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  • 11 Tuning Tricks for Your Snare Drum

    Shaping the tone the drum produces is an important tool for every drummer. This can be done through different options like miking, muffling, processing, and more. The most holistic option is tuning. This helps the whole kit sound just right and produce the right sound. This will ultimately help ensure you perform the best and maximize projection. There are a number of tips and tricks when it comes to tuning your snare drum. If you are ever in doubt about how to tune your snare, you can always get help from the Drum Center of Portsmouth.

     

    1. Understand the Drum  

    The first key element behind tuning your snare is understanding your drum. There are several shell types that will play into how you end up tuning the snare. Common snare materials include hardwoods like maple, birch, cherry, oak, walnut and mahogany, as well alternate materials like carbon fiber, fiberglass, and acrylic. Metal snare drums continue to be incredibly popular: you will hear brass, steel, copper, bronze and aluminum on many of your favorite recordings.  Understanding how the material plays into sound production is important for tuning. For example, metal-shelled drums can result in more volume and ring than wood. Different types of metal will also produce different sounds. Steel will be brighter than than copper, and aluminum is drier than brass.  

     

    2. Snare Drum Ring and Buzz - Learn to Love It!  

    Drummers often hyper-focus on eliminating ring when tuning. In some situations, however, some ring is good. Ring works in live situations, even when miked. Removing the ring will give the drum a very pronounced, focused sound with a more limited dynamic range.  The articulation will be enhanced at lower volume however. Keep in mind the ring will end up being absorbed by the band. If you are experiencing a “buzz” sound, this typically is referred to as “sympathetic snare buzz”, which means that the bottom head of one of your toms is tuned to the same pitch as your bottom snare head.  You can reduce this with specialty snare wires, like the Puresound Equalizer wires, but don’t expect them to save the day.  If you let the buzz bug you, you will drive yourself crazy!  Consider this: on Roland V-drums, they have a built in “snare buzz” feature on their bass drum samples.  It’s ok for you to get comfortable with it, people expect to hear it. 

     

    3. Begin with the Resonant Head

    When tuning the drum, start with the resonant head. Keep in mind the resonant, or snare-side, head is often very thin. It might be weaker than other heads but still light enough to seat itself. This should be installed and centered in a way for two-key method and settled in place.  

     

    4. Tune Just Right  

    When you start to tune, start with finger tight. This just means to tighten using your fingers rather than with tools. There should be wrinkles between the lugs on each side of the snare bed. Instead of removing the wrinkles through tight tuning, use two keys on each side with enough tension to remove wrinkles.  We tend to tune our bottom head very tight.  When we say “very tight”, it’s typically tighter than most would expect.  When placing the wires on the bottom, be sure to position them evenly on the drum so when the throw off (switch to turn wires on or off) is engaged, the wires have an even tension across the drum.  A common mistake is for people to make the snare wire tension VERY tight, but this chokes the sound of the drum. Aim for medium tension. 

     

    5. Use Your Ears  

    For a drummer, this might be obvious. However, tuning involves listening throughout the process to make sure you hit the right tone. Take each lug up by quarter-turns until they are at the preferred tightness. The head will start to produce a toppy or tinny sounds with a slight ring. Heads have to be evenly pitched and it takes a little bit more fuss to do this with the snare.  

    Pitch is based on preference, but most of the time the drum works best if the resonant head is fairly tight, no matter the size. Ultimately, use your ears to determine where to stop.  

     

    6. Control Snare Right with Tuning 

     Are you spending a lot of time recording in the studio? There is a way to tune your snare for a fat, dry sound ready for recording without damping. Start by tuning your batter head until you find the stick and body response you want. Next, take the bottom three screws nearest where your stick strikes and detune them. The center screw should be finger tight and the other two about a half-turn tighter. You can play with this based on taste. If you have lost any pitch in this tuning process, compensate using screws furthest from the detuned screws. Now you have tuned your snare for a controlled and cutting sound. It will still have plenty of tension for double strokes.  

