Drummer Talk 224 – Tuning 201: The Snare Drum

We start part 1 of our 3 part series on drum tuning by discussing all of the considerations for the snare drum. In news, we cover catching DCI finals live, winning sweet Kaman gear from Modern Drummer, King Crimson’s reunion toour, how Tim Alexander’s heart surgery has affected the Primus tour, we listen to a snare drum quartet, and we get a feeling for what it’s like inside a lesson with Stewart Copeland.

Drummer Talk Mailbag

  • From Lynn from St. George, Utah: Hey guys, just discovered the podcast and love it! I have been playing drums for 25 years, and still have a hard time tuning. I have tried different type heads, tuning devices, books, videos, etc. Would love to hear you do a show on turning drums. Maybe break them up. One show on snare drum, toms, kick. I read some like to tune bottom and top same, some like bottoms lower. Well I know it all comes down to preference, but there has to be a way to make them have that sweet low spot. and that crack in that snare. Thanks for all you do keep it up!


Topic Notes – Tuning 201: The Snare

  • General Tuning Tips
    • Know what sound you’re going for
      • Come to peace with your drum not sounding like the record
      • Know that your drums sound different from the audience perspective
        • Have someone play your drums and go and listen!
        • Get a recording (not your phone – they peak out)
    • Know what your snare can and can’t do
    • What about pitch matching and intervals?
  • Heads
    • Batters
      • Plies, Dots, Coatings, etc
    • Resonant
  • Snare wires
    • How do the snare wires affect tuning?
    • Multiple throw-offs?
  • Special Consideration
    • Types and sizes of snares
      • Small
        • Piccolo Snare (12”x3”)
        • Popcorn Snare (10”x4”)
      • Large
        • “Deep Dish” Snares (6” or deeper)
        • Ballad snares (16”x14”)
    • Materials
      • Shells
        • Maple, Birch, Beech, Oak, Bamboo, Walnut, Cherry, Hybrids, Steel, Aluminum, Copper, Brass, Bronze, Concrete (DW), acrylic
        • Solid/Plys/Stave
        • Bearing edges
      • Hoops
        • Die-Cast
        • Steel-rolled
        • Wood
  • What tech can help you?
  • Final thoughts:
    • There’s no magic way to tune!
    • Each drum is different (even It takes a good ear and experience. You’ll only learn by doing, so don’t be afraid to tune your snare)!

Music from this week’s Show:

In closing…

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