tuning drums to notes....

hey. I have never had any teachers since I have been playing. So I have no clue about tuning really. And the other day my friend said he had a guy come to his band practice once and tune there drummers drum set to the tuning they were using (which was drop c at the time). Now I was wondering if anybody could tell me if you really are suppose to tune your drums to your guitarist tunings? How do you go about doing it if you do? and what would you suggest if your band uses more then one tuning?
 

JasonS2C

New member
I dunno about "supposed to" necessarily, but its possible if thats what you're into. Depends alot on the drums/heads you're playing as well. There are kits that can be tuned to specific notes or pitches (or close thereabouts anyway) and sound great, and there are other kits that won't resonate for S@*% when you attempt the tuning. I had an engineer with the same idea tune one of my DW kits this way (DW's are "timbre matched" to specific note groups anyway) but during playback I really couldn't tell a difference between that track and the others with "normal" tuning for resonance as opposed to note value. Supposedly it adds "more power" and "better integration of the drums into the music". I don't buy it. Live it would be impossible unless your band plays in one tuning, you have heads that are stretched in but not too old, and you play in a constant temperature controlled environment where temp variance would have no effect on your heads. In the studio it would add time, which equals $$$, and after trying it has little effect on the finished product IMO. Danny Carey has been noted to have tuned this way on Tool albums but lets face it, with his Sonor drums, how he plays, the studios he records in, and the amount of processing used, would we really be able to tell the difference in the finished product?
 

drumur

New member
I can do it either way. I've been known to ask the guitar player to give me an E and I would tune the 10" to somewhere around there. Then, I tune them descending in Fourths. (This spread sounds right to "my" ear, when I phrase or play fills). Keep in mind that this is when using 3 or more toms. I use an 8" 10"12"14"16". This would vary depending on the number of toms. If I use one rack and one floor it might be closer to octaves...unless I wanted a lower pitdhed rack tom.
Keep in mind that this range can vary depending on what I'm looking for.
I may want the 10" to start lower than that.
I can also just go by ear and they would probably sound the same because I just hear it and I've been doing this so long.
 

SGarrett

New member
Fairly common practice. To a certain degree you want your drums to fit in with the music instead of standing out against it. For instance, a 4"x13" piccolo snare wouldn't sound very good on a slow ballad but a 6"x14" tuned down would sound pretty good. It's the same with toms. You wouldn't want to use a super high pitched jazz tuning in Korn's music because it just wouldn't fit nor would you want to use a tuning that would sound good with Korn in a light jazz situation.

However, drums are semi-melodic and don't have definite tunings or pitches. Every wooden shell resonants at a slightly different frequency so not every drum will accept every tuning. In the studio, you do what the song needs. On the stage, you find a middle ground and make the best series of compromises.
 

wes the bear.

New member
MY preference....

8x7 tom - Bb above middle C
10x8 tom - F above middle C
12x9 tom - Middle C
14x12 floor tom - G below middle C
16x16 floor tom - an octave below middle C (the third rack tom)


its PRETTY MUCH descending thirds.
 

DRUMSMYWIFE

New member
Tunig is asinch basically on my kit I tune ithe rack toms to "A" and F# and my floor tom to C#. My snare is a B flat. I just tuned it a half a turn with my key after I tightened it with my fingers.
 

Potatoe Snack

New member
seems pointless to me. even if your band plays in the same tuning for every song, most bands don't play the same key every song. so you might need a different tuning for a different key. but i guess its a good practice, if you can master tuning your toms to notes, then you'll never have to worry about them being out of tune with themselves. raise the bar!
 

Lancelot Frosty

New member
Go ask Bozzio.
Nah, just kidding.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of the drums tuned to a note thing.
More time and money for little to no difference, IMO.
 

Rob Crisp

New member
I've never tried to tune to a note. I make sure my floor sounds fat and then tune the other toms in equal changes in pitch, so they flow nicely.

Snare, long as it's a nice crack and not to much ring I'm happy.

Bass, common misconception that a loose bass head will give a better tone than one tuned slightly tighter so I have a nice low, but clear tone on my kick.
 

dannydrumperc

New member
wes the bear.":3ms3p2aw said:
MY preference....

8x7 tom - Bb above middle C
10x8 tom - F above middle C
12x9 tom - Middle C
14x12 floor tom - G below middle C
16x16 floor tom - an octave below middle C (the third rack tom)


its PRETTY MUCH descending thirds.
Your 12 & 16 on octaves? That's to broad for me; maybe a 10 and 16... I like having my lowest tom (14 or 16) on fifths or octaves (respectively) compared to my snare. Some times I have my smallest tom to the same pitch as my snare for a similar sound but with different colour.

