29th November 2008
Tips & Techniques:DRUMS - tuning toms for pitch bend - a formula
A few months ago I picked up the DTS tuning system ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYxBNrq8Idc ), which turns out to be pretty useful for quickly auditioning different head tension combinations. One of the things it's really good at is rapidly dialing in pitch bend on a tom. By sweeping through resonant head tensions while striking the batter, you can clearly hear the bend effect come into and out focus as you move through the zone in which it naturally occurs.
Curious, I began taking DrumDial measurements as I swept through tension ranges, top and bottom. What I've found is that true, deep pitch bend only occurs at one very specific combination of batter and resonant tensions. Those DrumDial measurements are as follows:
two-ply batter over single-ply reso: 75 over 68
single-ply batter over single-ply reso: 70 over 65
Not only that, but I've since tested these numbers on a fairly wide variety of toms, from a 10" DW birch fusion tom with G2s, to a huge 18" Ludwig classic maple floor tom with Hydraulics, and remarkably, they worked every time. The only variable, as noted above, is head selection: two-ply batters require the higher tension numbers to get in the zone.
I have to say, it's pretty cool to quickly tune a tom one head at a time, 75 over 68, flip it back right side up, hit it, and instantly hear pitch bend on the first strike. I tuned a friend's kit in a matter of minutes using this method and they were blown away by how good it sounded.
Note that tuning this way also moots the issue of pitching a set of toms. Since head tension is the same for each drum, pitch dispersion across the set is entirely relative to drum size. This is a great way to avoid selecting wildly incompatible pitches that wouldn't mesh as a group.
I'm curious if anyone with a DrumDial can duplicate any of this on their kit, with whatever heads they've currently got installed.
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