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Detuning a drum head - harmful?

Discussion in 'Drums' started by AaronP, Oct 25, 2009.

  1. AaronP

    AaronP Active Member

    My older brother is a drummer - and a stereo-type drummer who has nothing to do with music at all, he just hits things. I use his set often for recording (it's a nice old gretsch jazz set). About a week ago I detuned his floor tom, so it got that beautiful thunderous sound that makes me think of what it would sound like inside your head, were you to be hit violently in the head with a baseball bat or some other blunt object.

    Now, today he came back from college to visit with his lovely family and found his tom detuned. At this he became furious, and claims that I have ruined his head. According to him, when a head is detuned after being kept in tension for a long period of time (in this case about five years, these things are beat to pulp), it is instantly transmutated into polonium 210 and becomes part of the internal lining of Satan's digestive tract. That is to say, it is ruined and I have to buy him a new one.

    I want to ask (because I trust his honesty about as thoroughly as I can trust salad mushrooms to be experts on Descartes' contributions to the development of calculus), is it true that detuning a drum head and playing on it (with tympani mallets) will cause it to be destroyed forever, unable to return to it's former resonance? He presented his case by tuning it up and demonstrating that, according to him, it now sounds flat and without sustain... which it does a bit, but I was fairly certain it was that way before....

    Thank you if you can settle this argument. And remember, you could be costing me ~$25....
  2. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I don't know anything much about drum heads but I do know something about brothers and lending/borrowing/using someone elses gear. $25.00 does not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, family relations, drum rental costs and just being a good sport. I'd buy him the head and ask him if I could continue using the drums. Just my two cents.
  3. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    I've probably been playing drums longer than both of you have been alive... combined.

    Over tensioning a head will do that... not under tensioning... unless you absolutely beat the hell out of it for hours on end with 2b's.

    Which brings up another point...

    Heads should really be replaced every session... and no less often than every 6 months of playing. After that, they're pretty well shot to hell anyway.

    So, replace the head for $25 and make him replace the rest of em', cause I can guarantee you they're shot and probably sounds like crap.
  4. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    Anyone else picturing Wayne and Kevin Arnold?

    I agree that you should buy the head, but please relay the information you learned here from the recording professional, MadMax, about what really happens with heads.
  5. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    Paying for the new floor tom head will also increase the chance that the only thing he hits is the drums, and not you.
  6. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "According to him, when a head is detuned after being kept in tension for a long period of time (in this case about five years,..."

    Come on, five years and he's acting like there is science to this?

    The science right now is that this is no longer a tunable skin...it's just a matter of time before it becomes petrified.
  7. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Five years...
  8. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    MadMax: "beat the hell out of it for hours on end with 2b's."

    As in, 2B pencils?
  9. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    No Mr. Monkey
    Heavy wooden tipped drumstix, sorta the cave man club of drummers
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Depending on what kind of banjo the head is on, it can be harmful to small furry rodentia.
  11. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Nice, Dave, nice!
  12. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    As the climate changes in the environment the wooden shell will actually be affected/distorted by the shrinking of this membrane due to drying out.

    It is an unsought-out gift that this issue has come to bear as the damn head needed changing a few years ago ;)
  13. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    Damn, I saw a Bruce Lee movie once where he used a pair of those.

    Game of Megadeath

  14. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    The only reason to loosen the lugs on a 5 year old drum head is to replace it. It's looooong overdue, (by nearly 5 years).

    A new drum head should be able to withstand being tuned up and down within reason.
    If anything, it's the lower tuning that will suffer.
  15. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Oh my, that is priceless!!! CM, we gotta get you out of wherever the heck it is you live and into a real live community! LOL!!!
  16. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    By "live community" you mean live sound?
    I would, but the choirs from US churches keep coming to us... not the other way around.

    Cheers jg, wasn't sure if they were sticks or closer to being hammers.

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