Drum Tuning/Tuning to Musical Notes

drumur

New member
From the "Drum Tuning Bible"
I read this at the "Drum Tuning Bible"
I never read this until now but this is sort of saying what I said before.


When I originally wrote this section, it got an awful lot of misguided attention and much debate was drawn from the concept of tuning to a specific note. An often received question was, what is a “standard” tuning for my drumset?

There is no standard tuning for Rock vs Jazz vs Country. By that I mean, every drummer playing Rock DOES NOT tune their kick to a "C", etc. There are however a few interval concepts that drummers "tend" to use between each drum, and that would be a 3rd or 5th apart(I use 4ths). Typical thoughts are to tune in intervals that mimic the note spacing heard in the song "Here Comes the Bride", however, not to those exact notes. Smaller intervals are more predominant in Rock, larger intervals in Jazz.

True, most drummers don't worry about it. However, in my experience; the more seasoned the drummer, the more they are concerned with the relationship between their drums.
So bottom line is, any two drums struck together make noise and will get you by. However, it is not near as pleasing as how you will sound if they work together as a "chord" type sound. And that in a nut shell is the concept I have tried to get across. Hit all your drums together and make sure they sound melodic, whether tuned in 3rds, 4ths or 5ths, it doesn’t really matter too much if they sound good as a “unit” rather than as individual drums.
You should get to know at what note your drum sounds best. Why? Because if you go to the trouble of finding that note, you’ll also see that from a musical standpoint, playing 2 notes together directly next to each other on a keyboard sounds pretty bad (for the most part) and that’s what we want to avoid. Play any combination of notes by counting 3 or 5 notes apart and it becomes very melodic. Hence your drums will sound better and can also sound bigger due to complementary vibration from drums, which are sympathetic to the one being struck. This is not an absolute rule. But in general, you should try playing your drums in combinations of 2 and try to make them melodic so they produce kind of a 2 or 3 finger cord when struck. Make notes of these types of things when tuning for different venues.
How I know this is by working through all the same steps I’ve outlined.
It can also help me dial in my kit quick by simply hearing the note and then tuning to it.
 

Atmerrill

New member
Hmmmm...... I don't know what your source for the quote is, but most I agree with - would even agree more if the author would substitute the word "tone" instead of his/her constant use of "note."

Much of this is a rehash from my other thread, and I'm not sure if you're agreeing with this or just putting it out there for comment. However, thanks for taking the time to type and post it.

I haven't seen anyone (so far) talk at length about the processs they go about finding the tones and intervals for their toms. Personally, I start with my main 16" floor tom. That's the drum the others in the kit are going to be based on. Once I have it, then I can match the 13" rack, and 14" and 18" floor toms from there.

I know some folks who use their 12 or 13" toms as the basis - others just take the lowest tone available to them and work up. Regardless of which drum is going to be the foundation, you'll use intervals of some fashion for the others.

Maybe someone should start a thread on "How I go about esablishing the tones for my set."
 

drumur

New member
hi,
I got it from here...I think this is one of the site billy gave a link to.
http://home.earthlink.net/~prof.sound/id14.html
Thanks for your viewpoint and for reading it with an open mind.
This is something that I find is a shortcut to zeroing in on a sound that I had previously achieved that took me years to achieve. If somebody else has a better way to achieve a better result, I'm all ears.
Through experiences, trial and error, reading,talking with other pros, and just making it a priority, this is where I've arrived.
If I hit any 2 drums they sound awesome together...If I phrase any melodic fill within a pop tune, It sounds right.
It's just what works for me. When I record, it's exactly what I intended to hear. It always sounds like me, no matter how many time I tune or replace heads. In another thread, I expressed my view on achieving a sound and it seemed like everybody was ridiculing the concept. That's fine, but as long as I know what works. I'm sharing with them something that took me years to achieve. Then I went on this site and read this from a nashville producer/engineer and it validated what I knew to be valid.
Moved to Nashville TN in 1975. Designed and managed the manufacturing of recording studio electronics for Harrison systems, premier company for music, film and production studios electronics.Designed and built wiring systems for touring sound companies as well as speakers and monitors. Worked with and in a variety of recording studios along with a number of top country writers that have multiple platinum and gold hits to their credit. Engineered and did live/studio drumming.
One thing I've learned in all the years I've been drumming is that...you can learn from anybody. Always keep your eyes and ears open for the next valuable lesson. A good example of this...I've learned as much from Ringo Starr or Charlie Watts as any other flashy drummer in the business
 

m

New member
I always tune my drums to intervals or 'chords' that work together. I start with the floortom as it can usually be one of the tougher drums to dial in the sweet spot. Once it's happy, I tune the other toms to notes/tones that work well with each other. I don't necessarily select specific note values to tune them to, but I do believe it can be and is done.

In fact, I've found it similar to any other musical instrument I play- I can tell if tension has slipped or a drum is out of tune when a pattern or phrase isn't sounding right.
 

christopherabruce

New member
I tend not to start with any drum in particular, but tune each to where they resonate the most, and then adjust each drum's top head a little higher for a "jazz tuning." After that, I'll start playing all the toms to see how well they sound together, make minor adjustments, and usually end up with thirds or fourths. And as indicated in the first post for this thread, tuning is quicker and far more productive if you know each of your drum's tuning ranges.


Atmerrill":29pijy1x said:
Hmmmm...... I don't know what your source for the quote is, but most I agree with - would even agree more if the author would substitute the word "tone" instead of his/her constant use of "note."

Much of this is a rehash from my other thread, and I'm not sure if you're agreeing with this or just putting it out there for comment. However, thanks for taking the time to type and post it.

I haven't seen anyone (so far) talk at length about the processs they go about finding the tones and intervals for their toms. Personally, I start with my main 16" floor tom. That's the drum the others in the kit are going to be based on. Once I have it, then I can match the 13" rack, and 14" and 18" floor toms from there.

I know some folks who use their 12 or 13" toms as the basis - others just take the lowest tone available to them and work up. Regardless of which drum is going to be the foundation, you'll use intervals of some fashion for the others.

Maybe someone should start a thread on "How I go about esablishing the tones for my set."
 
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