Standard Drum Tuning

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Thread: Standard Drum Tuning

  1. #1

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    Standard Drum Tuning

    Is there a standard drum tuning or a certian tuning most metal bands tune their drums to?
    Confront and Cry

  2. #2

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    Nope, although it's definitely possible.

    It's because of this lack of distinct "tuning" that I don't consider drums to be as "musical" as the likes of guitar. More rhythmic, but far less melodic.
    Last edited by caughtinamosh; 05-10-2009 at 08:08 PM.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by caughtinamosh View Post
    Nope, although it's definitely possible.

    It's because of this lack of distinct "tuning" that I don't consider drums to be as "musical" as the likes of guitar. More rhythmic, but far less melodic.
    as far as teh drumset goes, most drummers ignore pitch and just tune to gradual intervals that seem to balance well within the kit. The only exception i can think of is Terry Bozzio and his giant kit. If you ask me, he's basically playing a giant xylophone with kick drums.... he's pretty much leading the trend in rhythmic and melodic drumming. nobody cares to follow him though, b/c it's corny.

    as far as standard tuning.... not really.

    but there might be some general rules of thumb (to which, i'm still learning myself).

    for un-mic'd live applications - consider sound projection over pitch, with no muffling. So, tune higher to be heard. no muffling for max volume. top and bottom heads equal, for the worst case scenario.

    for mic'd live applications - consider sound control over resonance. Avoid the boomy drums and favor short sustain (muffle the bitches). projection not as important for FoH, however it might be for the drummer in case he has a shitty (or no) monitor mix to hear himself. Batters medium to medium-low to be picked up by the FoH mic's, resonants higher, for acoustic projection, and a fast response (how quick they react to the air thrown into them from the batter head strike).

    for any application (live/studio, mic'd/unmic'd), consider the band's tempo and tuning. The drums might need to 'pop' out by sitting above the low notes... either by tuning, mixing.... whatever. And low notes take longer to bloom.... so, for speedy stuff, low drums night not be able to bloom 'in time'.

    for live applications, be aware of what heat (stage lighting, no a/c), and wear can do to heads. don't tune to low, espcially if sharing kits before your set, to find that your heads of de-tuned to the pitch of a wet blanket. Nobody will hear them, and the drummer will fatigue himself out in hitting them harder in his efforts to get sound.

    so, the common theme here.... don't tune too low.

    at the end of the day, experiment.

    check all the youtube tuning tutorials.

    there's a 'drum tuning bible' online somewhere.

    also - just as important is head-selection. Coated double-ply is a nice way to get a warm controlled sound with those nice heavy undertones; however, you'll loose some of the high-end overtones that aid in projection. If i had the budget and the time, I'd use clear double-plies at un-miced shows, and coated double-plies at mic'd shows... maybe with even a bit more muffling for better separation. FoH sound will still make them sound big and boomy.

    also, like guitar tone being in the hands, I'm beginning to believe that so is drum tone. Maybe not tone - but attitude is in the strike. Lombardo and Bostaph are high tuners and you can hear it in the Slayer DVDs (Warfield, and Still Reigning), but they hit them hard and with attitude so they still sound heavy as hell.

    cool clips
    @4:50, wise words from Gavin Harrison

    these lombardo clips changed my life - esp part 3 and 4 (for playing, not for tuning). These clips are why I'm still playing, and getting better at playing, metal..... I was very lucky to stumble upon them.
    But check out his high-tuning. He still sounds tough as nails

    I don't think these guys have the best live sound - but they're tuning to be heard, and I can hear them.... and they're attitude is compensating for that timbale-like sound in the toms. tuning for function vs sound.... b/c they're not triggering, and they need to project. (hell, if they were triggering, i'm sure they'd still tune high for rebound, but the FoH sound would be all meaty but cookie cutter).

    the studio, however, is where the fun and flexibility come to play.

    here's nick barker with two complete different sounds. who knows what the reasoning is.... maybe the projects themselves... or the budgets.... or the time to get sounds.....
    and the tracks on their 'hate breeds suffering' album are even more raw.

    yet here is the totally fake (and some strange reason, i love it on this record. it seems to fit) sound of Dimmu's PEM

    but i hate the fake sound on Morbid Angel's 'gateways' record. and whatever you do, don't do what they did on Heretic.
    Last edited by Oogadee Boogadee; 05-11-2009 at 04:12 AM.

  4. #4

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    Going a little of topic, but just talking about drum tones, like James did. I think that for live situations, it's really usefull a trigger system, for the snare and the drum bass. It's easier to achive that brutal sound and you can easily control output.

    I hate those uberultratriggeredhighpitched drum tones on cd's. Come on, you can get a natural sound easier nowadays. But that's just my opinion.

    If you want to sound massive live, you have to pitch high (when the snare makes your ears bleed, is time to stop) and blast the snare, toms and bass really tight and with power. But my advice about the cymbals, is that you have to hit them softly, don't make them explode. If you hit them softly they open better and it's a warmer explosion.

  5. #5

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    my take on cymbals is to not use heavy ones. the louder they are, the more they'll drown out the kit, limiting your options in head choice, tuning, and soundman flexibility. Diameters at least 17"-18" for the crashes, thin to medium thin, and musical high-hats, and a heavier but musical ride (like the Paiste Bell Ride). Hats are loud enough by nature, and a heavier ride will ensure that it's as loud as the rest of the kit. Balance is the goal.

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