Tuning opinion...

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
I don't know which one is tighter, but I tune the batter and reso to the same pitch - with the exception of my 16" floor tom. On that one, the reso head is pitched higher.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
If my drum is tuned high I like them the same, but on a medium tuning I prefer the reso tighter by a 3rd, 4th, 5th or an octave depending on my mood.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
If my drum is tuned high I like them the same, but on a medium tuning I prefer the reso tighter by a 3rd, 4th, 5th or an octave depending on my mood.
That makes a ton of sense. Lower to mid tunings is all about shell excitement. Most drum shells are difficult to excite with low frequencies. They just don't have the resonance profile to respond at most achievable dynamics. Cranking the resonant head helps deliver higher frequencies that more readily excite the shell, & in turn, render more tone into the resolved sound.

At higher tunings, you've likely achieved the desired optimum excitement, so now it's all about lengthening the head sustain (& to a lesser extent, the fundamental note) you've already shortened by raising the pitch. This is best achieved with heads at the same pitch.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
Andy and Larry I wish you guys would come to my house and teach me how to tune! I used to think I could tune a drum. And I know the mechanics very well. This definately falls into the category of the more I know the less I know. Anymore I am just never satisfied.

Recently I have changed heads and am now close micing my drums for live gigs and maybe I have too many variations to play with. It is an ongoing struggle for me. So I read everything I can in this forum about tuning drums.

I chimed in really just to say thanks for always offering your thoughts on tuning. And the same to all you other drummers that offer your expertise.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
here is an email I received from Steve Maxwell a few months back after enquiring about his tuning philosophy .....

I always loved how all the drums in his store sound....they all have such gorgeous pitch and tone and just sound great from behind and out front ... and the drums just really feel great to the touch

this works great on all my Gretsch kits .... but I enjoy a higher tuning than most who play more rock music

take it for what it is worth

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi Anthony,
So sorry it took so long to respond to your email. Here's what we do for tuning: Top head is always tighter than the bottom. This is true for snares, toms and bass drums. Think of the bottom head for resonance and the top for pitch. With the bottom head at maybe 1 turn per rod, take the top head to about 1.5 turns and start there. That's about the right balance between top and bottom. Use the top to adjust the pitch. If you bring the pitch up a fair amount then tweak the bottom up a bit as well to keep about the same balance of the top being a bit tighter than the bottom. I use Remo coated Ambassador heads and use those on the bass drum batter side as well. I usually don't change the stock Gretsch resonant head which is a Remo Ambassador anyhow.

With this tuning philosophy the drums project better. When people tune the bottom tighter than the top, the drums lose resonance and also do not project out to the audience. All they do is project up to the player. So, on stage, the player thinks he's killing it sound-wise but out in the audience no one can hear the drums unless you have each one close mic'd and run through a house mix. So, in an acoustic environment our tuning method gives you the best resonance and projection for the drums and also provides better response off the head.

It's all a matter of personal preference of course, so I never say that our method is the only one. It's just what works for us and since a lot of people like how our drums sound I am glad to share the info.

Hope this is helpful!

Steve
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
That's interesting, Tony...

I have recently been messing around with the reso being looser for my bigger drums... In the past I had been shy about trying that because most of the people I talk to almost universally say "reso head tighter" gets you a more succinct cleaner note, and that looser reso heads will cause the drum to give a pitch bend sound in the note.

The reason I'm responding to you is that I also remember you saying the same thing, to an even greater degree! I am not about to go find it, but I remember you saying that you pretty much always tuned your reso head really tight "like timbale tight", and then your batters are JAW.

Have you converted recently to this method? Even on your smaller high toms?
 

Mediocrefunkybeat

Platinum Member
I've always had tighter batters than reso head, particularly with my bass drums. The funny thing is that drums that are tuned a little higher on the batters tend to have more presence and actually sound louder and clearer in front. Most people tune far too low on their batter heads and they sound mushy and the sound lacks clarity. I would never advocate a 'loose' resonant head but I want one that can vibrate with the lower tones and transmit some of that energy.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
That's interesting, Tony...

I have recently been messing around with the reso being looser for my bigger drums... In the past I had been shy about trying that because most of the people I talk to almost universally say "reso head tighter" gets you a more succinct cleaner note, and that looser reso heads will cause the drum to give a pitch bend sound in the note.

