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Crazy Drum tuning experiments and results.
Old 14th March 2014
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Einstein's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Crazy Drum tuning experiments and results.

I originally posted this in a drummer forum, but thought it might be a cool discussion to have here since it mostly pertains to the engineering side of things. I took a Yamaha Oak Custom kit that I bought a while back and ran it through it's paces. All 4 toms were meticulously tuned to exact notes.

When a drum is struck, like many plucked or struck instruments, it starts sharp and quickly settles to the note. I have attached a screen grab of auto tune used only to check the pitch of each drum so you can get a visual of what I'm talking about.

If a drum is dead and thuddy, it doesn't matter so much, but if there is a nice sustain, I think it helps if it fits. The sustained note is what matters here, because it helps the toms not to have to be gated as much since the sustain is musical and relevant to the song being tracked.

The ranges for each tom are as follows...

16" - B - C - C# - D - D#
14" - E - F - G - G#
12" - G - G# - A - B
10" - C - C# - D - D# - E

I took several hits of each drum and cut up samples of multi-hits to make grooves from just for this experiment. The kick and snare are static samples of my kick and Supra that stay the same from groove to groove. I start it with a slow fill so you can hear the toms going down in steps, then play a tom groove, then the fill repeats.

It may sound a little drum machine like because there is no performance, overheads, or room mics. This is simply me putting my kit through it's paces and having a template of how I would like to tune it for any variation of song that comes through here.

I'll start with a few examples to get moving here and add more as I get time. You guys feel free to request any tuning scheme you'd like to hear given the possible note variations and I'll be glad to add it.

I'm toying with the possibility of making a big drum library in the future of all our kits just to have it this way with all the possible tunings marked. It was a hell of a week getting these together.
Attached Thumbnails
Crazy Drum tuning experiments and results.-14-f-example.jpg  
Attached Files

B_minor_All_4ths.mp3 (939.8 KB, 467 views)

C_sharp_minor_All_4ths.mp3 (920.4 KB, 400 views)

Db_Major_7th_chord.mp3 (920.4 KB, 413 views)

Db_Major_triad_plus_octave.mp3 (920.4 KB, 321 views)

Db_Root_5th_Octave.mp3 (920.4 KB, 376 views)

Old 14th March 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Funny Cat's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Cool experiment. Can't say I liked any better than the others. I think I'd need some context in order to make that assessment. But great job nonetheless. they all sounded good to me.
Old 14th March 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Einstein's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
On a side note, the tempo is 120 with the start and end locked to the grid if anyone wants to load them up and loop the middle sections jamming on them in different keys.
Old 14th March 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Einstein's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Some More variations.
Attached Files

B_Major_Root_4th_Octave_or_E_Major_5th_Root_5th.mp3 (939.8 KB, 249 views)

E_Major_Root_5th_Octave.mp3 (939.8 KB, 366 views)

Eb_Major_Root_5th_Octave.mp3 (920.4 KB, 271 views)

Eb_Major_Triad_plus_Octave.mp3 (939.8 KB, 246 views)

Old 15th March 2014
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
mworkman's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I preferred the B Minor All 4th although the options were very close. The one thing that stood out for me was your snare drum. What note did you tune that too? Or could you speak to how you tune the top and bottom heads in relation to each other... I have been using the TuneBot and am happy with what I am getting with my kick, floor tom and 14" rack tom. I don't necessarily love the 12" and 10" rack toms but by far I struggle most with the snare drum. I would be very interested in your thoughts on the subject.
Old 15th March 2014
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Einstein's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What snare do you own?