     

    7. Move to the Batter Head  

    Now is time to switch focus to the batter head. The method is fairly the same but some say that leaving the head on overnight so the drum forms to the head is optimal.  Your mileage may vary, we aim to get it sounding good out of the gate so we can use it! You will want to keep the batter head tight with the two-key method. You can take the batter head up in half-turns two or three times depending on diameter. The head should be evenly tuned and continue with smaller turns until just right. The focus of the batter head is to have the right feel but find the perfect amount of ring.  

     

    8. Keep the Top Head Tuned Lower  

    A trick to tuning just right is to tune the top head slightly lower than the snare side. This can create a slight pitch difference, as slight as a third or fifth. This approach can be simplified by listening for a harmonious and pleasing pitch difference. You can mute one head and tap the other to make the necessary adjustments.  

     

    9. Leave the Resonant Head Alone  

    A top trick for the snare drum is simply to leave the resonant head alone. At this stage of the tuning process, the adjustments should primarily be on the batter head. The resonant head should be set and left alone. Right now, you are focusing on what is “out front” versus what is facing you.  

     

    10. Self-Assess 

    Hopefully by now the snare is tuned perfectly. If not, self-assess and determine if one of the following things is at play:  

    • Too tight batter head 
    • Inappropriate head for drum and style 
    • Wrong snare for the desired sound 

    If one of these factors is at play, revisit and readjust. You may need to loosen the batter head or you may need a new snare.  

     

    11. Play It Out  

    You have probably been sound-checking while tuning, but now it is time to play. This is a great time for a final assessment to make sure everything is where it needs to be. There might be a few slight adjustments left at this point. If the snare is rattling too much, tighten the adjustment knob by quarter or half-turns. Play between each adjustment until it is perfect. If it is too tight, you will hear the poor tune and choke the drum.  

    From here, get ready to play, record, or just jam out. If you have larger issues than just tuning correctly, come visit the team at the Drum Center of Portsmouth

  • Traditional VS Electric Drum Set - What's Better for Recording?

    If you are a drummer, chances are you have contemplated the differences between a traditional drum set and an electric drum kit. Each has something to offer and presents a different set of choices to the drummer. The traditional, or acoustic, set involves wood shells, metal cymbals, and metal or wood snares. An electric, or electronic, drum kit has pads made of plastic, rubber, or mesh for drum heads. Sound is produced by a sound module and relayed to an amplifier or headset. Both drum kit types can be found at the Drum Center of Portsmouth, as well as expert recommendations on the differences between the two.  

    Both types of kits have their pros and cons of course. Often the choice boils down to playability and practicality. Some drummers often switch between the two types as there is a difference in requirements between playing live and recording. We will be focusing on these recording strengths and weaknesses here. When it comes to recording, both types have a lot to offer.  

     

    Playability  

    An essential element to any drum set is the playability. For acoustic versus electronic, this will be affected by how much money you can spend on your kit. Cheap electronic drums do not play anywhere near as well as cheap acoustic drums. The electric aspects of triggering do not translate well on a cheap kit. Responsiveness will not be as strong. 

    Playability will also depend on the strength of your drumming technique. Recording on a cheap electronic kit tends not to pick up poor playing abilities. A cheap acoustic kit will definitely pick up poor playing techniques on a recording. If you want a playable electric kit, you will have to be willing to spend money and invest for larger pads and better triggers. If you are not willing to invest, you should go with an acoustic kit.  

     

    Recording Space  

    The first factor in choosing between the two types of drum set is the space you are working in. Where do you intend to record? Of course, a studio is the ideal location, but not always a possibility. The space you are in will affect the way the sound carries and records. Is this a home studio? If so, you will have to factor in your surroundings.  

    If you are recording at home, which is quite popular these days, you will need to consider room acoustics. It is quite popular to record at home to playback and critique personal technique. However, if this is done on an acoustic kit with poor room acoustics, the recording might not be helpful. The sound quality has to be controlled with dampening devices and acoustic panels in a home studio. Sound engineering basics also come into play.  

