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Just got my new kit and have a few questions

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Dave Nyberg, Aug 30, 2003.

  1. Dave Nyberg

    Dave Nyberg Guest

    I just got a great Tama rockstar kit. In the shop i listened to it and i fell in love with the great sound it produces. Now i'm no expert drummer so i bought myself the Tension Watch. The values it advices for the snare are pretty tight for the bottom head. Is this normal. It feels like i'm torturing the snare or does it need to be very tight? The sound it produces seems good but it's just so tight. Won't i damage it?

    Oh and the snare is the steel one. A 5,5 x 14 inch
  2. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    Houston, TX
    Are there different tensions listed for top and bottom?

    THe bottom head is considerably thinner, and will not need as much tension at the lug to produce the same tension across the head (compared to a batter head).

    Trust your ears. As long as you keep the lug-to-lug values thesame, you should be OK. I like my bottom head tight, but not choked.

    Tip - If you ever end up replacing the wire snare strands, stick with the Tama ones, or get something better (like PureCussion wire snares). I used the Gibraltar wire snares on some of my expensive Yamaha/Tama snares, and they make instant garbage out of them! They sound god-awful. Just a word of warning...

    Later :cool:
  3. Dave Nyberg

    Dave Nyberg Guest

    Yeah, Tama advices (Tama also makes the Tension Watch) a tension of 80 for the bottom head and 75 for the batter head. I now have the bottom head at 75 and i really think it's tight enough now. I get a pretty fast response to the snare. Am i right in stating that a snare botom head doesn't affect pitch very much. I saw this tension scheme on a site which had tensions for different styles. My kit corresponds to the Fusion kit with 10,12,14 inch toms and a 22 inch bassdrum. The snare being 5,5 x 14. I really made sure the tuning is even. I went from 50 to 60 to 70 and checked in between with tapping at the lugs and making sure the pitch is the same. I can recognise pitch but as a drum beginner i'm not sure which pitch the total drum needs to be. That's why i bought the Tension Watch so i would at least tune in the right direction.
  4. chrisperra

    chrisperra Active Member

    Oct 24, 2002
    if you can, buy "drum tuning" by bob gatzen. it's a dci video that can be found in most music stores.

    tuning watches are usefull for some, but don't really have anything to do with tuning. even tension using the pitch of the head near the lug is the tide and true way.

    this video i mentioned will explain everything you can think of on construction and tuning of drums.

    in general on a snare the bottom head is tuned to acommidate the snares. too lose and you get fluffy slop, too tight and you choke the drum. err on the side of tighter, but there's no exact number on a tension watch that can give exactly what a particular snare batter needs.

    as far as what pitch to tune too, each drum has it's own resonant frequency. this pitch will sustain the most. some higher end drums have a pitch stamped in the inside of the drum, to tell you it's pitch.

    some guys get crazy and strip the drum of all its hardware , tap the shell and figure out the pitch. i've only removed the skins and with the hardware still intact , figured out the pitch.

    good luck

    chris perra
  5. Treena Foster

    Treena Foster Active Member

    Jul 4, 2003
    Fundamentals of Tuning

    1. The batter head controls attack and ring while the resonant head produces "resonance" and aids in sustain, it has a major effect in the overtones and enhances the timbre of the drum. While the drummer focuses on the sound coming from the batter side, an audience hears something completely different and many times, something inferior to what the drummer hears. If using microphones, this problem is lessened to some extent because the microphone is usually placed on the top. But without mic's, the audience hears a reflection of what the resonant head produces, more so if you are sitting above the audience, such as on stage.

    2. When the drum is hit, the ear hears mostly the attack and the fundamental pitch of the drum, overtones are washed out at a distance. Overtones are also an essential component to making the drum sound carry through other instruments and to the audience. The drummer should focus on the sound they create, as the audience would hear it rather than how they hear it in an otherwise quiet and stale environment. High-pitched overtones are essential to making a dull drum come to life in the audience.

