tuning a 12" snare

TWerner

Senior Member
Hi Everyone,

I bought my son a 12" Gretch side snare to play for a while until we give him a full drum set for his birthday in a few months.

Out of the box, it sounded awful! So I watched Bob Gatzen's you tube video where he tunes what looks like a 14" snare, and followed along, tuning the 12" snare to the A on the bottom and the C on the top. He went to C#.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxm3QunDjUs

It sounds 100% better than when I took it out of the box! I may have cheated a bit. I used the Evans Torque Key to get close to pitch, then used my guitar tuner, and the regular key that came with the drum, to tune to pitch. I had to tap the way Mr Gatzen does, then sing the notes I heard to find out how close I was to pitch. The tuner doesn't pick up the drum note.

I was reading online, and most threads that give a fundamental pitch seem to recommend lower pitches for the 14", so this seemed a great place to start. I figured I wouldn't break anything tuning to those pitches since Mr. Gatzen tuned a 14". Anyway, are A and C reasonable pitches for a 12" snare?
 

uniin

Gold Member
if it sounds good to you then its fine... i usually get my 12" snare about the same pitch as my 14" snares, but my 12" snare has a lot more room to go higher... though not much to go lower.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
You are going to want to tune to a sound depending on the music and not so much a note. the wrench is good for getting a change of heads a good reference point but I would learn to tune by ear. Most 12 inch snares are used for a side and tuned very high.
 

TWerner

Senior Member
Since a 14" will come with most sets, I got the 12" for him to use until we give him a full set as a present. I figured he wouldn't need 2 14" snares as a beginner, but since right now it's the only drum, maybe I should leave it where it is rather than tune it higher.

I also got him a used New Beat 14" hi hat that came with a stand, and since he knows he's getting a drum set for his birthday, I'm wondering if we should just give him the bass drum out of that set with the hi hat and let him start on those 3 pieces.

I'm not sure playing just the snare is any more educational than the drum pad alone, but maybe it is since it has multiple sounds. What would you do, let him play the snare alone then jump to a 4 or 5 piece kit plus cymbals, or give him the hi hat and bass drum to use with the snare for a few months since he's been playing a pad for almost a year already.
 

tommydarden

Junior Member
As far as letting him just play the snare for now, by all means, yes. This will help him learn sticking techniques that he'll learn to apply on a full kit. Certain rudiments can only be played on a drum with a rim. It will also help him with his volume, crescendo/decrescendo. I began playing drums in 6th grade, concert snare, and didn't fully explore the drum kit until high school. By then, I had marched for a season, and had my rudiments down, and was amazed at being diverse on the drumset. Hope this helps!
 

tommydarden

Junior Member
Depending on your and his patience and his skill level so far, you can also do independent work on the bass drum alone and work it in with the snare gradually. This will help develop his footwork considerably. I know that it will become monotonous, but it will be a great benefit to him, and his abililties will grow, as well as his confidence!
 

TWerner

Senior Member
Thanks guys. He does practice the rudiments on the snare now and the exercises from his Alfred book and the other two technique books on the pad. They're the books everyone seems to recommend, stick control maybe, and something else? That's only because we don't have a music stand where the snare is right now, but he can rest the pad on his bed. Good to know that just the snare is going to be helpful compared to the pad, and will consider adding in the bass alone as a next step. I think one of the books actually has a bass drum line below the snare line.

When I brought it in to get a mount, the guy at Guitar Center said it was "dead on" when he checked the tuning. Somebody needs to make a guitar type tuner that can tune based on a short burst of sound like a drum. My listen and sing method worked, but it's very slow. BTW, I am amazed at how loud that snare drum is in a small room! He's wearing 29db ear muffs when he plays it.
 

tommydarden

Junior Member
I have to say this, as far as tuning. It should never be anything other than the player's preference, and wat works with the style of music as far as drum tuning. While you do want to tune them so they don't sound dead, or like a piece of garbage bag rattling in the wind, the overall sound should be what you prefer. As far as the volume of the snare, try this trick I used when I was learning, and didn't want my parents trying to commit Hari Kari... Take a small dish towel, or wash cloth, some duct tape, and drape about 1/3 to 1/2 of the rag/towel near the top half of the snare where you don't strike. This will dampen the sound quite a bit, without interfering with the tuning, or response. Your ears will thank you.
 

tommydarden

Junior Member
Another tip for you. A cheap way to practice for the full kit, and get good results... go to a local discount store... purchase a few mouse pads.... when he wants to practice, set them in varying positions on a table or other hard surface. He can learn to transition from drum to drum, as well as crossover techniques, scrapes, etc.. and mouse pads are cheap! It helps me keep my hands and arms fresh. Did I mention that mouse pads are cheap?
 

TWerner

Senior Member
Mouse pads are a great idea. I got scared though, and a day ago I won a 10 piece set of DW Dead Heads online for $31. I'd have paid that for the snare mute alone after being in the room without ear protection for a few minutes.
 

tommydarden

Junior Member
Sounds like you got a good deal. I only recommended them for the transition and crossover drills. A friend of mine who is very well known in the drum world for his massive kit and ostinato & poly-rhythmic style once told me that practicing on surfaces softer than an actual drum head help develop the tendons and muscles used in the hand and wrist and help you build the muscle memory to perform those type of motions. And, one more thing; When it comes to grip and method, once he gets the basics of rudiments, and a good meter, allow him to find his own grip style. I am not sure why I felt the need to say this, other than I once had a drum teacher who told me many times that my grip wasn't proper. This caused me to have some hang ups, and once I found a teach whose goal was sticking techniques with your own personal grip style, I was able to move beyond them.
 
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