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Assembling a drumkit

Member for

21 years 2 months
I just got my ordered drumkit in. It's just a starters kit not really any fancy stuff although it sounds pretty good. But that's not my problem.

I didn't receive any information with the kit, and as i'm a newbie in this field i need some information about how tight i should put these skins on the drums. My toms sound reasonably good now. The high tom is resonating a bit still.
The bassdrum is giving me some problems. It produces a very long sound which sounds pretty hollow. Would this be a case of making the skin tighter or is there anything else to take in acount?

Oh and i do know about the finger in the middle and tapping the tuning points. So tuning is not my problem. It's just how tight i should make these skins before the start to sound good or burst...

Please advice :)


Member for

18 years 6 months

shaneperc Thu, 05/29/2003 - 21:33
First of all, if you put this in the Musician-Drums and Percussion listing, you probably would have had an answer earlier, but if there's anyone else reading this thread with the same problem, here's an answer.

First, beginner drumsets usually come with really low quality heads. If you have any money left over, at least buy some good heads (Remo, Evans, Attack, whatever). Drumheads have a HUGGGGE effect on sound quality. Actually, most long time drummers know that heads (and tuning) absolutely MAKE the kit! I'll bet dollars-to-doughnuts that I can make a $300 Pearl Forum kit sound better than a beginner with a $4500 Tama Exotix kit. (...and the first thing I would do is to buy $50 worth of new heads.)

Many things that deal with tuning are subjective and depend on the type of sound you want, but I'm just going to mention some points that are applied to all types of tuning.

1) After removing the old head, wipe off the bearing edge (the point where the head makes contact with the drum) with a rag to get rid of dust and residue.

2) Almost every tuning method advocates even tuning. This means that the pitch of the head should be the same near every tuning lug when you are done tuning. To get this result, tighten the head by first finger-tightening the lugs as much as possible, and then using a drum key in a cross-drum pattern. For example, if you had a 12 lug drum, with every lug corresponding to the numbers on a clock, you would tighten 12 and 6, then 1 and 7, then 2 and 8, etc. clockwise until you get back to 12 and 6. Repeat the pattern until you have the pitch you want.

3) Whenever you put on a new drumhead, you have to realize that drumheads need a breaking-in period, which drummers refer to as "seating." This is done by tuning the drum to a desired pitch, and then letting it sit for a day. Heat speeds up the process, and I personally use a low-power hairdryer to seat the head in about a minute (Don't use a heatgun!!! It will melt the head!) After the seating process, the drum tone will be much more controlled and easier to fine tune.

4) Modern drum sounds are almost always produced by making one of the heads (top or bottom) a slightly different pitch than the other. Some people like the top head to have a higher pitch, but the majority of players tune the top head lower than the bottom. To do this, lay the drum (start with a tom-tom) upside-down on some carpet (to stop the top head (now on the bottom) from vibrating). Tighten the bottom head until it makes a nice long tone (Doooooo sound, as opposed to Doo). Then flip the drum over and tighten the top head until it's at a pitch that is about a minor 3rd lower than the bottom head. This should get you close to a nice resonant, modern sounding drum.

Anway, there are tons of sites that offer more indepth information. This link is a good one for snare drum tuning: