Bass drum sounds / tuning

AtlantaDrumGuy

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Thought I’d open up a discussion about bass drum sounds that you like, and also how you prefer to tune and prep your bass drum.

In all of my time of playing, I prefer mostly a mostly dead bass drum with some padding. I loved Zep records, but not sure if I could do high tuning and no muffling.

Anything else feels funny and more difficult to play. Unless it’s my 18” for jazz things. Then I crank it up, no muffling. It is more tricky to control. I like the feel of hitting padding of some sort. Basically, like Jeff Porcaro used to have his. If you see his old video, you can tell he is hitting up against a blanket or pillow.
 

REF

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I tend to just take out the wrinkles in the heads and go a turn more at each lug, and like as much roominess or boom in the sound as can still retain definition for quick note sequences. All the various heads out there now get me where I like without ever placing something inside the drum. I truly dislike the modern, ultra-dry, boxy sound. For me it ceases to be a musical instrument at that point, although it obviously retains it's own type of character and personality that way, in a set.
 

cornelius

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Any discussion about tuning a bass drum has to include technique. I play both off the head and on - much more off... As REF mentioned, there are many bass drum heads these days that don't require additional muffling. The only time I'll use more is if I'm recording and going for a particular sound or effect.

Tension-wise, I do the same for any style of music. For the batter I use an Evans Frosted EQ4, but there are many other brands that have built in muffling - I just don't want too much. I use an un-ported reso and tension the heads around medium. This gives the bass drum a lot more volume, and I've found that the drum still sounds deep, but has more sustain, most of which sits in the mix and blends well with the bass. Feel-wise I like a little give from the head. Too much padding against the head makes it feel like a practice pad or electronic drum. It's easier on my knees, and feels more like I'm playing the drum, vs. hitting it. Also, my playing is more relaxed and I can play more dynamically.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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A lot of my reasoning for lots of dampening is that I bury the beater. I saw Jeff Porcaro doing that. May not be ideal in every setting, but it’s how I naturally play.
 

TPC

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18x16 80's Tama Superstar
Batter - Clear Emperor (with a patch taped to the beater area)
Reso - Smooth white Ambassador (with a bit of tape and paper towel as needed)
No other muffliing
Hard felt beater

Batter is medium-loose. Reso is medium. I really dislike hearing a bass drum "note", such as a typical high, open bop drum. If I'm listening to music and I hear a bass drum note, it becomes all I can hear. I just wait for it, then ... boink ...... boink . boink ............ boink. Ugh - drives me nuts!

The bass drum has to be "below" a note. Just a quick "sub-note" boom.

I haven't touched the tuning on my bass drum in months, so I'm sure that all the lugs are tensioned differently, but somehow the tone gets better and better. (Maybe because the head is getting seated better on the bearing edges?)
 

DanRH

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I tend to just take out the wrinkles in the heads and go a turn more at each lug, and like as much roominess or boom in the sound as can still retain definition for quick note sequences. All the various heads out there now get me where I like without ever placing something inside the drum. I truly dislike the modern, ultra-dry, boxy sound. For me it ceases to be a musical instrument at that point, although it obviously retains it's own type of character and personality that way, in a set.
What Ref said...
 

CherryClassic

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WoW, so many good responses above. I don't like a dead loud bass drum. It is a musical instrument so I treat it like a tom, it's tune-able. Let the bass drum be a bass drum, it will naturally have lower bass tones. I like the batter head to be tight enough to feel some response, it don't need to be much but enough and to have some tone and I like the reso tighter than the batter which I feel helps shorten the sustain. I have a 16x18 bass that will give a good amount of low bass tones.

Playing Classic Country I like to blend with the bass player, they color the tones and I don't want to override that but yet the bass drum needs just enough punch for the dancers to follow the beat. I use PS3 anything type heads on both sides. With PS3 I feel I can control the sound and get that punch for the dancers with some tone. In some venues I may need a small hand towel to calm it down a little on all size bass drums.

Your style of music should also dictate the type of sound for your bass. Just don't make it dead. LOL

sherm
 

Andrew Riddle

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I put the Evans EMAD heavyweight batter and black EMAD resonate on a 22" x 22" White oak stave bass drum I built recently. It's a super big sound that still makes me chuckle when I hear it.
 

Seb77

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I like all kinds of sounds, it also depends on mayn factors what sounds best in that situation. I like acoustic sounds such as the tight, open 18", but also a punchy/dry sound when it's called for, so I'll use port&pillow on a 22".
As for acoustic sound (big band in mind) here's a 20" with smooth white Ambys and minmal muffling by means of taped on paper towels, moleskin patch.
https://soundcloud.com/seb234%2Fdrum-sound-2020-02
For a while I experimented with internal mic'ing on a double-headed 22", for a big acoustic sound, but usable for attack-heavy mic'ed sound. At some point I realized I liked a tighter sound but with the tone of the two complete heads, ended up with the same setup but with a not-so-small pillow inside. It's all good!
 

