tell me your drum tuning methods/tricks

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mrpicholas
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Post by mrpicholas » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:08 pm

And what will the astronauts do if no one buys moongels?

MoreSpaceEcho
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:50 am

won't somebody PLEASE think of the astronauts.

i've never had any problems with moongel, sorry kslight.

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Gregg Juke
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Post by Gregg Juke » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:55 am

The astronauts will be fine, as I'm still buying NOS Tang by the pallet. I like its warm tone, and it's a good replacement for cilica gel.

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Post by Bro Shark » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:17 pm

I use Tune-Bot. Love it.

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Post by kslight » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:31 pm

Okay, thanks. I'm probably out $15, as this specific problem occurred with a batch (also, the only batch) I bought in the middle of last year. Regardless, I still don't see why they couldn't separate each piece of moonshot with wax paper, especially for the premium price and reusable nature of the product.

I was wondering if stretchy hands weren't more or less the same thing?they don't leave boogies on the drum heads?

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Post by jgimbel » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:33 pm

kslight wrote:Okay, thanks. I'm probably out $15, as this specific problem occurred with a batch (also, the only batch) I bought in the middle of last year. Regardless, I still don't see why they couldn't separate each piece of moonshot with wax paper, especially for the premium price and reusable nature of the product.

I was wondering if stretchy hands weren't more or less the same thing?they don't leave boogies on the drum heads?
I bought a pack of moongels that were completely turned into one chunk so they needed to be ripped apart. I took them back and they gave me a new set, same issue. Took them back, turns out every set they had was like that. This happened to be in the heat of the summer and basically the company had issues with them melting together. They also said they had recently changed moongels slightly and they were a bit thinner, which doesn't help. The newest ones I've bought are still thinner than they used to be but I don't think I had quite as much trouble with them sticking together. A little wax paper between them would be nice though.

I was recently thinking about those "stretchy hands" being the same thing, I bet they are. But no they don't leave junk on the heads, unless you leave them there for a really long time (months) or have them in the heat or something.
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Post by lefthanddoes » Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:36 am

Everyone gets mad at me when I do this, but instead of using moongels or tape, I like to loosen one lug near me until the ring is gone, then crank up the opposite one until it gets loud and awesome. I'm sure it's bad for some reason, but it always sounds great.

Something that helped me a lot was just understanding the concepts, that every drum has a particular pitch, based on how it's built/size/type of wood etc., where if you tune it to that pitch it will give the best projection, low end/fullness etc. The idea is to get both heads up around that area-ish, which is going to be sort of medium-to tight-ish in most cases, probably. And like everyone is saying, in order for it to actually work and not have wonky overtones, you have to do things carefully like making sure you make changes to the whole head as evenly as possible, i.e. go around the whole head a little bit at a time instead of just crankin em one by one. Also, if you have a whole drum kit that's well built, you probably won't want one tom cranked and another one dead, they'll probably all be around the same... ish.

"Ish" being the operative word here.

Once you get the drum in the right range theoretically, then you go around tapping on things and get it into exactly the right place. Beyond that, there's other things everybody's got a different opinion on, like whether top or bottom head should be tighter, whether to crank the drum or keep it loose, etc. Kicks can be all over the place here.
I personally like the top just a little bit tighter on toms, but another thing to remember is that the audience will hear the opposite choice. I.e. if you like bottom head tighter, if you go out on the other side of the kit and lean over and hit the rack tom you'll hear the sound of top head tighter. Having someone else hit the drums and going all around the room and being able to hear the kit and make adjustments is great.

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Post by losthighway » Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:58 pm

lefthanddoes wrote:Everyone gets mad at me when I do this, but instead of using moongels or tape, I like to loosen one lug near me until the ring is gone, then crank up the opposite one until it gets loud and awesome. I'm sure it's bad for some reason, but it always sounds great.
I've heard Levon Helm of "The Band" fame did something like this with his snare drum.

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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:45 pm

[Maybe] I'm an idiot, but something I've learned relatively recently, after 30 years, or more, of drumming, is that sometimes it just takes a really long time to get the pitch, tone and feel all dialed in correctly on the individual drums and then even more time to get them working right together. I still use the same basic procedure that I've used for years, but if I spend twice as long at it I get better results than if I stop when things just start to sound "good enough."

