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Setting up tom toms for recording

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Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Wed Dec 23, 2020 1:53 am

Our tom tom drums on the recording drum-set used to sound great when recorded. But now they are flabby, flat and lame. I used to have a professional drummer come in and do this. But then we had Covid...

Tuning them up makes them have too high a tone. Like a boing at too high of a pitch.

How do I set up tom toms for recording so that they have that deep tone, a bit of ring, and pleasant sound. I know it when I hear it but I can't describe it in just words.

Any advice on setting up toms for recording is appreciated. We will try everything you guys suggest and give feedback.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby resistorman » Wed Dec 23, 2020 2:05 am

Start with some new heads.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Wed Dec 23, 2020 2:47 am

resistorman wrote:Start with some new heads.

Thank you for that. These skins are at least a year old+.

This is a nice Yamaha set.

bass drum: 20"
snare 14"

tom1: 10"
tom2: 12"
Floor tom: 14"


Tuning just just doesn't seem to work. They go from flabby to high and boingy.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Dec 23, 2020 3:22 pm

I'm not a drummer but I'd bet it's down to the relationship between the top and bottom heads.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby Dave Rowles » Wed Dec 23, 2020 4:25 pm

Tuning is key.

Hand tighten the lugs. Put the hoop on and try to move the lugs with your fingers until the lug grips the hoop. Then using the drum key do a quarter turn each time you tighten. Make sure you tighten opposite lugs as you move around. After one set of tightening, press your thumb hard into the centre of the skin. This will expose crumples at the edge of the skin. quarter turn any lug that has a crumple near it. Repeat until the crumples are gone, but only turn lugs that have crumples near them. If there are no crumples, leave the lug alone.

Repeat process with BOTH skins. This will give you a starting tuning. This is a good way of getting the lowest - unflabby note.

If you want the toms to fit into the song better, then you can try to tune the toms to notes in the key of the song. Usually in the key chord. To do that you'll obviously need a note to tune against, I usually use a piano in logic, or a piano app on my phone. Then you tune the tom up with quarter turns on the lugs until you're in tune with note. Try to pick a note that is already close to the note you've already got on the tom.

You also have to make sure that you have equal tension around the skin. The easiest way to do that is you lightly hold a finger in the exact centre of the skin and lightly tap on each of the lugs and make sure they sound at the same pitch.

Tuning drums is a bit of an art, and takes time. Depending on the drumkit, and the drummer, I wouldn't expect skins to last more than 6 months before needing changing for recording. If you've got a heavy hitting drummer I'd change the skins more often than that if they are using the kit regularly.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Dec 23, 2020 4:29 pm

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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Thu Dec 24, 2020 5:49 am

New Remo heads are here.

20" bass drum

14" snare

10", 12", 14" Toms


Thank you for the SOS article, we are absorbing it now.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Thu Dec 24, 2020 5:57 am

Dave Rowles wrote:Tuning is key.

Hand tighten the lugs. Put the hoop on and try to move the lugs with your fingers until the lug grips the hoop. Then using the drum key do a quarter turn each time you tighten. Make sure you tighten opposite lugs as you move around. After one set of tightening, press your thumb hard into the centre of the skin. This will expose crumples at the edge of the skin. quarter turn any lug that has a crumple near it. Repeat until the crumples are gone, but only turn lugs that have crumples near them. If there are no crumples, leave the lug alone.

Repeat process with BOTH skins. This will give you a starting tuning. This is a good way of getting the lowest - unflabby note.

If you want the toms to fit into the song better, then you can try to tune the toms to notes in the key of the song. Usually in the key chord. To do that you'll obviously need a note to tune against, I usually use a piano in logic, or a piano app on my phone. Then you tune the tom up with quarter turns on the lugs until you're in tune with note. Try to pick a note that is already close to the note you've already got on the tom.

You also have to make sure that you have equal tension around the skin. The easiest way to do that is you lightly hold a finger in the exact centre of the skin and lightly tap on each of the lugs and make sure they sound at the same pitch.

Tuning drums is a bit of an art, and takes time. Depending on the drumkit, and the drummer, I wouldn't expect skins to last more than 6 months before needing changing for recording. If you've got a heavy hitting drummer I'd change the skins more often than that if they are using the kit regularly.

This detailed procedure is greatly appreciated.

