Tuning..✨️

Kim Barti

Member
Rest any toms under 15 on a pillow and tune batter head equal all round for feel..not too tight..turn over and do the same to reso head but a semi tone higher..always works for me..big toms are a different game..normally reso head slightly lower but i play mostly rock..
 
The pillow thing is great for isolating each head, and your tuning is how I heard Keith Moon always tuned. Freaked me out when I got a higher pitch than either of the heads but it sounds great. I tune toms in 4ths for a little more attack most of the time but it does work very well for a lot of things and a lot of players.
 
I use the same method, but tune the reso a little more than a 1/2 tone up.
Is that something you do by feel or are you aiming for a specific interval when you say “a little more than a half tone up”?
 
Living in NYC, and also being a former employee of DCI Music Video (now called Hudson Music), I've had the tremendous privilege of being in the same room with virtually all of the great drummers while they played their instrument. I even stood in the live room during recording sessions with Steve Gadd, Steve Smith, Billy Cobham, Max Roach, Dave Weckl, Omar Hakim, and numerous others.

Throughout these unique experiences, one drummer's sound has stood out to me above the rest, and that drummer is Simon Phillips. From just 10 feet away, his toms (as well as the rest of the kit) sound so clear and musical that it's almost unbelievable. The sheer beauty of the sound hits you even before the beauty of what he's actually playing hits you. It's remarkable.

After having that experience with Simon a number of times, I investigated his tuning method and discovered that he tunes the top head and the bottom head to identical pitches. So needless to say, that's how I've tuned ever since.

The great thing is that Simon has successfully played almost every style of music at the very top of the game: rock with The Who, metal with Judas Priest, pop with Toto, jazz fusion with Hiromi, and so on. To me, that's evidence that this straightforward way of tuning works across genres.
 
I always find that putting the drum on rug or a pillow doesnt tell me the actual sound im tuning to. i always tune my toms mounted by ear.
 
Living in NYC, and also being a former employee of DCI Music Video (now called Hudson Music), I've had the tremendous privilege of being in the same room with virtually all of the great drummers while they played their instrument. I even stood in the live room during recording sessions with Steve Gadd, Steve Smith, Billy Cobham, Max Roach, Dave Weckl, Omar Hakim, and numerous others.

Throughout these unique experiences, one drummer's sound has stood out to me above the rest, and that drummer is Simon Phillips. From just 10 feet away, his toms (as well as the rest of the kit) sound so clear and musical that it's almost unbelievable. The sheer beauty of the sound hits you even before the beauty of what he's actually playing hits you. It's remarkable.

After having that experience with Simon a number of times, I investigated his tuning method and discovered that he tunes the top head and the bottom head to identical pitches. So needless to say, that's how I've tuned ever since.

The great thing is that Simon has successfully played almost every style of music at the very top of the game: rock with The Who, metal with Judas Priest, pop with Toto, jazz fusion with Hiromi, and so on. To me, that's evidence that this straightforward way of tuning works across genres.

He is one of the greats. Seems like a really down to Earth dude as well.

 
He is one of the greats. Seems like a really down to Earth dude as well.

Yes, the times I've met him he has always been extremely nice with a funny sense of humor.

What he says in that video is interesting, about the drums sounding different depending on how close you are to them. I think that's a really important point.

I was once in a little club in NY listening to a famous drummer (who will remain nameless). He's quite a bit younger than Simon, so he doesn't have the same wealth of experience yet. Every time this drummer did a tom fill, he became almost completely inaudible. I think this drummer made the mistake of tuning his drums so that they sounded great to him as he sat behind them. Meanwhile, to those of us 10 feet away (very small club), the drums could barely be heard at all.

Specifically, I believe the drums were just tuned far too low. They got lost in the overall rumble of the band.
 
After having that experience with Simon a number of times, I investigated his tuning method and discovered that he tunes the top head and the bottom head to identical pitches. So needless to say, that's how I've tuned ever since.
I either do as Simon Phillips does or have the reso head a little above the batter, depending on the sound I'm after.
 
Specifically, I believe the drums were just tuned far too low. They got lost in the overall rumble of the band.
I think that's the single most common mistake drummers make when tuning - too low, and too muffled. In the studio, that's great - do what you wanna. But if you want a drum to be heard and project any tone in a live environment, you have to tune up.

As for the folks who don't understand why one would muffle one head to tune, it's the only real way to isolate what each head is doing, down to the individual lug. Yes, the drum sounds different, but experience teaches you what your efforts with each individual head will produce as a whole. I also recognize that lots of tuning methods don't rely on that level of precision, but if one desires it, you gotta muffle the opposite head, IME.
 