Take off the old head.
Make sure the hardware is tight and no screws are loose.
Shake or otherwise remove any dust or debris inside (how does it get in there?)
Take a look at the bearing edge and the hoop. Scrape off or sand down (tres gently) anything weird.
Wax the bearing edge. (I just use the side of a candle and rub it around the edge a few times.)
Put the new head over the bearing edge of the drum. Make sure it's even all the way around.
Put the hoop back on the drum. Line up the lug holes with the lugs. I usually try to put it back on in the same place it was when I took it off. IE same lug holes over the same lugs as before. This might be a bad idea, long term. Dunno why I do that.
Finger tighten the lugs all the way around the drum. Usually I do this in the harmonic, star pattern (that's what I call it, again, dunno why.) IE, I start at one lug, then do the one across from it, then move to the lug 90 degrees from the first one, then do the one across from it, then move to the one next to the first one I did, then across, etc., etc. I find this is more important to do early on, rather than later.
I tighten each lug the exact same number of turns with my fingers.
As you tighten lugs, some will loosen up. Make sure things stay even and you go through the star pattern over and over until things are finger tight and every lug has been turned the same number of times.
Then I press down pretty damn hard in the center of the drum head with my palms. I move my palms around pressing hard around the sides and then back in the middle.
Then I retighten with my fingers again.
If it's the first head (I usually do bottom first, again, dunno why, that's probably a mistake) I try to imagine a note in my mind and I start tuning the drum up to that note with the key making sure to turn each lug the same amount. I have to remember that I can't just tune the first lug right up to that note because the 8 or 10 lugs together is going to be way higher than just one.
When I get it sounding "good enough" I put on the other head using the exact same procedure. I put the drum on my drum throne or a towel or something to deaden the first head.
When both heads are near the note in my head I undeaden the first head and whack it with a stick.
If it goes "boom" I'm done, for now, with the drum.
If not, I redeaden one head and I start tapping around the lugs about one inch in from each lug. I've stopped doing the finger in the middle thing because how do I know my finger is really in the middle, it's one more variable in a situation that already has a million. The thing that really matters is how all the lugs work together anyway.
So, if one lug (overtone, usually) sounds higher or lower than the note I want, I tighten or loosen until they sound the same. This is also the first step in retuning a drum head that's been on for a while.
Then I whack it again with the other resonant side unmuffled. If it doesn't ring out for a long time, I go to the other side and make sure all the lugs sound the same. Whack it again. If it doesn't ring, I need to bring the bottom head up or down a little tiny bit at a time until it has sustain. I try to make all the drums have the same length of boom.
I usually, for some reason, wind up with the bottom head tighter (not sure if it's tighter, since the head is usually lighter, but higher pitched) than the top. Again not sure why this is, but I honestly, seriously think I heard somewhere (a sigs aside) that this is how Bonham did it.
The kick takes even more fucking around than anything due to the amount of muffling used and the amount of boom vs. click vs. thud desired. I've started using a piece of "Ultratouch" cotton insulation for my kick muffler. In my little drums that I want thuddier I use a foot longish piece gaffe taped up against the bottom edge of the batter head and the shell. (Right where they meet) and a strip of felt across the resonant head. Recently I took out the felt and just put a few strips of gaffers tape across the resonant head. I vary the length and number of those strips depending on how much muffling I want and I sometimes stick a little folded up square of cotton cloth, tp, or the ultratouch under the tape to get more muffling. I use black resonant heads so the gaffers tape doesn't show up very much.

Oh, like people said, at a certain point you need to do the detail work on the drum mount you'll be using in the spot in the room that you'll be using. Go tune the drum on a table in the corner and then bring it over and put it in the kit and you might be very disappointed. I have a thread on the TOMB somewhere that ends with that realization.

After all that I'm not sure if my drums ever even sound very good. So take it all with a grain of salt.
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Post by Bro Shark » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:48 pm

losthighway wrote:
lefthanddoes wrote:Everyone gets mad at me when I do this, but instead of using moongels or tape, I like to loosen one lug near me until the ring is gone, then crank up the opposite one until it gets loud and awesome. I'm sure it's bad for some reason, but it always sounds great.
I've heard Levon Helm of "The Band" fame did something like this with his snare drum.
I've ended up going this route inadvertently, and it can work on the snare. I think it opens up some harmonic range in the drum having all the weird tensions, and having the one dead lug controls ring. I don't recommend it though.

