Zero Head Tension for Snare batter

The Scorpio

Senior Member
For live gigs, I've been tuning my snare batter side completely loose. I mean zero tension, and it's been working out quite well. The snare drum is much quieter and it doesn't bleed into the vocal mics nearly as much, which has made my guitarist/engineers job way easier. The change in sound and the feel of the drum has taken alot of getting used to, but at least for the application I'm using it for, it seems to work very well.

Any of you had a similar experiences or thoughts?

Kyle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtgPJuxUyEI
Here's a quick demo of this method. I forgot to mention in the video that I've gaff-taped a folded up paper towel on the batter head to further focus the sound.
 
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GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I would love to hear a snare drum with zero tension. Do you mean lug screws out of the lugs or are you exaggerating . Double stroke rolls would be impossible as well as fast singles with no bounce. Not sure why you would do this.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Double stroke rolls would be impossible as well as fast singles with no bounce.
Not even remotely true. I do them all the time on negative bounce surfaces like carpets or soft pillows. Shouldn't rely on bounce for anything you do at the kit. Use it as a tool if it's there, but you should indeed be able to do a doubles roll on a floppy head if your wrists are up to par.
 

The Scorpio

Senior Member
I would love to hear a snare drum with zero tension. Do you mean lug screws out of the lugs or are you exaggerating . Double stroke rolls would be impossible as well as fast singles with no bounce. Not sure why you would do this.

I really should do a video demonstrating the sound and the sonic benefits. Most of the clubs I've played in are on the small side, and the snare drums tend to be overbearing. Waaay to loud. Yes, you can play the Snare softer, but for all out rock you kind of lose the visual impact of wacking the snare, and the tonal aggression of a heavy hit if you adjust your dynamics appropriately for the club. Tuning down that low takes care of both those issues. PLUS it makes mixing live heavy rock much easier because the snare bleed in the vocal mics is greatly reduced.

The lugs are still on, but they aren't touching the hoop at all. I also add a moon-gel or two because you're gonna get some wonky growl-y tones if you don't. I know it sounds dumb but for some applications it can make a world of difference.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
So are you saying the head is laying on the bearing edge and the rim is on top of the head. ?
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
I can't imagine playing like this. I crank the hell out of my batter heads. It took a LOT of practice to be able to play soft enough for some of the tiny rooms though.

I am curious to see a video of this too. When you say the lugs aren't touching, are you referring to the tension rods touching the hoops??
 

The Scorpio

Senior Member
I can't imagine playing like this. I crank the hell out of my batter heads. It took a LOT of practice to be able to play soft enough for some of the tiny rooms though.

I am curious to see a video of this too. When you say the lugs aren't touching, are you referring to the tension rods touching the hoops??

Yes I meant the tension rods, sorry I was typing fast and mixed up my terms. It really was quite weird making the switch but I'm just gonna have to do a video because it's pretty cool, just unorthodox as can be
 

chris J

Senior Member
I would imagine that it sounds like that Don Henley "Hotel California" or "Long Run" snare drum sound.....?
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Have you seen the trick of just de-tuning the one lug closest to your snare hand? A similar effect of a fat wet sound, but with a bit more tone and "bounce".
 

The Scorpio

Senior Member
Have you seen the trick of just de-tuning the one lug closest to your snare hand? A similar effect of a fat wet sound, but with a bit more tone and "bounce".

I have messed around with that trick before and it also works really well! Still felt like a bit too much volume, but it does tame the high end, which is sort of the whole point for me. The snare is present but it's also not making people right in front of the stage involuntarily close their eyes on the snare hits.
 

The Scorpio

Senior Member
check this out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjLBI55_c_k

I found this guy on the pearl drum forum. Here is what he wrote in the post with this video link:

"Hello!
I've got a new vid from the studio with The Cookies, but this time I also wanted to post my thoughts about snare drum tuning. I've played lots of rock and fusion for some time and I've always tuned my snare drums very high in order to obtain some cut and very aggressive rimshots. I wasn't into experimenting with snare drum tuning outside of a certain range I felt comfortable with.

About 2 years ago I started getting into more groovy stuff, and during some studio sessions lately I've found that low tuning with some more muffling works wonders for some snare drums. I've experimented with some ideas that were previously unfamiliar to me, like extreme muffling (like taping 2 wallets to the snare drum), putting 8 sheets of paper on the snare drum, tuning it so low that the rods were only finger-tight etc.
The main problem was how to achieve a good, fat sound and get rid of boxy over- and undertones, while still maintaining a powerful rimshot sound with lots of body. While some ideas didn't give good results, some were outstanding (the paper worked wonders, for instance) and will be included on the upcoming album I recorded with my band, The Cookies.

I'm using a Black Panther Blaster 13"x7" snare drum with a worn out Remo Fiberskyn and 2 pieces of moongel. The head was tuned very low (a bit above finger tight) and the snare drum sounds really great in my opinion - the sound engineer was also impressed by how it recorded.

Do you have some experiences like this? Maybe some other ideas for achieving interesting snare sounds?

Best regards guys and girls!"
 

Captain Bash

Silver Member
Not as extreme as no tension. But I do use a 13x5 pearl Omar Hakim snare made of mahogany and tune this low plus dampen with a wallet for small venue gigs and DIY funk recordings. Close miked the sound is really phat n wet with a distinct body and muted end freq. This works well provided the band doesn't have lots of mid -high bass or guitar with bottom.

I pull out the Brady or Keplinger when volume and cut are required.
 

chris J

Senior Member
There is a snare head damper you can buy called "Big Fat Snare".
Try one of those, it dampens the snare, reduces the volume and you can still have a reasonable amount of tension on your snare drum.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
The head was tuned very low (a bit above finger tight)

This is much different than "no tension." Finger tight is still tension. My snare is pretty tight and I can achieve the same sound as his snare by placing a cut out snare head on top of the tight head and still be able to do double stroke or buzz rolls.


Check here.....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJvIiWBxg3U
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
There's the classic wallet trick, and then then there is having your head hanging off the drum. hahaha

I have seen some wacky stuff done in the studio and guys achieve amazing sounds so I won't knock it, but I have never tried this. I have used wallets, tapes, gels, pads, an upside down head on top of the regular head. rings, different tunings, Maybe next time I change my heads I will for fun and put a mic on it to see how no tension sounds.

Watso is right about using fingers and wrists to make the strokes, You should be able to double stroke a low tension floor tom. Although for ME it would be tough doing blast beats on a snare like that. I would personally just put a gel or two on it and hit it softer. Or try and 12 inch snare, coated head with medium tension batter.

Tuning the reso low is different than zero tension, I would love to hear it when you get a chance.

OP, I think you get your answer though. Sounds like we have all messed around with tensions, dampening, etc. but you win for lowest reso head tension :)
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
Tuning the reso low is different than zero tension, I would love to hear it when you get a chance.

OP, I think you get your answer though. Sounds like we have all messed around with tensions, dampening, etc. but you win for lowest reso head tension :)


Cep't the OP says "Batter head"

"For live gigs, I've been tuning my snare batter side completely loose. I mean zero tension, "
 
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