    If you are recording at home, an electronic drum set might be easier. You trigger professional drum samples with a higher standard of production and recording. This is ideal for those looking to produce covers of songs or ones without the cash flow to record in a professional studio. 

    Another factor is just how much noise you will make while recording. Acoustic drums are loud, so not always ideal depending on your space. If you are recording in your apartment building, acoustic drum kits will not be the best choice. If you do want an acoustic set, you might need sound dampening tools to stay on good terms with neighbors.  

    Sound bleed is an important factor when considering your recording locations. Since electronic drums use headset, these kits work well in spaces where you cannot record or play loudly. 

     

    Budget  

    As mentioned, a cheap kit is not the best move. However, what is a good budget for an acoustic or electronic set? The experts at the Drum Center of Portsmouth can help with this. We also have a wide inventory with options for every budget. Essentially, you are looking at around $1000 for an electronic kit.  

    An acoustic kit would be more affordable, but still costs money to have a quality product. If you are recording at home, you will also need to factor in $200 or so to create an acoustic-friendly space. Acoustic sets are typically better for those on a tight budget.  

     

    The Bottom Line  

    There are pros and cons to each type, especially when it comes to recording. Here is the bottom line for both:    

    Electronic drums do not record well if they are cheap. You have to be willing to spend a decent amount of money to have a large enough drum set and cymbal pads. You will also need a drum module and sampling software. Electronic drums are best for

    • Practicing at home when noise levels are a concern 
    • Recording Instagram/YouTube quality drum covers and video 
    • Recording high-quality tracks with the right software

     

    Acoustic drums also have their pros and cons. While you can produce a sufficient product with a cheap acoustic set, you will spend more time worrying about sound bleeds depending on where you are recording. Acoustic sets work best for:   

    • Live performances 
    • Low budget 
    • Beginners just starting to record and learn proper technique  

    It really isn’t a battle between both types. Instead, think of both as tools with different strengths. Many seasoned professionals switch between the two when recording. Just base the decision on your main needs and goals. Which one would be a cost-effective addition and choice? If you are recording regularly, which one will work best for your recording needs and space? If you are not sure how to answer these questions, let the team at the Drum Center of Portsmouth help you! 

  • 6 Awesome Bass Drum Head Covers Throughout Rock History

    A key element to rock history is the theatrics and pageantry of legendary bands. From iconic looks to show-stopping performances, rock music history is not complete without the vision behind the visuals. One often overlooked element to rock bands are the bass drum head covers of iconic drummers.  

    The drum set is often the focal point of the rock band set-up. Snares, cymbals, tom toms, and bass drums are arranged in an intentional format to produce some of the best music. It is essential that the centerpiece of the setup is both eye catching and memorable. Many rock bands have become instantly recognizable based on the bass drum head covers. As rock history aficionados, the team at the Drum Center of Portsmouth dove into this topic to bring you a list of the most awesome bass drum head covers throughout rock history.   

     

    The Beatles  

    There is no denying The Beatles are one of rock’s most iconic bands. Ringo Starr is the standout drummer here. Taking the lead on songs like, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and “Come Together,” Ringo Starr is the bass beat behind the band. Ringo made his home behind a Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl kit. This kit made an appearance on Thank Your Lucky Stars, a British television show, the same day Starr purchased it.  

    The kit went through a few iterations of the famous drop-T logo. The simple black lettering contrasted nicely to the white backdrop. The over sized drop-T quickly became the brand of the band. No kit for the band was complete without it. The iconic bass drum head cover completes the kit and is now shown in museums around the world, including the Grammy Museum in 2013.   

     

    The Rolling Stones  

    Another unforgettable band and bass drum head cover from rock history comes from The Rolling Stones. Since 1964, the British band has grown to global renown. Talented drummer Charlie Watts often takes to the stage with a Gretsch drum kit. While some drum head covers had a simple band name, the best known one premiered in 1971 as the now-iconic tongue logo.  