The old heads sound flabby and splatty, and when they get tight, the tone is very high ('bing'...). I am hoping the new heads will allow us to get a nice tone but at a lower pitch. More of a 'doing', then a 'bing'.

We are playing contemporary jazz and easy listening (like James Taylor style) music. The drums have to sound right to pull this off. Deep toms, Steve Gadd style drums.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby resistorman » Thu Dec 24, 2020 6:18 am

Also, make sure they're in a happy place in the room...
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Dec 25, 2020 6:58 am

I am considering putting a sheet of plywood under the kit. Currently the kit sits on thick carpet, and we are in a (Auralex) treated room. The room mic picks up the whole kit and depth of the bass while close mics pick up everything on the kit. 8 channels total to track the drums.

I have heard many contemporary jazz drummers I know and like use a board under the kit to record with. So thinking about giving that a shot too. Anything to make the drummer happy, to make the music happy!
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Dec 25, 2020 3:39 pm

I have the app iDrumTunePro on my phone but haven’t needed it yet so can’t say if it’s good. I think it is free.
If your toms ring too much then perhaps some head dampening is in order. I’ve used those 2 inch square reusable stick on jell patches with success. I’ve also taken old drum heads and cut off the hoop, cut a large hole in the middle leaving a 3-4 inch rim and then placed it on the drum. Think of making a donut out of the old head. I had to use three stacked up on the same drum once to get the balance of tone to ring off I was looking for.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Dec 25, 2020 10:01 pm

We use these Aquarium Studio Rings

https://www.guitarcenter.com/Aquarian/S ... 0121416.gc


But I only have one for the snare. We like what it does. You can hit the snare harder to get a good sound, but it is the right volume with the ring on. It also makes the snare less parasitic to the other sounds around so it doesn't rattle as much.

I have never tried them on the Toms. We will do your trick (ManfromGlass) to make them out of the old heads. Thanks for that one. We'll let you know how they sound.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Sat Dec 26, 2020 11:53 pm

Dave Rowles wrote:If you want the toms to fit into the song better, then you can try to tune the toms to notes in the key of the song.
This can often be futile because there's no single pitch. It's enharmonic, not harmonic. It does depend on the size of the tom, and how you tune both skins, so it's more complicated than one might assume at first. And because each harmonic will decay at drastically different rates, so the pitch can jump, you risk focussing on one harmonic and ignoring the others- so it will sound in tune to you, but not your audience. More here:
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... percussion

That's about a single membrane- so you can see how two membranes is even more complicated.

There isn't really a pitch to tune to the key,

In short, all those enharmonics are what allow us to tell the difference between a membrane and a string, and it's why we use strings for notes, and membranes for percussion!
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby resistorman » Sun Dec 27, 2020 12:01 am

ManFromGlass wrote:I have the app iDrumTunePro on my phone but haven’t needed it yet so can’t say if it’s good. I think it is free.
If your toms ring too much then perhaps some head dampening is in order. I’ve used those 2 inch square reusable stick on jell patches with success. I’ve also taken old drum heads and cut off the hoop, cut a large hole in the middle leaving a 3-4 inch rim and then placed it on the drum. Think of making a donut out of the old head. I had to use three stacked up on the same drum once to get the balance of tone to ring off I was looking for.
Cool tip!
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Dec 27, 2020 3:07 am

Tomás Mulcahy wrote:
Dave Rowles wrote:If you want the toms to fit into the song better, then you can try to tune the toms to notes in the key of the song.
This can often be futile because there's no single pitch. It's enharmonic, not harmonic. It does depend on the size of the tom, and how you tune both skins, so it's more complicated than one might assume at first. And because each harmonic will decay at drastically different rates, so the pitch can jump, you risk focussing on one harmonic and ignoring the others- so it will sound in tune to you, but not your audience. More here:
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... percussion

That's about a single membrane- so you can see how two membranes is even more complicated.

There isn't really a pitch to tune to the key,

In short, all those enharmonics are what allow us to tell the difference between a membrane and a string, and it's why we use strings for notes, and membranes for percussion!

Enlightening.

Watching Steve Gadd explain how he tunes is cool.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d41i2Gg2m28

So he goes for an interval of a third (or forth). Just to make the drums sound different from on another.

But the way he finds the resonance is cool. Listen for when the snare vibrates!
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