Tuning

highwayman65251

Junior Member
I a lot of drummers are using chromatic tuners to tune their drums. I am one of them. For some years now, though, another idea has knocked around my brain. I would think that every drum has it's own natural harmonic and that it is this harmonic to which a drum should be tuned. What do you think? How does one find this natural harmonic?
 

CreeplyTuna

Silver Member
Most drums do have a sweet spot, and I think a tuner should really just be for getting equal tension all around the drum and help retune the drum to exactly where you like it. My 2 cents.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Each drum having a natural harmonic? Only one? I think all round and true drums have a range of harmonics where they will respond nicely. If there is only one note that is "better" sounding than the others on a single drum....I don't think that's the case. There's a certain range which I'm guessing would span most of an octave. In fact I'd go as far as to say that any 12" tom, for example, from any manufacturer, with identical heads, identical depth, hoops etc. will have basically the same limited range of notes where it will sing out. The drumhead is most of the tone from a drum, and a 12" drumhead on a Sonor tom will react much the same as a 12" head on an Export tom. IMO. It's not magic, a 12" drum is a 12" drum and will make 12" drum frequencies.

Besides, "sweet spots" are subjective. Who's to say that a 12" tom tuned low and growling sounds sweeter than a bop tuned 12" tom? Ear of the beholder and all that.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
I would simply look for the drum's fundamental frequency, then by keeping both heads in tune with themselves, the spurious harmonics will be held to a minimum.

Dennis
 

double_G

Silver Member
i call it the resonant frequency of the shell. take off the heads & hit it w/ a timpani mallet or sing into it (pitch bend up or down) until the shell rings. then tune to that note - low octave or high octave. been doing this since the 90s & finally got it worked out plus i use a http://www.tune-bot.com/ to get the lug frequencies & iron out the general tuning nuttiness.
 

vxla

Silver Member
I tune a 5th above the timbre note on my DW Collectors and find it to be great. The timbre note is a good reference, but I find drums higher to be more preferable to my ears.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I understand the speed of quick tuning gadgets, and utility for new drummers, but think that after awhile the drummer should have trained his/her ears as much as everything else.

I use my ears to find the fundamental frequency or 'sweet spot' to my ears, and then hit the damn things.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Sweet spots vary from drum to drum. It's something you can hear tuning the drum by ear. Every drum has certain frequencies that excite the shell and cause it to resonate.

As you're tuning, bring up the tension gradually on a drum and you'll notice certain pitches where it really "sings," where the shell is resonating most with the heads. As you continue to raise the tension, you'll find some tunings that are relatively dead by contrast, and then you'll go back into tunings that sing.

I suggest learning to do this by ear before employing a tuning device.
 

bennyboyt

Member
I think the trouble is when you start out you don't know what the 'sweet spot' is, I myself still can't seem to tune a tom very well, instead relying on moongel to cover my inefficiencies.
 

thewedge

Junior Member
First, tuning escapes a lot of drummers because of problems with the drum itself. Dings in the edges, out of round, bent hoops, damaged collars in the heads, etc....does not take much of any of this to add complexity to the process. Assuming all is good with the drum, I can offer some pointers.

#1 - The notion that a drum has one pitch that will make it come alive is difficult to swallow. I agree they all have ranges, but that is a factor of the composition of the drum, harwdare, and head. If there was only one magic spot in a wood instrument, you would never be able to tune a guitar. Each type of drum will have a range where it breathes and will choke above that or loose it's tone below that.

#2 - I was fortunate to have spent a lot of time early on with some really good drum tuners. The primary skill to learn in tuning (IMHO) is recognizing that point when the head is just getting it's lowest tone at each lug. It it actually something you FEEL when you tap it with the tip of your finger more than it is listening to a sound. The head just starts getting enough tension to hold firm when you tap it and a clear tone is present versus a thump. Using a star type pattern you can quickly set the drum to this feel...and the drum will be amazingly even when you tap it with a stick. It will also be at it's lowest fundamental in it's range. It's pretty simple to raise the pitch from there and keep it all even.

#3 - New Heads - Another anomaly in tuning is the adjustments that happen to the head as it seats itself and loosens in the collar. All heads take time to really seat on the drum and stay where you tune them. Remo takes a little more time than others, but they sound great. The way you can tell if a head has become seated is to find that lowest fundamental tension and then press down on the head with the heel of your hand. If the tension is lowered below the fundamental, the head is still adjusting in it's collar.

What I find is that drummers have varying strategies for tuning and never really get enough experience with one to learn the nuances with it. I am not a fan of the tension tuners as they ignore problems with the drum or head as I listed above. Many drums have things you have to adjust for when tuning...the head may all read the same tension, but it will not be in tune.
Tuning to a note is OK if you know one you prefer in the tuning range of the drum...you still have to know how to get the drum head in tune first before giong to the note you want.

Wedge
 

vxla

Silver Member
Timbre notes are far too low on most drums (unless they have more mass and have a higher fundamental pitch). Find intervals that sound good and maintain those intervals between all the drums (minor 3rd, 4th, etc.).
 
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