Wondering about the timpani

chollyred

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I loved playing them in HS. My band director wanted me to go out for All State but I was not confident enough even though I was singled out in competitions sometimes by the judges, which really surprised me.

I had to learn to tune by ear. I was amazed when we went to a competion once and saw that the timpani's being supplied had some sort of tuning gauge built in and all you had to do was move the pedal according to the pitch and it was relatively spot on.
I've seen marching timpani with tuning gauges, but never in an orchestral setting. I've always wondered why...
 

ARGuy

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I've seen marching timpani with tuning gauges, but never in an orchestral setting. I've always wondered why...
Tuning gauges are almost always used in orchestral settings, but on the higher level drums most orchestras use, the tuning gauges are frequently in front of the player, rather than on the side of the drum. Good gauges are a necessity for modern literature.
 

CSR

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Gauges will get you in the ballpark, especially for multiple blind tunings. They need to be set before every rehearsal and concert, and the timpanist must always tune up to the required note, never down.
 

chollyred

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Tuning gauges are almost always used in orchestral settings, but on the higher level drums most orchestras use, the tuning gauges are frequently in front of the player, rather than on the side of the drum. Good gauges are a necessity for modern literature.
I stand corrected! I guess the ones I played were probably ancient (like me)...Looking online, I see where they have gauges now...Would've really made playing them simpler!
 

60's Drummer

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I retired from musicals/orchestral/operatic work in the early 90's - but for three decades a single 440hz tuning fork did it for me 99% of the time.

When needed for more contemporary works - I'd attach a fishing line from the tip of the pedal up to the tuning rod to the right of the pedal - across to the tuning rod left of the pedal and back down 1/2 way to the floor with a fishing weight tied to that end. A razor thin piece of masking tape was taped to the fishing line which moved between the two tension rods as the pedal was moved. A stationary piece of masking tape on the hoop had lines marking the pitches ... worked very well.
 

p83

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i do not play them, but my job in percussion repair means i have to work on them. we do a lot of schools, and as you would imagine, fussy instruments and junior high kids are a bad combination. plus the instruments get passed from school to school with some being WFL models. as i remind the teachers - eisenhower was president when these were new. you history lesson for today. i really do not like working on tympani, but they are fun to play around with.
 

Nacci

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I have always owned Timpanis. Well probably since my twenties when I got my first set of Ludwigs. These days I own two Sonor Acrylic Timpani in 22” and 24”.

They are much easier to adjust position and the tuning rods are integrated with wire as well as a fairly sophisticated system to fine tune them so if you turn one rod the rest all move with it.

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