads to get his sound. A classic approach to muffling a large drum like that. Buddy and Jean also did this on their large bass drums.
 

drumtechdad

Gold Member
See this video, which goes into great detail about how Bonham's wood kits were tuned and headed. Interestingly, it is called "trust your ears," lol. That'd be my recommendation, too--what if there were no one to tell you what numbers to use? The horror!--but that's another can of worms.
 

madgolfer

Senior Member
Eck...Foul on the drum dial! Why not experiment with tunings and get that sound for yourself? It is pretty easy to get and much more rewarding.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
You mean a DrumDial wasn't used on Bonham's kit? Be still my aching heart, lol.

Dennis
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Don't let these guys get to you, It's OK to use a Drum Dial.
It is a good tool.

I use dial indicators at my day job also to measure many things in an automotive shop.

I tuned for 38 years by ear and I know how to tune.
The dial is a handy tool for getting the heads close before fine tuning by ear.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I tuned for 38 years by ear and I know how to tune.
The dial is a handy tool for getting the heads close before fine tuning by ear.
This is the one issue I have with advocating the DD, Bob. I think too often it's used as a substitute because guys don't want to put the time into learning to tune. You had 38 years of tuning under your belt before turning to a drum dial.

Do you think there is a "fine line" in recommending its use? I've never used one, never thought I needed one as I know how to tune, but it is becoming more and more common for guys to grab a dial. Is it really applicable, as a substitute to developing an ear for tuning?

As an owner, I'm quite interested in your take on it. I see the merits behind why you use one. But more interested in if you're happy to recommend them to newcomers, who could possibly benefit more from learning to tune by ear as opposed to relying on the dial as first point of call?
 
A

audiotech

Guest
The only real negative issues I have with a DrumDial is that it doesn't promote impressionable young drummers to ever learn the techniques of tuning their musical instrument. Most new drummers and many not so new, don't actually care to know how to accurately tune their drums, they just want to drum and when they find that their drums sound nothing like the recordings they listen to, a lot will find a dead end street and just give up. This is why I propose a good drum instructor to assist these individuals on a one on one basis to take them through the steps to achieve a better sound from their kits to give them new inspiration for continued playing. Over the years I've helped many drummers with the basics of tuning, and it's great to see their eyes light up when they're no longer afraid to touch a tension rod for fear of aggravating their tuning problems further. They just have to know exactly what to listen for by having someone there to instruct them on exactly what to do to achieve the sound that they're after. There are no real short cuts for learning to tune drums. Just like any other learning tool, once you know the preliminary steps, you're going to need plenty of practice to gain experience. I really don't believe a page full of numbers is going to teach someone how to tune drums or even give them the confidence that they sorely need.

There is nothing wrong when a person who already knows how to tune by ear chooses another alternative, but I feel quite differently about a DrumDial being the only alternative.

I already mentioned this before, but 50 years ago when I wanted my dad to teach me to play drums, his response is that you have to learn to take care of them before you play them. This included learning to tune and change heads.

Just my point of view.

Dennis
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Actually the dial can be used as a teaching tool also.
First tune by ear to what you think is loose, medium, or tight.
Check what you did by using the dial.
Check for even tension by using the dial.
It makes you feel more confident.

When I first put the dial on drums that I had tuned It made me feel good to see that my tuning matched the dial readings fairly well.

I was showing a kid how to tune last week and I let him use the dial after he had tuned so that he could see the rods that were off.
It also prevents students from over torquing a head and causing damage.

My dial helped me to confirm a bad bearing edge on a drum that I had always suspected had a slight hill in it.

Used properly, The Dial can teach!
It is remarkably accurate. Not Perfect, But very useful.
It doesn't have to be a crutch.
It is what you make it.
 

