Tuning a 4-piece

Ethan01

Senior Member
Hey guys, I want to share how I tune my 4-piece cause it's actually pretty simple. I tune my snare and floor tom an octave apart, and my rack and kick drum an octave apart. As for specific notes, well that's the next step! But I'm quite happy with the simplicity and sounds i get from this method and it's very pleasing, to my ear anyways =D
 

johanisu

Member
Be careful of tuning it to a particular tone, cos if you're playing in a key that doesn't have note it will sound at odds with the rest of the band... unless you're striving for dissonance. I just crank my rack up nice and tight and my floor nice and low, that way you get a nice distinction between the two.
 

Ethan01

Senior Member
Yup, I didn't mention the tuning between the snare and kick for instance. But to my ears, I really like the sound of my snare and floor being an octave apart, and my rack and kick the same. It sounds balanced for some reason.

As for tuning to notes themselves, yeah I haven't tried to yet because I don't have a tuned instrument in my practice room yet. But it's something I'm going to play around with soon.
 

Fishbones

Silver Member
Be careful of tuning it to a particular tone, cos if you're playing in a key that doesn't have note it will sound at odds with the rest of the band... unless you're striving for dissonance. I just crank my rack up nice and tight and my floor nice and low, that way you get a nice distinction between the two.
You could go the Buddy Rich route. I believe he said something about drums being indeterminable pitches - the note of them is perceived rather than heard. I guess if you spend enough time playing, you start coming up with theories like this...
 

Ethan01

Senior Member
Perhaps but with a tuned guitar, I was able to tune the notes to what I perceived last night! The snare and tom were very close to a 5th apart, so I tuned them to just that, then got the kick an octave lower than the tom. Bingo! Right now, they are Ab and Db and I guess that is in the key of Ab which isn't very versatile, but sounds really good to my ears for the drum sizes I use. I might play around with tuning everything a half step up or down, but for right now I'm pleased with this.

From a theoretical pov, tuning my kit a 5th apart is useful if you are in the key of the song.
 

Ethan01

Senior Member
You could go the Buddy Rich route. I believe he said something about drums being indeterminable pitches - the note of them is perceived rather than heard. I guess if you spend enough time playing, you start coming up with theories like this...
From a Physics standpoint (and I'm a graduate Physics student), there's some truth to that. Like a stringed instrument, a drum will have a fundamental (i.e. loud) note. Unlike a stringed instrument, the harmonics from a drum may not be in tune to the fundamental note. This is why a drum sound is very complex, yet not as pleasing as a violin or piano. Which is ok, since drums are staccato by nature, even a timpani. It has to do with the area of a drum (circle) vs. the length of the string.

Tuning forks and xylophones are a different thing altogether. Since you aren't hitting a round stretched surface, the higher harmonics will be different and designed to be in tune. So a xylophone and a drum can have the same fundamental (loud) note, but its higher harmonies are quite different. Thats the characteristic you hear.

Finally, a tuning fork is designed to minimize the higher harmonics so you mostly just get that fundamental note. I used a tuning fork to tune my guitar, then used the guitar to help tune my drum =D
 
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