I like using the mayor triad (C, E & G, for example) as reference.
 

bigtone23

New member
My drums basically follow descending fourths. I lay out all the toms 8 10 12 13 14 16 and tune them relative to each other. The 12 to 13 to 14 is not perfect fourths, but a slightly tighter interval so they ring and respond the same. The kick and snare are often tweeked a bit to fit into the "tune" of the toms to blend a bit better.
 

meddlejordison

New member
I may be wrong but isn't Terry Bozzio known for tuning his (many) drums to notes?
Either way I think it is a fine idea if you are willing to do that and if it calls for it in the style of music you play.
That kind of tuning is mainly used for Fusion and Jazz music.

You only live once. Why not?
 

BLS2112

New member
I do this...
However...Only for a "starting point" using an old Peterson strobe...
Your drums will "want to" be tuned to their "comfortable" range...
My Yamahas, Sonors, customs & Old Ludwigs vary immensely...
"Tuning out" common frequencies (All according to "type" of music) is a must to alleviate extensive muffling such as Zero-Rings and Super-Kicks, etc...
And "stage rumble"...The sound-men will love you...lol

All the best...B
 

quikstang2

New member
I don't tune to the band for a few reasons. One being that every band I've been in changes the tuning between songs, and I can't do that. Another reason is I'm in multiple bands and it would be more of a hassle than I need. If we were recording, I'd probably go the extra mile and change the tuning. Also, your shells will have a note that they will naturally want to be tuned at. If anything you should be trying to tun them to that.

My main reason is that I like the drums as low as possible. I'll tune my biggest floor tom to the lowest note that it can produce and then go up the scale to the highest tom. I do it by ear. It's not that hard. In the end when I hit each drum down the line (I've got 7 toms) it'll sound like a basic scale. To me it makes it easy to tell when a drum is out of tune and having the drums next to it to base off of helps me to get the drum back in tune.

As long as your drums are tuned to each other and sound good with the style of music you're playing, you'll sound good. Tuning to the guitars isn't by any means necessary, and 99% of people won't notice the difference anyways.

Don't worry about it. In most cases it's a waste of time.
 

drumur

New member
I don't tune to guitars I tune to a note just as a starting point(as BLS2112 said)because I found that when I use 3 rack toms the 10 seems to work well around E and I like what I hear while phrasing fills when the spread is in 4ths. If I use 2 rack toms I might hear it differently.


It's not to a guitar...it could be a pitch pipe. I also like to tune to the shell. It depends on the drums, my mood, the band, my set up, and the style of music. Besides, I wouldn't tune a 12 to an E... it would be choked. It's all relative to the size of the drum.

I know about the optimal range for a particular shell. I also like to tune to the range where my toms resonate as much as possible. My floor tom is also as low as it can go and still produce a resonant pitch.
I've been playing since I was 4 yrs old and I'm ____ now...well I'm not going to tell how old I am now.LOL.


Most of these topics are so subjective. I might sit at your kit and think it sounds horrible. I'm not saying it does...I'm just trying to make a point. I've sat at other drummer's high end kits and thought that to myself, "this sounds like crap"..."I've made my student's entry level kits sound 10 times better."
 

tchfunkta

New member
wes the bear.":2eq6h6as said:
MY preference....

8x7 tom - Bb above middle C
10x8 tom - F above middle C
12x9 tom - Middle C
14x12 floor tom - G below middle C
16x16 floor tom - an octave below middle C (the third rack tom)


its PRETTY MUCH descending thirds.

WAIT A SECOND. Does nobody know theory around here enough to correct this?!?! There's not a SINGLE third in there! From the bottom up it's a 5th, 4th, 4th, 4th. Goddamn.
 

BLS2112

New member
tchfunkta":cspynvw5 said:
wes the bear.":cspynvw5 said:
MY preference....

8x7 tom - Bb above middle C
10x8 tom - F above middle C
12x9 tom - Middle C
14x12 floor tom - G below middle C
16x16 floor tom - an octave below middle C (the third rack tom)


its PRETTY MUCH descending thirds.

WAIT A SECOND. Does nobody know theory around here enough to correct this?!?! There's not a SINGLE third in there! From the bottom up it's a 5th, 4th, 4th, 4th. Goddamn.
Yup...This man is correct...Pretty much fourths with a fifth descending...
ATB...B

But quit cursing so much... :wink:
 

gongyou30

New member
You don't need to.Plus it's a headache trying to match to a note when most drums are a tonal.(not tuned to a specific pitch).Dw drums are made to a specific note but then that could clash with other notes as well.Cymbals are also made
to be a tonal. That way they don't clash.
 
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