My Thoughts on Tuning your Drums. (Part 2)

Just a little recap on what I covered in the last article:

•    Drum Anatomy
•    Equipment needed
•    Drum Head Selection.

In this part we will be looking at preparing your drums to be tuned, and drum key technique.

Once you have your new drum heads just re tuning your kit it’s a good idea to get the hoops and heads of and just start from scratch. There is a way of removing the heads so you don’t warp or damage the drum. This can occur when there is too much pressure placed on a particular side of the drum, which can pull and distort the wood out of place. Below is a diagram of the correct technique for releasing the pressure created by the tight drum head.

The idea is that you work in opposites around the drum using your drum key (pictured below) to slowly loosen the head at each point. (turning to the left)

So start at the First Tension Rod (for me this is usually the one sat opposite me) place your drum key on it and do a Half Turn (this involves moving the key through a 180* rotation) once complete you then move to the next opposite lug. Tension Rod 2 and do another Half Turn. Then move to the Tension Rod 3 to the right and Repeat the process until all the Rods are fairly lose and all the tension is of the head. You can then finish off the process by unscrewing with your fingers if you find this faster till you can completely remove the hoop. We do this to ensure that the pressure is removed of the head and the drum evenly so not to damage any part. As once damaged or warped it can’t really be fixed. (It is possible to get a carpenter to help straighten it out. But you could end up doing more damage than good)

Repeat this process on the bottom hoop so both heads are off. I normally don’t remove the screws from the hoop as this makes the process faster and ensures the screws go back into there original Lugs when you come to replace the hoop.

Its generally a good idea to practice with your drum key as often as you can. By doing this it will allow you to develop whats called drum key technique. This is where you will actually start to be able to feel tensions in the rod and make little adjustments to suit your needs and increse your speed of use. There are lots of differnt types of drum keys out there so get 1 that your comftable with and fits your hands well (no one like blisters caused by badly designed drum key). There are also some out there that can messure torque, but these have good and bad points so ill come to them in a later post.

Now at this point there are some things you can do to check the condition of your drums. If any part of the Bearing Edge (pictured above) is damaged or not 100% straight and symmetrical your drum will never tune up properly and you will get very frustrated. At least if you know the drum is damaged you can save yourself the frustration.  What is the bearing Edge I hear you say? This is the angle cut into the wood in which the drum head gets pulled over that is normally out of site until you remove the hoop and head. The best way to check for roundness is to use a stiff ruler and measure over the top of the drum at multiple angles. (Do this for every drum, top and bottom) You will also need to find a very flat surface, then lay the drum on it and check for wobbles. If it doesn’t wobble it’s flat and not damaged.  At this point you can also check the hoop for damage. You can do this the same way as testing the actual drum, by laying it on a flat surface and test it for wobbles.

As part of the preparation I would normally take some polish and a duster at this point and just give the shell and hoop a quick once over to remove the dirt and grime. There is nothing better than a shiny drum kit.

For the next stage you will need something I forgot to mention in the original post but is extremely important to helping you tune the drum. You need to get yourself a tin of grease and add a small amount to the Lug holes and to the Tension rod it self. Do this for every tension rod on the drum. It might seem silly but the factory grease dries up over time making individual tension rods harder to turn than others. Which as you will find out later on is very detrimental to the tuning process. So take the time to do that while they are easily accessible and make the job easier later on.

Right that’s the drums prepared for placing your new heads on to your kit I will look at this in the next issue.
Thanks for reading and please comment.

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About ajbennettdrums

I have been playing drums for over 20 years now and currently have over 9 years of teaching experience. I am comfortable playing all styles and am a proficient sight reader of music. I started playing drums at the tender age of 7 and I vividly remember exactly what it was that got me into drumming. One Sunday afternoon I was watching a documentary on classic 80’s bands, equipped with huge Drum Kits taking up most of the stage. I then proceeded to empty out a tonne of boxes in my room, cut holes in them and sticky-tape bits together to create my first drum kit (using pencils as sticks). At that point, my dad thought it would be a good idea to send me off for Drum Lessons and from that moment on I have never looked back.

Posted on February 27, 2012, in Drumming Bits and Bobs., My Tuning Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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