Low / medium / high tunings - frequencies?

marc3k

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Dear Drumforum-members

I'm currently trying different tunings on my broadkaster bop kit. When I use a "higher" tuning, I feel like my toms sound kinda choked. When I tune them to sound nice to me, it's maybe already considered a "low" tuning. Therefore I would like to understand what drummers mean when they tune low / medium / high.

It would be awesome if some of you guys could share the fundamental frequencies (if you know them) and tell me how you would describe your tuning?

I'm especially interested in what drummers often consider "bop tunings" etc. on smaller drums.

BTW, I did a search here in the forum but could not find this information in a very concise form.
 

JDA

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besides ears and eyes see how your sticks bounce feel on the toms..
try doing double-strokes around..
rimshots off the toms too...
probably an elvin jones/max roach tuning would suit them.
vibrant, lively,
melodically get em to sing..
 

ThomasL

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For me, bop tuning means something like 14" floor tom C and 12" tom F. These are fundamental pitches, what you hear when you hit the center of the head with a mallet.

The drums will sound different from out front. A little too high from the drummer's seat can often sound just right from the audience's perspective.
 

Rock Salad

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I just used a phone app. My toms are not bop high, but some rockers think they are high.
See now this is the weird thing about tuning and why folks will tell you to use your ear. Look up the tune bot suggestions to get my fundamental. It's 134 hz. I'm pretty sure it is nowhere near what my actual lug reading is, it's 259 hz.
I probably need to tune a tad to freshen up, it's been a week or so. But I can post the others if you are interested.
 

Tama CW

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I just spent a couple hours today tuning my 12,14,18 bop kit. It's always never quite right. But tuned what appears to be "too" high (near choking) at the drums....does sound ok out front. I don't tune to notes....just get the tension rods fairly tight, nice stick rebound, and some sustain + bit of a ring.
 

JDA

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Dear Drumforum-members

I'm currently trying different tunings on my broadkaster bop kit. When I use a "higher" tuning, I feel like my toms sound kinda choked. When I tune them to sound nice to me, it's maybe already considered a "low" tuning. Therefore I would like to understand what drummers mean when they tune low / medium / high.

It would be awesome if some of you guys could share the fundamental frequencies (if you know them) and tell me how you would describe your tuning?

I'm especially interested in what drummers often consider "bop tunings" etc. on smaller drums.

BTW, I did a search here in the forum but could not find this information in a very concise form.
Broadkasters are the older 1950s Gretsch sound

Those are a little high for me but...it's one example i found on YT
Like I've said, Broadkasters are different than USA Customs ( bop to bop)
Might have your work cut out for you ( ;

Broadkasters are the 50s Gretsch sound and recordings from that time were a little primitive and.. calf head less highly (or very highly) tensioned were the norm
So..
You may have some tricky work ahead
 

multijd

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Tuning is wrapped up in the style you’re playing, what you hear, how you hit the drum to achieve that sound, what you want to feel when you hit, the response of the stick, volume, room acoustics, the day of the week! You should tune what you hear. Don’t be uptight if one day you want it high and one day low. That’s not a bad thing but rather healthy. Over time you may settle into some favorite tunings and you might combine them in the same setup or change tunings for different gigs. It’s all about what you hear and feel. Pursue that!!

I’m sorry I strayed off your specific topic. But I’m going to again. (Lol). When I was younger I learned a lot by playing with recordings. I found it difficult to reproduce what was on the record without tuning the drums like the record. This was helpful in teaching me to tune but also the importance of the “Sound” in playing the drums. The feel and sound are wrapped up together as are the vocabulary and all other aspects of the music.

In the end achieving any sound is about spending time with the music (recordings, experienced players) and with the drum key attempting to duplicate the sound OR achieving the sound in your head. In fact a blend of those two is the ultimate.

Remember that the relationship between the top and bottom head has a major effect.
 
