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Thread: Tuning your drums!?

  1. #1

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    Default Tuning your drums!?

    Hey it's been a while since I've posted something...
    I have a question for you all.......

    So I am about to record in a few days, my guitarist always harps on me to tune my skins. I know I can tune them a major scale or a minor scale but I never do it. I just use my ear and tune them to what I like.

    I usually have my snare a little loose, not too loose but not tightened up like a can of beans either....I like it to have a heavier punch...

    Anway trailed off for a second. So I have only recorded one other time. A simple EP so if anyone has expierence recording and tuning...Some inside advice would be awwwesome! thanks

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Tuning your drums!?

    Tune them so they sound good to you.
    Ive never in over 30yrs of playing tuned my drums to specific notes.

  3. #3

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    /\ This.

  4. #4

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    Oh, and never, ever allow a guitar player to tell you what to do with your drums.

  5. #5

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    This is what I've been told works well (notes listed below), but I've never tried it myself. On my drums, I'm lucky to just be able to get the toms to sound good. Every shell has its own natural pitch where it resonates anyway. Once I find that pitch (whatever it is), I then tweek them to get the seperation between them. On my 12/13/16 kit, I think of the first 3 notes of the Star Spangled Banner and try to match it on the toms.

    8"-A
    10"-E
    12"-B
    13" & 14"-F#
    16"-C#
    snare & bass-G
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  6. #6

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    I agree. I never tune to specific notes cause it never made sense to me. I usualy start at finger tight then 1 full turn and from there in increments if needed of 1/8 till I get the sound I want. That easy, no guessing. Keep doing it your way by ear.
    Last edited by Pearl MCX Man; 11-22-2013 at 10:40 AM.

  7. #7

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    Tuning to specific notes is rather pointless (I have never understood this) in my opinion unless there is a very specific reason to- such as an orchestra setting or some very specific project. Trying to match the pitch of the shell to the tension of the head is not necessary at all. You're working with an organic material found in nature and manipulated by man by adding man made, synthetic materials. Huh?? lol. Dude, way too much to worry about.

    The drums will "tell" you what they like for tuning as well as your ears. Trying to get a specific note out of a drum may prove to be very challenging if not impossible. There is only so much in the range of tuning that a drum will respond to- this is fact. They are your drums. It's your ear that matters. Unless the guitar or other instruments are obviously out of tune I would never think to tell another musician to tune his/her instrument. If they are worth playing with they will have their instruments tuned properly to begin with.

    Sure, there are ways to tune and not all drummers know how to tune. It seems as if you have knowledge about tuning and can tune.

    This is your music, your drums, your sound.

    If the guitar player is bent on your tuning then maybe he/she needs to tune them to their liking…good luck with that.

    There is a way that you both can work together though. Maybe have him/her hit each drum while you stand in various spots in the room. As you know drums sound very different when you are behind the kit. Maybe having hit the toms while you listen can offer you a chance to try to better understand what he/she is referring to. Come up with a way to work together. If you are ultimately happy with the sound then you have no obligation to tune any different and then it becomes the guitar players responsibility to accept the sound and/or come to terms with whatever is going on with them.
    Last edited by drumsetsnide; 11-22-2013 at 10:06 AM.
    TAMA- '99 Starclassic, '86 Granstar, '88 Granstar,
    '93 Rockstar
    Gretsch- late 50's Round Badge
    Zildjian K & K Custom (with a couple A's and a Wuhan China)
    Evans
    Remo
    Vic Firth
    Speed Cobra double pedal
    Starcast mounting system (including floor toms and snare)
    Hardware- TAMA and Gibraltar
    Snare Drums- various TAMA, Gretsch, Ludwig, Leedy, Wurlitzer

    "How can you impress the chicks if the chicks can do it themselves?!!" ~ from: kay-gee

  8. #8

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    Don't need to be a Rocket Scientist to tune your drums lol

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearl MCX Man View Post
    Don't need to be a Rocket Scientist to tune your drums lol
    But I thought Drummer WAS a rocket scientist.

    I would like to see, given a drum and key, how a room full of NASA scientists could tune a drum set. That could make for an interesting hidden camera, LOL.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  10. #10

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    Some people might record with electronic kits because they are tuned. The engineer can also save the digital output and replace notes with samples.

