Tuning Tom Heads To The Same Pitch

dboomer

Senior Member
The most often ignored factor in how your drums sound is the room itself. If you don't have an acoustically treated space (and I mean doing it right- not a bunch of cheap foam) you've likely got locations throughout the room where certain frequencies (particularly lower frequencies) aren't present. This could be where your ears are or where the drum is.
Lower frequencies are Limited by the shortest dimesnion in a room (usually ceiling height). Other than that you are generally talking about room nodes (the points at which standing waves tend to cancel out). Generally this is at quarter wave locations.
 

Gottliver

Senior Member
Batter and reso heads move in unison. There's no sort of phase cancellation happening there. The concept doesn't apply, at all.
They don’t. You hit the head and then it takes time for that to affect the reso head. By the time the reso is resonating the batter has moved on in it’s cycle. THEN the sound waves are reflected back to the batter head AND there are numerous reflections within drum affecting the resonance of both heads.

I would venture to guess that a lot of what is liked about the batter/reso being in tune is the phase cancellation. Like why we like a Strat in the 2nd and 4th position.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
They don’t. You hit the head and then it takes time for that to affect the reso head. By the time the reso is resonating the batter has moved on in it’s cycle. THEN the sound waves are reflected back to the batter head AND there are numerous reflections within drum affecting the resonance of both heads.
It also implies that the phase relationship between various depths will change. IE: a 16x14" FT is different than a 16x16", etc.
 
As I side note, I almost never tune batter and reso to the same pitch. We go into quite a bit of detail on all of this in our series, Sounds Like a Drum: https://www.youtube.com/soundslikeadrum
So do I, and by the way, thanks for your series man, it quickly became my new reference in terms of drum sound. The funniest part was the one about tuning to shell frequencies. Cody laughing all over his entire face made every further comment unnecessary.
 

Gottliver

Senior Member
It also implies that the phase relationship between various depths will change. IE: a 16x14" FT is different than a 16x16", etc.
Good point, but they both do have a half way point!! I don’t think the size of the wave is as relevant as the time it takes to reach the other side and bounce back. But after typing this, I think that is what you are referring.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
Good point, but they both do have a half way point!! I don’t think the size of the wave is as relevant as the time it takes to reach the other side and bounce back. But after typing this, I think that is what you are referring.

The length of the shell absolutely matters. A 14” drum has a 1/4 wave length of 240Hz and a 16” drum has one at 210Hz. So depending on what frequency (mainly the fundemental] is tuned, harmonics of those frequencies will mostly subtract and cancel out but some may add together a little.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
The F is higher than I usually go, but the guy in the vid at F sounded good, deep and full, deeper than mine at a lower pitch!

Are all vintage Ludwigs 3 ply with the rounded edge?
Yes, with the re-rings, until about 1976.

The phase relationship is important. When the heads cooperate together, to produce a long fundamental note -- that's what is meant by "in phase". Dimensions, the tension of each head, the relative tension of the two heads, all play a part. The bearing edge could also influence the phase relationship, but probably not as much as other factors.

A bad head will be problematic, too, but a head should be able to go through lots of tuning up and down before you'd wear it out, unless you're really cranking it up to heck and back.
 

Trip McNealy

Gold Member
Tunebot and Ludwig Classic Maples are my friends too! I have a 4-pc Classic Maple with the modern edges and Mini Classic lugs (circa 2013).

12" tom is tuned E batter / A resonant.
14" floor tom is tuned B batter / E resonant
14" snare is D over G or sometimes D# over G.

In all, these basically work out to be Perfect Fourths between heads. I use single ply G1 or UV1 over Reso 7's with some cotton balls in the toms. If you seek out DCP on YouTube they do a Ludwig shootout and that's where I got the tunings from. They sound incredible in the video and just about equally as such in person (at least on my kit!).

Another great resource is Kenny Sharetts on Youtube - he's a well known drum tech and produces a lot of videos on tuning and interval relationships. Find and experiment that works for your needs and drums!
 

Gottliver

Senior Member
The length of the shell absolutely matters. A 14” drum has a 1/4 wave length of 240Hz and a 16” drum has one at 210Hz. So depending on what frequency (mainly the fundemental] is tuned, harmonics of those frequencies will mostly subtract and cancel out but some may add together a little.
that frequency is based only on the length, the width or on length x diameter?
 

uhtrinity

Senior Member
I just picked up a tune bot about a month ago. All of my toms, 8" - 16", in 2" increments are tuned the same for top and bottom head (max reso), plus it's an easier tune. Personally I love it and two bar shows in have gotten great compliments on how the drums sound. One show we only miced the bass drum, the other had the toms miced by the house sound guy. There was a noticeable improvement in tone for both gigs. Btw, I run coated Evans G1's on the top and clear G1's on the bottom.

The drumbot tune isn't all that far from what I was doing by ear (within 10 - 20 hz on each drum), but is more precise on each drum as well as drum to drum stepping. The bass drum and snare have different tunes for batter and reso, but those are a different beast.

And on the topic of out of phase waves cancelling, if matching top / bottom head freq = max resonance, isn't that the opposite of cancelling? ;)
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
I tend to tune my reso's a third or 4th above my batters. gives a nice pitch bend, full sound and a good punch.

I think you might be mistaking resonance and that more full sound you get as the pitch bend sounds bigger covering more frequency's, but the same note is more resonant and produces a longer tone.

Either way the tune bot is great for experimenting. I recommend it 100%. The tune bot gets it in tune, your ears will tell you what you like.

Try some of the artist turnings. they are all decent and remember the drum sounds completely different under a mic.

I also agree the room will change your sound a ton as well.
 

ricky

Senior Member
To follow up, I got new heads, and the results are the same.

So I guess, for whatever reason, whether it's phase or the room or the tom itself, to my ears, this floor tom just doesn't sound good with the heads tuned the same.

Back to the reso at D# or E and the batter at B!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Try this. Tune the batter and reso to the same note, only an octave apart, with the reso being the higher octave.
 
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