    The official title is “Tongue and Lips,” but is often just called, “The Rolling Stones’ tongue.” As a logo, it is a bold move for a band. There is no lettering or indication of band ownership. This did not stop the band from creating a drum head cover that continues to make statements today. It is so iconic it has become a fashion statement and is often featured on clothing, accessories, and other fashion statements. 

     

    Queen  

    Anything covering rock history is not complete without attention being given to Queen. With a career spanning decades, Roger Taylor has a lot to offer to this list. While Freddie Mercury is often the first thought when it comes to Queen, Taylor’s drum set is the centerpiece to every Queen setup. 

    Roger Taylor often opted for a larger set, which allows for a larger drum head cover and a more intricate design. The larger drums matched the big sound Queen often produces. Just like The Rolling Stones, Taylor has some drum head designs that are more simplistic in nature. However, the most memorable covers is the one featuring an intricate royal insignia. The insignia incorporates the zodiac signs of all four members. There are two lions for John Deacon and Roger Taylor, the resident Leos. A crab represents member Brian May as a Cancer. Finally, two fairies signify Virgo Freddie Mercury. All are intertwined around the letter “Q” and a crown.  It closely resembles the United Kingdom’s Coat of Arms.  

     

    Kiss  

    When it comes to visuals, few rock bands match the pageantry of Kiss. From the makeup to the boots, Kiss is hard to forget. The emblazoned band name across the bass drum is also hard to forget. For drummer Peter Criss, the Kiss drum head cover quickly became a staple for the band. It served as a visual focal point on stage in the midst of other visual effects. Peter Criss started playing on Pearl drums in 1975. The company was willing to endorse the band in the early days, thus earning continued loyalty throughout Criss’ career.  

     

    AC/DC  

    Just like The Rolling Stones, the imagery of the bass drum head cover became both a band symbol and fashion statement. For AC/DC, there is a science behind the name and logo design. The band name is an abbreviation for “alternating current/direct current” electricity. For the band, this captured the raw energy and electricity of their performances. This is also why there is a bolt of lightning between the two letters.  

    While the most common design is the red lettering, drummer Phil Rudd had other drum head covers in rotation. One of the standouts is the metallic blue AC/DC against an all-black kit. This sleek design provides an eye-catching focal point for the band. 

     

    Guns N’ Roses  

    For famous rock bands, Guns N’ Roses remains consistent and evolving. With some members rotating throughout the decades, the band’s brand had to be maintained. This was done through several drummers over the years. Each drummer brought a different type of bass drum head while remaining true to the band’s aesthetic. One of the best-known drum head covers is that of drummer Steven Adler. Adler brought an unforgettable design to the kit. It featured a skull in a top hat and the band’s name emblazoned on a banner. Behind the skull were two crossed guns and roses completed the design. While the band’s logo has changed, this skull design has remained rather consistent.  

     

    More to Come  

    While some might say the golden age of rock has past, the Drum Center of Portsmouth knows there is more yet to come. While the drum head covers remain standouts in history, it is exciting to know there is more to come. These legendary bands and designs will always remain iconic – but they will have more company. 

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  • 7 Important Drum Books You Should Read

    You should always be looking for ways to improve your drumming, no matter how long you’ve been playing. One of the best ways to learn how to become a great drummer is reading books. From learning to read music to practicing exercises, you can find all the tools to becoming a great drummer by reading about the craft from industry experts.

    At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we value music education. We believe that spreading the right information can any drummer with their technique. That’s why we’re here to recommend 7 important drum books you should read to become a pro drummer today.

     

    1. Stick Control for the Snare Drummer by George Lawrence Stone

    Originally published in 1935, Stick Control has become known as the bible of drumming. It was written by George Lawrence Stone, an American drummer and educator. His students include influential drummers like Joe Morello and Vic Firth.

    Though the book specifically teaches the snare drum, the book is extremely useful for learning how to play any drum on a set. Stick Control is filled to the brim with drum exercises, which get more difficult as you progress through it. Stone pays special attention to your weaker hand in order for you to keep good control of your grip.

