The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Help with drum dial
Old 4th September 2011
  #1
Help with drum dial

I feel a little dumb having to post this. I bought a new set of skins for my set and ordered a drum dial to go along. I am having a bit of trouble with it. I have read the settings threads, and the comments such as "it only gets you in the ballpark but you have to use your ears after that". But nothing specific about the range of readings that is acceptable. Let me get right to it.

Say I am shooting for "75". The problem is, one lug might get to 80, without me ever tightening it very much. With adjacent lugs at 75, one lug might read 80 completely loose! What am I supposed to do here? Is this a bad shell?

When I got to the kick, some of the lugs would read like 65, and I would have to tighten the ever-living snot out of it to get it up to 70.

It just didn't seem right.

I finally gave up and just gave them all the same number of turns, the "old way". When I was done I measured with the drum dial and they were all in the 75-80 range, so I said "close enough". Is that close enough?? Its closer than I got with the dial.


Here is more detail about everything that I did:

Here is how I used the drum dial. Say I was shooting for a number like 75. First I would do my normal routine star pattern tightening them about half way. This might get me to 68. On average. Some might be 72 and some might be 65 at this point. so I would then, always going star pattern, tighten the low ones bringing them all up to 70. if one was already over 70, I would leave it. Once everyone's at 70, star pattern up to 75.

The drumset in question is a stop sign badge gretch, with a roundbadge snare. I play punk and rock.

I did not change the resonant heads as I did that the last time I changed heads, less than a year ago. The snare resonant is a evans hazy 300, toms are evans genera, and the kick is an aquarian with a 7" port hole in the center.

As I was taking off my old heads I measured the lugs, just to see where they were at. These were all remo coated ambassadors, except the kick which was a clear ambassador. Here are the results:

Snare top (5x14"): 86, 84, 85, 85, 87, 88
Snare bottom: 65, 68, 68, 70, 70, 68
Tom 1 top (9x13"): 85, 85, 85, 86, 82, 82
Tom 1 bottom: 70, 72, 70, 70, 72, 70
Tom 2 top (10x14"): 80, 77, 83, 79, 82, 81, 79, 80
Tom 2 bottom: 68, 72, 71, 72, 70, 72 (forgot to measure 2)
Tom 3 top (16x16"): 77, 80, 77, 79, 79, 74, 75, 77
Tom 3 bottom: 73, 71, 71, 68, 70, 71, 74, 73
Kick batter (14x22"): 81, 78, 78, 77, 75, 77, 77, 81, 77, 80
Kick Res: 74, 72, 62, 74, 80, 76, 80, 78, 72, 68

The new heads I purchased are clear emperors for the toms, powerstroke 3 for the kick, and coated ambassador for the snare.
Old 4th September 2011
  #2
Gear Guru
 

one of the issues with tensioning a drum head is that opposite and adjacent lugs interact with the lug you are tuning, it's not as if each lug was "purely" tensioning that area only. This very problem is the reason why I use the drum dial, because sometimes when things are NOT "in the ballpark" you are hearing resonances and octaves that are not what you should be tuning to.

But ironically, you need to be in the ballpark of the ballpark to use the DD as well!

Quote:
I finally gave up and just gave them all the same number of turns, the "old way". When I was done I measured with the drum dial and they were all in the 75-80 range, so I said "close enough". Is that close enough?? Its closer than I got with the dial.
What I do is tune like just that, THEN the Drum Dial, THEN by ear.

I also find sometimes the dial "sticks" a little -try gently tapping the top of dial to let the spring 'settle' in. You should also keep it the same distance from the edge. I find too close to the edge distorts the reading and too close to the center averages out with the other lugs.

Quote:
When I got to the kick, some of the lugs would read like 65, and I would have to tighten the ever-living snot out of it to get it up to 70.
the numbers on the Drum Dial are only for recall purposes, IMO. Once you have your drum tuned nicely, use the DD to measure the tension and write it down for next time. Don't drive yourself crazy "going for" a specific number until you have seen what works on your drum, your heads.

there is a procedure to calibrate the DD, by putting it on a Mirror or other very rigid very flat surface and adjusting the screw to read "0" (or is it 100?) But who knows if these numbers have any absolute meaning or if they are consistent from one DD to the next? In any case, don't kill yourself trying to get your drum to "70" because someone else said 70 is the tension.

Once you get to tuning by ear, one tip that I have found very helpful is always tune down first and then turn up to reach your pitch. Much easier to hear. For me anyway.


great stuff at this site
Drum Tuning Bible

you can download the whole thing as a .pdf

invaluable!
Old 5th September 2011
  #3
when you are done, how much variance is there in your lugs? do you write down each lugs value?
Old 5th September 2011
  #4
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stellar View Post
when you are done, how much variance is there in your lugs? do you write down each lugs value?
Oh they will never all read the same. I will write down one number say = 70, even though some may read 69 or 71 or 72.

The problem is not the drum, it's the sensitivity of the dial. If you measure one spot at 70, pull it away and put it right back, you could read 71 or 72 five seconds later. This is the 'ballpark' and after that you have to tune by the note.
Old 5th September 2011
  #5
Lives for gear
 
JohnRoberts's Avatar
 

The drum dial will be helpful for getting back to a known tension for a given drum head, but the first time you need to dial up or down for the pitch and/or stick feel you want.

Fine tuning accuracy with a drum dial will depend on distance from the edge (I think newer DD have a guide to set that distance), and symmetry of the physical drum and edges, and lastly the head itself, while modern drum heads are probably more consistent mechanically than the drums and edges.