  11. #11

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    If I was tuning timpani, or say like what I did on a friend's recording, tuned a number of large rototoms to specific pitches (we needed a D, G & A as the key of the tune was in D) then yes, you can get picky and go for tuning drums to notes (I'll also add that it took ages to get these tuned right so that you wouldn't hear overtones that would be out of key, due to the thin nature of the timpani-like heads that we were dealing with....all of this for just a 10-15 second overdub, but hey, we got the 'orchestral effect' that he was after)....but whilst that's an extreme example for tuned percussion, as far as a drumkit goes, well, unless you have bagloads of cheap studio time, a very very patient engineer sitting waiting for you to tune up, and more importantly the musical reason to tune a drum-kit to specific notes, then it'd be foolish to go for it, as what would happen? The very next song might be in a different key, and lo & behold, everyone would be sitting saying "those drums sound wrong"....because now you'd be in the incorrect key. Drummers like Danny Carey from Tool or certainly Terry Bozzio would do that, but they and their bandmates not only have the musical reasons for tuning it, they've also got the engineers and crew that have the expertise to do that. Most of us are not in their musical situations, and we certainly don't have reason to warrant it.
    "...it's the Paradigm Of The Cosmos!" Stewart Copeland on Youtube

    668: The Number Of The Guy Next Door To The Beast.

    "A random act of kindness; it keeps my heart in shape!" - Late8

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by 8beat View Post
    Some people might record with electronic kits because they are tuned. The engineer can also save the digital output and replace notes with samples.
    As opposed to an acoustic kit not being tuned? And anyone with a half decent ear can certainly tell of an electric kit was used on a recording. I know. I used an electric kit (not because I wanted to) for recording and live performance for 9 years. I have always had and used acoustic drums and there were times I had fun with the e-kit but nothing ever came close to the feel and sound of acoustic.

    While there is a need (very little need) to plug in sounds with samples I would argue why even have a live drummer with an acoustic set in a studio if there are programs, apps, and plug-ins that can replace sounds and tones? Heck one person can use their computer and a few simple programs to make an entire album that sounds like that of a 4, 5, 7, 10 person band.

    These are my opinions and thoughts based on experience.
    TAMA- '99 Starclassic, '86 Granstar, '88 Granstar,
    '93 Rockstar
    Gretsch- late 50's Round Badge
    Zildjian K & K Custom (with a couple A's and a Wuhan China)
    Evans
    Remo
    Vic Firth
    Speed Cobra double pedal
    Starcast mounting system (including floor toms and snare)
    Hardware- TAMA and Gibraltar
    Snare Drums- various TAMA, Gretsch, Ludwig, Leedy, Wurlitzer

    "How can you impress the chicks if the chicks can do it themselves?!!" ~ from: kay-gee

  13. #13

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    I agree with my man drumsetsnide. In fact, in one part of one song on my band's new EP we replaced the acoustic toms with samples.

  14. #14

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    Tell him how to tune his guitar. But seriously, I have never been a proponent of tuning drums to a particular pitch. Tuning them to particular intervals is a better use of your time. Be it a third, quarter, fifth, or whatever sounds good to you. As long as each drum sounds good on it's own, and they sound good when you transition from one to another, it's all good.
    Mmm... Saturns.

  15. #15

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    Figures a guitar player would naturally think that drums should be tuned to a specific note just like a guitar is. That just means that he doesn't have a clue as to what a set should sound like. And he thinks that with a drum set to a specific note, that the 2 instruments would mesh together easier. Tuning is all about what sounds right to the player in the drivers seat and the band members strategically placed in front of the kit. And to the sound guy if there is one. There are times when note tuning for drums is needed, but it is a very specific situation and doesn't come up to much. Guitarists don't know everything about notes even if they think they do. And especially when they relate to a drum set.
    Custom Classic Pro Maple 6
    8",10",12",13" Mounted Toms
    (2)14",16" Floor Toms
    22" x 18" Kick
    6",8",10" Roto Toms
    14" x 6.5" Mapex Black Panther Snare
    13" x 3" Pearl Piccolo Snare
    Sabian: 13" Paragon Hats
    14" HH X Hats
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    (2) 16" Paragon Crashes
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    19" Paragon China
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    C C Militia

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by weezy View Post
    Tell him how to tune his guitar. But seriously, I have never been a proponent of tuning drums to a particular pitch. Tuning them to particular intervals is a better use of your time. Be it a third, quarter, fifth, or whatever sounds good to you. As long as each drum sounds good on it's own, and they sound good when you transition from one to another, it's all good.
    This is what I do. I don't pay any attention to the specific notes, but I do try to get the seperation between toms as close as I can into harmonic intervals. Now, with my 10/12/13/16, I tune the 10 & 16 to be an octave apart. Sometimes I like to play the toms simultaneously in pairs, so having the right intervals give it a nice effect.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolvie56 View Post
    Guitarists don't know everything about notes even if they think they do. And especially when they relate to a drum set.
    Yeah, I've had my share of those. Even had one that because I was playing a half-time groove with a kick on one and a snare on three, he thought I was playing 2/4, because he was counting it "1" (kick) and "2" for the snare.

    facepalms self...

    Mind you I'm blessed, there are a few bassists, guitarists and other instrument players that I know that have a good understanding of the kit as well. Saves me frisbee-ing razor-sharp splashes aimed at their heads due to frustration communicating with them, I suppose.
    "...it's the Paradigm Of The Cosmos!" Stewart Copeland on Youtube

    668: The Number Of The Guy Next Door To The Beast.