    Stick Control for the Snare Drummer is essential for building technique. Whether you use traditional or match grip, play rock or jazz, this drum book is a must-have. It continues to serve as a guide for percussion books today.

     

    2. Ultimate Realistic Rock by Carmine Appice

    Ultimate Realistic Rock is a book of drum set techniques written by Carmine Appice. Appice is a prolific drummer associated with rock music. He is best-known for playing in Vanilla Fudge, King Kobra, and Blue Murder. His classical and jazz-influenced drumming style inspired other famous drummers like Roger Taylor, Phil Collins, and Eric Singer.

    The book is the updated version of the most popular rock drumming book of all time, Realistic Rock. It teaches the basic rock rhythms, rudiments, and syncopation exercises from the original. Appice has also written 20 new pages of material and included an educational CD with every copy of Ultimate Realistic Rock.

    For the rock music lovers who play the drum set, Ultimate Realistic Rock is the ideal book to help you hit the ground running. We sell this book on the Drum Center of Portsmouth’s online store.

     

    3. Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed

    Progressive Steps to Syncopation is dubbed as another one of the essential books for drummers. The book is filled with exercises that specifically address syncopation. ‘Syncopation’ is defined as putting stress or accents on parts of a piece of music where they wouldn’t normally occur.

    Syncopation in drumming is what separates amateur drummers from the drumming greats. Reed’s book is meant to be worked through slowly and with care. It’s meant to help percussionists demonstrate the most control over their sticks.

     

     4. Afro-Cuban Rhythms for Drumset by Frank Malabe and Bob Weiner

    This book strays from the standard American styles of drumming. Afro-Cuban Rhythms is meant for those who want to expand their knowledge of the genre. Afro-Cuban Rhythms explores styles like Congo and Merengue and breaks them down into a digestible way.

    The book also includes historical information about each style. It also lets its readers know what kind of instruments are most used in the Afro-Cuban styles. This book is ideal for expanding your knowledge about rhythm styles.

     

    5. The Commandments of R&B Drumming by Zoro

    For percussionists who want to learn soul, funk, and hip-hop beats, The Commandments of R&B Drumming is a must-read. It’s written by Zoro, a famous percussionist who played with Frankie Valli, Lisa Marie Presley, and Sean Lennon, among many others. Modern Drummer magazine consistently names him the #1 R&B drummer, making him a great authority on the subject.

    The book is broken up into three sections: soul, funk, and R&B. Zoro takes the reader through the evolution of each style, as well as artists and styles every drummer should know. The Commandments serves as a thorough guide to grooving, told through Zoro’s unique lens.

     

    6. The Sound of Brushes by Ed Thigpen

    The Sound of Brushes is perfect for a percussionist who is looking to master playing with brushes. Brushes are an alternative to sticks that are quieter, but require a completely different technique than traditional sticks. Ed Thigpen aims to help intermediate percussionists pick up a unique drumming skill.

    Ed Thigpen’s book provides large diagrams on how to physically play with brushes. Though brushes are mostly used in jazz patterns, Thigpen also covers how to use the brushes in rock, Latin, and R&B genres.

     

    7. Bass Drum Control by Colin Bailey

    Colin Bailey’s best-selling drum book, Bass Drum Control, covers the basic elements of bass playing techniques. Bailey is a jazz drummer with a long career of backing for musicians like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. He became a faculty member for North Texas State University, where he went on to educate hundreds of musicians.

    Bass Drum Control is used to develop single bass drum skills that can easily be applied to double bass drum playing. Like many other helpful books, this one also features a variety of exercises that should be taken slowly. Making your way through the whole book can drastically improve your foot development over time.

     

    In Conclusion

    There is a huge selection of books out there to teach any drumming technique you want to learn. These 7 books are important because they cover a variety of styles, techniques, and genres within their pages. We know that these books offer everything you need to know to improve, and we recommend you pick up any of these choices! 

