What the *F* am I doing wrong? Your feedback is appreciated.


Senior Member
Hi everyone. If you've seen my other posts, you'll know that I just got a great deal on a new 6-pc Mapex Saturn kit. I picked it up on Saturday, but I'm having a hell of a time getting it to sound the way I want. You see, this is my first acoustic kit (previously I've been playing Roland V-drums) and I am really not sure how to tune these drums properly. I've read ad-nausium the posts about tuning. I've visited YouTube and watched the videos and I even invested in a Drum Dial.

Yesterday, I spent about 2 1/2 hours just between the snare and 2 of my 4 toms (10 & 12). It's frustrating because I'd like to be playing/practicing instead of tuning and adjusting, especially since I only have about an hour or so from the time I get home from work, until it's too late to make noise (courtesy of the neighbors and a small child).

Here's my problem. Up until yesterday, when I kicked the bass, the 10" tom would ring and the 14" snare would buzz. I added a pillow in the bass drum - which helped the sound, but the snare still buzzed. After using the drum dial on the snare (bottom 75-78 & top 80-82), I can now play the bass drum without the snare buzzing - one problem solved! But now, I am getting a long reverberating ring from the 10" tom when I hit it. I have tuned it as much as I *think* I can, (bottom 74 & top 75), but it still isnt right. Also, one of the lugs is completely loose, but it's still showing over 75 on the drum dial - all the other lugs are fine. I'm wondering if the heads just sound like crap on this kit or if I am doing something wrong. I havent even attempted the 14 or the 16 floor toms yet.

Never having tuned a kit before isnt helping me, but I am feeling like I am wasting valuable playing/practicing time. It is easy for me to power on my Roland and play away - and I'm having a hard time getting used to the acoustic kit. I've paid so much for this now - that I want it to sound good. Without knowing any other local drummers in the neighborhood to help - what can I do.

Lastly, I notice that my technique is struggling on the new kit, whereas on the electronic kit, it feels tight and natural. Perhaps it lulled me into a false sense of security and my technique is not as good as I thought. Now that I have to be more precise (velocity, accuracy, etc). Perhaps it was just a bad idea to buy an acoustic kit after only 6-months of lessons.

Anyway - please.. Help - I'm frustrated and starting to regret my purchase.


Silver Member
I think your problem is the conversion to a acoustic kit.
Of course you are used of your Roland kit and it sounds great to you. You cannot expect a sound like that from your acoustic kit unless you use mics and run it through a mixer.
But here is something that could help you.
Put on some hearing protection earphones, and your kit will sound much better,because it drowns out the some of the frequency.
Of course it doesn't give you an excuse not to tune the drums.


Senior Member
I want it to sound good to others too ;) I thought about getting a headset, simply so I can pipe in a metronome, but didnt think about it for my "sound" perspective. Perhaps video or audio recording myself may alleviate some of my initial fears...

It reminds me of a motorcycle I have. When I first put on the new pipes, I was hearing noises, when I was wearing my open face helmet. When I put my full face helmet on, miraculously the noises stopped. Was it that the bike was no longer making the noises or was I now unable to hear them for one reason or another.

If a tree falls in the woods and there's nobody there to see it, does it make a sound?


Platinum Member
First of all congrats on your kit. I played electronics back in the 80's. The feel as you are aware is much different so don't try and compare the two.

I also bought a drum dial and a torque drum key and both are collecting dust. I finally received help from a member of this forum "cdrums21" He taught me how to tune to musical notes. I bought a Boss DB 30 metronome/tuner He gave me a starting place re: what note for what tom etc.

On my 10" tom I have the top head tunes to a C and in my case I tuned the bottom head to a C as well, you can also tune the bottom head a minor third or major third higher to cut down on the ring. A minor third would be 3 notes higher than the C and a major third would be 4 notes higher than the C. My 12"tom is tuned to a G and my 14" works well as an D with the reso head tuned to an E.

cdrums21 goes into more detail and explains it much better than me. But I can tell you it works, you just need to get each lug to sound as close to the note as possible. If you search under tom tuning on this site you will find detail on this, I think around post 50

If I can be of any assistance please reply.

Also, what shape are the heads in on your kit? What ply, how old?