Rock Salad

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Seb77 nice sounds!
That's what i try for too. A kinda generic but expressive capable sound. I play rock & roll, but i love the blues and jazz. I think that sound would be at home in any of those, and western too. Right on
 

michaelg

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I like all kinds of sounds, it also depends on mayn factors what sounds best in that situation. I like acoustic sounds such as the tight, open 18", but also a punchy/dry sound when it's called for, so I'll use port&pillow on a 22".
As for acoustic sound (big band in mind) here's a 20" with smooth white Ambys and minmal muffling by means of taped on paper towels, moleskin patch.
https://soundcloud.com/seb234%2Fdrum-sound-2020-02
For a while I experimented with internal mic'ing on a double-headed 22", for a big acoustic sound, but usable for attack-heavy mic'ed sound. At some point I realized I liked a tighter sound but with the tone of the two complete heads, ended up with the same setup but with a not-so-small pillow inside. It's all good!
Much tension on that 20 ? batter higher/lower ? I like it.
 

rculberson

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I set my bass drums up for pop music, of which 99% has the heavily-muffled sound. Specifically, I’m after late ‘70’s to mid ‘80’s bass drum sounds like Porcaro (as OP mentioned), Ndugu, Gadd, JR, etc,... I’m able to achieve that sound with my early ‘80’s Yamaha 9000 bass drums quite easily. Mic’d at every gig, btw.
 

Seb77

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Much tension on that 20 ? batter higher/lower ? I like it.
Same tension on both heads, medium-ish; the drum is less than 14" deep, with a deeper drum I might tune the reso a bit higher. The fundamental sits around a low c, around 65Hz.
 

REF

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I'm not sure I know what kind of sound you are talking about. Can you give an example?

GeeDeeEmm
Any bass drum stuffed with pillows, blankets against the heads, etc, that leave no room for resonance between the heads. All you get is a dry, dead, thud, heard on just about every recording these days. You get definition but, no real low end bass presence. The drum has been castrated, as it were. It is the popular sound but, I dislike it. It just gets lost in the music. Metal drummers like it for fast dble bass stuff. But, you really have to bring up the kicks in the mix to hear what's happening. You remove drum volume the more you mute the heads.

The other extreme is wide open, like Keith Carlock (when he's allowed to use his preferred sound). For his playing style and the note sequences he uses, it works fine. Such a sound can lose a lot of articulation if you play faster note sequences and combinations between hands and feet. With smaller bass drums, especially in Jazz, such a sound can be ... almost offensive if a player is foot oriented but, generally in Jazz it's about hands and the kick is not in your face, especially at the pitch range of an 18" drum with tighter heads. But, also, the bass drum then can be differentiated from the stand up bass player.

In modern music with really dry bass drums and chunky, staccato bass players in Fusion it can be hard to tell the difference between what the drummer is playing and what the bassist is doing.

I just like to hear a bass drum be a bass drum.
 

Hop

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Any bass drum stuffed with pillows, blankets against the heads, etc, that leave no room for resonance between the heads. All you get is a dry, dead, thud, heard on just about every recording these days. You get definition but, no real low end bass presence. The drum has been castrated, as it were. It is the popular sound but, I dislike it. It just gets lost in the music. Metal drummers like it for fast dble bass stuff. But, you really have to bring up the kicks in the mix to hear what's happening. You remove drum volume the more you mute the heads.

The other extreme is wide open, like Keith Carlock (when he's allowed to use his preferred sound). For his playing style and the note sequences he uses, it works fine. Such a sound can lose a lot of articulation if you play faster note sequences and combinations between hands and feet. With smaller bass drums, especially in Jazz, such a sound can be ... almost offensive if a player is foot oriented but, generally in Jazz it's about hands and the kick is not in your face, especially at the pitch range of an 18" drum with tighter heads. But, also, the bass drum then can be differentiated from the stand up bass player.

In modern music with really dry bass drums and chunky, staccato bass players in Fusion it can be hard to tell the difference between what the drummer is playing and what the bassist is doing.

I just like to hear a bass drum be a bass drum.
When I first got my kit back in the late '70's it had the big hole cut in the 26" bass reso head (think Cozy Powell size hole) along with a pillow... I was happy with the attack and the volume as well. Then I got crazy one day and put an unmolested reso head on that drum and was stunned by what was produced - it was de-castrated if you will, low-end and presence were in abundance.... I was finally getting "that" sound. I've been a "don't port it if you aint gotta', " kind of guy ever since and do prefer to pitch it up a bit (these days with a Remo P3 batter and a Felt tone reso).
 

hsosdrum

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Bass drum model: Ludwig Legacy Maple 14x22 (double-bass setup)
Heads: Fiberskyn P3 batter & reso (muffling ring cut back to half-width on reso heads)
Additional internal muffling: None; 1" square Moleskin patches on batter heads at beater contact points; no front ports
Head tension: Medium (like a floor tom — WAY above wrinkling), with both heads approximately the same pitch (resos may be slightly sharp of batters)
Pedal beaters: DW solid hard felt
Playing style: Off-the-head, heel-up
Mics: AKG D112s, dead center, 3" away from reso heads (no EQ required)

The above gives me what I consider a very musical foundation to my sound, with plenty of fullness, power and definition.

BTW, I set up the bass drums in my other drumset (two 16x26 Ludwig Classic Maples) exactly the same. They deliver more fullness; more power; lower pitch and the same definition.
 

multijd

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