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Should the bass drum be tuned?


Connie Z

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Hi All!

 

Just wondering... is there a certain note that the bass drum in my Rockin' Oldies band should be tuned to, in order to sound really good with the bass?

 

Sorry if this was a stooooopid question!

 

Happy Holidays! :wave:

 

... Connie Z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

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It's not a stupid question. In my experience, I have never heard of any specific note to tune a bass drum too. If your bass sounds out of tune with anything, your bass may be the culprit. I have always just seen drummers tune it so that it has the particular sound they're going for, be it tight and snappy or thunderingly low.
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There's a lot to be said tuning the kick to whatever is the predominant key that you're playing in, it can really tighten up the sound. But more important than that is tuning the drums so they balance with the rest of the band, have no nasty resonances and have musical intervals between each drum.

 

Alex

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Nasty resonances aside, tune the bass drum so that it sounds like it belongs with the rest of the set. For example, a "thunderously low" bass drum on a jazz set is akin to using a .105 for the low E on a guitar. It just won't sound right.

If you really want the bass and bass to coalesce, here's the studio trick: Find the bass drum's predominant frequency, and take a notch out of the bass guitar at that frequency, preferably with a a parametric EQ (use as small a Q as possible). This way the basses can't clash.

...think funky thoughts... :freak:
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Originally posted by alexclaber:

There's a lot to be said tuning the kick to whatever is the predominant key that you're playing in, it can really tighten up the sound. But more important than that is tuning the drums so they balance with the rest of the band, have no nasty resonances and have musical intervals between each drum.

 

Alex

I can see the theoretical advantages of having the kick tuned to the predominant key, but how would you measure the note of the kick? I agree that the kit needs to be tuned to sound good together and suit the music.
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You listen. It's not something I'd worry about, but a surprising amount of great drummers do this in the studio. And apparently Ginger Baker used to tune his entire kit in a similar way (though I guess if you tune the kick to the song then it'll have a knock on effect to the rest of the drums).

 

Alex

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I believe the kit should, ideally, be tuned in fourths. But I don't think there is any one key.

 

A decent set of shells should have a sweet spot though. An ideal frequence where they resonate well.

 

Kinda like a well broken in string bass. If not tuned to concert pitch the bowed open strings just don't ring quite right.

 

Well, that's one idea.

 

D.

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I played with a drummer many years ago who tuned in fourth intervals, using my strings as a reference, along the lines of what Hepnurecords said. He'd have me play an open string, and tune his drums accordingly. Never seen anyone since then do that. I don't remember how he tuned his bass drum.

 

When he'd do a round, each drum was nicely distinct and seperated in tone.

 

Sorry I can't help with the original question specifically about bass drum tuning. Maybe some searches on the internet would help. It's just chocked full of goodness :)

Bassplayers aren't paid to play fast, they're paid to listen fast.
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I guess a post to the drums forum on this site will give you to drummers point of view.

 

I have worked with drummers who tuned their kit to a "key". It did make a difference, especially when we played in that key. As far as hearing what "note" the bass drum is, I think if you hit the skin close to the frame, you can kinda hear a note. Then you duplicate the process around the rest of the shell. I'm thinking that the note would have to be high (if you're looking for a low thomp, deadened with a pillow or such it doesn't make too much difference), but I think a lot of jazz players tune their bass drum up higher. Then the drummer tunes the rest of his kit to that note (I think fourths are the correct interval, unless you've got a rack full of toms, then you could tune them chromatically ala vibe (Stewart Copeland comes to mind with those long toms he had in his set, I forget what they're called). But the bottom line is, if you tune the rest of the set, why not the bass drum?

 

YMMV, this is my observations....

I'm trying to think but nuthin' happens....
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Generally, most rock drummers tend to tune their drum heads tighter than the more traditional jazz or ols school type rocker. I think... I just borrowed some drum videos recently from my local library just out of curiosity, and noticed this difference. One was done by Louie Bellson, and the other was done by some drummer named David Eagle. I actually do some of the exercises with a pair of Zildjian 5A sticks every now and then while I wait for programs to compile in my Linux box.
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I've never tuned my bass drum to a certain note (on purpose, anyway.) But I am very choosy about my bass drum sound. The drum heads make all the difference in the world. You can make a cheap drum sound a lot better with the right heads.

 

In your opinion, does the bass drum sound bad with your group's sound?

 

bassdrummer

"All the world's indeed a stage, and we are merely players..."

--Rush, "Limelight"

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Originally posted by bassdrummer:

In your opinion, does the bass drum sound bad with your group's sound?

Actually, I am having a problem hearing the bass drum, as much as I should. Our drummer and I want to one day work on getting "in the pocket." I think that we keep very good time together, but I am mostly listening to his snare and hi-hat. Since we are going to work on the "pocket", I thought it would be a good time to ask about tuning a drum.

 

Thanks for the input everybody... this has been quite informative. And as suggested, I think I will visit the drum forum one day and pose the same question.

 

Thanks again! ... Connie Z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

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Well, I can't speak for the tuning as witnessed above, but I can chime in on the groove pocket. Perhaps you may need to mic the kick and and set up a monitor for you. If you can't spare room on the pa or don't have room, try micing the kick and running it to a small bass amp. I've gotten used to listening only for the kick, snare and hat to get in the groove. Once I find it, then I can do the licks with the drum fills. The pocket comes with time. It's hard to pinpoint the pocket. It's different with each drummer, for me, at least. The main thing I focus on is the kick, snare and hat. I wish I had more to offer.
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Thanks for all of this fantastic feedback everyone! I have now shared a bunch of this info with important people in my life who are drummers.

 

And, our drummer and lead guitar player just surprised us yesterday by purchasing a beautiful Pearl drum set, brand new! It sounds really great. Prior to this, we were working with an old "beginner style" drum set, that we had embelleshed with some new heads and new cymbals and stuff like that. Our drummer did a great job on that pitiful set, so I know he's going to sound like a million bucks on this new set.

 

I'll report back if/when we attempt some drum tuning experimentation and let everyone know what happens.

 

Thanks again... connie z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

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If you can't hear the bass drum well enough, can you see it? (the beater I mean). I've found that if I can't hear the drummer well enough, standing near him/her and watching them play (play special attention to the bass drum) will help you connect with their playing. Then when you've been playing together for a while, it will hopefully become second nature and you will KNOW what they are going to play.

 

That my addtl 2 cents....

 

Oh, I was wrong about jazz and rock/pop players tuning their bass drums higher/lower. Jazz players do tune lower, and sometimes (but not always) have front heads too, which can also be tuned either higher or lower than the back head which then creates a whole different sound, dampened or not.

I'm trying to think but nuthin' happens....
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Originally posted by randy clay:

If you can't hear the bass drum well enough, can you see it? (the beater I mean). I've found that if I can't hear the drummer well enough, standing near him/her and watching them play (play special attention to the bass drum) will help you connect with their playing.

Actually, that is what I got into the habit of doing, was to stand near the drummer and watch his foot on the pedal. But, then he started using a really LOUD snare drum, which drove me away. Now he has a brand new awesome drum set, with a moderate snare, with a deeper sound, and I think it's going to be great. Now I will probably be able to hear the bass drum better too. He just got it yesterday, and I haven't had a chance to play yet, with the new set in place.

 

Thanks for the input! ... Connie Z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

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