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Senior Member
Everything is 6-8 months old - brand new , never played. Shells are 6-ply (4 maple outside, 2 walnut inside); heads are Remo weatherkings.


Senior Member
It's good that you've spent a few hours experimenting with tuning. That's going to help you get a lot faster with it.

I got one of those drum dials maybe a couple of years ago, tried it a couple of times, and put it back in the box. I haven't had it out in forever, because as far as I can tell, it doesn't really work for me. I have a Tama Starclassic Maple set, and I think the die-cast hoops make it useless. Does your Mapex have die-cast hoops? With those stiff hoops, you can completely loosen a lug, and the dial will still show tension at that point. I would just learn to do it by ear if I were you, and then maybe go back and see if the dial can help you.


Platinum Member
Have you read the Drum Tuning Bible?

You can't eliminate snare buzz, not entirely. It's a part of the drum kit's sound, and it will be barely audible in an actual playing situation. It works like harmonic distortion in old tape recordings, making the instrument sound fuller and warmer.


Senior Member
Yes, as a matter of fact, I just downloaded the pdf and started reading it in hopes that I could gain more knowledge about the subject. I'm not normally one of those guys that skips the research and jumps right in to post - I at least try to search google and the forums first - then ask my question. There is SO much info on the topic - but DTB seems to be a good reference. I'll dig in more today.


What you also need to remember is that the drum sounds of an e-kit are EQ'd, compressed and probably a whole bunch of studio trick has been applied to them. Same with any drum kit you hear on a recording. Your drums will never sound as clean as the electronic ones. Not without excessive muffling, or running them through a mixer compressing and gating the sounds. From up close, your drums will also sound higher and more ringy than from, say, 30 feet away.
My point is that you just gotta tune your drums to how they sound the nicest, without worrying about the overall pitch. The pitch the audience perceives is somehow always much lower than what you will hear.
I'm not sure if you already knew this, hope it helps.


Platinum Member
You can always take one of your drums to your local drum shop and have someone tune it. That way you will have a guide and someone with a "drum ear" that can detect any problems.

Tune your drums with the snares off the snare drum to focus on your bass drum and toms.
Next tune your snare. Realize that you will never achieve the clean sound of an electronic kit. You are going to have snare buzz with a bass drum and toms....that's the beauty and
bain of an acoustic kit.

Good luck.


Senior Member
After reading through the DTB, looks like I will need to remove both heads and start from scratch. It seems that I dont know enough about tuning and that much of these problems can be corrected to some extent. Sounds like proper tuning is quite a tedious process and I should just be patient, but once I get it where I want, hopefully it won't take me as long in the future (or until I replace the heads).

I also know that I need to understand that the sound quality will be totally different from my e-kit. Guess I've been spoiled by it's perfect tone and pitch and I was expecting more because of the level of kit I bought. I've also learned it's a hell of a lot easier to play e-kits because as long as you are striking the pad right, you get roughly the same sound, where as with the acoustic kits, errors in velocity, accuracy and consistency are more unforgiving. It's really like starting over and this transition is very tough.

I knew I was a beginner and my skills were not yet developed completely, but this transition has made me very humble. I will stick with it though - despite my need for instant gratification. I will resist the urge to go back to playing the e-kit and continue to work acoustically.


Gold Member
Hey Zoot, I have never played the e-kit, but I too was initially experiencing the same issues when I got my first acoustic kit a little over a month ago...it will definately teach you patience, and humble you daily! It is such a joy to have them in our lives...as most will attest to. Drums are great! Enjoy, it only gets better


Senior Member
Thanks - I hope it doesnt get worse ;) j/k

There are so many things I like about the V-drums, for instance, I can put on headphones or turn the amp down and nobody can hear me mess up (but me of course). Also, I get so many different sounds, it's like having hundreds of drums & cymbals, all tuned and ready to go, and most importantly, I can sit down and not have to fool with it - just start playing.

But on the other hand, I like the acoustic kit too. It will help me lessen the learning curve when I go from practice to lesson, because I wont have to worry about the difference from electric (at home) to acoustic (at lesson). That to me was a big hurdle and I was finding that simple beats and concepts I got down pat on my e-kit, I was struggling with in lesson for some reason. I really can't wait to get this kit sounding the way it should so I can play it instead of playing with it.