AudioWonderland

Silver Member
The only real negative issues I have with a DrumDial is that it doesn't promote impressionable young drummers to ever learn the techniques of tuning their musical instrument. Most new drummers and many not so new, don't actually care to know how to accurately tune their drums, they just want to drum and when they find that their drums sound nothing like the recordings they listen to, a lot will find a dead end street and just give up. This is why I propose a good drum instructor to assist these individuals on a one on one basis to take them through the steps to achieve a better sound from their kits to give them new inspiration for continued playing. Over the years I've helped many drummers with the basics of tuning, and it's great to see their eyes light up when they're no longer afraid to touch a tension rod for fear of aggravating their tuning problems further. They just have to know exactly what to listen for by having someone there to instruct them on exactly what to do to achieve the sound that they're after. There are no real short cuts for learning to tune drums. Just like any other learning tool, once you know the preliminary steps, you're going to need plenty of practice to gain experience. I really don't believe a page full of numbers is going to teach someone how to tune drums or even give them the confidence that they sorely need.

There is nothing wrong when a person who already knows how to tune by ear chooses another alternative, but I feel quite differently about a DrumDial being the only alternative.

I already mentioned this before, but 50 years ago when I wanted my dad to teach me to play drums, his response is that you have to learn to take care of them before you play them. This included learning to tune and change heads.

Just my point of view.

Dennis
I don't see why its necessary for drummers to "learn how to tune" while every other instrument uses a tuning device. Drum Dials work but like anything else they need to be used properly. You can't say "75" and then allow a +/- on every lug. Its a precise measuring tool. It has to be exactly "75". Sure you might have to fine tune a bit to allow for shells/heads/hoops that may not be perfect but the guitar players do that to. Why are drummers so terrified on this tool?
 

tank

Member
Hello everyone. Just to clear things up. I have talked with Steve Fischer many times. Steve is a great guy and his Drum Dial is a awesome tool to have in your glovebox.

I am familiar with tuning by ear and do so most every day. I use the Drum Dial to get it close and then fine tune to finish by ear. Tuning is an ongoing process that is as much a part of drumming as playing is.

There are many variables to consider. Steve's tuning recommendations for my set sound decent but somewhat loose and tubby. I was just curious to see what other with a Bonham sized kit might be doing with their head tension.

Not interested in a Drum Dial beat down. I want to learn.

Thanks,

Dan
 

drumtechdad

Gold Member
Hoo boy. DD drama again!

I use dial indicators at my day job also to measure many things in an automotive shop.
Ah, but when your dial indicator tells you something is .010", it's .010". The DD can tell you this tension rod is at 72 and another is at 72, yet one sounds higher than the other. The DD gives you a false sense of precision. Enough of a sense that young or inexperienced drummers take it as you take your calipers, not taking account of the fact that variability in heads, shells, bearing edges, etc. make the DD far less precise than it looks.

I tuned for 38 years by ear and I know how to tune.
The dial is a handy tool for getting the heads close before fine tuning by ear.
As you suggest, the DD only gets you close. I've never heard a head tuned to "perfection" with a DD that didn't need lug-to-lug fine-tuning. And I've applied my DD to a head that was demonstrably perfectly tuned only to see varied readings. A gadget that imprecise is not terribly useful to me.

However anyone wants to tune, it's all good. But whenever I hear this I can't help but think: if you end up tuning by ear anyway, why not start by ear?

I don't see why its necessary for drummers to "learn how to tune" while every other instrument uses a tuning device.
I'm afraid this is simply untrue. Fretted instruments--yes, they can use a device. Others, not so much.

I play trombone professionally, mostly in the classical world (symphony orchestras and various chamber music groups), but also in shows and the occasional big band gig. In these worlds (and with these instruments--strings, winds, and brass) tuning is done by ear.

More importantly, even if we did all tune our tuning note to, say, a chromatic tuner, that only applies for that one note. Acoustic instruments all work according to the harmonic series in one way or another. Alas, the harmonic series is out of tune with the equal-tempered scale. When playing any non-keyboard or non-fretted instrument, in any type of music, constant adjustments must be made, in real time, while playing music, to move our instruments from where they want to play--according to the harmonic series--to where equal temperament says we should be playing. There's no such thing as tuning up and good to go.

It's a skill set that all of us who play non-keyboard and non-fretted instruments must acquire to sound good.

[I won't get into how most instrumentalists actually veer intentionally away from equal temperament (toward something resembling "just" intonation) the minute we get away from those damn keyboards, because it will make people's heads explode. ;-) ]

But see, that's the issue with drummers who have never played an instrument that requires constant "tuning" on the fly--they've never acquired the skill set that allows you to perceive, and correct, very minute deviations in pitch. The tiny variations in pitch you hear when doing lug-to-lug tuning are exactly the same thing as the vast majority of instrumentalists face every single day, every single note, as a matter of course. But if you've never been taught how to do it, and haven't put in the time to master the skill, you're at sea with a drum.