    3. A drum placed upon a soft surface, such as carpet, and tapped very lightly allows you to hear the point of clarity in a drum and isolate the overtones and point of resonance.

    4. The most inherent sound created from any given head will be heard by placing a head of identical specifications on the resonance side. This is due to the ability for polymers of equal thickness (specification) to vibrate reasonably equal to each other, thus eliminating phase cancellations, which can cause a tight head to sound dead or lifeless.

    5. As you tune the drum with one side either higher or lower, you go through "zones" producing one of either clear pitch, phase cancellation, no sound or a Doppler effect. "Doppler" is where the drum when hit, descends in pitch from the point of initial attack to a lower pitch. This also becomes more pronounced when the head is of a different specification (weight/thickness) and the batter head is higher/lower in pitch than the bottom head.

    6. If the drum is tuned wrong or "seated" incorrectly the first time a head is mounted, you will likely ruin the head beyond its use or it will never sound its best. Seating wrong does not always mean uneven tuning, such as one side tighter than the other. It can also mean the utilization of bent or distorted hoops and/or poor bearing edges. Even though the drum has been equally tensioned (such as that of using tension devises, which measure lug torque or head tension), inferior hardware and shells problems cause unequal stretch of the head polymer and/or force the head out of round.

    7. Generally, you do not use anything other than single ply on the resonant side, but there are exceptions.

    8. Coated heads are considered "warm" or "mellow" sounding meaning generally void of the real bright overtone associated with the "clear" version of equal brand and specification. Clear heads are considered "bright" or "clear" sounding meaning they bring out as much of the high-pitched tones of the stick attack and resonance of the drum. In between these two coated and clear heads in tone quality is the "ebony" series of heads and is often described as being a "thicker" or "darker" sound than that of a clear head of equal specification. Ebony colored heads, while usually chosen due to aesthetics, has the virtue of being both warm in the overtone area, yet bright in the stick attack. Coated is probably required if doing brushwork.

    9. Even if you know how to tune, you may not be able to achieve the pitch and/or resonance desired due to drum sizing and shell weight. Any given shell has a fundamental pitch and timbre associated with it and you cannot change that without major alterations. Head selection can only make the most of the natural character in the drum. Your job when tuning, is to find that "fundamental" shell pitch and enhance or detract all the inherent sounds of that particular drum, it's character.

    10. Timbre and note/pitch are not the same. Timbre refers to the overall character of the drum vs. the fundamental note, which is the point at which the drum is likely to be most "open" or "resonant" in tone quality. Know that pitch can be raised or lowered in reference to say a note on the piano, but the shell resonance doesn't really change. So a 12" drum of a given material and depth may produce a note of G up to say a D-sharp ("pitch"), but it may really stand out around an A-flat ("fundamental" note of shell). The fact that one drum is "brighter" vs. "warm" is the Timbre.

    11. Most Important step in tuning is seating the head. When the head is first mounted, the objective is to get the head to seat itself in the hoop and form that all-important bond between the bearing edge of the drum and the head itself; this is called seating the head (explained in great detail below). If the head is pulled tighter on side or is forced out of round, it is no longer centered and will not vibrate correctly, meaning evenly in tune at all points around the shell ("in-tune with itself").

    12. Bearing edges are hidden from view, little understood by most drummers and are, without a doubt, the single most important aspect of the ability (or lack thereof) for the drum to produce a clear, resonant tone. Even cheaper drums can produce acceptable tone, provided the bearing edge is true, flat and properly formed. The most expensive, high-tech set available will produce poor tone is a bearing edge has been damaged or poorly tooled.


