Carter McLean on how to tune a drum set

gmiller598

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2014
Messages
361
Reaction score
171
Location
Columbus, OH
I watched this yesterday. I notice the trend where everyone basically cranks the snot out of the bottom head and then controls everything from the top head tension and gut tension.

So here is a question for everyone. How tight is too tight for the bottom head? I've tried it once or twice and I felt like I was reaching the point of choking the drum based on the tone.
 

michaelg

Very well Known Member
Joined
May 13, 2012
Messages
1,071
Reaction score
263
Location
Ireland
The kit sounds really great yes but i really think his touch is half (or more) of them sounding great.
Put another drummer on the same kit and it will sound very very different.
 

CherryClassic

DFO Veteran
Joined
Jul 6, 2006
Messages
2,685
Reaction score
432
Location
Buda, Texas
I liked sammy123's response for a tight bottom head. I would add, that too tight could also be choking the drum. For a snare drum my preference is a high tuning before it chokes. Now that's not good for a more throaty sound I wouldn't think. Although I do use an electronic tuning system, I think he gave us good information with a different perspective on how to change and/or fix a problem in a hurry. It wouldn't hurt to watch it again.

As for the bass drum, sorry guys, I was not impressed. Maybe it's my ears but I felt I was hearing a head rattle until he started adding muffling, then it was dead and I don't think he liked that either.

I enjoyed the video,
sherm
 

Seb77

DFO Veteran
Joined
Apr 11, 2013
Messages
2,031
Reaction score
688
Location
Germany
here is a question for everyone. How tight is too tight for the bottom head? I've tried it once or twice and I felt like I was reaching the point of choking the drum based on the tone.
There's a point at which the snare head keeps stretching and losing tension. This coincides with a loss of low end/fundamental. I would go just below that. In terms of musical pitch, for a 14" Ambassador hazy, an "a" is too high and keeps stretching, while a "g" is fine in my experience. edit: in the video above, when he taps the heads the first time, the snareside sounds likea g#, so right between g and a.
There's a good video on the fullness of sound being influenced by the snare-side head by "sounds like a drum" (yt channel).
 
Last edited:

drummers_need_coffee.exe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2019
Messages
290
Reaction score
179
Location
Burlington, Vermont
I watched this yesterday. I notice the trend where everyone basically cranks the snot out of the bottom head and then controls everything from the top head tension and gut tension.

So here is a question for everyone. How tight is too tight for the bottom head? I've tried it once or twice and I felt like I was reaching the point of choking the drum based on the tone.
I watched a video once that said tighten it until it seems too tight, then tighten it a little more. I did that and split my reso head right before a gig was about to start! So, I would say too tight is where you're thinking that there's too much stress on the head.
 

freeflydawn

Active Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2018
Messages
37
Reaction score
26
The synopsis I got from it was- tune by ear and then loosen a lug or two and then throw a towel over it. And as he said many times experiment on your own to what sounds good. I go back and forth thinking entire time it was his way of playing a trick on everyone who doesn't want to pay for his website subscription or a skype lesson. The problem with him tuning this way is lack of consistency and also I personally don't want to loosen a lug or two or throw a towel on it. I think he's doing what sounds good in this moment and gets him there fast. I'm sure people will flame me on this but it's my opinion and I will happily go back to the way I was tuning knowing I wasn't missing some magical "tone" trick.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
35
Reaction score
111
Location
CT
Im pretty sure I can consistently get whatever sound I am after. I was just trying to be nice and let people in on my process which is in a nut shell USE YOUR EARS and let go relying on devices. At the end of the day you need to be able to make a bad drum set sound good by PLAYING it. I was not trying to "trick" anyone. Sorry you did not like it. It was an honest way I go about getting a sound.
 

shilohjim

DFO Veteran
Joined
Dec 9, 2006
Messages
2,556
Reaction score
224
Location
shiloh, nj
Im pretty sure I can consistently get whatever sound I am after. I was just trying to be nice and let people in on my process which is in a nut shell USE YOUR EARS and let go relying on devices. At the end of the day you need to be able to make a bad drum set sound good by PLAYING it. I was not trying to "trick" anyone. Sorry you did not like it. It was an honest way I go about getting a sound.
That video was great! It was neat to hear how you changed the sound so quickly and back again to achieve the desired tone by doing simple things and not changing out the heads. And that bass drum sound was killer.
 

