Carter McLean on how to tune a drum set

Tracktuary

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Everythung changes with a band, a bright cymbal becomes ok. A dark cymbal becomes lost. Small crashes sound weak. So many variables.
Absolutely! The best cymbals in isolated sound files are seldom the best cymbals with the band.
 

Neal Pert

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I don't think anyone would say that one needs a tuning device to tune drums. I tuned my drums well for years without. But it's also true that tuning devices can be very helpful in certain contexts and that knowing one's settings can help a person get to a good sound quickly. It's just a little bit of objective, measurable information. If it can be measured, it can be replicated.
 

CC Cirillo

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I don't think anyone would say that one needs a tuning device to tune drums. I tuned my drums well for years without. But it's also true that tuning devices can be very helpful in certain contexts and that knowing one's settings can help a person get to a good sound quickly. It's just a little bit of objective, measurable information. If it can be measured, it can be replicated.
This is an excellent point.

In another direction: At an unmic’d gig I often “ear” tune my kit for the room. It always amazes me how drastically room shape/surface texture influences sound. Then, if we are lucky, and the place fills with people, the dynamic changes again.
 

kluger

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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.
Very enlightening and entertaining. Loved the canned applause and laughter. Thanks. Can you tell me what your right hand ride cymbal is? That sounded great too.
 

swarfrat

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I find tuning devices helpful for training my ears. "Use your ears" presumes someone who already has a ton of experience and we'll trained ears
 

Rock Salad

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I really had to chuckle how the bass drum got "tuned" for a tighter sound. Lovely video with great audio of how to tune toms, and interesting advice on snare drum tuning.
Thanks Carter and OP
 

Tracktuary

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This is an excellent point.

In another direction: At an unmic’d gig I often “ear” tune my kit for the room. It always amazes me how drastically room shape/surface texture influences sound. Then, if we are lucky, and the place fills with people, the dynamic changes again.
And however your drums sound to you while tuning them, they surely sound different 20 feet away.
 

Neal Pert

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And however your drums sound to you while tuning them, they surely sound different 20 feet away.
Yeah. The thing is, any drum sounds different depending on where you are in a room and what room you are in. And you have to figure out how you're going to manage that given your context. I tune differently when I am mic'ed than when I'm not, and when I'm in a room with a 40' ceiling than a room with a 10' ceiling.
 

Sonorholic

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Carter ! thanks for that! A lot of fun and good info as well. As for snare side tension, I've been keeping mine a little looser these days. Too tight and the drum just chokes. Remember too that the tone of the drum determines the snare response as much or more than just the snare side tension. But there are no hard and fast rules and as you showed sometimes a weirdly tuned drum can sound fantastic.
 


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