    "A random act of kindness; it keeps my heart in shape!" - Late8

  18. #18

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    I've played with my share of guitarists. 1 thing I noticed is that none of them speak the same language I do.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickthedrummer View Post
    I've played with my share of guitarists. 1 thing I noticed is that none of them speak the same language I do.
    Well said.
    TAMA- '99 Starclassic, '86 Granstar, '88 Granstar,
    '93 Rockstar
    Gretsch- late 50's Round Badge
    Zildjian K & K Custom (with a couple A's and a Wuhan China)
    Evans
    Remo
    Vic Firth
    Speed Cobra double pedal
    Starcast mounting system (including floor toms and snare)
    Hardware- TAMA and Gibraltar
    Snare Drums- various TAMA, Gretsch, Ludwig, Leedy, Wurlitzer

    "How can you impress the chicks if the chicks can do it themselves?!!" ~ from: kay-gee

  20. #20

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    Thanks for the advice! I appreciate...I am just going to the do the samething I have been doing for go with my ear NVM anything about tuning to a major or minor scale!!!...Guitarists man...can drive a drummer crazy! I have my likings for drumset and they sound good to me.

    I don't think I will be putting any electronic toms on the recording but thanks for teh advice...and for the rocket science....drums are tricky everyone has a life of its own...sometimes I can sit with a tom for a long time...top and bottom head to really get the sound I want.

    Thanks everyone happy drumming!

  21. #21

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    Everyone, don't be so hateful just because the guy mentioned notes, jeesh

    Plus, what makes me laugh, is someone mentioned tuning to intervals...but, how can you tune to intervals if you don't even consider notes? Otherwise, you're just guessing it's an interval considering you have to know it's a certain note to KNOW it's an interval of something!

    But, my thoughts? I think every shell has (most likely) a place it'll resonate the best, but that doesn't mean you want to tune it to that point. Tuning to a note only helps you be able to discern a tuned head from a not tuned head. Tuning a kit on the other hand? I believe you should tune them in intervals. Fourths or something (if it's a four pieces, think "Here comes the bride"). I mean, that goes against my own "you need to know the notes" because now you can just hum a tune that uses the 4th interval as the first two notes, but still. Floor tom would be say an A and the high tom a D. Fourths. Is the song usually in A?? I have no idea, I've never played it. Do I hum notes when I tune my drums? No. I know how I want them to sound for the most part, but can see the validity in using a tuner that hums a tone to tune drumheads. It would be very helpful I imagine. In fact Bob Gatzen has great videos on tuning drums and he advocates using a tuner. I don't use the tuner method, but if it wasn't for him my drums would sound horrible. Now they sound pretty decent. OTT folks. OTT.
    Last edited by ZackPomerleau; 11-28-2013 at 07:01 PM. Reason: Fifths to fourths

  22. #22

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    tell the guitarist to play notes that compliment your cymbals

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olimpass View Post
    tell the guitarist to play notes that compliment your cymbals
    A Splash minor with a hint of China in the bass?

    "...it's the Paradigm Of The Cosmos!" Stewart Copeland on Youtube

    668: The Number Of The Guy Next Door To The Beast.

    "A random act of kindness; it keeps my heart in shape!" - Late8

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZackPomerleau View Post
    Everyone, don't be so hateful just because the guy mentioned notes, jeesh

    Plus, what makes me laugh, is someone mentioned tuning to intervals...but, how can you tune to intervals if you don't even consider notes? Otherwise, you're just guessing it's an interval considering you have to know it's a certain note to KNOW it's an interval of something!

    But, my thoughts? I think every shell has (most likely) a place it'll resonate the best, but that doesn't mean you want to tune it to that point. Tuning to a note only helps you be able to discern a tuned head from a not tuned head. Tuning a kit on the other hand? I believe you should tune them in intervals. Fifths or something (if it's a four pieces, think "Here comes the bride"). I mean, that goes against my own "you need to know the notes" because now you can just hum a tune that uses the 5th interval as the first two notes, but still. Floor tom would be say a G and the high tom a C. Fifths. Is the song usually in C? I have no idea, I've never played it. Do I hum notes when I tune my drums? No. I know how I want them to sound for the most part, but can see the validity in using a tuner that hums a tone to tune drumheads. It would be very helpful I imagine. In fact Bob Gatzen has great videos on tuning drums and he advocates using a tuner. I don't use the tuner method, but if it wasn't for him my drums would sound horrible. Now they sound pretty decent. OTT folks. OTT.
    "Here comes the bride" is a 4th

    A fifth is the first two bugle notes of "taps"

    all the best...

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drumbledore View Post
    A Splash minor with a hint of China in the bass?

    That's right! ha ha . Get 'em right back when a guitarist asks you to tune your drums.
    They may look at you like this....

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