bob

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2006
Messages
4,127
Reaction score
476
Location
wild wild west
i spend a lot of time tuning , experimenting with head combo's and what not ....
it is a good video about tuning and there's a lot of good tuning videos out there ...
sure his drums sound good , but what i liked the best, was the sound of his hi-hat cymbals . what are they ? ....
 

gmiller598

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2014
Messages
361
Reaction score
171
Location
Columbus, OH
i spend a lot of time tuning , experimenting with head combo's and what not ....
it is a good video about tuning and there's a lot of good tuning videos out there ...
sure his drums sound good , but what i liked the best, was the sound of his hi-hat cymbals . what are they ? ....
The end of the video explains. It is 2 top hats put together. Istanbul Turk thin on top and a Medium Traditional top on the bottom per his description.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bob

Vistalite Black

Ludwigs in the Basement
Joined
Feb 17, 2015
Messages
3,501
Reaction score
1,301
Location
North Carolina
I agree with Buddy Rich -- "I don't tune them, I tension them. There's a great difference. If you tune a drum, that means you're looking for a note. If you try to tune to any given note, as soon as the audience comes in, or the weather changes, or it gets hotter or colder or damp, the heads go down. They can't be tuned. You can only tension them."

https://www.moderndrummer.com/article/january-1977-buddy-rich/
 

drummers_need_coffee.exe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2019
Messages
290
Reaction score
179
Location
Burlington, Vermont
Im pretty sure I can consistently get whatever sound I am after. I was just trying to be nice and let people in on my process which is in a nut shell USE YOUR EARS and let go relying on devices. At the end of the day you need to be able to make a bad drum set sound good by PLAYING it. I was not trying to "trick" anyone. Sorry you did not like it. It was an honest way I go about getting a sound.
I think my takeaway from the video was how much you actually were hitting the drums along the way. It really came down to getting it in the ballpark of where you're looking for a sound to be and then hitting it and fiddling it enough that you end up with a sound you're happy with.

Also indicates that I shouldn't be trying to tune in my apartment before gigs.
 

freeflydawn

Active Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2018
Messages
37
Reaction score
26
Im pretty sure I can consistently get whatever sound I am after. I was just trying to be nice and let people in on my process which is in a nut shell USE YOUR EARS and let go relying on devices. At the end of the day you need to be able to make a bad drum set sound good by PLAYING it. I was not trying to "trick" anyone. Sorry you did not like it. It was an honest way I go about getting a sound.
I did enjoy your video- but my synopsis is the same. I'm sure you can get consistently whatever you want but you aren't necessarily doing it the same way each time. It's an "art." And unless you have perfect pitch you aren't getting the same exact note each time you tune a drum kit- relatively speaking you are using your ear to hear one lug vs another. Guitars used to be tuned that way but they also had an absolute note to go off of (my old dr beat for example you can get it sound out a note to so that you can then do a relative tuning off of). Personally, I would rather have a consistent way to tune my kits and not have to loosen a lug and throw a towel on part of a head. Hopefully you get many people that want to learn more about your art form!
 

davidh

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2006
Messages
386
Reaction score
132
Location
UK
Thought they sounded fine then he fiddled about and ruined them
 
J

jaymandude

Guest
No slag on Carter, wonderfully musical player with great ears and touch. But his name comes up often, for good reason, and today is the day that I drink too much coffee and post on this thread.

I have basically stopped watching drum only videos to try to determine "the sound" of a drum kit. I'm much more interested in 1) the music, and 2) the sound of the drums within the music. Everythung changes with a band, a bright cymbal becomes ok. A dark cymbal becomes lost. Small crashes sound weak. So many variables. Plus miking. I mean I get it, it's what we have to work with, and guys are showcasing their talents and sounds.

It's just for me, it's not as simple as watching Rob Brown or Carter. Both of whom seem to be great dudes as well as fantastic drummers. There's the sound of the drums, the sound of the drums in the room, the sound of the drums with the band. Again to repeat, lots of variables. It's never set it and forget it...

Anyway, carry on..
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Latest posts



Top