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ThomasL

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I just used a phone app. My toms are not bop high, but some rockers think they are high.
See now this is the weird thing about tuning and why folks will tell you to use your ear. Look up the tune bot suggestions to get my fundamental. It's 134 hz. I'm pretty sure it is nowhere near what my actual lug reading is, it's 259 hz.
I probably need to tune a tad to freshen up, it's been a week or so. But I can post the others if you are interested.
The lug pitch is an overtone of a single head, while the fundamental is the fundamental of the whole drum, so there is no simple relationship between these two. In addition, there are two lug overtones about a fourth apart, and which one is stronger can depends on the head (thickness, plies) and what you use to hit the drum (stick/mallet/fingertip). The tune bot's filter might be able to select one of these, but I don't use one.
 

Seb77

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To bring out the fundamental tone of a tom the most, play (close to) the center of either head with a soft mallet, or just with fingertips if you have no mallet.
 

JimmySticks

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With a high end kit like you have, you should get your tom to sing at any tuning.

Have you tried tuning your resonator head? Because if it's tuned to low and the batter is to high, you would get that choked effect. If you haven't already done that, bring the res head even or maybe a hair higher than the batter head, and you should hear that tom sing. Play around with the res head tunings and you'll hear the differences.

As far as frequencies go, I kind of gave up on that and now I just go to YouTube and find a tuning or demo vid that I like the sound of and basically copy the frequencies or sound I hear.
 

Tracktuary

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Fundamentals of each drums:
Snare - G
12" - F
14" - C
18" (bass) - anywhere in the range from C to F

I tune the reso head approximately a whole step higher than the batter on the toms. Lug pitches are somewhere around here:
Snare: C# batter, G reso
12": C# batter, D# reso
14" A batter, B reso
Bass: usually closer to even--not as concerned with pitch. More about feel and a nice round thud.

Here is an iPhone video I made while looking for any excuse to play my drums, while in lockdown:

 

JDA

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With a high end kit like you have, you should get your tom to sing at any tuning.
That's true with some This the BK is a specific build a little narrower rather than "general"..

This more like getting a 1940's all-original Radio King full drum set to do... modern tricks.....
magnified strengths and weakness of that time & build period apparent.
This is a modern build in quality yes in design no it's a vintage design.
This set series has all the sound/design it had in the 30s-50s.
It may be similar in price but it's not a Pearl Hybrid PHX Absolute Reference MMMMX

It's an 'ol 1949. (minus the Rocket design lug
 
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marc3k

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Awesome, thanks a lot! There are a lot of helpful inputs!

When I was younger I learned a lot by playing with recordings. I found it difficult to reproduce what was on the record without tuning the drums like the record. This was helpful in teaching me to tune but also the importance of the “Sound” in playing the drums. The feel and sound are wrapped up together as are the vocabulary and all other aspects of the music.
That's exactly what I'm still doing. However, I think in some of the jazz recordings I like to play along, I cannot hear the tuning of the drums well (bad recording quality, drums not so loud). But I do notice this when I'm playing along to different styles of music and often I think that it does not fit well. Before my broadkaster kit I used to play my ludwig kit pretty muffled (pillow in bass drum, moongel on snare etc.), and I thought it matched better to different styles of music :)


This was one of videos that made me decide that I want a Broadkaster kit :) To me, it does not seems to be tuned up so high though. But I like the sound.


Have you tried tuning your resonator head? Because if it's tuned to low and the batter is to high, you would get that choked effect. If you haven't already done that, bring the res head even or maybe a hair higher than the batter head, and you should hear that tom sing. Play around with the res head tunings and you'll hear the differences.
Yes, but I'm only starting to do this. I try to tune my reso heads higher than the batter head, mainly because of this video with Jeff Ballard: I like how he tunes the kit, but to me it also does not sound like a "high" tuning.

Here is an iPhone video I made while looking for any excuse to play my drums, while in lockdown:

That's awesome, thanks a lot! Do you play other instruments or sing since you explain a lot about harmonics and intervals?
 

JimmySticks

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Yeah, since you've been all over the place with the batter side and still can't quite get it right, my guess is the issue is with the res head. Get that right and you'll have the sound you want. Play around with it and hear the differences, but my guess is even or thereabouts between top and bottom is where the sweet spot is going to be.
 


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