Detailed tom tuning

zildjian_zbt

New member
Two questions I have about tuning toms.
1. I recently played a gig and was told that I should tune my toms according to the tuning of my guitarist. Firstly, should I do this? and Secondly, if so, how do I tune to a guitar?

2. I hear many people talking about tuning toms according to 4ths and 5ths etc. What does this mean and how is it done? At the moment I have just tuned my toms to certain notes when I feel they sound good. But i'm not sure about the whole 4th's and 5ths stuff.
 

ganeshgiri

New member
some cats do that in the studio (check out supertramp's long way home) and it can really bring the whole song together. Doing it to match your guitarist's tuning will be difficult unless he/she plays in the same key signature all night.

When people say tune to fouths or fifths, they mean intervals (of a scale) usually minor or major. If someone you don't know says to you after a gig that you should tune your drums a certain way, beware. Most sophisticated listeners wont mention such a minor point to someone they don't know. However, if a lot of people say it, maybe you should ask someone who you trust what they think and examine the situation.

I try to tune the drums in a low pitch that still rings a nice tone, and I try to be reasonable in what I expect from a drum, given it's size. I.E., the interval between my 12 and 16 toms will be greater than between my 10 and my 12. The size difference is greater. Check out Dave Weckl's Back to Basics Video, it has a great little primer on tuning toms near the end. It's basic, but it will get you started. Also, ask advice from drummers whose drums sound good to you. In the end it's still your sound, so try hard to figure it out. Good luck!
 

UKHC

New member
ganeshgiri":retgiyaa said:
I try to tune the drums in a low pitch that still rings a nice tone, and I try to be reasonable in what I expect from a drum, given it's size. I.E., the interval between my 12 and 16 toms will be greater than between my 10 and my 12.
Thats exactly what i do. Keep the toms at a low pitch i say, plus it sounds better at live shows as ive been told.
 

Animal

New member
zildjian_zbt":iiqyf1m2 said:
At the moment I have just tuned my toms to certain notes when I feel they sound good.
Whitch is fine! :D

As long as you're happy with the sound of your toms, it doesn't matter wether they're tune like "this" or "that".

The "4ths" and the "5ths" refers to the musical scale. Not all drummers play a melodical instrument, and therefore don't know about the scales and the different steps in a scale.

But basically I can say this;

If you use 2 toms, (12"/13" and 16" for example), ask your guitar-player to strike his low E-string. Then listen for that note in your 16" floor-tom.

When you're satisfied with the sound (it doesn't have to be exactly in pitch), ask him to strike his A-string. Then listen for that note in your 12"/13" tom.

I guess that's the easiest way to describe the perfect 4th between two toms.

But like I said; Don't let anybody tell you what a "good" or "correct" drum-tuning is, cause there is no such thing!

Always listen to good advices from experienced drummers and musicians, but be critical in terms of letting anyone else deside what's the best tuning for you.

That decition is entirely up to the man behind the drums, I say.
 

devilspain

New member
at the moment my toms are tunesd to what sounds best. but i have tuned my 16" and 12" a fifth apart and 13" a third above the floor and the 10" a third above the 12". if that makes sense.
 

Animal

New member
devilspain":b9q72qr0 said:
at the moment my toms are tunesd to what sounds best. but i have tuned my 16" and 12" a fifth apart and 13" a third above the floor and the 10" a third above the 12". if that makes sense.
Yeah, that makes sense;

What I read from your description is that your tuning is in 3rd's all the way.

If your lower tom is tuned in, say E, then your tuning (probably) is:

E (16"), G (13"), B (12") and D (10").
 

funkdrmr

New member
My initial guess is that whoever mentioned tuning to the guitarist has been reading too much about Terry Bozzio or Danny Carey recently.

Is it beneficial? Of course. Listening to Tool's latest 10,000 Days album, I can definitely hear it. I haven't "examined" any earlier albums to look for it in that manner, but once I had read the information, I listened and could tell that the drums were tuned to the song.

Is it practical in a live situation? No. Unless you are quick enough to re-tune song to song, or all of your songs are in the same key (unlikely).

Get the toms to sound good at an interval that they sound good at...that's really it. There are so many drummers on "local" scenes that can play well, but have CRAPPY sounding kits. If you spend the time to learn your kit and tune it properly nobody will notice, and you will probably not get the comments you have either. It's kind of a bitter-sweet thing. I get compliments on the sound of my kit all the time, but that's largely due to the fact that nearly every drummer out here doesn't have a CLUE about tuning.

For a reference, my Recording Customs (8/10/12/14/16) are tuned in 4th intervals. They punch, and sing....they just sound great.

If i had the budget in the studio, I would definitely give the song-by-song tuning a shot, but such is not the case.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet....spend some time on the kick drum. Listen to your bass player's tone, and tune your kick accordingly so there isn't any interference between the instruments. With this method done correctly, you may very well find that your kick will start to "cut through" a little better, which will translate to listeners as a "great sounding kick drum!".


Sorry for the long post.....I got paid tonight & took my band out to the bar! :shock:
 

Sanady361

New member
ganeshgiri":afxzld35 said:
If someone you don't know says to you after a gig that you should tune your drums a certain way, beware. Most sophisticated listeners wont mention such a minor point to someone they don't know. However, if a lot of people say it, maybe you should ask someone who you trust what they think and examine the situation.
Very good post... I can honeslty say I'm one of those sophisticated listeners, and I'd be one of the first to point out to you that your drums need to be tuned better...



Even though most thick-headed drummers in this area don't want to hear it anyway...