    :h: Treena
  6. Dave Nyberg

    Dave Nyberg Guest

    Thnx guys (and girl :)

    I will start experimenting, i just hope i won't kill me fresh snare hehe. We'll see and hope for the best! Thnx :D
  7. chrisperra

    chrisperra Active Member

    Oct 24, 2002
    if you recieved the standard skins that come from the store, there usually tama, made by remo you will find that your kit doesn'y seem to sound as full and rich as others you notice. the stock skins are not as good as replacement skins from remo, evans, aquarian ect.

    good luck

    chris perra
  8. Dave Nyberg

    Dave Nyberg Guest

    The skins on it aren't from Remo if i'm right. They are Hazy??250 skins? And to be honest, i think they sound pretty good. But i do know that replacing the heads with some better ones will give me a better sound. You have any specific recommendations?
  9. chrisperra

    chrisperra Active Member

    Oct 24, 2002
    skins are a personal thing. time spent ,trial and error, and advice from pro's on what skin for what sound will get you what you want.

    i think evans, remo and aquarian, are great. i mostly use remo myself, sometimes evans

    chris perra
  10. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member

    Jun 8, 2003
    Central Village, CT
    What Chris said is very true........

    Asking what head to use on your cans is like asking what kind of woman you'll fall in love with...........

    You'll hear a lot of what to look for - but when you find what (or who) works for you - you'll know it.

    I only use Remo heads......... have tried the others - but always go back to Remo's.

  11. Dave Nyberg

    Dave Nyberg Guest

    Yeah, Remo get's a lot of credit everywhere. I will visit the store and listen to some heads. But then i ofcourse have the problem that these heads will sound very different on my kit. I'll just try some out and see which sound i prefer.

  12. launchpad67a

    launchpad67a Guest

    Hi Dreams,
    Tuning of drums is a matter of "what sound the song calls for"! Every song you record could and will call for a different sound of drums, especially the snare. I have been a studio/live drummer for 25 years and always carry a minimum of 3 snares with me. One is tuned very tight and high pitched, one is just a bit lower and looser and another is very deep/low and open. These translate into,(1) Ska/R&B/Jazz/Funk...(2) Rock/Alt...(3) Metal/Hard Rock/.

    Granted, like I said every song needs a certain sound and your question about "bottom head tension", is really just a matter of taste.
    As a general rule I tighten the bottom head 3/4 of what the top head is tightened. But I like my snare drums very tight and high pitched/snappy. I will tune my drum high but will lossed the "snares" so I get a snare sound. If you "overtighten" a drum and don't consider the snares on the bottom, it will not sound like a snare drum. Instead it will just be a mid-high tom, and all the EQ in the world can't help that.

    I will add that Remo CS (control sound) Heads are absolutly awesome for snare drums. I use the Clear w/Blackdot and the Coated w/Whitedot. They have the Best sound, and are very forgiving when tuning is an issue!!!!

    Also the Remo PowerStroke 3 Bass drum heads are a Must! Clear Pinstripe w/flam patch.....Un-Beatable!!

    Just my thoughts, hope you consider this,

  13. jscott

    jscott Guest

  14. Dave Nyberg

    Dave Nyberg Guest


    Thnx for this good advice. Yeah i have been very, very carefull with the tuning. I made sure i never turned a lug too much at a time coss i was too affraid to damage the kit. I have little to no experience in tuning so i tuned it now using the Tama tension watch and i really like the outcome. I also followed some of the advice you point out in your tuning bible. I have a 10, 12 and 14 inch toms and they are having nice intervals now. I seen some guys drumming without bottom heads on. Does this make a huge difference in the sound, i also heard some ppl say that it's better for recording if you keep the bottom heads off.

    My snare has much body and responds to ghost notes pretty good. I think the Tension watch has helped me achieve a nice pitch. I used the precise advice tensions for my size drums. They are sounding very good. This tension watch measures head tension so i kind of believe that it will be accurate. I also listen to the pitch ofcourse, but since i have no experience at all i really got a great help out of the tension watch.

    Much thnx for the advice, i really, really appriciate it!! :D
  15. Dave Nyberg

    Dave Nyberg Guest

    I have done a test recording for a pitch check. Maybe you guys can do a verification for my achieved pitches. The drums are 10, 12 and 14 inch toms and a 14 x 5,5 snare. :D

    Please don't listen to eq'ing yet since these are all recorded with just 1 SM57. I just need verification for the pitch. If somebody can take a listen i would be more then happy :D

    I know it's a matter of taste and that a song calls for it but i won't be making songs. I need a generally accepted tuning which can be used for a variety of purposes. I bought this drumkit to sample it and to make samples out of it. So there won't be a per song tuning.


