Tuning, heads, wires, setup to get this snare like he wants it?

Josh Vibert

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So the music director at church is also the lead teaching pastor. He's been a friend for about 20 years now (both of us approaching 40 in the next 2-3 years) and is a very talented multi-instrumentalist. The snare drum sound "in his head" is very deep, low, fat. As such, he went out and with his own money (not church budget) bought a Gretsch 6.5x14 black nickel steel snare drum. When we started attending the church and I started playing a year ago, the heads on it were trashed and he had a Big Fat Snare on the batter. Wires are Puresound Blasters. Multi-rods, brushes, etc are all used and appreciated, but I struggled with both feel and articulation trying to play them on the BFS. So, I asked him if I could put new heads (out of my own pocket) on the drum and he agreed. My goal was to get the sound he wanted but without the BFS so that I could get the feel and articulation of playing directly on the head. I spent a day A/B'ing a Coated Emp, CS Coated Dot, and Coated PS3 with varying levels of Gaffers tape. Ended up with the Coated PS3 and the Big Fat Snare back on the drum. What sounds "in tune" to me is "too cranked" for him. Being a 6.5" steel shell drum, there are just overtones galore, especially at low tunings.

Any thoughts or ideas of how to get there?

For reference, when I asked him "what's the snare sound you hear in your head? What do you want it to sound like?" this was the recording he pointed to:

<iframe width="100%" height="300" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src=" https://soundcloud.com/player "></iframe><div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;"><a href=" https://soundcloud.com/joshvibert " title="joshvibert" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">joshvibert</a> · <a href=" https://soundcloud.com/joshvibert%2F111019-112019-1207-pm " title="11.10.19 - 11:20:19, 12.07 PM" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">11.10.19 - 11:20:19, 12.07 PM</a></div>
 
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CSR

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Tell him to hire a sound engineer to heavily process your drum sounds before sending the signal out to the congregation.
...or... sing him “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
 

Josh Vibert

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Tell him to hire a sound engineer to heavily process your drum sounds before sending the signal out to the congregation.
...or... sing him “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
If you're referring to the recording above, that's just our board mix. That's me playing the snare drum prior to the head swap with the BFS installed.
 

ARGuy

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It seems to me that what these music directors hear in their heads and want for a live sound is nearly impossible to get from acoustic drums on their own. Like CSR said, it's more about the way the sound is processed for the audience. Or, as far which department's problem it is, it's a sound problem not a band problem.
 

Ptrick

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If I’m going for a fat dead sound, I prefer a piece of paper towel folded over several times into a square maybe a couple inches in size with gaffer tape over it. Then you can tune low and beefy without the wild overtones, but keeps the feel of the head.
 

Seb77

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I'd tune the drum up properly, snare side tight same as for higher tunings, batter just a coated ambassador (or PS3) medium-low the way you might like it yourself. Then put the big fat snare drum on top, or an old head, or just a piece of paper, for that ultra-low sound. Maybe you need to adjust snare wire tension. That way you can change back and forth between the low and the medium sound without having to change tuning.
Tight snareside is the trick to give it some highe-end sheen, not making it sound too lof-fi - unless that's what you want. 6.5 deep metal drum is a good start.
 

Tornado

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They have those BFS toppers with the square cut out of the middle too. That would at least get your sticks on the head.
 

cplueard

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Remo Ambassador Vintage. Buy a dot separate (I use the aquarian) and attach to the bottom of the head. It is 100% that sound. If you really wanna push it into that deep and oversnared territory get some of the puresound twisted wires as well. I can't stand to play lower than tight tuning so this is my trick to always get that sound.
 

addisonnyle

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I’ve been having a LOT of success with loose snare wires, TIGHT bottom head, and top head in tune as low as I can get it. Then applying dampening with snare weight M80’s. 1 will likely do the job, may need one of the smaller ones as well. What I really like about these is that they don’t kill the feel of the head. Gaff kills heads, Moon gels do too, BFSD stuff REALLY does. Ask FOH to apply a generous amount of compression. That’s a good recipe to start! At least for me :)
 


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