As for the folks who don't understand why one would muffle one head to tune, it's the only real way to isolate what each head is doing, down to the individual lug.
It’s not the only way ;)

You can use a drum dial, tune-bot or especially a resotune. If you tune both the same for max sustain it’s not a much of a problem. But if you tune your reso tighter to control overtones you get an entirely different fundamental pitch than either head will be by itself.
 
It’s not the only way ;)

You can use a drum dial, tune-bot or especially a resotune. If you tune both the same for max sustain it’s not a much of a problem. But if you tune your reso tighter to control overtones you get an entirely different fundamental pitch than either head will be by itself.
That's probably true - I learned to tune the way I do long before any of those tools came along.

I'll revise my statement to say, the only real way for me to accurately hear the individual lug pitch is by dampening the opposite head while I tap at each lug. 😉
 
I can't hear doodle so I now use a drum dial and a pitch tune app (iDrum pro lite). I really like the drum dial to clear the heads and achieve even tension across heads. The drum dial tensions are really useful across toms and tunings-so you can get a starter point and tune super fast. I can get an even, cleared head starting tension really fast that will get me in ball park of pitch I want-then just fine tune. Like Emerald says "BAM". No mo tapping on heads near lugs or worry of each lug pitch of both heads. I just keep tension even as I tune either head up or down and whack only batter for pitch. I use to spend an inordinate amount of time tuning both heads.
I like the Tune bot pitch suggestions-I believe I've tried all of them. The tension on head impacts timbre of sound as well as pitch.
 
I always find that putting the drum on rug or a pillow doesnt tell me the actual sound im tuning to. i always tune my toms mounted by ear.
Seems funny to mute one head while tuning the other as when you actually play the drums you are gonna hear both heads (and how they interact).

The purpose of it is to clearly hear the pitch of the head you're trying to get in tune with itself.

If you know how you like a drum tuned, it's a good idea to know how you got it that way, rather than starting from scratch every time you change a head.
You can do this by knowing the pitch of each head which gives you that desired end result. And muffling one head while tuning the other is logical.
 
Here's what I'm talking about pitch and timbre. I tuned these shallow compact single headed concert toms 8 in, 10 in, 12 in to same pitch 110 Hz A2 with my phone pitch app. Now the tension with drum dial was different and 70 for 8 in tom and 75 highest for 12 in tom. So in this recording I strike the 8 in tom first , then 10, but it sounds like it cascades in reverse going from low to high pitch-but the pitch is the same. They are all three 110 hz in pitch so it has to be the tension and overtones timbre it to sound brighter and appearance of higher pitch.
 

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I always find that putting the drum on rug or a pillow doesnt tell me the actual sound im tuning to.
It gets you to base camp, with each head properly tuned and each tension rod tightened evenly. Very hard to do that on the stand with both heads interacting with each other.
I will check the pitch and overall sound of the drum once it is in mounted position.
 
The purpose of it is to clearly hear the pitch of the head you're trying to get in tune with itself.

If you know how you like a drum tuned, it's a good idea to know how you got it that way, rather than starting from scratch every time you change a head.
You can do this by knowing the pitch of each head which gives you that desired end result. And muffling one head while tuning the other is logical.
I can honestly say there is no way i will rememebr for the next time how the drum sounds on a pillow vs on a mount. I cant see any benefit from tuning on a pillow.
It gets you to base camp, with each head properly tuned and each tension rod tightened evenly. Very hard to do that on the stand with both heads interacting with each other.
I will check the pitch and overall sound of the drum once it is in mounted position.
So, you have to tune it twice? just mount it and tune it once, no one is listenting close enough live to tell the difference. Does anyone really appraoch a drummer with a good sound and ask if they used the pillow method to tune? that would be a first I think. Im going to replace my floor tom head soon and ill hand tighten, press to crack the glue and seat it, and tune it once. I know ill get the reply "that works for you" but honestly, that woork for everyone.
 
I can honestly say there is no way i will rememebr for the next time how the drum sounds on a pillow vs on a mount. I cant see any benefit from tuning on a pillow.

So, you have to tune it twice? just mount it and tune it once, no one is listenting close enough live to tell the difference. Does anyone really appraoch a drummer with a good sound and ask if they used the pillow method to tune? that would be a first I think. Im going to replace my floor tom head soon and ill hand tighten, press to crack the glue and seat it, and tune it once. I know ill get the reply "that works for you" but honestly, that woork for everyone.

It seems to me you are misunderstanding the purpose and the process of muting one head. It's not a "pillow tuning method". All it does is silence one head so that you can more easily hear the pitch of each lug position on the other head. This is not tuning the drum, it's tuning the head. The tuned drum (fundamental pitch) is the result of both individually tuned heads.
 
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