The Changing Sound Of Drums

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I should probably post this question on a guitar forum or a violin forum.

Sometimes I’ll play one of my drum sets and/or snare drum and it will sound excellent. After not playing it for a few weeks, I’ll play it again and it does not sound so good.
I’ll have a snare drum that I don’t play anymore because I did not like the way it sounded. I’ll break it out and it will sound great.

Drums just seem to do that. As drummers the sound of our drums, or our musical taste in drums, seem to change all the time.
I know that the venue has a lot to do with the sound of drums, but I wonder if other musical instruments can sound different to the player at different times like drums do. ???

.
 
D

drumming sort of person

Guest
Too many variables involved. Expecting things to sound the same is approaching ludicrosity.
 

bonerpizza

Silver Member
I occasionally notice a change in how my drums sound when the temperature in my practice room goes from one extreme to the other but I've never felt like it was a drastic difference.
Also if your ears are worn out from drumming or listening to loud music or something like that things will sound different than they would if your ears were in good shape.
 

Brewkowski

Member
Also has to do with the room it's being played in. I can play one of my snare drums in the home set up and it sounds horrible.. but play that same drum at a live gig and it's golden!
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Lots of variables for sure. A snare depends A LOT on a room and where in the room for that matter.

Everything varies, though. That includes our own senses.

With an electric guitar, hot and humid summer weather usually has an effect and it's not for the better. Sounds muddy and unbalanced. Was terrible when I lived in Florida. Not so bad here, but this last week it was quite evudent.
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
I'm very guilty of not paying enough attention to the tunings of drums that are not right in my face.

If I have a drum that isn't in tune — just-so, I don't play it as often, or I might hit it harder further from the center.
I tend to neglect the drums that don't sing in concert with the others.

When I get persnickety about the drums it's because there's something important in the future and I need to get zoned on it.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I know what you mean Jim. One day I will be down in my studio and have my drums tuned so that I really like them. Then I come down the next day and I want to barf. Like what was I thinking? So now I just pay attention to what I want that day. Moods change. If the drums are keeping me from playing, I change them. I stopped trying to figure it out a long time ago. I'm certain it's me and my perceptions and wants varying. Humans are wacky organisms, not consistent.

I think it is more common with drums than with pitched instruments. Practically every other instrument gets just one strict tuning, period. With drums, there are no rigid tuning standards.

It's like the wild west still.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I think it is more common with drums than with pitched instruments. Practically every other instrument gets just one strict tuning, period. With drums, there are no rigid tuning standards. It's like the wild west still.
Aha ! Yes maybe that is the difference. Tuning. Other instruments are tuned to a specific note.
In fact, if I could spend about 30 minutes at each gig and at each rehearsal pre-tuning my entire drum set,
I'll bet I could learn to love the sound of my drums in every venue and on every day of the week.
Currently I never pre-tune.


.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
It's also worthy of note that we hear with our entire body. The more dynamic the playing, and the more air is moved, the bigger the difference perception. Drums are right at the top of the tree in terms of moving air, only sitting behind pipe organs & other monster instruments in that regard.

The room therefore plays a huge role, but so does our listening status on the day. Are we really listening in that moment, or are we just referencing. Are we "feeling" it, or are we examining. If we were "feeling" it yesterday, but only referencing that feeling today, will it sound different to us? The answer is yes, but the variable is most likely us.
 
G

Ghostnote

Guest
As already mentioned, the room plays a huge factor. I would argue it's a bigger factor than the quality/ tuning of the kit in a lot of cases. If we're talking about the same drums in the same room on different occaisions though, then ear fatigue is probably the culprit. I notice the same thing almost every time I play. The kit will sound harsh/wonky to me when I start to play, but after I've played for a while it starts to sound great to me.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
... I wonder if other musical instruments can sound different to the player at different times like drums do. ???
.
This happens when I play trombone, which is my primary instrument.
If I play alone in a quiet room I hear different parts of the tone compared to playing in a large band or orchestra in a big space. I will swap different trombones accordingly, and occasionally re-discover one that sounds great in certain situations. Trombone, like all brass instruments, can be tricky because the sound projects away from you, so you don't hear much direct sound. Same as bass drums I guess.

So the tone I hear is partly due to the acoustics of the space, partly how loud the other instruments are, partly how loud I'm playing at the time, and finally how tired my ears have become.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I always tune my set when I get to the room I will be playing. Especially the bass and snare. Then the toms. My cymbals sound good wherever they are :)
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Thank you everyone for your input on this.

So it sounds like most or many other musical instruments can also sound differently depending on the room and our own perception.
Andy, Larry, Morrisman and Ghostnote; very enlightening comments. Thank you.

I was getting frustrated in my search for the perfect sounding drums. Well, you know what I mean.
In particular my snare drums keep changing sounds on me. LOL.
I will try and set aside some time before every gig to do a little drum tuning.


.
 

last man to bat

Senior Member
I have a similar thing HJ, some days I hate my snare, swap it out for another one for a few gigs, then go back to the original and absolutely love it! I think KIS is right, its my perception of how my drums sound, maybe I just tire of a particular sound after hearing it too much?
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
In the studio I used to work at, we had something we called the "Elephant Herd Proximity Effect", where the sound of an instrument varied in direct correlation to the proximity of the nearest elephant herd. Certainly a memorable attempt to parody the sonic hokum that we were forced to bear witness to time and time again.

The only thing that really worked for me was sitting in a quiet room with a white noise machine for a couple minutes. Alternatively, taking a shower before doing audio work. Both of those seemed to clear my head a bit to the point where I could listen to instruments/mixes/mic-positions objectively, or at the very least, with a common bias.
 
Last edited:

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
In the studio I used to work at, we had something we called the "Elephant Herd Proximity Effect", where the sound of an instrument varied in direct correlation to the proximity of the nearest elephant herd. Certainly a memorable attempt to parody the sonic hokum that we were forced to bear witness to time and time again.

The only thing that really worked for me was sitting in a quiet room with a white noise machine for a couple minutes. Alternatively, taking a shower before doing audio work. Both of those seemed to clear my head a bit to the point where I could listen to instruments/mixes/mic-positions objectively, or at the very least, a common bias.
LIKE...........


.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The elephant herd proximity effect is a real phenomena. It is related to the butterfly effect. The relative earthworm density in a specific location also demonstrates a marked effect, especially in the waxing phases of the moon :)
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
The elephant herd proximity effect is a real phenomena. It is related to the butterfly effect. The relative earthworm density in a specific location also demonstrates a marked effect, especially in the waxing phases of the moon :)
Cute Larry.

But I took KamaK's comments rather seriously. (However I don't just how serious he is.)
In support of his comments, how many times have recording engineers spent the whole day recording musical instruments, then mixing and tweaking those sounds;
only to come back to the studio the next day and realize it does not sound as good as it did the day before.


.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
only to come back to the studio the next day and realize it does not sound as good as it did the day before.
It's the same in reverse. I record something, love it, play it for friends/peers, and while doing so I absolutely hate it because I can suddenly hear every flaw/pimple/blemish. It's intolerable. Then I'll hear something someone recorded on a 70's cassette dictaphone in a kitchen and it's divine.

Absolute madness. The only way to win is not to indulge.
 

last man to bat

Senior Member
It's the same in reverse. I record something, love it, play it for friends/peers, and while doing so I absolutely hate it because I can suddenly hear every flaw/pimple/blemish. It's intolerable. Then I'll hear something someone recorded on a 70's cassette dictaphone in a kitchen and it's divine.

Absolute madness. The only way to win is not to indulge.
haha that's brilliant!
 
Top