I have a 6.5 supra and tune it all over the map. I find I'm not happy with man snare drums though. This particular snare was an Emperor X over hazy Ambassador with 42 strand wires. Top head rim note tuned probably close to a D or D# with the reso very very tight. That's usually where I keep it for my own playing, but it also sounds great much lower if I ditch the 10" tom for more fat rock stuff. No muffling, the drum is so dry that there really is no note to stand out, just crack and body.
Old 15th March 2014
  #7
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suedesound's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
On my tablet and can't really listen but as a drummer and drum tech (and engineer) I tune drums by ear to their best tone, which also depends on head choice etc. Interested to check this out though when home
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Einstein's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by suedesound ➑️
On my tablet and can't really listen but as a drummer and drum tech (and engineer) I tune drums by ear to their best tone, which also depends on head choice etc. Interested to check this out though when home
Well I don't tune them where they sound bad chasing after obscurity or anything. I just enjoy repeatable results and really knowing my instrument. There's a pretty small sweet spot of a few notes where each drum sings. I do like sustain, and I like it in key on recordings so it doesn't beat with the other instruments. I find I need to mute a lot of the sustain off if it's not, which is fine and sounds great when appropriate.

Heads, however, I don't find make a HUGE difference among the usual suspects as far as tone goes. I notice differences in attack and sustain, but it doesn't change the range the drum is comfortable in. I don't like the attack on coated ambassadors in heavy rock for instance. These were taken with Clear Vintage Emperors. I like smooth white emps live.
Old 16th March 2014 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
mworkman's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Einstein ➑️
What snare do you own?

I have a 6.5 supra and tune it all over the map. I find I'm not happy with man snare drums though. This particular snare was an Emperor X over hazy Ambassador with 42 strand wires. Top head rim note tuned probably close to a D or D# with the reso very very tight. That's usually where I keep it for my own playing, but it also sounds great much lower if I ditch the 10" tom for more fat rock stuff. No muffling, the drum is so dry that there really is no note to stand out, just crack and body.
I have a 6.5 Grover maple. I know the Supra is different. When I am tuning I can't seem to find the middle ground... either it is a lower tuning that isn't quite where I want it or it is a higher tuning with more ringing that I would like.

I really liked the sound of yours. I'll have to look into getting a Supra. There is a snare at my local Guitar Center that sounds really good too. I'll have to ask them about it the next time I am there.
Old 16th March 2014
  #10
Gear Guru
 
chrisso's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If a snare is ringing more than you like just reduce the ring (to taste) with some damping. I use tape, or tape and tissue, but 'professionals' use moon gel.
It's the sound on the record that counts, not what you have to do to get there.
Old 16th March 2014
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Einstein's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Exactly, the Supra with an Emperor X is the only time I don't have to use a little piece of tape or something to tone down the ring. And that's when it's tuned fairly tight. At lower tunings, it still needs a little something.
Old 16th March 2014
  #12
Gear Guru
 
chrisso's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Back to the toms: Did you tune top and bottom heads to exactly the same pitch?
Old 16th March 2014
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Einstein's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
No, minor 3rd higher on bottoms. I hear less weird overtones that way. Just my preference.
Old 16th March 2014
  #14
Gear Guru
 
chrisso's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
OK, I'm thinking that's why your note changes.
Drum tech's call it a pitch bend (down).
I like that set up myself. I tend to tune the bottom head higher than the top too.
The way to get a pure note is to tune both heads to exactly the same pitch.
Some people like the batter higher tuned to the bottom (resonant head).
All ways are ok, but I think that's why you are getting a little pitchbend.
Old 16th March 2014
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Einstein's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I notice pitch bend either way really, more or less drastic.
Old 19th March 2014
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Einstein's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Here's what I mean, 14" tuned unison close to a G. Didn't worry about it being perfect to pitch for this example. Pitch drop is still there because of the brute force to the heads. Drop is just slightly less drastic than with minor 3rd tuning.

Also a note I made a long time ago is that the myth of most sustain from unison tuning has not been true for me. Minor 3rd separation always gives me the most sustain on many tested drum kits and head combinations.
Attached Thumbnails
Crazy Drum tuning experiments and results.-g-unison-tuning.jpg  
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