• weird , ugly overtones above the main tone of a drum
• toms that sound like a cardboard box being hit with a broom handle
• a lack of a single , definite tone from each drum
I recently heard a small diameter , first rack tom with a way lower pitch than the second , larger diameter rack tom . And no one seemed to care ( or notice ) except me ! Well , the drummer in that band had noticed actually … but ( sadly ) he didn ’ t seem to care . (!)
All this can add Sonic Soupiness to our overall sound and needs to be eliminated or at least reduced as far as possible .
Now , let ’ s be clear : Tuning drums is quite different from tuning our other instruments . There is a standardized , agreed , objective value for tuning our guitars , keyboards , voices and other , so-called “ tuned ” instruments . Tuning for those instruments can be measured and given a value . Each of their notes are either “ in tune ” or they are not .
But drums are not like most instruments where there is “ in tune ” and “ out of tune ”. Tuning of drums is very subjective . What sounds “ good ” to one person may not be to another . There ’ s considerable variation in the tonal possibilities of each drum depending on how it ’ s tuned and the tastes of the person doing the tuning .
While the actual note or pitch that each drum produces is involved in drum tuning , the pitch from each drum need not correlate with the notes of the twelve-tone scale used by our other instruments . In reality , tuning drums has more to do with achieving a pleasing tone . It ’ s perhaps helpful , from the MD ’ s perspective at least , to think that tuning drums is actually “ toning ” the drums .
But we need not vanish down that rabbit hole here . From an MD ’ s perspective , what we ’ re after is the removal of any drum ugliness . Tuning ( or tone ) above a certain baseline of acceptability . Generally speaking , we ’ re looking for a clean , defined tone from each drum that “ sings ” well with the sonic characteristics of the room we ’ re in , for the types of music we ’ re playing , played by the drummers on our roster .
Just be aware though : Like guitar strings , drumheads wear out and need to be replaced from time to time . But there ’ s not a certain amount of time that drumheads last . It depends how often and how hard they are being played . But after a certain amount of playing time and intensity they can wear out and become untunable . This seems to happen more quickly to the drums used by the youth band .
NB : What are drumheads ? They ’ re the circular “ skins ” ( usually made of plastic ) on each drum shell . Most drums have a top head and a bottom head . The top head is often called the batter head . It ’ s the one that is actually hit with a stick or , in the case of the kick drum , the foot-controlled beater . The bottom head is called the resonant head or , if you want to sound super knowledgeable to drummers , the “ reso ” head . Drum tuning involved adjusting the tension on each drumhead using a drum key to tighten or loosen the lugs around the top and bottom edge of each drum .
If the heads start to become unevenly stretched , have dents , divots or ( heaven forbid ) tears , they will be untunable and need to be replaced . Of course , this will happen more quickly to the