Floor tom tuning/tone help

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Looking for some recommendations on something I have been struggling with for a long time.
I have a real hard time finding a satisfying tone in my larger (16"+) floor toms. They generally just sound really flat. I've mastered the higher pitched drums and bass drum but the floor tom continues to give me problems. I've tried gaffer tape, tone rings, 1 ply and 2 ply heads, etc. And I either end up with a tone that is very thin or I get an odd overtone that is not pleasing to the ear. Really looking for low end vs attack here.
Thanks for any help you can provide. I generally play in live situations, smaller rooms unmicd only so getting a great acoustic sound is key, I can't solve this through live or studio sound EQ.
 

piccupstix

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Floor toms weird beasts. I've had varying results on my 16" by using everything you have plus Booty Shakers and turning 1 or 2 legs upside down (I scoffed at this first but found that it really does affect some taming). Of course the room/floor your drum is in/on will add to the mystery. Another method I used that helped was throwing a few cotton balls inside. The idea there is that you hit the drum, the balls bounce up, and quickly settle back down allowing muffling. It gets a little tough when you have to keep R&R'ing the head to determine how many cotton balls work best.
 

deepsoulradio

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If you're going for Fat, then:

- Reso head medium pitch

- Batter - finger tighten the lugs --> it will probably sound great already. If that's a little too low, then get a drum key that has a knob thing on the top (like this). Then "finger tighten" using the knob part, make slight adjustments and you should be there.
 

supershifter2

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I tune toms from low(20") to high(15"). I dont muffle. I tune the bottom head a tad higher then the top. you gotta find heads that work with your shells. Not every head and wood will sound good. I also use the biggest toms. 15,16,18,20. I dont tune the bass and toms to match each other. I tune the snare to my liking and not the toms.


tama overhead foto 2.jpg
 

Seb77

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I noticed some improved low end on a 16x16 just from installing new heads. Coated Ambassador on both sides, maple shell with die-cast hoops, Pearl iso feet.

Don't tune too low; in order for a system to vibrate, there needs to be a certain tension. I usually start with a higher even tension, then back off the batter heads a little until I get the decay length and depth I want. I start with the smallest tom, going just as low I need to go, then continue to the bigger ones, trying to get just as much spread as necessary (After loosening, you need to push the heads a little each time to seat them).
 

ThomasL

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Isolation rubber feet can help a lot. Lots of good tuning advice above. Don't hesitate to use a Moongel or some other muffling if you have too much overtones for the sound you're after.
 

varatrodder

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Isolation feet make a big difference. I have Pearl on one set, and Gibraltar on another. They really do work. You will notice more sustain and a rounder sound.

For tuning, I tune the bottom much higher than you think it needs to be. My last 16” floor tom was a maple 14x16, with the bottom medium high, and the top medium low. It had low end and sustain for days. Heads were coated ambassador on bottom, and coated ambassador or emperor on top.
 
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Rock Salad

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It's interesting, some of the tips here are for getting more sustained pitch and some for dampening it. I feel you about the overtones on a floor can be quite strong and sustained. I just fiddle with the ballance between the top and bottom heads with micro adjustments to try to get overtones that blend well with my already tuned snare drum. It's probably only for my own peace of mind though since by the end of a set or practice they will have shifted without my having noticed. I may have to try the leg thing and cotton balls too, my floor toms are very long sustaining at almost any tuning.
 

premierplayer

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+1 the isolation feet.
I forgot all about those when tuning up a new kit recently, the little light bulb in my head finally went off. Picked up a set of 3 Pearl feets on Amazon and all is good now. Little things!
 

jaymandude

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I’m in agreement with a lot of the other posters “Usually “ the reso head is tuned too low. Try tuning the drum higher on both sides to where it’s a basketball. And then come down from that.
Or maybe you did that already ?
 

Seb77

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It's interesting, some of the tips here are for getting more sustained pitch and some for dampening it.
Cottonballs indeed shorten the sustain a bit. Moongel affects mostly overtones (I once tried a whole stack of them, then the fundamental of the ft gets shorter as well).

Besides fresh heads and tuning, I would start with the iso feet, they're not expensive. If the decay is too long then, you could put one or more of the old feet back on, easy fix.
If the decay is too long even without iso feet (and visuals don't matter too much), you can put a piece of cloth across the reso head (using gaff tape or clamps on two ft legs) This fix can be easily applied and removed, unlike cottonballs.
 

varatrodder

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A note about the isolation feet: To me (and this is purely subjective) they seem to reduce the funky overtones that you get with a choked drum.

I noticed a huge difference when I put them on a 16” Gretsch floor tom. It went from “boing” to “boom” without changing the tuning.
 
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Thanks all, I'll give the isolation feet a try. I'm not really looking for more sustain but I like the tone control aspect for sure. Makes sense because I've found suspended floor toms to sound better to my ear than those on legs!
 

jaymandude

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Thanks all, I'll give the isolation feet a try. I'm not really looking for more sustain but I like the tone control aspect for sure. Makes sense because I've found suspended floor toms to sound better to my ear than those on legs!
What brand of drum is it ?
 

ThomasL

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Putting pieces of dense foam under the existing feet will give you an indication of the effect of the isolation feet.
 

CherryClassic

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First get rid of overtones as much as possible, requires getting every LUG tension to the same tone as close as possible.
Air feet as mentioned above is a requirement, RIMS brand are amazing but pricey, they use springs in their design and they are adjustable.
I like Coated Heads on both sides; in large dance halls for more projection Clear bottom heads seem to work better.
I normally tune both heads to the same tone for maximum resonance. Tuning one head tighter shortens resonance duration, I like the bottom head tighter in this situation. It just sounds better to me in from drivers seat.
If you can afford it, get an electronic tuning device. I have the original Tune Bot, it helps me a lot due to my inability to tune.

The Tune Bot will help getting the lug tensions even at each lug and is wonderful when tuning the top and bottom heads higher than the other. Example: When tuning a drum to a certain tone/note, using A as an example. Changing one head higher will change that A note to another tone so the opposite head must be tuned lower. Both heads have to be changed and the Tune Bot will help in keeping the the same note A as in the example. The greater the difference in the two heads the shorter the sustain. It will also help keeping the relationship from one tom to the next depending on the quantity of toms being used. Usually two toms will be tuned differently than tuning for six toms.

sherm
 

CherryClassic

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Sorry I'm posting again. LOL Something I'm learning...

Shell types will also tune differently. For years I've played a late 80's Classic Ludwig kit (maple/poplar/maple) and in a band situation they sounded great with medium tuning. Then 2018 I purchased a new Classic Maple Ludwig (all maple) kit with three toms and my drummer friends recommended I tune higher, so I'm experimenting with a full step higher at this time.

I recently set up the late 80's kit in my game room and I tuned them to the same medium tuning; a large kit with 6 toms. WOW, tuning is way too high so I lowered the toms a full step; much better. LOL Now I have another problem. For the last 10 years I've only use parts of the kit depending on the venue. Now some drums have much older heads and even different types. Tuning not too bad but new heads for all is going to be a necessity. :razz:

sherm
 
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