    [ September 06, 2003, 12:10 PM: Message edited by: DmDreams Sound Design ]
  16. jscott

    jscott Guest

    I hope you will not take offense to what I'm about to say, but....

    1st, you need to smack those drums! You can tell by the tone that if that is the way you intend to strike the drum, your tuning needs to improve.

    By your referance:

    [LT] either high or low in pitch. Do you hear how when you strike the drum the pitch wavers and sort of imediatley decends? There is an uneven quality to the tone. My first thought would be to lower the resonant head a bit in pitch. However, it also sounds like you are just "tapping" the drum, and you need to hit it - which will alter the tone.

    [HT] Which I will assume isvyour 2nd tom? Size? is that a 12"? This is lifeless and the tail to the sound has beats, which means agin, its out of tune. The tuning relationship between heads is off and probably uneven at each lug. This causes phasing which can kill the resonance or open it up. End result; There is no resonance and the tone is...well...yuck! Take your key and while striking the head, moderatley hard, tweak one of the either batter head or resonant head lugs. Just keep twisting it up in 1/8th turns untill you hear the drum open up. Forget pitch for the time being, learn how to make a drum sound good first. If you put 2 full turns on that one lug and the resonance does not come into the drum, then go the other way - down.

    [FT] This to me sounds way to high in pitch for my tastes. I strongly suggest you detune the resonant head to its lowest possible pitch. Go to the link and read about the tuning procedure, and forget about that tension device for now.

    [SN] This is a hard call for me on the computer I listened to this on, but my first impression is that the bith the batter and resonant head needs to come up a bit to be in line with current music trends?

    BUT...The sound I hear on all of these can also be a result of where you positioned the mic? For example, if you put it where the capsule faced down next to the outer 2" of the head, then I could just be hear shell sounds on all of these? Make sure your mic is up say about 4" and aimed in at the center of each drum head.

    See here for mic placement techniques.
  17. Dave Nyberg

    Dave Nyberg Guest

    Hey J,

    The [FT] is the floortom and it's 14"
    The [LT] is the low tom and is 12"
    The [HT] is the high tom and is 10"

    I'm definately not offended (how could i be) and yes i kind of hit the drums softly while recording this. I will take your advice into account and work on these drums again. When i think it has been done i will record some sounds again and let you have another listen, if you want to take a second listen that is. I really have no experience in making a drum sound good or tuning so the advice i'm getting here is really valuable to me.

    You mean up in pitch? This really surprises me since the bottom skin is already pretty tight.

    You really need to know that my kit is here for sampling purposes. If i would remove the bottom heads of the toms would that matter for a recorded sound since i will be using one mic on the toms. Would it be easier for me to get these toms to sound good with bottom heads off?

    Thnx for your time and advice!! :D
  18. launchpad67a

    launchpad67a Guest

    Yeah, I agree with jscott...you really need to beat the hell out most drums to get the sweet tone. I listened to your tests and the drums sound fine. Try a different tuning to get more "boom" from them. You just need to play them!

    And mic placement is key as jscott pointed out.

  19. Dave Nyberg

    Dave Nyberg Guest


    Yeah i kinda like the sound they produce. I recorded these tests pretty crappy coss i just thought pitch would be heard anyway thru the weak recording method (just holding an sm57 neer the edge of the drum and hit it once). But i do hear what J means. Which is that the drums aren't quite in tune with themselves. They tend to get that detuned synth sound like when you detune one osc a few cent and the other also but in opposite direction.
  20. Treena Foster

    Treena Foster Active Member

    Jul 4, 2003
    If you can get them close to the childrens song.....three......blind.........mice......you will be doing just fine with the tuning.

    :h: Treena

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