How to Tune Drums

Drumhead Replacement

Start with the drum heads, tension rods and washers and both drum rims removed from the drum and with a screw driver tighten but not over tighten all the tuning lug screws and shell hardware screws. After, tap the shell while holding a lug and hear the fundamental tone of the drum. This tone is ideally what you want to tune each drumhead to.

Now is great time to clean and polish the shells, rims and hardware. If when taping the side of the drum you hear a rattling from inside a lug or hardware, remove it and loosely pack it with cotton and then reattach it to the drum.

Replace the bottom resonant head first. Make sure the bearing edge of the drum shell and inside collar of the drumhead is clean before putting it on the drum. Next, put the drum rim on, lining up the holes with the lugs and screw in each tension rod with washer into each lug. Tighten each tuning rod individually right to the point of contact with the rim and washer where they just begin to turn together and then loosen by a ¼ 90 degree turn counterclockwise. Do this for each tension rod and then re-center the drumhead within the rim and bearing edge with the tuning rods straight down into each lug. This is the STARTING POINT to tune the head and this process works with all drums.

Drumhead ChangingFor even numbered lug drums, use 2 drum keys straight across from each other and rotate both keys simultaneously clockwise for a 180 degree turn and then move to the next set of lugs skipping a set in-between (odd numbered lug drums just turn one tension rod at a time going across from each other to all lugs). Work your way around the drum using both keys simultaneously (or one lug at a time for odd lugged drums) until you have put 3 complete turns (6 full 180 degree half turns) on each lug. Remember to tighten ALL the lugs each time you go around before turning the lugs up the next half turn.

Now with the drumhead tightened, check for even tuning between each lug by tapping with your finger or drum key at each lug about 1.5 inches in from the rim. If a pitch is too high, always loosen the rod to below your desired pitch and then tighten up to your new desired lower pitch to make sure the tuning will stay. Once the pitch and tone is relatively the same at each lug, you need to “seat” the drumhead to the bearing edge by gently pushing down in the center of the drumhead with your palm about a 1/4 inch. Then even out the pitches again at each lug by tapping and tuning and grab a hair dryer!

Heat the drumhead with a hair dryer in a controlled circular motion around the rim within a few short seconds for a couple rotations a few inches back from the bearing edge. You are not trying to get it too hot just settled with the bearing edge. Once the drumhead has completely cooled you now want to loosen the drumhead like you tightened with both drum keys across from another (or one at a time on odd lugged drums) with 90 degree turns counterclockwise now. You want to check the tone of the drumhead each time you complete one cycle of loosening to hear just when the drumhead loses its’ nice ringing quality and then re-tighten ALL lugs by only 45 degrees clockwise. Even out the pitches of each lug 1.5 inches from the rim with tapping and tuning. This is the lowest the drumhead will sound good at and a great starting point.

Flip the drum over and do all these steps again with the top batter head.

Drum TuningWhile muting the drumheads with your hand and carpet, tap the shell and listen for that tone we referenced when the drum heads, rims, rods and washers were removed. This is the pitch you want to match for the drumheads on both the top and bottom for the most resonant sound. After all the drumheads are in tune with themselves and their shells, you can now play with a great resonant sound. After breaking them in by playing for a while, you can tune them lower in pitch by tuning the all the drumheads to their new lowest resonant points like before to get the deepest sound from your drumheads and drums.

Fine tuning even further, you can step each drum up in note intervals starting with the kick drum and working your way up with the lowest floor tom, then lowest rack tom and then snare drum using the classic “wedding song” note jumps when you hum “dum daa da dum” to get a nice spread between all the drums. I like to tune the bottom resonant snare head tightest and highest pitched compared to the other heads on the kit and tune the top batter snaredrum head tighter and higher pitched when compared to the rest of the drums in the kit. If you follow this process your drumheads will last a very long time and your drums will sound awesome!

I hope this helps you tune your drums better, let us know!

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How to Hold Drumsticks

Drumming rocks so I want to share with you how to CORRECTLY hold drumsticks so that you can experience the fun too!

Hold your drumsticks with one stick in each hand. Pinch a fulcrum pivot point with your thumbs and index fingers with the sticks between them. The 1st and 2nd knuckles of your index fingers should be where the drumsticks rest with the pads of your thumbs forming a “T” shape. Your index fingertips wrap down around each drumstick for additional control. Loosely wrap the rest of your fingers around the drumsticks including your pinkies. Your sticks should lay in line with the creases of your palms and thumb muscles when cupping your hands.

The trick is to have total control while staying relaxed. Over tight grip can cause harm to your body! Try to keep your sticks in the crease of your palms and play with your wrists facing down as much as possible. Bending your wrist, strike the drums and use the rebound of the drumheads as your sticks bounce off them with the force you hit them with.

I hope this helps with your drumming, let us know!

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Tips to Live By

Today’s going to be a great day. I recently read a book called the Four Agreements and it changed my life for the best. I had to share it with you. Basically it teaches a better way for life where you:

(1) use impeccable speech (your words or thoughts should never sin or be negative {whatever this means to you})
(2) never take anything personally
(3) don’t make judgements or assumptions
(4) always do your best

I use the acronym IPJB to help remember them quickly. Pretty simple and incredibly powerful!

I’m lucky to have friends that share their wisdom with me and wanted to show you too. We have the power to make the world a better place and save it for the future. Are you with me?

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Interesting Electronic Drum Discoveries at Winter NAMM

Hybrid

Hybrid Acoustic Drum Kit

This year at NAMM I came across some very interesting developments in the electronic drumming universe. Technology today is getting really good, so I thought I’d share with you some of the coolest things I found.