  • How to Position Your Drum Throne for Ergonomic Use

    If you’re just starting out on the drums, chances are you’re learning how to set up your kit. It takes time to find the perfect arrangement for your drum set—especially when it comes to the way you sit. Your drum throne should be positioned so that you are getting the most ergonomic use possible. This means that you should be able to reach every drum and cymbal easily from the way you sit on your throne.

    We here at the Drum Center of Portsmouth offer many drum throne options at our store at https://www.drumcenternh.com/. Our drum thrones come in a variety of different shapes and colors, but ultimately, how you sit is up to you. It’s important to learn the healthiest ways to position yourself and your drum throne to keep you in the best physical shape for drumming.

     

    Why should you sit properly?

    Sitting on your drum throne properly is very important for playing and your physical health. People who sit too low on their drum throne most commonly have lower back pain. On the other hand, sitting too high can cause your whole leg to become easily fatigued as well. 

    When you sit in the correct posture on your drum throne, you allow your body to be more relaxed. This helps you play your set easier. You will be able to play for longer amounts of time, and faster as well.

    Sitting properly will also improve the quality of your music. You may observe the following:

    • Better balance—complicated patterns are easier to play
    • More consistent sound—sitting properly limits rocking back and forth. This means you will be able to hit your drums in the same place consistently, for longer periods of time.
    • Varying orchestration—having the correct posture can allow you to access varying patterns and beats on your drum set. 

     

    So how do you sit properly?

    • First, you should always make sure you’re using the correct posture. The best way to have the correct posture is to make sure you’re sitting on your “sit bones.” Sit on your hands—the bones that protrude are your sit bones. Let these bones support you on your drum throne, and you will have a better posture.
    • Let your body relax back on your stool. You shouldn’t sit towards the front of your drum throne’s cushion, because this will put tension in your joints and prevent you from playing freely.
    • Last, you should align your right leg with your bass drum. You shouldn’t sit in the center of the bass drum, but you should give your right leg easy access to the pedal. This will put you in the right position for reaching the rest of the drums in your set.

     

    How do I determine my drum throne height?

    Most of us have varying heights and playing preferences, so one set of rules about a drum throne won’t work for every percussionist out there. But many drummers agree that your drum throne’s height should be set so that your hipbone is slightly above the top of your knee. This allows your leg to move to its natural angle, 145 degrees.

    When your leg is in its natural position, your muscles are much less strained. Some drummers opt to sit higher on their throne so it takes pressure off your back, but this is less ergonomic in terms of playing the drums.

    Another easy way to determine what height to set your drum throne to is to stand next to your stool. Then, adjust the height so it comes just above your knee caps. Many players use this method to adjust and find that the method works great!

    You should also check to see that your throne isn’t too close to your set. This can leave your legs feeling cramped and fatigued while you play. Your snare drum should be positioned so that it is at least one or two inches above your knee, so that no contact between the two occurs.

     

    How can I adjust the height?

    Drum thrones come with different ways to adjust their height. The one to avoid is the nut and bolt lock. These have the most limited height options and are most prone to becoming wobbly and unstable.

    Sliding tube and spindle adjustment thrones are the best bet as your options. Sliding tubes with memory locks use a simple system for easy height adjustment. Spindle adjustment allows you to rotate the seat clockwise or counter-clockwise to make the stool taller or shorter. 

     

    Some extra tips about your drum throne

    • When your throne becomes too wobbly, it is time to get a new one. A wobbly seat will throw off your balance and make it harder to play complicated rhythms.
    • You don’t need a backrest to play your drum set ergonomically. It only limits your range of movement—and it’s not like you’ll be sitting back on it anyway. A comfortable, backless stool adjusted to the right height is better for any drummer.
    • You can choose between seats that rotate and seats that don’t. This is based purely on preference. Some percussionists prefer some rotation while they play, while others like it totally stationary.

