Jump to content
aberdeen-music

Snare drum tuning


The Milner
 Share

Recommended Posts

Drum tuning has never been a strong point of mine, but i especially struggle with snare drums, i always seem to end up with a horrible ringing sound no matter what i do, i like the head quite tight but i can never get it sounding that good. I used to cheat and take it into Pro Sound or Bruce Millers and get one of them to do it for me and i would slightly adjust when needed but sadly neither are there any more. Problem is i havent played much for the past few years and my snare has been sitting in various rooms doing very little and it now sounds terrible, its a very good snare so i hate the fact it sounds like a cheap one at the moment.

Ideally im hoping one of you kind drummers can give me some good tips or even better meet up with me at Tom's or something and go through the process of setting up a snare properly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Generally, you just want to aim for an even tension around the drum. Tap 1" from the hoop at each tuning lug, and try and get them to all sound the same. Easiest way to do this is to work with opposing lugs. ie. 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock......then 3 and 9, then 2 and 8, then 4 and 10......rather than going from 12 o'clock, to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc.

Also, on the resonant head, I've found it a good idea to slacken off the lugs a little where the snare strainer contacts the hoop of the drum. Makes the snare wires bed into the head a little better.

To be honest, there's so little sustain on a snare drum, it's generally much easier to get a satisfactory tone from a snare than when tuning toms....toms can be an utter ball-ache.

I generally use a 2-ply coated head (e.g. Remo Ambassador) on the batter head, and a 1-ply clear head on the resonant side (eg. Remo Diplomat). Depends what sound you're after. If you want a fatter sound....use thicker heads, e.g. 2-ply resonant head.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You don't want the resonant head to be tuned too evenly, as that can cause ringing. As Mr Jazz says, loosen the lugs either side of the snare mechanism a little bit. The resonant head can also be pretty tight - not stupidly tight as it's quite fragile, but certainly tighter than the batter head. Then just tighten the batter head to how you like it. Remember a little bit of ringing is good, otherwise the drum will just sound dead out front. If it's really a problem, then try a blob of moongel. Maybe a O ring, but they can be a pain and get in the way of the stick sometimes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its a Slingerland Radio king i am using, bought it when i had more money than sense, right now it has a Remo weatherking amasador on the bottom and a 2-ply Aquarium head on top but im not a fan of the top head to be honest. The problem really stated after i burst the resonant head a few years back and replaced it myself but its never been right since. I definitely think its that head i am struggling to get right. Ill give loosening the head around the snares a shot and see if that helps, am i right in thinking the snares shouldnt be too tight on the head, put them on a bit loose and tighten using the clamp or should they be on tighter? I have to screw the clamp right up to get a nice crisp sound from the snares but it means when i loosen them off it sounds a bit horrible. I have tried 1-ply heads but they never seem to last long enough before i damage them, although i dont hit as hard now as i used too, ill maybe give one a try again and see if i can get a better sound from it. I always used them for recording but again i would batter hell out of them so they never lasted long. Again i might try a 2-ply head on the bottom as well see if that gives me more of what i am looking for sound wise.

cheers for the tips guys much appreciated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Snare wires certainly shouldn't be on super-tight. In any case, snare wires have got little if anything to do with the tuning of the drum. Provided the buzz you get from the snares sounds OK, and you haven't strained the snare mech to breaking point, you should be OK.

When you say you've tried and burst 1-ply heads, I assume you mean on the tops? If you're in the habit of bursting the resonant head (the bottom one), I'd worry. Definitely not normal, no matter how hard you hit. I'm no slouch, and I've never burst a bottom head, or even damaged one, in my life. Without knowing better, I'd put that down to either poor quality heads, poorly fitted heads, or a maltreated drum.

In terms of your current setup, some of the Aquarian heads are very heavy, so if combined with a 2-ply bottom head, you might just end up choking the life out of the drum. Additionally, deeper drums resonate more.....so if you're using a standard depth drum 5" or less I'd avoid using 2-ply resonant heads as a general rule.

Generally, 2-ply coated on top, 1-ply clear on the bottom works for most situations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When you say you've tried and burst 1-ply heads, I assume you mean on the tops? If you're in the habit of bursting the resonant head (the bottom one), I'd worry. Definitely not normal, no matter how hard you hit. I'm no slouch, and I've never burst a bottom head, or even damaged one, in my life. Without knowing better, I'd put that down to either poor quality heads, poorly fitted heads, or a maltreated drum.