Gen16 AE

Zildjian Gen16 AE (Acoustic Electric) Cymbals

When I first saw the Zildjian Gen16 AE (Acoustic Electric) cymbals I was pretty shocked. At their core they are real acoustic cymbals but with hundreds of different sized holes in them. This is to drastically cut down the volume of sound they make when played. They claim to have a 75% reduction in sound and when I played them, this seemed to be true. So right away you could swap these out on your kit and have a much quieter setup. The really cool part is when you incorporate their DS (Direct Source) Pickup

DS Pickup

Zildjian DS (Direct Source) Pickup

and their DCP (Digital Cymbal Processor), you can essentially have unlimited sounds with the ability to shape each cymbal sound as well. Now you don’t need 200 different cymbals and you can control the volume of each of them to match every situation! Keep in mind, this setup is not a trigger, it actually consists of the sensor that attaches to the cymbal and an LED light preamp module (which can change colors when your strike the cymbal) that attaches to the cymbal stand and acts more like a very specific microphone, that then plugs into the DCP.

DSP

Zildjian DCP (Digital Cymbal Processor)

This overall concept gave me goosebumps when I saw it in action, the possibilities are endless!

Now drum triggers have been around for a while but usually they are not very accurate. Aquarian now makes a drum head with a trigger BUILT IN to the actual 3-ply acoustic head called inHEAD. When played, they sound like great studio recording heads but when hooked up to the quick release inBOX (combination signal booster, trigger conditioner and inHEAD power supply) they can be used with perfect accuracy with any drum trigger module.

inHEAD

Aquarian inHEAD with inBOX system, rimSHOT and kickZONE triggers

This is due to the FSR (Force Sensing Response) technology built into the entire head that requires pressure to make the connection rather than the typical vibration type sensing that can cause mis-firings and loss of dynamics. They even make the rimSHOT and kickZONE triggers so you can have separate sounds for the rim and kick drum easily.

If you want something that is very quiet with electronics, Aquarian now makes a product called onHEAD PED that you simply place on the drum that incorporates their same FSR technology for very accurate triggering.

onHEAD

Aquarian onHEAD PED trigger and onHEAD EBD bass drum trigger

It’s essentially a great feeling drum pad that sits on your drum head and plugs into the inBOX to send the signal out to your drum module. With this concept, they also developed a product for your bass drum called onHEAD EBD that works the same way with very little acoustic sound created!

Finally, Roland Triggers have been updated and improved

Roland Triggers

Improved kick, snare and tom triggers by Roland

and can also work with the new Remo Silentstroke mesh drum heads

SilentStroke

New Remo Silentstroke Drumheads

to create a virtually silent electronic setup when combined with any drum module. Roland also makes a curved bar trigger now meant to blend seamlessly into any acoustic drum setup that’s pretty cool as well.

BT-1

Hybrid Acoustic Drum Kit with Roland Curved Bar Triggers and SPD-30 Octapad

Interesting stuff right!? I hope you can incorporate some of this new found knowledge when building your hybrid kit, there’s a lot available to us today. What drumming electronics have you used before and what were your results?

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Simple Tips for Successful Musicians

More than 3.5 million person audience at Rod Stewart’s 1994 New Year’s Eve concert at Copacabana Beach!

“Don’t ever give up!”

This is the most important thing to remember in the never ending pursuit of success in the music industry.

What, why, when, where?

In time I will tell you everything I know. For now, the basics:

1) WORK HARD
2) Practice Daily
3) Positive Attitude
4) Easy To Play With

Now the hard part, treating yourself, music, brand and band as a business.

This has to be something that you truly want to commit yourself to, because if not, there are a lot easier ways to make a living. Expect it to be incredibly challenging with difficult surprises. If you are a full time musician, you may have to deal with the unexpected unreliable clientele.

Nonetheless, it will be worth it in the long run and you get to be in control of your future!

For some practical tips:

1) The best free metronome app I have found is the SilverDial Metronome. Obviously good timing is important for every musician, now you can have it on your phone.

2) Protect your hearing! Seriously. Any time you are enjoying music or noise for any length of time over 90 decibels, you are quickly damaging your hearing permanently. Know how loud your area is with this UE SPL app and stay smart.

3) When forming a band, it’s a lot easier to have an understanding from the beginning to split everything equally. Establish a regular rehearsal schedule and have everyone help in the band. Eliminate the headaches associated with not doing this, you will be better off in the long run.

4) Put a healthy protein bar or $2 equivalent in your gig bag and you will always have a delicious source of nutrient rich energy fuel to eat if you ever need it. They last very long and will help you if you ever have to inadvertently skip a meal or want an energy drink alternative.

One last thing is it’s also about who you know, who knows you, and who you need to know to get anywhere. Unless you enjoy being independently solo, one person by themselves can not do everything and achieve large level success. Retain your image and don’t burn bridges. It takes working together with others and making new connections in order to move forward.

Each day is different, changes happen fast and nothing is guaranteed. Give it your ALL and I’ll see you out there!

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Post #2

Official Drummer Ryan Gio Logo

If you like this website, share it with others and follow my social media channels! More substantial blogs will be posted, stay tuned…

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Post #1

Plush Lounge of the historic Key Club in West Hollywood, CA

The beginning to it all, “fresh off the boat” as they say in L.A. Performing drummer at the KEY CLUB in West Hollywood weeks after moving in early 2010!

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