     

     In conclusion

    Positioning your drum throne for ergonomic use includes many different elements you must take into account. Making sure that you have the correct posture as well as the correct seat height helps when you are figuring out how to play your drum set correctly.

    You should also take into account the different options of drum thrones that are available. Picking the right seat is important to make sure you are comfortable and healthy while you play your set. An excellent quality drum throne will make you feel more relaxed while you play, and will save you money in the long run so you won’t have to replace it!

  • Are Tuning Devices Reliable?

    If you’ve been playing the drums for a significant amount of time, you may have had to tune your drum, or replace your heads. You may have also realized that you can’t use any kind of tension on your drums—you have to tune them correctly so they sound the best they possibly can. Most people use a tuner to help them adjust their drums.

    The question is: are these tuning devices reliable? And if they are, what are the best tuners out there? How can I tune my drum with the aid of a tuner? Our experts at Drum Center of Portsmouth are here to help any skill level of drummer become the best percussionists they can be. Let's start by setting you up with the right tuner.

     

    What’s the answer?

    The simple answer is yes: tuning devices are, in general, reliable. However, you should learn the best way to properly tune your drum, and invest in the best quality drum tuner you can. This will ensure that you get that perfect sound every time you play.

    Using an aid to help your tuning can also help sharpen your ear. Memorizing exact pitches is a useful tool when you need to tune on the fly. Nothing is truly more reliable than your own ear when you train it often.

    So how do you tune your drums, and which tuners are the best on the market? Drum Center of Portsmouth is here to give you some tips. 

     

    Why should I tune my drums?

    Tuning your drums is important to help you achieve the right tonality for your music. When you know how to tune your drum correctly, you can adjust them according to your genre. If you record in a studio, producers may also ask you to tune your drum a certain way.

    Learning to tune your drums can also help you create more depth in your music, depending on the intervals you use to tune your kit. Percussion takes more music theory than meets the eye! This is why it’s important to keep up with the tuning on your drums and honing your tuning skills as much as you can.

     

    How does drum tuning work?

    There are many guides online for how to tune your drum set specifically, depending on your brand. However, let's go over the standard steps:

    • When you tune your drum, place the tuner somewhere on the rim (depending on what kind of tuner you have.)
    • After the tuner reads the pitch of your drum head, you use a drum key to adjust tension rods around the head. Each head on each drum must be in tune.
    • Then, the batter (top) and resonant (bottom) sides should be in tune with each other.
    • Finally, you should tune each individual drum to the set as a whole.

    The batter side and the resonant sides are often tuned to different pitches. This is based on preference, and can be any interval you like. For example, you may tune your batter side to a C and your resonant side to an A, giving the sound of your snare more depth.

    The kit as a whole doesn’t have to be exactly the same. It’s best to choose tuning that complements each drum. For example, a snare tuned to a C dominant can complement a kick at an F tonic. In turn, the toms can be tuned to other notes on an F major scale.

     

    Which drum tuner should I buy?

    There are many excellent tuners out there on the market. Different percussionists have different preferences for what they need their tuner to accomplish, but most agree that this list comprises some of the best tools out there for any drummer.

    1.  Tune-Bot Studio Electronic Drum Tuning Device This digital drum tuner is able to clip on to anywhere on your set—you can even keep it on your kit all the time if you want. You can place it anywhere on the rim of your drum, and it will automatically tell you which tension rods you should adjust. It also has space for memory, so you can save specific tunings for quick access to whatever you may need.

    2. The DrumDial Precision Drum Tuner (Analog) This tuner is different from most mainstream tuners in that it measures the tension of drum heads, not the tension rod torque. This means that it can more accurately tell the pitch of your drum head. It is also quick to take measurements and easily portable.

    3.  Tama Tension Watch v2. This tuning device is unique because it has a flat design. This means that you can read the tuning by looking at it overhead, rather than to the side. It’s just like the average tuner, but it pays more attention to ergonomic design.