In terms of your current setup, some of the Aquarian heads are very heavy, so if combined with a 2-ply bottom head, you might just end up choking the life out of the drum. Additionally, deeper drums resonate more.....so if you're using a standard depth drum 5" or less I'd avoid using 2-ply resonant heads as a general rule.

Generally, 2-ply coated on top, 1-ply clear on the bottom works for most situations.

Yeah i was meaning when i have used 1-ply heads on the top, i have always seemed to either break them or damage them quickly, but i think with age my hitting has become more mellow so im thinking about trying them out again. Yeah i burst the bottom head, but it was my own fault, i dented the head dropping the drum on the corner of a stage, and it burst a few songs late, thankfully its the only time ive done it, but like i say since then i have never got the drum sounding just right. I am going to take it apart this weekend and put new heads on it and just start from scratch, i am going to ditch the Aquarian head and try a few different ones out. I really bought it for durability reasons but i have never really liked the sound of the head.

Cheers again Hugh!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find that it really isn't an exact science. My old snare drum sounded wonderful when I had a really low tuned resonant head and a reasonably highly tuned batter. It absolutely sang. My newer snare sounds better when tuned conventionally. As Frosty says, the resonant head shouldn't be evenly tuned but the batter should be. This is important.

Other than the advice you've already received, I'd add that the positioning of the snare wire is extremely important and can make your snare sound shitty. Make sure it is evenly distributed along the resonant skin, i.e. each end of the snare wire should be exactly the same distance from the side of the drum and pretty much symmetrical. Even just 5mm in difference can be detrimental to the overall sound.

While we're on the topic of snare drums, can anyone recommend one to me? I want to spend a reasonable amount on a new one (up to £300) but cannae decide. I've currently got a Premier Modern Classic (14x5), but its pretty pants. The new Mapex Black Panther models look good (particularly The Blaster and Machete). Anyone know anything about them? I'm probz looking to get something sturdy sounding, probably 7" deep.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Tuning for me has always been a personel thing. Its your sound at the end of the day. But also tuning a skin the same on 2 different snares will sound different. If its wood, steel, brass etc makes a big different. I manly use wood snares and tend to like them very high pitch depending on what im playing. When I tune I do a few things - first have the snare "off" the drum so you can heard the sound without it. Tighten even bolt evenly and always go opposite each other not round the eadge. Also if the bottom head is not tuned right it can case all sorts of problems so I would check that. When you have tightened all the bolts, go round the snare which a stick where each bolt is and make sure each hit sounds the same - this is an easy way to make sure they are all even. A neat trick is that if you want to change the sound of your snare just for one song is to lossen one or 2 bolts, probllay on the opposite side of the snare from where you face it, which completly changes the sound - its then easy to tighten them back up again to get your usual sound back. Also I use "moon gel" which is a great bit of kit - very cheap as well. They are small bits of gel than you can put on your snare to dampen the sound. Really handy tool. Hope this helps.

Check this vid out:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A good tip I was given was to listen to the drum without any heads on it (ie. hold it in a way that you can hit the side of the drum and listen to the resonance) and get very familiar with that sound because thats the frequency you should be aiming for with tuning...it also depends on the room you are in...some tones wont work well in certain rooms, so you could tune it somewhere then it sounds duff when you try it somewhere else. I've always tuned the resonant head slightly more tight than the batter, and another +1 on moongel to kill any excess ringing...

Learning to use one of these would also help!!

5029078.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find that it really isn't an exact science. My old snare drum sounded wonderful when I had a really low tuned resonant head and a reasonably highly tuned batter. It absolutely sang. My newer snare sounds better when tuned conventionally. As Frosty says, the resonant head shouldn't be evenly tuned but the batter should be. This is important.

Other than the advice you've already received, I'd add that the positioning of the snare wire is extremely important and can make your snare sound shitty. Make sure it is evenly distributed along the resonant skin, i.e. each end of the snare wire should be exactly the same distance from the side of the drum and pretty much symmetrical. Even just 5mm in difference can be detrimental to the overall sound.

While we're on the topic of snare drums, can anyone recommend one to me? I want to spend a reasonable amount on a new one (up to £300) but cannae decide. I've currently got a Premier Modern Classic (14x5), but its pretty pants. The new Mapex Black Panther models look good (particularly The Blaster and Machete). Anyone know anything about them? I'm probz looking to get something sturdy sounding, probably 7" deep.

While we're on the topic can you have a look at mine next time you're over? I put the skins from my old one onto that Premier one you gave me. It sounds like a bad fart.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...