Anyone Remove a Couple Center Snare Wires to Reduce Buzz?

Old Drummer

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OP doesn't want to hear it but I tune out snare buzz. I get my toms in the range and intervals I want. If a certain tom causes buzz I tweak the snare. (which is higher tensioned than my 8" tom but lower than my side snare) I always start with the snare side head and usually raise the tension a bit to get it out of a sympathetic harmony with whatever is exciting it. This works well. There will always be some sympathetic snare buzz but it can be minimized to almost nothing.
You're right, I'm not keen on hearing this unless you can be more precise about "sympathetic harmony."

Currently my 10" tom, which sits in front of my snare and is the main offender, is tuned to a fundamental pitch of 153 hertz and the tensions on the two heads are roughly the same. My snare is tuned to a fundamental pitch of 207 hertz, with the snare side slightly tighter. True, I was able to reduce the buzz somewhat by bringing the 10" down to 153 hertz from the 165 or so hertz I initially turned it to and bringing up the snare pitch about 10 hertz, but these changes didn't eliminate the buzz, just reduced it somewhat. Moreover, I like a high-pitched tom and don't like the options of having only low toms or positioning the high one in a different location simply because I have a buzzing snare. I would like to keep the tom more or less how and where I want it AND get rid of the snare buzz.

But to the math, the gap between 153 and 207 hertz strikes me as too large to be getting a buzz from the same pitch. Maybe what's going is harmonics, such that there are different pitches that resonate with one another to create the buzz. If this is the case, I'd like to know what these harmonics are. Surely there's some mathematical relationship. Actually, it occurs to me that the issue may be dissonance rather than harmony, though I truly don't know about this.

Further, I wonder if the culprit is the heads and way I have them tuned on the 10" more than the pitch. In the past (when I had no problem with buzz) I had concert toms with no reso heads and muffled batter heads nearest the snare. Now I've got a two-headed 10" tom with no muffling tuned to maximum resonance there. Odds are that this tom is just resonating a lot more and a lot nearer the snare than were my concert toms.

Anyway, I'm sure there is a science here--I just don't know what it is--and trial and error isn't taking care of the problem for me.
 

Old Drummer

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Have you tried torquing the bajeesus out of the reso head and tightening the wires ?
I think the reso head is pretty tight now and am hesitant to tighten it more lest it break. (At some point heads do break, don't they?) I'm not sure what you mean by tightening the wires. They seem fine now, since I can adjust them from too loose to too tight.
 

MrDrums2112

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OK, so I was joking - but, it is very possible le that your snare wires are stretched and worn out now with all the adjusting, and if that is the case you're just going to get buzz no matter what you do. I have not read through all the posts on this thread, but has anyone mentioned trying a set of 12 strand wires? They are quite responsive and articulate, and greatly reduce annoying snare buzz. It could also be just the room as well.
 

bongomania

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But to the math, the gap between 153 and 207 hertz strikes me as too large to be getting a buzz from the same pitch. Maybe what's going is harmonics, such that there are different pitches that resonate with one another to create the buzz. If this is the case, I'd like to know what these harmonics are. Surely there's some mathematical relationship.
The harmonics are even multiples, so from 153 you'd expect resonance at 153 and 306 rather than 207. But drums put out a complex array of different waves at the same time, with no mathematical relationship to each other; what we identify as the fundamental (first harmonic) is just the one we hear loudest (or that our tuner picks up loudest). So there may be a strong correlation at a frequency like 200 hz, that we just don't happen to be able to pinpoint with a tuner, since it rejects all but the strongest wave.
 

noreastbob

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You're right, I'm not keen on hearing this unless you can be more precise about "sympathetic harmony."

Currently my 10" tom, which sits in front of my snare and is the main offender, is tuned to a fundamental pitch of 153 hertz and the tensions on the two heads are roughly the same. My snare is tuned to a fundamental pitch of 207 hertz, with the snare side slightly tighter. True, I was able to reduce the buzz somewhat by bringing the 10" down to 153 hertz from the 165 or so hertz I initially turned it to and bringing up the snare pitch about 10 hertz, but these changes didn't eliminate the buzz, just reduced it somewhat. Moreover, I like a high-pitched tom and don't like the options of having only low toms or positioning the high one in a different location simply because I have a buzzing snare. I would like to keep the tom more or less how and where I want it AND get rid of the snare buzz.