Too concerned with smashing their rock cycmbals with tree-trunks...

"So who cares how the toms sound"... LoL what idiots..

If they'd only open their ears..
 

Shalaq

New member
I have quite the same interval between my toms although I use a 12 16 and 18 sizes. I do that by tuning the 12 tom low and the 16 and 18 floor toms fairly high. It all comes to personal preference really.
 

trav

New member
I think that is great advice to tune to the bass player, guitarist, song, and even to the room. The difference between playing in your attic and next to a lake outside is vast. The mention of Dave Weckl Back to Basics is a good one. Once you've got the principles of "seating" and "cross tuning" then comes the all important tone of the drum. I tune to the individual drum. Although tuning to the song can provide that punch, and give the sound guy a break on EQ and phasing issues, it is difficult to achieve live. I don't prefer pitch to bend up or down, so I tune the heads to the same pitch. The pitch that I chose is whatever sounds most resonant to me. The result is a full solid unmuffled clear tone!
 

pphunk

New member
I did this before recording our last record and have been doing it ever since. I tend to tune my toms kind of high, jazzy sounding if you will, and when you hit the same note as the guitar or bass they just sing.
 

zildjian_zbt

New member
Hey thanks alot guys, I started this post very unsure of what to do and now I've got a little bit more of an idea about the whole tuning thing. Thanks alot.
Just to let you guys know I actually took my toms into my teacher to tune them to see what he thought about it. Although I do know how to tune drums and get a note out of it etc... I was told heaps of different things which confused me and i guess convinced me to see what my teacher would say.

So the advice given is really helpful and I guess for the moment i'll keep them how they are because my guitarist changes tuning and key between songs all the time. Plus i play in 3 bands so yeah it'd be to much tuning..

Again THANKS HEAPS guys and if their are any more comments please post coz i've still got heaps to learn about tuning.
 

demonicAngel

New member
Whoever told you to tune your drums to specific notes, slap him ... honestly, unless you got your toms tune to harmonise with what the guitarist will play at those specific times, it will clash and sound horrible ...

in studio, if you have the time to set it all up to harmonise, then giver, or if your like terry bozzio, just have a tom for every note !! for like 3 octaves ....
 

break the prism

New member
i have all of my drums (including my bass drum) tuned within perfetc 5ths of each other (not saying that they're literally perfect. a perfect fifth is a chord)
my piccolo snare is a seventh above my 10" tom
and my standard snare is a fifth above my 10" tom
 
So, I Guess a lot of people here seems to think it's a little impractical or just flat out silly to tune a drum to a note. What i always remember is what a guitar player friend of mine told me once, "A Lot of poeple don't hear the music in life. The sound of the wind, that's a specific note. The sound of water, that has a note. It's all just a frequency. People talking makes a note; everything around you is music, and no one even realizes it." So with that, always keep in mind, EVERY drum has it's own note. That means that if you can find THE note of each drum, and tune your heads accordingly, (both heads to the same note, resonant head harmonized up or down, and vice versa with the batter head, or tune them octaves higher/lower and vise versa) then your DRUMS will sound perfect!!! They will be in tune with themselves and will "sing" as some of you have mentioned.

Why ANYONE would think having a perfectly tuned instrument is silly is beyond me! But I know there's NOTHING sweeter than hearing a freshly tuned guitar being played. It makes any song that much better when it's in tune. Same with drums!

There is NOTHING sweeter than a perfectly tuned kit!!!!

P.S. My Bass and Snare ALWAYS come out to B Flat...never fails! Find the note, tune it up, it ain't easy, but it's worth it!!!!

Keep the rhythym of the world going fellow drummers!
 

FelterSkelter

New member
Da_FuCKeN_ANiMaL":27se4zph said:
So, I Guess a lot of people here seems to think it's a little impractical or just flat out silly to tune a drum to a note. What i always remember is what a guitar player friend of mine told me once, "A Lot of poeple don't hear the music in life. The sound of the wind, that's a specific note. The sound of water, that has a note. It's all just a frequency. People talking makes a note; everything around you is music, and no one even realizes it." So with that, always keep in mind, EVERY drum has it's own note. That means that if you can find THE note of each drum, and tune your heads accordingly, (both heads to the same note, resonant head harmonized up or down, and vice versa with the batter head, or tune them octaves higher/lower and vise versa) then your DRUMS will sound perfect!!! They will be in tune with themselves and will "sing" as some of you have mentioned.

Why ANYONE would think having a perfectly tuned instrument is silly is beyond me! But I know there's NOTHING sweeter than hearing a freshly tuned guitar being played. It makes any song that much better when it's in tune. Same with drums!

There is NOTHING sweeter than a perfectly tuned kit!!!!

P.S. My Bass and Snare ALWAYS come out to B Flat...never fails! Find the note, tune it up, it ain't easy, but it's worth it!!!!

Keep the rhythym of the world going fellow drummers!
That's a great concept to keep in mind. I don't tune my drums to specific notes but I make sure of two things.
1) The drum sounds good within itself (no weird vibrations or such).
2)Make sure the entire drumset isn't dissonant with the style of music.
(Clashing frequencies)
I only really tune my drums when I'm getting ready to record a song (I don't play shows at the moment) and I usually do it different every time.
I don't know if that makes sense
 

Bluestonered

New member
Scott_Hurford":14bx7zha said:
http://www.videodrumlessons.com/t1.htm

Theres a VERY good website for tuning, hope it helps :D
Well found! This is the exact same technique I use for tuning. Pretty much fail safe....
 
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