Your thoughts on a Drum Dial

Discussion in 'General' started by Swole2112, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. JDA

    JDA DFO Master

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    What I'm describing is I have (I own a Tama Watch for 20+ years) used both.
    And I prefer by hand.

    Maybe it's because the majority of the drums I tension are Gretsch with cast hoops. I just find notes that I don't find usin a dial (and then check it with the Dial and see I'm spot on) That's from Practice (plus cast hoop Gretsch) And so that is the way I prefer.

    I used to use that Dial so much- pulling it in and out of the case- so often- I have the sound that makes imbedded in my head.

    But I have found using and going "by hand" nails it. Better tone.
    More Organic Natural.

    I don't have any Triple flange sets. Have a few snares with Flanged; even there still; I know how "tight" I want a drum to be.

    Crank them suckers down! Let the shell provide the hi mids and lows. (you won't hurt it)
    I want to be (when I hit hard) heard the next county over. I don't do soft drums except a little on bass drums and snares. Tighten toms up they last and stretch over time anyway.

    Again it's with mostly Gretsch drums. I like shells to 'speak'. Can barely hear a shell with slack Remo's. I don't play slack heads- little bit on bass and snares- but on Toms- the shells will take care of the lows with moderately and moderately tight heads. It's (tomtoms) not a Guitar String (E flat, g #..) or a Marimba Bar. If it is I want them on the Sharp side. They will come down naturally (thru force of playing organically.

    Dial for me is the opposite- a time-waster and a less beautiful and bland concept.

    Drums are not marimba bars, a guitar, or violin..
    You tension (and you can do that very well and very quickly manually)
    and the result can surprise you.

    They don't teach that anymore. Someone likes you to think you're a guitar player. And it was ok for a while. Everyone bought Drum Dials and Tension Watches.
    After 30 years of hard use some of them began to collect dust...

    Nice to go back and use basics every now and then
    trust and develop your gut

    2 keys opposite sides
    Do you need a torque wrench everytime to change a tire on the side of the road at midnight on a moonlit night? Or do you just call triple A and wait.
    No. You learn to manually tension evenly safely.
    That's me. I have the torque wrench. I can still tighten an alternator bracket without one. And it lasts 35 years.

    It's part of your chops as a drummer.
    Next they'll have Arm meters that measure the force of the strokes you are putting into drums. And have a Chart for that. HH 45 Snare 70..
    I probably won't want/need/ have a lot of use/ for that extra item neither either

    You are tensioning not tuning
    you tune a fish you tension a drum

    any vibes/marimba player knows the difference
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  2. jptrickster

    jptrickster DFO Master

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    Techs lv ‘em
     
  3. JDA

    JDA DFO Master

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  4. multijd

    multijd Very well Known Member

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    I’m not a fan of the drum dial. Whenever I use it the drum is out of tune. Maybe because all of my drums are older vintage drums with some imperfections. I don’t need it to get the drum where I want it. It’s slower and like I said there are always loose tension rods and some are out of tune with the rest. Occassionally I’ll use it if I’m having a real problem with a drum that I’m unfamiliar with. More diagnostically I guess. I’ve used it on timpani with slightly better results.
     
  5. lrod1707

    lrod1707 Well-Known Member

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    I guess on vintage drums it might be an issue. But after studying the DD and using it, it's really not designed to precisely tune a drum. I think the tunebot would be better for that. It just gets you to the start point so then you can fine tune by ear. Unless of course you just want a basic and fast "not so accurate" tuning.
     
  6. Rick

    Rick Well-Known Member

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    Without having used it, that's what it seems like to me. I don't find it difficult to pretty quickly seat the head and get it by ear close enough that I can then finish bringing it up to pitch and fine tune it with the Tunebot. I don't change heads all that often anyway. But I really like the Tunebot for tweaking my tuning and getting everything back to exactly where I want it after every 2 or 3 gigs. I'm able to get a completely reproducible and consistent sound out of my drums.
     
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  7. Drumceet

    Drumceet Active Member

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    I always use 2 drum keys and go around the drum. Tuning always used to stress me out, but this year I decided to just try stuff and not worry about messing up and simply starting over.

    I've gotten really good at getting the head at a decent range and then just tune by ear by tapping in front of each lug. I've also realized that I don't have to be so spot on for each lug, meaning that each lug doesn't have to have the perfect pitch to one another for the whole drum to sound good.

    Especially on the snare, I take the tension of my snare wires, place a finger in the middle of the drum, press lightly and then tap along each lug. It takes time but with a little patience I'm getting the sound I like from my kit.

    Also, always have someone hit your drums while you stand in front of the kit to hear the overall sound. I used to make that mistake and I'd simply tune from behind the kit, nothing thinking about the sound up front. It's actually very different.

    I still may pick up the DD, but I'll see at this point.
     
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  8. lrod1707

    lrod1707 Well-Known Member

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    I need to check out the tunebot.
     
  9. Rick

    Rick Well-Known Member

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    It's not perfect either. But I do think it's a great tool. Even though it's designed to filter out overtones, it does still give some misreadings. You learn to recognize when it's doing that. I also found a couple of techniques to be helpful...

    1 - I use a Vic Firth felt tipped stick to tap by each lug when tuning. I bought a pair of those sticks just for that purpose (cause otherwise those felt tipped sticks are pretty useless IMO). I think that results in a good, true tone that makes it easier for the Tunebot to read.

    2 - I put half a piece of moongel dead smack in the center of the head while tuning. That cuts down on the overtones a bit but still leaves plenty of tone at the lugs and I've found it to reduce misreadings on the Tunebot.

    I use the Tunebot for all my drums, including the snare side head and the bass drum heads. If you're cranking the snare side head lugs above 400hz, then it's not going to help you at that point, as that seems to be the limit for the device (I use just below 400hz for my snare side head, like 397 or 398.)

    My basic way of putting a new head on is to start at finger tight. Gradually increase tension in a star pattern, balancing the pitches at the lugs by ear as I go. Once I get up to a pitch that is in the ballpark of what I'm looking for, I start using the Tunebot to bring it up the rest of the way and match all the lugs. Once I have the lugs within 1 frequency number of each other, I find a lug that is at the exact number I want and then use the filter button and the other button that presents the +/- needle to lock in the number. Then I tune all the lugs so they are +/- .5 of that number.

    In terms of what numbers I look for... Basically, I have identified the fundamental pitches that sound the best to me for each drum. The Tunebot doesn't present in flats, only sharps. In my case, that has my snare at a G# (3rd octave), my 10" tom at a D# (3rd octave), my 12" tom at an A# (2nd octave), my floor tom at an F (2nd octave). Basically, each drum is a perfect fourth below the one above it. Then my bass drum is at a 1st octave C.

    The lug frequency numbers to produce those pitches would vary by the exact dimensions/characteristics of the drums and the heads used... so the lug frequency numbers for my drums/heads might not produce the exact same fundamental pitches on your drums/heads. In any case, here are the lug pitches in hz (batter over reso) that I use FWIW:

    14X6 Tama Starphonic Bubinga Snare - 292/397
    Tama Starclassic Maples:
    22X18 Bass Drum - 52/56
    10X8 tom - 262/262
    12X9 tom - 198/198
    16X14 tom - 149/149
     
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  10. MasterBlaster

    MasterBlaster Well-Known Member

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    Just like a stringed instrument. [​IMG]
     
  11. lrod1707

    lrod1707 Well-Known Member

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