But to the math, the gap between 153 and 207 hertz strikes me as too large to be getting a buzz from the same pitch. Maybe what's going is harmonics, such that there are different pitches that resonate with one another to create the buzz. If this is the case, I'd like to know what these harmonics are. Surely there's some mathematical relationship. Actually, it occurs to me that the issue may be dissonance rather than harmony, though I truly don't know about this.

Further, I wonder if the culprit is the heads and way I have them tuned on the 10" more than the pitch. In the past (when I had no problem with buzz) I had concert toms with no reso heads and muffled batter heads nearest the snare. Now I've got a two-headed 10" tom with no muffling tuned to maximum resonance there. Odds are that this tom is just resonating a lot more and a lot nearer the snare than were my concert toms.

Anyway, I'm sure there is a science here--I just don't know what it is--and trial and error isn't taking care of the problem for me.
I'm using the phrase "sympathetic harmony" to include all the frequencies, overtones, breezes and sunspots (the last two are lighthearted humor fyi) that can cause vibrational exitement in your snare drum. I wonder if you're striving for unobtainable perfection. There's always some noise from the snares. But I can keep it down to a light and whispy minimum by keeping the snare in general and especially the reso as NOT IN TUNE harmonically with the toms as possible. IN other words I'm tuning the snare for dissonance with the toms. At least I believe that's what I'm doing.
I do know when I get a tom that's where I want it and my snare goes BGHZZZZT when I hit the tom and I tighten the snare side maybe an 1/8 or even less turn each and the buzz is back to negligible. I have five toms when all are used and This has always worked for me. Another issue may be that your tom is completely open with no damping. A small amount of damping can quell the intensity of many of the overtones which match up with overtone harmonics in your snare at different levels. I believe it's these stray alignments of overtones that keep some small amount of sympathetic activity inevitable. The goal is to eliminate as many match-ups as possible.
The only other thing I can think of is your snare happens to be located right in some active acoustic node in your room. But that's a long shot.
 

Old Drummer

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OK folks, in the interest of science I removed the four center wires from my 20-wire snare, leaving a 16-wire snare with a gap in the middle.

Alas, the surgery doesn’t appear to have reduced the snare buzz at all. Interestingly, though, it hasn’t changed the snare sound as far as I can tell. Apparently, a 16-wire snare with a gap in the middle works as well as 20 wires with no gap, so at least I didn’t ruin my snares.

What does seem to work for me is taping a small strip of lightweight cardboard (like a piece of the box toothpaste comes in) beneath the end of the snares closest to the toms. This doesn’t eliminate the buzz entirely, but it reduces it to a minor annoyance instead of a grating interference. Since right now the drums are in a small room facing a wall, I have high hopes for even less of buzz in open performance venues, though it’s not too bad in the small room facing a wall.

The downside of the cardboard method is that it reduces the snariness sound of the snare. The snares have to be tightened maybe a half turn more to get the same crack as without the cardboard, and even then I think the crack is more muted. But the snare sound with the cardboard is acceptable, just not ideal.

Upon further investigation, I discovered that the snare buzzes with the 12” and 16” toms too, just way less than with the 10” tom. This is probably explained by the locations of the toms relative to the snare as well as the higher pitch of the 10”. Surely going with maximum tom resonance and no muffling isn’t helping with the buzz, as neither is the small room.