The reason I'm responding to you is that I also remember you saying the same thing, to an even greater degree! I am not about to go find it, but I remember you saying that you pretty much always tuned your reso head really tight "like timbale tight", and then your batters are JAW.

Have you converted recently to this method? Even on your smaller high toms?
I experimented immediately after that response from Steve and have not gone back since .... I love the sound and response I'm getting

I was always a crank the reso guy ... not anymore

I will admit that I do not use this tuning method on snares ... I love my snare sound and feel too much to mess with

but toms and bass drum without question ... and yes even on smaller toms

it's not for everyone .. as you know tuning is very personal

but I feel this method gives me the sound and feel that I am looking for

for close mic'd loud rock gigs I may go to my old method ... but for jazz , hip hop and R&B which I play mostly these days.... I use Steves method
 

Starship Krupa

Senior Member
Oh dear, just when I get satisfied with the tuning of my toms....

I've been a cranked reso guy for a while, just trying to keep it dry. Now I want to try loosening them a bit.

At least now I've gotten good enough with iDrumTune that my tuning is repeatable.

I can fiddle with it all I want and if I don't like it, I can take it back to the lug pitches I have recorded.
 

Justin Time

Junior Member
It really depends on the drum and the overall sound you are looking for.

On my Gretsch Catalina Birch the resos are slightly tighter than the batters. On my Ludwig Vistalites the resos are looser than the batters...there are so many variables its very hard to just say one way is the way to go....
 

Beam Me Up Scotty

Silver Member
I tend to keep my toms tuned up at about a medium-high tension, with the resos a bit looser than my batters. This gives me the perfect amount of sustain and pitch I'm looking for, both behind the kit, and in to the audience.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I remember my first teacher saying tension the batter head for rebound, tension the resonant head for pitch. Honestly, I hated the sound of his drums (though he was a fantastic player and teacher, and I was a punk kid). Maybe I will need to revisit the lower reso head tuning, though truthfully I am very happy with the way I tune now and how it sounds under a mic.
 

shemp

Silver Member
This is an excellent thread....very interesting to learn and see others' tuning concepts. I'm a less experienced drummer than likely everyone here, and I also have come to believe that there is no correct answer with tuning...UNLESS there is a specific artists' tone you want to emulate; then the answer is that artist's tuning method.

What confounds it even more for me is that I hear so many kits that sound great...yet are tuned different.

My response to the whole thing, for my tastes, is to tune for tone first...and let the rest of it fall where it may. All this means is that I have a good idea of how I want my 12" Tom to sound and I tune it to sound that way. It starts with getting a read on the fundamental of the shell and using it as a baseline for the tone of the drum. Whatever *absolute* tension that equates to is what it is...as well as the ratio of top to bottom tension; which in my case usually ends up to be equal.
 

Derek

Silver Member
I have to admit that when I first read the title my initial reaction was, "really, another tuning thread?", but after reading through it I'm impressed. A very thoughtful sharing of ideas, experiences and opinions. Nice food food for thought in here. Good thread.
 

TheDrumster

Senior Member
I have always tuned the batter side lower. Not sure why exactly but it's probably something I read at some point. Based on this thread, I'm going to try tuning the batter head tighter.

I also wonder the effect of the heads on deciding which to tune tighter, and by how much. For example, I typically use a G2 on top and a G1 on the bottom. I wonder if I used a single ply on both whether it would affect how much tighter I would tune the batter head....
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
I like to go for the higher jazz tunings, really makes my toms stand out especially for louder music.

Tony, I'm going to give the non-cranked reso again. I normally go for a higher tensioned reso because I like the sound and response that it gives. My normal method of tuning the batter to where it sounds good and sings and tuning the reso till it goes "plink plink" has not worked on my Acrolite. I cannot tune this damn snare drum to my liking. After the 3rd Ludwig 14x5 Aluminum snare I'm starting to think that its me.

I'm going to try Steve's method, shoot for a lower reso and slightly higher batter, get out the drum key and really take my time with this snare. I have heard many Acros/400 Supras that sound wonderful so I know it can be done.
 

phillyb™

Member
reading this thread just makes me realize i have no idea what i'm doing.
i watched a video about piecing together a kit and it covered tuning very briefly. the consensus was to have the resonance head tighter than the batter head.
and that's what i did.
but i don't think my toms sound very good.
 
Top