I think the biggest thing for me is (and this may sound very bad), especially now that I am "LOUD", I want it to sound good to everyone else around me too. With my e-kit, it sounded good, period and if I sucked, nobody could hear my mistakes. Now, my neighbors must be thinking how bad I really am and I bet they wish I would just stop (I know that's what I would be thinking), and I'm sure my girl and her son wish I never got the obnoxious thing (although they would never say that to my face because they are both supportive).
Maybe it's just me being overly-self conscience. I normally don't care what people think and should just understand that I am a beginner who needs to practice.


all in all i would choose an acoustic set over an electric almost every time. the only times that i feel an electric set would be useful is for quiet practice and maybe for making home recording easier. but once you get used to acoustic i can guarantee that you will fall in love with it. it really is better, it has more "heart". similar to the way digital sound is higher in quality, but going back and listening to a good vinyl record sounds soo good because it has more warmth and more soul. and with that Mapex set you can get some great tone and resonance. the most important thing is just to play with it. You'll get it eventually. its all just a matter of experimentation and experience.


Senior Member
I agree - I just need time. I work Sunday through Wednesday, so I'll have more "leisure" time on Thursday and Friday to play around and get em right. It's frustrating because I don't have the time during the work-week, and as it is I don't get enough time to practice, so this is killing me. I feel I've been wasting time with this kit for the last 3 days when I should be working on my chops!


Junior Member
Hi Zoot,

I feel your pain. I am a beginning drummer and just got new heads for my toms and have tried to tune for the first time. I spent at least 2 hours on the first tom over two different sessions, I'm not kidding at all. The second one went much faster, but then i realized the first tom i did was tuned way too high so i had to do it over. that went much faster too.

My suggestion would be to watch TV or a movie while you are tuning, it makes it much less tedious. I have the drum on the couch next to me so the head on the bottom is muffled and i just tap tap away until the tip of my finger starts hurting :)

Also i was interested to see that my little Korg tuner actually picks up the pitch of the heads, or if need be i can mimic the pitch i hear into the tuner and get the note that way.

Also i hope you are always wearing hearing protection while drumming!



Senior Member
Yeah - I just bought a pair of Vic Furth sound-isolation headphones to pipe in my metronome and ipod. That will help. I have some regular foam earplugs I can use too.

Like I said, I just need more time to play around with em. I can't wait until my next day off (Thursday), so I can just screw off all day. I'll fool around with em in the morning- then go to my lesson in the afternoon - then crack a beer or two to hopefully finish it up in the evening before my sweetie gets home from work.

I'm mostly frustrated because I wanted to jump right in and start practicing with the kit - my time is so limited, I feel like I've wasted 3 days of practice already and I hate being under-prepared for my weekly lesson. 30 minutes goes by so quick (especially if we BS a bit), so I like to get all I can in, without having to back-track because I didnt do my "homework".


Pioneer Member
Zoot, I can only reiterate the realisations you've already made yourself. Not only is your first time practicing on the real thing, you've spent a lot of time prior playing on an ekit; anyone who uses them will tell you that the stick response the pads give you are highly deceptive, and over time your hand technique will 'soften up' accordingly. Plus, the electronics give you one or two guaranteed tones whereever or however you hit the pads. The real thing requires much more precision, control and experience to get a tone that is consistent and pleasing to the ear.

You're at the start of what may inevitably be a depressing/frustrating switch over, but you're on the road, and you've learnt a lesson.


Senior Member
Yep - except when I started 6-months ago, I knew I didnt know $#!T and everything from holding the stick to basic rudiments were new. Now, I've learned a few things and felt comfortable that I was making progress - however I'm quickly realizing I have to start from the beginning with this kit and re-train myself.

Fortunately, technique will eventually prevail and I will adapt and continue to grow. It will just take time to get accustomed to the new style.

As for the tuning - I'll just take it one drum head at-a-time and see if I can clean up the sound. I may have to break out the practice pad or go back to the e-kit to work my chops in the meantime so I don't continue to frustrate myself that I am not practicing.