Tuning Drums to Notes: Lug Frequency

The2andThe4

Active Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
31
Reaction score
0
Location
Philadelphia
Hello -

Since the lug frequencies of 2- headed drums have a complex relationship with the fundamental frequency of the drum as a whole:

- If one aims to tune the fundamental frequency of a drum to a discrete note pitch, should one also aim to tune at least one (or both) head's lug frequency to a discrete note pitch as well?

This may well be impossible if one also wants to retain a musical interval relationship between the two heads. That is, it is presumably impossible (unless one is exceedingly lucky) to achieve all the following for a given drum simultaneously:
- fundamental pitch is a musical note value
- relative pitch of the the lug frequencies of the two heads is a musical interval (third, fourth, fifth, etc)
- actual lug frequencies of both heads are musical note values

Thank you for any inputs.

Best regards
 

Seb77

DFO Master
Joined
Apr 11, 2013
Messages
4,166
Reaction score
2,934
Location
Germany
I don't think the interval between top and bottom needs to be a certain musical one. You don't hear the bottom head itself. A drum sounds fine with both heads the same or slightly off, doesn't even need to be a proper half or whole step.
I do subscribe to trueing each head for the purest tone in itself.

The resultant drum tone has to do with the tension, and thickness, of both heads, as well as drum depth and shell thickness. One general thing you can say, the fundamental tone is lower than the head tone(lug tone as you call it).

Say you want to tune your 8x12 tom to a D as overall fundamental tone, which I like, you could tune both heads to a B above that and probably be fine (unless it's a very stanrge head combination or shell make-up). With a deeper shell such as 10x12, I would tighten the bottom head a bit more to get the same overall tone.
 

CherryClassic

DFO Master
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2006
Messages
3,387
Reaction score
963
Location
Buda, Texas
There is a formula for that, I don't know what that is but you can go the Tune Bot website to find it.

sherm
 

mark2456

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2009
Messages
205
Reaction score
25
Yes it can be achieved. I do it all the time with my tunebot. Take for instance a 10" tom, it has a range of 3rd octive C to 3rd octive F. Let's say you want to tune the 10" tom to C 3 here's what I do. Tune each bottom lug to 260 hertz (4th octive C) and each top lug to 196 hertz (3rd octive G). The musical interval between the top and bottom head is a perfect 4th and when you play the batter head the fundamental of the drum ( the note the drum will sing) will be the C3rd octive note
 

MustangMick

DFO Veteran
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
1,946
Reaction score
284
Location
Dundalk, Ireland
On a 10" tom I would start tuning as follows

Bottom head - Tune to an "E" at each lug

Top head - Tune evenly and slowly bring pitch up while striking head in the centre.
Bring the batter head up so you reach the note "E"

On my 10.12.15.18 setup I tune E,B,E,B

Cheers
Mick
 

Seb77

DFO Master
Joined
Apr 11, 2013
Messages
4,166
Reaction score
2,934
Location
Germany
Interesting, both of you tune the batter head lower than the reso; the reso matches the fundamental tone. You don't need to do that though, you can also get to the same drum tone by tuning both heads the same, it will just be another chracter of sound. (None of the heads will be at the same pitch as the fundamental). For a C, tune each head to about an A (very low for a 10" I'd say), or for an E, tune both heads to about C#.
 

mark2456

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2009
Messages
205
Reaction score
25
Seb77 you are right there are multiple ways to achieve the same fundamental note. If I wanted to get a C 3rd octive on a 10" tom I would tune each lug on both top and bottom heads to 233 Hz.
Which would net me the the C 3rd octive. With both heads the same the drum will now give you the maximum resonance or the longest note the drum will produce.
 