Drum Dials work but like anything else they need to be used properly. You can't say "75" and then allow a +/- on every lug. Its a precise measuring tool.
It is not. Or rather, I should say, given the realities of drums, heads, and bearing edges, it's not precise enough given what we're trying to tune with it.

Why are drummers so terrified on this tool?
I don't know any drummers who are terrified of this tool, nor do I suspect anyone who has contributed to this thread is terrified of it.

But there are problems with it. One, it's not precise enough in actual use with real drums, heads, and bearing edges. As I said, DD-tuned drums need touch-up. Perfectly tuned drums show various readings. And anyone who has used one has run into the phenomenon of a very high reading on a tension rod that's falling-out loose. Two, the appearance of precision leads drummers who can't tune by ear into believing that it's not necessary to learn how.

Look, if guys like bobdadruma want to use it to get close and then touch-up by ear, it's all good, although I find that the DD slows me way down compared to tuning by ear. But bobdadruma can tune by ear; he's made a choice, and it works for him.

But I'm with audiotech--drummers, like all musicians other than keyboardists and fretted-instrument players, need to learn to tune their instruments and, in most cases, learn to play in tune on a constant basis. So I believe that drummers who can't tune yet would be far better off spending the $60 they'd spend on a DD and get a lesson or two from a drummer who can tune, and then put a little time in. Once learned, you'll remember it for life.
 

AudioWonderland

Silver Member
Hoo boy. DD drama again!



Ah, but when your dial indicator tells you something is .010", it's .010". The DD can tell you this tension rod is at 72 and another is at 72, yet one sounds higher than the other. The DD gives you a false sense of precision. Enough of a sense that young or inexperienced drummers take it as you take your calipers, not taking account of the fact that variability in heads, shells, bearing edges, etc. make the DD far less precise than it looks.



As you suggest, the DD only gets you close. I've never heard a head tuned to "perfection" with a DD that didn't need lug-to-lug fine-tuning. And I've applied my DD to a head that was demonstrably perfectly tuned only to see varied readings. A gadget that imprecise is not terribly useful to me.

However anyone wants to tune, it's all good. But whenever I hear this I can't help but think: if you end up tuning by ear anyway, why not start by ear?



I'm afraid this is simply untrue. Fretted instruments--yes, they can use a device. Others, not so much.

I play trombone professionally, mostly in the classical world (symphony orchestras and various chamber music groups), but also in shows and the occasional big band gig. In these worlds (and with these instruments--strings, winds, and brass) tuning is done by ear.

More importantly, even if we did all tune our tuning note to, say, a chromatic tuner, that only applies for that one note. Acoustic instruments all work according to the harmonic series in one way or another. Alas, the harmonic series is out of tune with the equal-tempered scale. When playing any non-keyboard or non-fretted instrument, in any type of music, constant adjustments must be made, in real time, while playing music, to move our instruments from where they want to play--according to the harmonic series--to where equal temperament says we should be playing. There's no such thing as tuning up and good to go.

It's a skill set that all of us who play non-keyboard and non-fretted instruments must acquire to sound good.

[I won't get into how most instrumentalists actually veer intentionally away from equal temperament (toward something resembling "just" intonation) the minute we get away from those damn keyboards, because it will make people's heads explode. ;-) ]

But see, that's the issue with drummers who have never played an instrument that requires constant "tuning" on the fly--they've never acquired the skill set that allows you to perceive, and correct, very minute deviations in pitch. The tiny variations in pitch you hear when doing lug-to-lug tuning are exactly the same thing as the vast majority of instrumentalists face every single day, every single note, as a matter of course. But if you've never been taught how to do it, and haven't put in the time to master the skill, you're at sea with a drum.



It is not. Or rather, I should say, given the realities of drums, heads, and bearing edges, it's not precise enough given what we're trying to tune with it.



I don't know any drummers who are terrified of this tool, nor do I suspect anyone who has contributed to this thread is terrified of it.