However, I appear to have the buzz reduced to an acceptable level using the cardboard while the snare still sounds acceptable, so this is enough scientific experimentation for today. Next time I’m in the mood for a lab test I figure I’ll crank the bejesus out of the snare head, although I already tried tightening it and that didn’t help. Maybe tightening it more would
 

Old Drummer

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I'm using the phrase "sympathetic harmony" to include all the frequencies, overtones, breezes and sunspots (the last two are lighthearted humor fyi) that can cause vibrational exitement in your snare drum. I wonder if you're striving for unobtainable perfection. There's always some noise from the snares. But I can keep it down to a light and whispy minimum by keeping the snare in general and especially the reso as NOT IN TUNE harmonically with the toms as possible. IN other words I'm tuning the snare for dissonance with the toms. At least I believe that's what I'm doing.
I do know when I get a tom that's where I want it and my snare goes BGHZZZZT when I hit the tom and I tighten the snare side maybe an 1/8 or even less turn each and the buzz is back to negligible. I have five toms when all are used and This has always worked for me. Another issue may be that your tom is completely open with no damping. A small amount of damping can quell the intensity of many of the overtones which match up with overtone harmonics in your snare at different levels. I believe it's these stray alignments of overtones that keep some small amount of sympathetic activity inevitable. The goal is to eliminate as many match-ups as possible.
The only other thing I can think of is your snare happens to be located right in some active acoustic node in your room. But that's a long shot.
I'm guessing that the physics here involves the sound waves produced by hitting a tom causing the reso head of the snare to vibrate. It's after all the vibration of this head that is next to the snare wires that makes those wires buzz. The reason why tightening this head reduces the buzz, though, is that a tighter head is less able to vibrate for any reason, not I suspect because we're tuning out a specific sympathetic frequency.

But we're all assuming that some frequencies make snare reso heads more likely than other frequencies to vibrate. This raises the question of what those frequencies are and why. The working theory seems to be that those frequencies are "sympathetic harmonies," and the clearest candidates for these are the same frequencies as the snare reso head. However, these frequencies may be octaves apart, as bongomania suggests. Thus, if a snare reso is tuned let us say to 250 hertz, toms tuned to 125 and 62.5 hertz would elicit the buzz more than toms tuned to different frequencies. Of course, it's all more complicated because hitting a tom elicits multiple frequencies while presumably a sound that causes the batter head of the snare to vibrate could cause the snares to buzz too.

I though have to wonder why octaves are the culprits. It makes sense that they would be, but it makes almost as much sense that subdivisions of the octaves might be. Although I don't think that the western scale is mathematically precise (our ears have just gotten used to it), it's plausible that 3rds, 5ths, or other frequencies would be in sympathy enough with snare heads to create vibrations.

But there are other puzzles. One is that low notes seem to elicit the buzz while high notes don't. Drummers frequently complain of bass players causing snare buzz, but I've never heard of a flute player accused of causing it, even though flutes are playing the same frequencies in higher registers. But it's not only low vs. high notes. When keyboard players play the same low notes that bassists play, it's rare to have a problem with snare buzz. Add the monster mystery of why cymbals don't seem to cause snare buzz. They're emitting a lot of frequencies near the snare and moving a lot of air. Why toms and bass players but not flutes or cymbals?

I have no answers and am just thinking out loud. Alas, my physics education was limited to one college course for non-majors many years ago in which I scraped by with a B because I had a smart lab partner. So I really don't know what's going on. I just have my doubts about some of the conjectures I hear.
 

bongomania

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Just for one piece of that puzzle, it's correct to say that 250 is a harmonic of 62.5, so an item that's resonant at 250 may be excited by another item that's resonant at 62.5 (putting out 250 as an upper harmonic); but it doesn't go backwards. That's why a flute or a cymbal won't cause this resonance problem with a snare. The frequencies don't divide down, they only multiply up.

For another piece, amplified bass guitar has some of the biggest resonant peaks of any instrument anywhere. Toms are a close second. By "big peaks" I mean the literal height of the sound waves, measured as voltage when you use an oscilloscope or a VU meter. The taller the wave, the more likely it is to excite another resonant item.
 

noreastbob

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Stop over-analyzing (no offense intended) and tighten your snare reso (and maybe batter too) and adjust it where the snares buzz the least.
 

dsop

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If you like your first tom to be tight, try using a 12" instead of a 10". It will be tuned to a lower frequency, but be tensioned tighter than a 10" would be.
 


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