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Thread: Tuning Blues

  1. #1

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    Unhappy Tuning Blues

    Hey all,
    When I got into drums about 6 months ago, they were so much fun. I didn't really like how my old Sound Percussion set sounded, but it was fun to play. Now, I have a Pearl Vision Standard set, 6 piece. The only problem is, that no matter what I do, they just sound terrible, almost as bad as the SP. I don't know how to tune; I've read guides and such, and had lessons, but I just can't seem to get the drums to sound "good". The bass just sounds bad and is higher pitched than I'd like, even though it's just above wrinkles. The toms ring and do not match each other. The snare is alright, I guess.
    I'm not asking how to tune drums, but I DO have some specific questions about tuning.

    1) Is making each lug equal tension important? How much does this affect sound?

    2) Do those torque keys and drumdials actually help? Worth the $?

    3) How do I get a good bass sound? It's driving me nuts. I read the guide but it didn't help much. I've tried different pillows, different heads (now I have a Remo PS 3). I listen to alot of metal bands, and I really like the whole deep "THUD" sound they have. I realize they are playing on NICE kits, but I would like to sound similar on the bass. Mastodon, Metallica, Dream Theater, Rush even. Any way to emulate these?

    Thanks for reading.
    aximiliguru

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Tuning Blues

    Welcome to Drum Chat Aximiliguru!

    In answer to your questions:
    1) Yes, it is very important to make sure the drumhead has the same tension at each lug. Notice that I did not say that each lug should have the same tension. As you fine tune the head, you have to tap the head in front of each lug to make sure it sounds the same. If not, you have to re-tension the lug, and then tap and listen for even tone in front of each lug, again. If you do not do this, you will never get a clear tone from your head.
    2) Do the torque key, or drumdial work? Yes, they can help you get close to what you want, but you will still need to fine tune the old fashioned way. There is no getting around the fact that we have to train our ears musically to get the tone that we want.
    3) When you asked about bass drum tuning, I wondered if you understand the function of the resonant head, and what impact it has on your sound.

    Maybe you can help us understand what you are doing with your resonant heads on all of your drums, as this can have a tremendous impact on your tuning. This would be important information so that we can fine tune the tuning advice in this thread. They people here have a lot of experience to pass along, and can really help you, so be as specific as you can and then respond to any of the questions the best that you can. The people here will help you gte to where you want to go, but you will have to help us get you there.

    Again, welcome!
    Quoting gonefishin: Just have some bacon with ya when you go pick her up..........youre an instant chick magnet.


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  3. #3

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    Default Re: Tuning Blues

    I have a Vision Vx, and they are fairly easy to tune, except for the 16. I had to get help on that one. I use the drum dial and use 2 ply heads. My heads are at 70 top and bottom, with tweak by ear to find the sweet spot. For more modern tones, 75 top and bottom is a good place to start. The snare is at 80 for me but I think most would like 85. The best idea is to have a buddy that has one(dial) to share, as I do around work.

    It may even be that you need coated batter heads on the toms to get the tone you want. It took me 3-4 sets of heads before I settled on the one I like, not the ones all the advisers like.
    Yamaha DTXtreme III FrankenXpress w/ various pads and cymbals
    Pearl Eliminator w/Vater Bomber
    Roc-N-Soc Motion
    Vater 7A Sugar Maple
    Simmons DA-200S
    Sony MDR-7506
    MacBookPro Core2 Duo 2.33,4gb,500gb w/SD2, Reason 4, and LE9

    http://s591.photobucket.com/albums/ss358/Charlygo/



  4. #4

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    Default Re: Tuning Blues

    Thanks guys for responding,
    As for specifics:

    Sensitone Snare (14x5.5")- Remo Ambassador Coated, Pearl Resonant
    Tom 10x8- Remo Emperor Coated, Ddrum Resonant
    Tom 12x9- Pearl Protone, Remo Emperor
    Tom 13x10- Pearl Protone, Remo Emperor
    Tom 16x16- Pearl Protone, Remo Emperor
    Bass 22x18- Remo Powerstroke 3, Aquarian Force 2, large pillow

    I am looking for a lower sound on all drums, including snare, though for some reason the snare has tuned very easily and sounds great. bass and toms, not so much. I've never tried the tap-each-lug method, I'll do that next.