Buffalo_drummer

Very well Known Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2017
Messages
1,220
Reaction score
741
Location
Buffalo, NY
mark2456 said:
Yes it can be achieved. I do it all the time with my tunebot. Take for instance a 10" tom, it has a range of 3rd octive C to 3rd octive F. Let's say you want to tune the 10" tom to C 3 here's what I do. Tune each bottom lug to 260 hertz (4th octive C) and each top lug to 196 hertz (3rd octive G). The musical interval between the top and bottom head is a perfect 4th and when you play the batter head the fundamental of the drum ( the note the drum will sing) will be the C3rd octive note
This. The Tune Bot website has a pretty good explanation of intervals and achieving particular notes.
 

TheArchitect

DFO Veteran
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
1,601
Reaction score
35
Seb77 said:
Interesting, both of you tune the batter head lower than the reso; the reso matches the fundamental tone. You don't need to do that though, you can also get to the same drum tone by tuning both heads the same, it will just be another chracter of sound. (None of the heads will be at the same pitch as the fundamental). For a C, tune each head to about an A (very low for a 10" I'd say), or for an E, tune both heads to about C#.
I don't understand how tuning both heads to an A results in a drum that rings a C. That doesn't make any sense...
 

The2andThe4

Active Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
31
Reaction score
0
Location
Philadelphia
Interesting discussion... I would love to hear more from everyone about this.

I assumed it's impossible to get all 3 pitches (fundamental, batter lug frequency, reso lug frequency) to correspond to musical notes at once. Yet it seems some are able to achieve this!

Per the Tune-Bot Tuning Guide:
"With a two-headed drum, the fundamental pitch of the drum can be varied by adjusting either top or bottom heads so there are an infinite number of top and bottom lug-pitch combinations for any specific fundamental pitch."

Thus you could start by tuning one head's lug frequency to a note pitch, then adjust the other head until the fundamental reaches a desired note pitch, but it seems unlikely that the the second head will also be a note pitch, since the fundamental depends on so many other factors (head type and thickness, drum material and weight, possibly even weather conditions like air pressure and humidity?).


In the recommended starting point tuning tables in the Tuning Guide, the lug frequencies do not typically correspond to notes.

Is it just luck that some drums allow for such tuning of all three pitches to notes?
I'll have to read up more on the physics of this.
 

indedrum

DFO Sponsor
Joined
Oct 29, 2010
Messages
891
Reaction score
755
Location
Kalamazoo
When you tap near a lug, you excite a different primary mode of vibration than tapping at the center. The fundamental is mode 1s, exited by tapping the center of the head, and tapping at the lug will highlight the p and/or d mode series. There is a calculable relationship between each mode, but this stuff gets a bit over my head. Interesting reading here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vibrations_of_a_circular_membrane

This video is interesting too:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

agogobil

Drum Czardine
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
7,138
Reaction score
623
Location
StL
be sure to tell the guitar player to turn down
 

mark2456

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2009
Messages
205
Reaction score
25
Yes Architect is does seem strange but it's true . Something else I've learned on the tunebot when you tune both heads the same as in the example 10" tom 231 hertz lug tension both heads.. However if one chooses to use a major 3rd or major 4th interval
Between top and bottomhead the bottom head will always render the desired pitch you want.which is what I do on my 10" tom lug tension bottom lugs 261hertz top head lug tension 196 hertz I get a 3rd octive C. I can confess to being the worst drum tuner in world history until I found the tunebot. It set me free from awful sounding drums. Seems some people have a natural ability to tune by ear, be thankful if you do. The tunebot is for those who don't have that talent.
 

The2andThe4

Active Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
31
Reaction score
0
Location
Philadelphia
I discovered a wealth of information here:

http://circularscience.com/about-drums

The drums have various resonances; as the article notes, "they all cant all be tuned exactly on full notes." The most important are:

Fundamental mode (0,1) = fundamental pitch of the drum
Lug mode (1,1) = 1.593 x fundamental = dominant lug pitch for 2-headed drums
Lug mode (2,1) = 2.135 x fundamental = dominant lug pitch for 1-headed (i.e. concert) drums

(If I understand correctly, these ratios only correspond to a single circular membrane, i.e. a drum head alone with fixed edges, or mounted in an ideal drum with no resonant head, like a concert tom. Once you incorporate 2 heads, these ratios can change substantially; they will also vary substantially based on shell weight and material, head selection and materials; etc.)