If your drumhead (at lugs) measures identical with DD but doesn't sound right, you must tweak by ear but this is not trivial. Lightly damping the drumhead at it's center mid point will help suppress the fundamental making it easier to hear the lug overtone and fine adjust that. Also sitting the drum on the ground or a flat surface will also somewhat damp the fundamental.

As others have noted the lugs will interact with each other so you must use a strategy to reduce that interaction, and it will still be difficult to get the clearing process to converge.


here's a link about "by ear" tuning and another link to good general advice.

http://www.peavey.com/media/pdf/misc/drumtuning.pdf

Drum Tuning Bible

Good luck.

JR
Old 5th October 2011
  #6
Lives for gear
 

The drum dial is OK. It really depends on the type of drum, head, and rim. I find that drums with diecast hoops are hard to gauge with the drum dial, as you could have one lug all the way out and that part of the drum will still have even tensioning.

However, the drum dial works really well with large drums such as timpani's or gong bass drums.

This is my real world experience and two sense. I do see they have a digital one out now as well. Drum tuning isn't really a standardized thing in my opinion.
Old 5th October 2011
  #7
Lives for gear
 
valjean24601's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Piranhadrum View Post
I find that drums with diecast hoops are hard to gauge with the drum dial, as you could have one lug all the way out and that part of the drum will still have even tensioning.
I totally agree with this and this is exactly the result I had when I tried out the Tama tension watch many moons ago.
Old 8th October 2011
  #8
Gear Nut
 

I've found that after I've tensioned a lug, I have to pick the dial up and put it in the same spot again to get a more accurate reading
Old 7th January 2012
  #9
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mylesh View Post
I've found that after I've tensioned a lug, I have to pick the dial up and put it in the same spot again to get a more accurate reading
you're "not supposed" to tension it while the dial is down. Of course take any rule with a grain of salt... but its supposed to be tension, then place to get reading, then remove, tension, place to get reading, etc.



to the original poster, are you moving up in very small increments, literally 1/16th of a turn? I use a drumdial and have no problem getting every lug equal just by going in tiny increments and having the lugs screwed in as equally as possible.

For example, if I want everything to get to 75, I'll get everything to 65 and go up by 1 at a time via the same equal tiny turns.

Any drum, even warped/bad edged/out of round (not seriously damaged of course) can create even tension all around. The bit about "use dial and then after by ear" means that you can literally get the tension even without listening. If your drum is screwed up, when the tensions are all equal it will basically sound terrible. The ideal situation is all tensions are equal all around the drum and it sounds clear and good.

So to answer your question, the fact that you're starting with the lugs "averaging" what you're shooting for is against the point of the dial. You should be able to match them all regardless of the quality of the drum, it will just not necessarily sound good. When you tweak by ear you're actually mismatching tensions sometimes to change overtones and resonances. One trick here is to detune or loosen one lug to deaden/dampen the head without applying gel/felt/wallet/etc or to counter the position of your snares.

Another trick that's helped me learn how to prep for recording or live while sitting at the drums is to wear earplugs and listen close to the head. That's what padded mics will pic up, that's what someone will hear / feel which might not be what you hear at the drummer position. It cuts out overtones which an audience won't hear, or a front of kit mic won't necessarily emphasize. That's helped a ton.


I've also seen drum dials used very effectively by simply placing it in the middle of the drum and use even increments all around in whatever star pattern is relevant. This is just as good as averaging and can be very rapid, with only a single placement of the dial (or if you're careful, repeated lifts and rereadings, etc).


Here's a question for you: when you finger tighten so that each lug is visibly and "by feel" equally tight, does it read evenly?
Old 1st March 2012
  #10
Gear Maniac
Part of the phenomenon that you're dealing with is similar to a guitar string. It doesn't matter which end of the string you pull on to tighten it-- it affects the overall tension of the string across the guitar. Thus, tightening rods across the circle (drum) still pull the head at the lug where your drum dial is placed. To test, get your head somewhat evenly tuned. Put your DD at one lug, tighten the rod 180 degrees from the one where you put the DD. Notice that the DD's gauge will indicate that the tension at its location is increasing as you tighten the opposing rod. another place to see this is by YouTube-ing Bob Gatzen tom tuning. He does a demo where he explains this effect, but if you think of it like a guitar string, it might make a bit more sense. So, to use your DD effectively, you just have to do things in small increments and sometimes go back and forth more than once before moving around the circle.

One other note is that this phenomenon occurs (although to a lesser degree) when you tighten any other lug on the drum. the 180 degree one seems to have the most affect as it is pulling the head directly across the drum. but all of the lugs/rods are stretching the head to an extent increasing the overall tension of the head in all locations. Thus the small increment method is the best for getting the tension to be balanced across the entire circle.

I hope this makes some sense and is useful in some way.
Old 6th March 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
 

^ Yeah the Gatzen thing about opposite lug tuning will help you out with that. I had that same problem with my drum dial as well, you just sort of get used to how to work with it - takes some practice. I find the opposite rods as well as the ones directly to the left and right all affect the one being measured.
You should still try to bring the drum up evenly - not just go to one lug, crank until you get the reading, then go to the next. I go around/across slowly bringing the numbers closer in small increments. Honestly recently I haven't used the drum dial at all - I've been focussing more on pitch-specific tunings, for better or worse - recordings lately have been much improved, though, so I'm not questioning it!
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump