top , batter heads . Resonant heads tend to last much longer .
Even the sound of a cheap drum kit ( of the type owned by a lot of churches ) can be drastically improved with a fresh set of batter heads and good overall tuning . The reduction in Sonic Soup will be significant .
There can be a false assumption that , if we want a better drum sound , we ’ ll have to spend thousands on a higher quality kit . It ’ s true that more expensive drums might sound better . But don ’ t replace your current kit until you ’ ve replaced the worn-out heads ( if necessary ) and tuned it .
So , if the drums are poorly tuned , let ’ s get it dealt with . MDs ! Ask your most competent , experienced , and musical drummer to take on that responsibility .
Here ’ s what I do :
I always plan to arrive early , along with the audio engineer , to my training workshops , or any rehearsal with a band . One of the things I like to do before anyone else arrives is to sit behind the drum kit , find a pair of sticks and hit each drum a few times . I ’ ll quickly get an idea of whether or not the drums need tuning . You don ’ t need to be a drummer to do this . IMO , it ’ s a great exercise for every MD .
If I think there are problems , I ’ ll speak with the audio engineers for a second opinion . Some drum tuning problems can be reduced , or even eliminated at the mixing console . Using noise gates , compression , EQ , filters etc ., a highly skilled audio engineer can sometimes work miracles . But it ’ s always better to improve the raw ingredients than to try to polish skubala - especially if your audio engineers ’ mixing skills are somewhere less than expert .
SIDE NOTE : Skubala is a handy Greek word . It ’ s in the Bible . Philippians 3:8 . Look it up .
If I ’ ve identified any drum tuning problems , I ’ ll speak about them with the drummer when he or she arrives . If the drummer ’ s experienced and competent , most serious problem issues can be sorted out in just a minute or two before soundcheck . Job done !
But in many situations where I have found drum tuning problems , the drummer has never tuned the drums and does not know how to . They sometimes don ’ t know that drum tuning is even a thing !
In the case of the drummer being unfamiliar with drum tuning , I ’ ll ask if they would be willing to take on the responsibility of educating themselves and getting the job done before the next rehearsal or service . I ’ d ask them to watch and learn about how to tune drums from YouTube . There are plenty of freely available , informative videos on the subject available . They ’ d need to spend some tuning time with the kit outside of rehearsal or a service of course . Even as a beginner - working to reduce at least the worst of the problem issues - we should notice a significant Sonic Soup subsidence .
Sometimes the drummer does know about drum tuning , knows the drums need to be tuned , knows how to do it … but can ’ t find a drum key . ( Groan ) Hopefully the church ’ s music budget can stretch to cover the three or four bucks to add one to the kit .
SIDE NOTE : You can easily tell a serious drummer . They will always have a drum key … possibly on their ring of house and car keys .
Drum tuning may not need to be done every week , but we will want our drummers ( and MDs ) to keep an ear on it and deal with it when required .
So maybe you should be pointing your drummer towards some drum tuning instructional videos ! But which ones ?
Well , it just so happens that my absolute favorite drummer to play with in the whole wide world - Phil Gaudion
from my ol ’ band Paul
Phil ’ s three drum tuning videos - one each for snare , toms and kick drums - will perhaps go
further than your immediate needs ( delving into some rather pro-drummer depths ) but they ’ ll certainly help get your drummer and your drum tuning onto the right path .
Check out these excellent drum tuning videos from Phil Gaudion :
Kick / Bass Drum Tuning
I hope this has been helpful in your quest to improve drum tuning as you drain the Sonic Soup . I have no doubt that your congregation appreciates your efforts . Be encouraged !
Grant Norsworthy founder of MoreThanMusicMentor . com