Similarly, the article advises that "only one or the other set of resonances can be tuned to fall precisely on full notes".

The author says this is not particularly important, and suggests that one can decide based on playing style, i.e. whether you play the drums more in the center or more towards the edge, and favoring tuning either of lug or fundamental (center) pitch accordingly.

I would still think it's ideal to tune both fundamental and the dominant lug pitch mode [i.e. mode (1,1) for 2-headed drum] to note values, but again, this may be impossible unless one gets lucky with a particular drum construction and head material combination.
 

Seb77

DFO Master
Joined
Apr 11, 2013
Messages
4,166
Reaction score
2,934
Location
Germany
Architect, I can only second what mark2456 wrote.
It's physics, it does make sense somehow. Drum depth slightly influences the fundamntal tone, a deeper drum lowering the tone with both heads tuned the same. I think if you had a very long/deep drum like the strange 12 (diam) x 22 deep bass drum Yamaha made for Steve Jordan, the fundamental tone would get so low that it might sit an octave or more below the lowest head mode.
With a trad. size rack tom, both heads same type and tension, it sits a bout a sixth below. With a "flat" size tom or 12x5 it might be just a fifth.

The2andthe4:
I think you can say the resonant head frequency is almost inaudible in most contexts. With an open, high jazz-type tuning, if you want to tune a drum tonally, you can dial in the batter head to a note and then adjust the reso until the overall drum tone sits at a tonally fitting frequency as well. You don't need to worry about the pitch of the resonant head.
Some people, orchestral percussionists I met, like tom sounds where the batter head pitch to match the fundamental tone, so what they do is they tune the reso down until the drum tone sits one octave below the batter head tone. Again, you don't really hear the head tones of the resonant side, whatever pitch it sits at - as long as you don't hit it.
 

TheArchitect

DFO Veteran
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
1,601
Reaction score
35
I know how the math works which is how I know your flying fast and loose with some of these conclusions. Batter head fund pitvh of A plus reso head fund pich of A does not equal fund pich if C. Even if you are measuring the lug harmonics as A, it's not exact. you might be in the ball park but the lug harmonics needed to hit a fundamental pitch don't fall on the exact pitch frequencies. Heads vibrate at the rate their mass and tension dictate. Making the shell 2" inches deeper doesn't changed that. I agree it's physics but I am not onboard with some of the conclusions just yet.
 

mark2456

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2009
Messages
205
Reaction score
25
Architect, please go to YouTube and type "Drum Tuning 101: Exploring different styles of drum tuning with tune-bot". The video is produced by Overtone Labs. Notice the lug tuning frequencies used to achive the different sound characteristics on the same drum and remain at the same fundamental note of D 2nd octive. The wonderful advantage of the tune-bot is that you can duplicate the exact same note, resonance and character every time. To a new drummer who has no experience in tuning they can get there drums sounding great and start playing. I wish that I had this wonderful tool when I first started playing drums because tuning wasn't my forte.
 

Seb77

DFO Master
Joined
Apr 11, 2013
Messages
4,166
Reaction score
2,934
Location
Germany
Agree that naming the "pitch" of a drumhead is tricky. We're always talking about the lowest mode at the edge only. Yet, it's the closest we can get to naming the sound.The overtones are not harmonic, we're actually talking about a "sound mixture" (? in German it's "Klanggemisch") with only approximate character of a pitch. Maybe Hz numbers would be better than letters, but the OP question was about musical pitches.

Re: "conclusions" - it's observations after listening to a lot of well-tuned (cleared) drums and comparing the sound to keyboard pitches. The tune-bot site confirms those findings.
 


Top