Always make snare side head tighter than batter head?

RayB

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I can't count the number of videos that emphasize the key to a good sounding snare drum is to tighten that bottom head. Videos made by pro drummers who sound great and demonstrate very useful tips on improving my drumming. So I accept their snare tuning advice as gospel and always make sure the snare side head is tighter than the batter.

I recently purchased a Tama Soundworks Kapur 13 x 7 snare drum. Sounded great right out of the box, I can't praise this drum enough. Big, open sound with plenty of crack. Excellent tone; equally great for press rolls of powerhouse back beat. The natural wood finish looks classy, and the hardware is solid. Love this drum, it's quickly become one of my favorite snares.

The other day I wanted to check the tension as a reference for future tuning. My dial indicated the top head was about 85. Then I was shocked: the bottom head was about 70! This is totally counter to the gospel of snare tuning! How can it sound this good?

I cranked the bottom head up to 85 and the results were terrible. The drum sounds choked and the stick response was terrible. No more press rolls and the back beat was shallow.
I tuned the bottom head back down and once again the drum sounded great.

I don't understand. This is counter to every tuning video I've seen in the last few years. Is it possible a 13 x 7 snare tunes up differently?

Please comment or make suggestions
Thanks
 

fenrir

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No rules. Some of my drums sound best with a lower tension on the snare side.
 

Vicey

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This is indeed the Received Wisdom from the Ancients. But some of the early videos of Sounds Like a Drum (on Youtube) cured me of always cranking the snare-side head.
 

fishaa

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The bottom has always been less tension for me.
It is somehow logical to me that more slack equates greater, snappier contact with the snares and increases sensitivity.
 

Soulfinger

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Don´t confuse tension with pitch.

A snare side head is much thinner than a batter head, so it will need less tension for the same pitch. The fact that your snare side head is looser than the batter head does not nessecarily mean that it is lower in pitch. Tap both heads on your drum and you will see (hear).
 

lrod1707

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No rules! I see it this way: The pro's use the best mics, studios, equipment etc.. We normally don't!
So what is best for them might not be best for us. However it sounds best to your ears is how it should be! Whatever works!
I'm sure a lot of these pro's don't even tune their own drums anyways. They pay people to do it for them. Show one of those pro's the sound of your snare with less tension on the resonant side. They will probably agree with your choice of sound and not even question the fact that the reso is tuned lower. I use a tunebot which is supposed to be "perfect" and mod=st of the time after tuning, I still end up tweaking it to my liking. It might be harmoniously perfect but my ears don't hear it that way.
 

Ptrick

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Ya, snare side heads are rarely actually tensioned tighter than batters. Like mentioned, thinner head, so it’ll have a higher pitch, but lower tension.

I find on 13” snares I have to go lower than my typical 82-83 bottom snare side head on a 14”.

But, I’ll reiterate, if it sounds good, it sounds good! Always go with your ears.
 

ARGuy

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I'll second what Soulfinger said, because he's exactly right - tension and pitch are not the same thing. In the videos made by those pro drummers, you do not hear them refer to drum dial readings because they are not using their eyes, they are using their ears and are referring to the pitch of the bottom head versus the top head. That doesn't mean you shouldn't use a device of some sort; in fact, they're great for being able to duplicate the sound next time you need to change heads.
 

Pounder

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I didn't ever think about it, although just the other day my bass-player-friend who has a Rogers set bought a new snare side head and he said he tuned it lower on the resonant side, and it sounded good (to him). So that's consistent with what you did to make your Tama snare sound good.

That being said, the only time I remember watching a video was a Dave Weckl drum tuning video. I don't remember what he said about the resonant side head, but I do know that I've played since the 70s and I never recall any hard-and-fast rule about either top or bottom being tighter.
 

Seb77

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I like my 14" 3mil snare side around "g", so for a 13" it might be around "a" with the same tension.

I think the reason for a taut snare side head is that it needs to interact/vibrate with the wires and that vibration has a smaller amplitude/higher rate at higher tension. Lower tension would result in a "coarse" snare repsonse. If you like that, go ahead, but the normal expectation of a snare sound is a finer, denser, more high-end "buzz" as opposed to a "rattle".
 

Drm1979

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I've never really went by what any of those videos and tutorials say. I mean I watch them to get ideas and proper technique to tuning, but I've always done my own thing with tuning. With that said yes the snare side head on my snare is way higher than the batter side. But it's also on a 3x13 steel piccolo as my main weapon of choice. It has an Evan's general dry on top and it sounds absolutely killer. The only drum I've taken tuning advice for is my bass drum from the other guys that I'm playing with to make sure it sounds good out front. That's the only drum on my kit that has major differences with regard to what environment I'm playing in.
 


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