How tight is too tight (on the snare)

ThomFloor

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That's the problem, I've never figured out the point of "just by feel" I'm the guy that needs a screw just a little tighter because I figure that if not it might come loose. And then it goes "BAM". And off to Lowe's I go pissed off at myself. I want to avoid hearing "BAM" on the snare.
At that point, I suggest you use some restraint. When your mind is telling you "ok, just a little tighter," maybe ignore it. Try it out.

A drum doesn't 'come loose' by not being tightened enough. Conversely, one doesn't 'break' a drum by over tightening either. The heads maybe yes, but a new head is pretty damn strong. Some can strain the lugs yes, but a drum can take it, especially a metal one. What it cannot take well is grossly *uneven tension* - that will bend shells, hoops etc.

Wires - tight enough so that you get some buzz and action by movement of the stick only quarter-inch off the head. If you are not getting any buzz or action from such a light hit, the wires are too tight, and choked.

It seems to be in vogue to tighten the hell out of everything but truth is some drums do very well at lower tensions, some at high, some can do the whole range. Each has a sweet spot. A lot of learning can be gotten by just experimenting for an hour, figuring out your snare and its sounds. Most really crank the reso, but it need not be.

Maybe you've seen this, but This may help, view the earlier episodes too on snares:
 

lrod1707

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At that point, I suggest you use some restraint. When your mind is telling you "ok, just a little tighter," maybe ignore it. Try it out.

A drum doesn't 'come loose' by not being tightened enough. Conversely, one doesn't 'break' a drum by over tightening either. The heads maybe yes, but a new head is pretty damn strong. Some can strain the lugs yes, but a drum can take it, especially a metal one. What it cannot take well is grossly *uneven tension* - that will bend shells, hoops etc.

Wires - tight enough so that you get some buzz and action by movement of the stick only quarter-inch off the head. If you are not getting any buzz or action from such a light hit, the wires are too tight, and choked.

It seems to be in vogue to tighten the hell out of everything but truth is some drums do very well at lower tensions, some at high, some can do the whole range. Each has a sweet spot. A lot of learning can be gotten by just experimenting for an hour, figuring out your snare and its sounds. Most really crank the reso, but it need not be.

Maybe you've seen this, but This may help, view the earlier episodes too on snares:
Good advice, Thank you!
 

multijd

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So I've been thinking about this today: I have a 13" Supralite which is steel and a 14" maple which is obviously wood (both Ludwig's). I like a loose sound on the maple and a very tight sound on the Supralite. On the steel snare it feels like when tightening you reach a point where you'd be scared to crank it anymore. I've always been scared of this as I don't know when it's too much. I'm afraid to break it. On the maple, I never have to go that tight and since it's wood, it feels like the lugs have more give. When would it be to much?
Also, I use a drum dial. What tension numbers would you use for that steel snare for it to be really tight? (Batter & reso) Maybe using those numbers would help me not being scared to break it because I would have a stopping point. I've set them at 85 and then I've gone more on my own without the drum dial. With the drum dial it seems like it maxes at 95 and doesn't move anymore beyond that 95 setting.
“Too tight” could mean too high pitched for the music or too much tension for the mechanics. The first is subjective. As far as damaging the drum, that may depend on the shell and lug construction and the number of lugs. Less lugs tuned higher puts more strain, possibly not as even, on the shell. Try tuning the top head to an “A” and the bottom head tight but where there is still a bit of give. Your thumb should be able to push in a bit. Make sure the tuning on all lugs is even, producing the same pitch.
 

BennyK

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All meat and no potatoes is what I try to avoid .
 

lrod1707

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“Too tight” could mean too high pitched for the music or too much tension for the mechanics. The first is subjective. As far as damaging the drum, that may depend on the shell and lug construction and the number of lugs. Less lugs tuned higher puts more strain, possibly not as even, on the shell. Try tuning the top head to an “A” and the bottom head tight but where there is still a bit of give. Your thumb should be able to push in a bit. Make sure the tuning on all lugs is even, producing the same pitch.
Great info!
 

xsabers

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Count me in as a person who loves my DD BUT I only use on it toms. I've never found a need for it on my snare. I do crank the bejeezers out of the bottom head. It's the first thing I do when I get a new snare. I just know by feel.
Dan, your snares always sound great. If you have a minute, can you check one of your tunings using your Drum Dial and publish the numbers? I would like to try and replicate it and see how different it is from my current preferences. I'd be interested in the number at one of the tuning rods.
 

BennyK

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Ideally the wires should be heard when mixing with the shell . This varies from drum to drum, but most of us land up sounding the same no matter what combination we use . Stick weight and where to put it is decisive especially when the player is an exclusive rimshot-ter . Ed Green , Al Jackson,Charlie Watts are examples of drummers who got the ultimate sound I prefer , no matter what drum they happened to be using .
 

lrod1707

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Howd it work out for ya?
I'd forgotten to post back. Your method works very well. I tried it on two drums to experiment. It actually got me very close to equal notes on each lug and the tension seems to be at a spot that sounds good. It's actually quicker and easier than the drum dial. Thanks for that!
 

rondrums51

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No disrespect, but do you actually think a Drum Dial is necessary? Use your ears. Incredibly, drummers tuned their drums and got a great sound for many decades before the Drum Dial was invented.
Some drums like to be tuned tight; others don't. You don't need a Drum Dial to figure that out.
 

swarfrat

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Drummers who did this weren't learning from youtube and books, and had real live teachers in the room with them who taught them this stuff they forgot how they learned.
 

lrod1707

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No disrespect, but do you actually think a Drum Dial is necessary? Use your ears. Incredibly, drummers tuned their drums and got a great sound for many decades before the Drum Dial was invented.
Some drums like to be tuned tight; others don't. You don't need a Drum Dial to figure that out.
I don't think it's necessary but for me it gave me a starting point. I've been playing for 35 years but had a long break. I just started playing again 4 months ago after many years. After taking a break like that, you just don't pick up where you left off. I couldn't remember how to correctly tune and especially at what point (tension) I had to start at. So yes for some at least in the beginning, the drum dial/tunebot has a place. I think I'm getting past that and my ear is beginning to get the hang of it again so I will probably start relying on that.
 

Nacci

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Regardless of tuning a snare needs to be comfortable to play, meaning it needs some give.
 

lrod1707

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Regardless of tuning a snare needs to be comfortable to play, meaning it needs some give.
You are absolutely correct. I've learned that now after reading the advice received. In order to get that tight sound out of my 13" Supralite that I wanted, I discovered that cranking the heck out of it is not necessary.
 

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