But there are problems with it. One, it's not precise enough in actual use with real drums, heads, and bearing edges. As I said, DD-tuned drums need touch-up. Perfectly tuned drums show various readings. And anyone who has used one has run into the phenomenon of a very high reading on a tension rod that's falling-out loose. Two, the appearance of precision leads drummers who can't tune by ear into believing that it's not necessary to learn how.

Look, if guys like bobdadruma want to use it to get close and then touch-up by ear, it's all good, although I find that the DD slows me way down compared to tuning by ear. But bobdadruma can tune by ear; he's made a choice, and it works for him.

But I'm with audiotech--drummers, like all musicians other than keyboardists and fretted-instrument players, need to learn to tune their instruments and, in most cases, learn to play in tune on a constant basis. So I believe that drummers who can't tune yet would be far better off spending the $60 they'd spend on a DD and get a lesson or two from a drummer who can tune, and then put a little time in. Once learned, you'll remember it for life.
Peterson Tuners are very common in rehearsal spaces for orchestra etc. I doubt they are for show
 

drumtechdad

Gold Member
Peterson Tuners are very common in rehearsal spaces for orchestra etc. I doubt they are for show
The machine is in the band room for convenience. Very, very few orchestras tune to a machine. We tune, by ear, to the first oboe player playing an A, usually into a tuner on his stand.

You seemed to have missed the point. When you tune up anything other than a fretted instrument, you have only made one note in tune. Any non-keyboard non-fretted instrument will be more or less out of tune with the equal-tempered scale on many of the other notes.

For example, on any brass instrument, in any given fingering, after tuning up, the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 8th harmonics will be in tune, assuming an instrument of reasonable quality. However, the 3rd harmonic will be sharp. The 5th harmonic will be flat. the 6th harmonic will be sharp. The 7th harmonic will be so flat as to be unusable. All of these must be adjusted by the player in real time as he plays. Some instruments are more in tune with the equal-tempered scale than others, but none are perfect.

In addition to that, a player of any non-keyboard non-fretted instrument must constantly listen to the other players in the ensemble to ensure that you are playing in tune with them. Their intonation may be slightly off, yours may be off (for the above reasons), etc. Also, where you put a given note depends often on what voice in the chord it is. If you are playing a chord's major third you need to keep it on the low side, for example.

There is no tune-up-and-good-to-go with any instrument other than keyboard or fretted strings. You are constantly adjusting, for all the above reasons, in real time as you play. A tuner in the band room is meaningless in the context of this discussion.

By contrast a guitar or fretted bass IS good to go after tuning to a machine. But they are the only instruments where that is so.

Bottom line: players of nearly all other instruments acquire the skill of adjusting to very minute variations in pitch. Drummers don't in the course of their playing, but they can acquire that skill just like the others have.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Let's back up a bit and try to help tank.
We are not there with him so it is a hard task.

Bonham tuned his bass drum tight. He used thick felt strips like is shown on the video.
This was a common practice for bass drums. John tuned like a classic Jazz drummer.

Today there are heads with built in muffle devices.
This changes the rules considerably.

I use Aquarian Super kick I and Super kick II's as batters on my bass drums.
I also use modern ported black muffled logo heads on my bass drums as resos.
I don't use any other muffling device!
I tune my bass drums at about 76 on the dial for a tight punchy boom sound with these heads. I also fine tune to my taste.
On a large bass drum you may want to go tighter. (My largest bass is a 22 inch).
A large bass drum needs some kind of muffling. I don't know what heads you are using and I don't know if you have a porthole in your reso. I also don't know if you are using other muffling methods.

Tight tuning on a rack tom with Emps over Ambs is about 80 for resos, and 78 for batters.
This also varies with taste.

Large Floor toms are looser. 78 for resos and 76 for batters. Approx.

Tight tuning on a snare is about 85 for batter and 88 for reso.

YOU WILL HAVE TO FINE TUNE THESE ABOVE SETTINGS!
They are just suggestions.
You will have to experiment with your kit.

Hint, Tune a head to a Drum Dial Setting, place each drum on a flat surface. Take the eraser end of a pencil and tap next to each tension rod. Do they all sound equal?
If not, fine tune.

Again, Experiment, Experiment, Experiment!
Try the reso's tighter and looser. Try the batters tighter and looser.
 
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