For people controlling ring through moongels and tape I recommend experimenting with different tunings. A wider pitch interval between top & bottom heads reduces resonance.

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Post by kslight » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:07 pm

Bro Shark wrote:
For people controlling ring through moongels and tape I recommend experimenting with different tunings. A wider pitch interval between top & bottom heads reduces resonance.
Definitely. I don't rely on moon gels or tape, but I was trying them out for a specific project for a specific type of sound and while they sometimes are effective, most of the time I prefer drums with a little more ring to them and would pull the moon gels off anyway.

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Post by HuskerDude » Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:29 pm

Bro Shark wrote:For people controlling ring through moongels and tape I recommend experimenting with different tunings. A wider pitch interval between top & bottom heads reduces resonance.
So if I want low pitched toms that are kindof thuddy, like Levon Helm's sound for example, I tune the batters low to keep the pitch down and the resos high to kill the ring? I've never been good at drum tuning.

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Post by Bro Shark » Tue Jun 10, 2014 10:01 am

I know this: equally tuned heads (given that they are tuned correctly in respect to the drum's natural pitch) provide maximum resonance. The wider the interval between heads, the less resonance.

So you can take that either way. Batter head higher, or resonant higher. Experiment and see if you can find the sound you're looking for.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:57 am

you get the pitch from the bottom heads, not the top ones. if you want low and thuddy i'd tune them both low and use moongels or gaffer tape to kill the sustain.

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Post by Gregg Juke » Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:17 pm

If you're a drummer, it's easy to remember, but if you're a tech/engineer/producer tuning for someone else, and you don't play (or play the same as the drummer you're tuning for) it's easy to forget: The top head has to be comfortable to play on as well; it's not just a disconnected aesthetic decision about tuning, but about tuning vs. playability.

I don't like the (top) heads too saggy and loose-- it's hard to articulate anything, and the thuddy/boomy low end gets lost in a sea of mid-range and low-mids with everything else (bass, distorted guitar, etc.). I like to tune them up within the range that each drum sounds best in (as lefthanddoes mentioned), but if they are too tight, it's the same problem in the opposite direction-- if I'm playing real drums, I need some "give," along with responsiveness, from the drum heads. Otherwise, might as well be playing on those old, rock-hard Simmons pads, or the original Roland Octopad, or a Formica lunch counter somewhere.

Every drum has a note (and a bit of range up or down from that note) that it sounds best in-- shoot for that. If you don't like the sound, it may be the wrong size drum.

>>>>something I've learned relatively recently, after 30 years, or more, of drumming, is that sometimes it just takes a really long time to get the pitch, tone and feel all dialed in correctly on the individual drums and then even more time to get them working right together. I still use the same basic procedure that I've used for years, but if I spend twice as long at it I get better results than if I stop when things just start to sound "good enough."<<<<

Yeah, man!

++++Everyone gets mad at me when I do this, but instead of using moongels or tape, I like to loosen one lug near me until the ring is gone, then crank up the opposite one until it gets loud and awesome. I'm sure it's bad for some reason, but it always sounds great.++++

It's only bad if you have the lugs wildly out-of-tune with each other, and/or there is a visible ripple/pucker in the drum head. This will not only sound crappy, but when the head (or any part of it) is too loose, you will risk starting to pit them up with all of those little "bb hole" dings. Once that happens, fahgeddaboudit. I have some heads that I've had on my drums for years and years, because I chose the right head, tuned it "right" (as best as I could), and I play pretty hard, but I don't totally wail on them or play "through" the drum and choke the crap out of the tone. Playing technique has so much to do with the sound. You can't crank them with ball-peen hammers, and you can't barely touch them with 7A sticks that you are using like Q-Tips. Just enough, not too much. Have a nice, strong, consistent back-beat, but leave room for some dynamics in your playing. Your drums will thank you for it, and you'll be getting the sound "from the source" as organically as possible.

GJ
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