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Thread: Tuning drums

  1. #1

    Tuning drums

    Do you use your ears or something like the drum dial?
    Gretsch Renown Maple(Cherry Burst) 8x7, 10x8, 12x9, 14x14, 16x16, 22x18, 14x5
    Meinl Cymbals
    Byzance- 18" dark crash, 10" splash, 18" thin crash, 16" medium crash, 14" medium hats, 16" china, 20" medium ride
    Mb20- 22" heavy bell ride

  2. #2
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    I use both. I use my ears at first so I can learn to hear the differences. When I finally reach a tune that I like I will record the numbers using the drum dial. But at the same time it's really hard to stay consistent when I have to re-tune or change heads so sometimes I get lazy and just use the dial. I like to experiment a lot too by tuning real high, low and in between depending what kind of music I'm listening to and what kind of mood I'm in. I haven't been tuning seriously for a long time though. When I first started playing all I cared about was playing. I guess now I'm starting to develop an ear for the sound.

  3. #3
    I tune by ear. Peace and goodwill.

  4. #4
    Chunk,
    I am pretty much the exact same as you. I have a drum dial and some where i have a txt saved with my tunings...I haven't seen the drum dial since we moved though and i think its about time to dig it out and find that txt file..just to see if my ears have changed their opinion. :-)
    Gretsch Renown Maple(Cherry Burst) 8x7, 10x8, 12x9, 14x14, 16x16, 22x18, 14x5
    Meinl Cymbals
    Byzance- 18" dark crash, 10" splash, 18" thin crash, 16" medium crash, 14" medium hats, 16" china, 20" medium ride
    Mb20- 22" heavy bell ride

  5. #5
    Each shell seems to have it's sweet spot range. I tune by ear and by the feel of the tension on each lug. Drum dials seem to let you use your sight for something your hearing and sense of touch should be able to accomplish.

  6. #6
    Interesting responses so far. I am an old guy (63) and learned to tune by ear. When I was a kid the heads were all calf skin and we had to tune to play and then loosen to save the heads every day. We all got pretty good at it and in a drum line we not only had to tune our drums, but they had to match in tone too, and we had to do this pretty quickly. But...either my ears have degraded with age or there is a better mouse trap today, and I definitely prefer to use a Drum Dial to get close and then finish by ear. It is faster, definitely more accurate, and gives me more time to play my drums and not just play with my drums.

    One thing to add is that no matter which method you use, I recommend that you tune your drums often. Doing so is sort of like practicing, the more you do it the better you get. If you need to write down your Drum Dial settings because you tune so infrequently that you can't remember them, you are not tuning often enough. Try tuning every day for a week, then every other day for a week, then go to once a week forever. At first this will take too much time, but after the first few weeks you will be tuning like a pro drum tech and will be able to go back and forth between dial and ear without even thinking about it.

    Regards,

    Bill

  7. #7
    I am with BuddyHollywood. I use my ears and how the drum feels.
    Quote Originally Posted by BuddyHollywood View Post
    Each shell seems to have it's sweet spot range. I tune by ear and by the feel of the tension on each lug. Drum dials seem to let you use your sight for something your hearing and sense of touch should be able to accomplish.
    Last edited by mlaugh2008; 07-28-2011 at 07:48 AM. Reason: I can't spel.

  8. #8
    I hate to say it, but I need a drum dial, I just put new heads on my floor tom, and I just can't get it to sound right, it has that "wobble" like when 2 guitar strings are out of phase, speaking of, I can tune a guitar to perfect pitch, ( by ear) and it will match up to a digital tuner, but man, this drum tuning thing is driving me crazy, so I think I'll try a dial next, then eventually learn to tune without it.

  9. #9
    Junior Member JazzDrummer's Avatar
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    I believe it is important to practice and train the ear by tuning often as was said before. I find mallets give the best tone also to determine what's higher and lower. We don't have a tone, we have a sound and that makes it more difficult. I tune the bottom head a little higher and look for the sweet spotS because I believe a drum has more than one. Also depends on the frequency of the room you are in. The dial for me works great to keep a record and it also shows how my taste changes. Gretsch drums go out of tune real fast, I believe due to the cast rims, my 1961 Ludwig doesn't at all. Tama makes washers with a rubber inlay, I have equipped my complete Gretsch set and now it stays tuned. Works great!
    If you're going to start with melody, you'll need some tympani, I think.
    Gene Krupa (1909 - 1973)

  10. #10
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    Tuning

    As an older guy (5o's) it's probably taken me 30 years of playing and toying with the tension rods, head choices, styles of music, as well as my different kits to get a feel for tuning. All of these factors play a large role in your tuning.
    The main "raison d'Ítre" ( Reason ) to tune, is to sound musically appropriate to the genre of music your playing. I tend to tune the drums to the kit. Snare to the style, and toms to each other, such as in perfect 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, rarely minors and even in octaves for lower toms.......Got to be musical!!! Don't be afraid to experiment, it's your sound, and fellow players will notice you tune.
    Drummers are Musicians too.

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