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Tuning Blues

    Take your heads right off and start from scratch. Take the tom you have the hardest time tuning and tune it first. It sounds like you have your resos tuned to high.

  6. #6

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    Default Re: Tuning Blues

    If I were you I would check my toms for roundness and trueness. i would check my hoops for roundness and trueness as well. If these parameters are not correct you will NEVER get your kit tuned. Next I would like to know your room acoustics. If it is a small bed room or big warehouse. Each will give problems of there own. Have you noticed how nice a kit sounds a say Guitar center. Reason, room acoustics. Ceiling is 20-25 feet tall with very little right angles and the floor space is quite big. The ceiling has treated acoustic tiles. That very same kit that sounds big with great decay and attack will be boomy and slap back echo from early reflections in a small room. acoustic treatment for a room is key and can be done on the cheap as well.

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Tuning Blues

    Nucjg,
    It's in a 14'x12' approx bedroom, in a corner. I'm pretty sure the drums are in good shape, but they ARE used.
    I took off the heads and put em back on, it does sound a little better (toms especially) but the bass is still... odd. Thanks guys for the help so far.

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Tuning Blues

    axi, is the ceiling drywall or acoustic drop down tile?

    Here is a great vid on youtube by Bob Gatzen on checking your drums. If you follow the info on his vid it will save you hours and hours of pain IMHO.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcvQDh7U6Lo"]YouTube - "Drummers Only" Bob Gatzen Tuning Tip #3[/ame]
    Last edited by nucjd; 06-30-2009 at 05:25 PM.

  9. #9

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    Default Re: Tuning Blues

    Interesting video Nucjd. Thanks for posting it.
    Quoting gonefishin: Just have some bacon with ya when you go pick her up..........youre an instant chick magnet.


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  10. #10

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    Default Re: Tuning Blues

    Two things: Don't get anything that is usually used as reso heads because you'll end up having to use LOTS of moongel. If you're going to get Remo, I'd suggest pinstripes.
    PHROGGE'S AQUARIAN ARMY
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  11. #11

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    Default Re: Tuning Blues

    No problemo Pastor Bob. It is so helpful to have that hoop correct. There was one time I was banging my head trying to tune my 10" tom to no avail. I checked and fixed my hoop and it worked great.

  12. #12

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    Default Re: Tuning Blues

    Nucjd, it makes me want to tear my kit apart and check everything - not because it won't tune well, just because I would be curious! Yeah, I'm like that!
    Quoting gonefishin: Just have some bacon with ya when you go pick her up..........youre an instant chick magnet.


    Drum Bum: Gifts for Drummers

    Cool Drummer T-shirts and Drum Accessories!

  13. #13

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    Thumbs up Re: Tuning Blues

    Alright guys, here's an update. Not necessary (this is kinda an old post) but I feel that my problems needed closure.
    SO....

    1.) About the bass- it was tuned too high, then way too low. Also, I found that I was basing too much of my sound on expensive custom kits after they had been mic'd. Go figure. Now the bass sounds mostly normal.

    2.) I examined the hoops- two were bent slightly at an angle. I couldn't fix them, but I learned to sort of tune around them.

    3.) Using the drum dial, I found that each of the heads were badly tuned; after several tries, I realized that the lugs were damaged or crusty every three or so, making tuning VERY difficult without hours spent adjusting.

    4.) I moved my drums to a carpeted, mostly-soundproof room. Sounds considerably better, a little less attack, pleasant volume, more "warm and flat" tone. Probably the best change I've made so far on the drums.

    5.) Finally, I decided that I'll be changing batter heads soon. The emperors I recieved were actually bent a little, probably from shipping. A great excuse to try those pinstripes

    And there we go. Just thought I'd let you guys know how it ended.
    Thanks for the help

    Pearl Vision VSX, Metallic Orange, 6 piece.
    Paiste Crash/ride, Wuhan Splashes, Sabian B8 Hats.
    Now listening to: Mastodon, Rush, Dream Theater, Serj Tankian, Symphony X, Nightwish
    Proud User of DrumDial, Torque Keys, and other such "nonsense". Heh.

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