    4.  TB001 Overtone Labs Tune-Bot. This is another digital tuner. It automatically tunes your drum, and it shows you the note of the pitch of your drum. This way, you can easily tune other instruments to that pitch as well.

     

    In conclusion

    If you invest in a high quality, accurate tuner for any of your instruments, it will be a reliable tool. When you’re learning to tune your drums, you should always use a tuner for the most accurate results. Though many of us can learn by ear, there is never anything wrong with using a reference to help your drumming sound better.

     Ultimately, you should be working to be able to tune your drums naturally, by ear. You can become your own tuner with hard work and dedication. Otherwise, a great tuner will help you on your way to making your drums sound great.

  • Some of Our Favorite Snare Drum Brands

    It’s no secret that the snare drum can be the centerpiece for a great drum set. The instrument’s sharp, staccato sound makes it easy to pick apart from any other drum in your arsenal. That’s why it’s important to pick a high quality snare drum from brands you can trust.

    Drum Center of Portsmouth is here to help you consider the best and the brightest drums in the industry. We are a leading provider of drums and drum sets, and we’re dedicated to providing only the best snare drums for our customers. Here is a list of our favorite snare drum brands.

     

    Pearl

    Pearl is, of course, one of the most popular drum brands in the world. Katsumi Yanagisawa, who began selling music stands in 1946, founded the company in Japan. By 1950, the company switched gears to supplying percussion instruments, and in particular, the drums.

    Every Pearl drum is constructed using SST, or “Superior Shell Technology.” The shell is heated against the plies, making the shell incredibly tight around the drum. This then makes it able to withstand much more pressure than an instrument made under the average circumstances.

    Pearl’s history and unique manufacturing techniques allow the brand to make snares that are unlike any other. They consistently have a tight sound, which is best demonstrated by their Pearl Steel Piccolo Snare Drum, 13x3. This creates a higher, tighter sound than the average snare. The Pearl brand is great for beginners and experts alike. Their products have excellent craftsmanship and a sound that can’t be beat.

     

    Ludwig

    Ludwig is an extremely long-running brand, first established by two German immigrant brothers in 1909. They began crafting their snare drums in 1916. It was the largest manufacturer by 1923, and continued to rise in popularity throughout the 20th century.

    One of the most iconic moments for the brand was when the Beatles endorsed them in the 1960’s. Ringo Starr displayed his Ludwig brand kit on the Beatles’ American television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Starr picked the drums because he liked the oyster pearl black color. Sales doubled to $13 million after this fateful television program.

    Ludwig drums have been steady throughout history. They have set the standard for every company after them, even until today. From Jerry Allison of Buddy Holly and the Crickets to Tre Cool of Green Day, Ludwig has continuously proved to be one of the top competitors in the drum manufacturing game.

     

    Noble & Cooley

    Noble & Cooley is the oldest drum manufacturer in the United States, established in 1854. They began making marching snares to provide for the Union Army. This makes their history in crafting snare drums specifically longstanding and unique.

    Noble & Cooley also has an interesting history. They aren’t promoted like most other brands out there. Though they are incredibly popular among many musicians, the company doesn’t use paid advertisements from celebrities. Instead, famous drummers speak of Noble & Cooley’s instrument quality of their own volition.

    Instead of putting their name up on every drum they manufacturer, they instead point to actual music tracks with their brand in them to demonstrate the quality of their product. Phil Collins, Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead, and John Fishman of Phish all use these drums.

     

    Canopus

    Canopus comes from Japan and are renowned as one of the world’s premier bespoke drum makers. Their founder Shinichi Usuda started the business in 1977, with the vision to create the best quality drums possible. Their drums are all handmade from the finest materials, using innovative techniques that make them both functional and desirable.

    Their Zelkova solid shell snare drum made a splash in the industry. This drum is a tree trunk that’s got a scooped out shell of zelkova wood. Coming in 5x14, 6.5x14, and the super popular 8x14 size (which we prompted them to make) this brand is one of our top choices, especially for snares.

    They also make hardware and accessories that are lightweight and practical, making them a standout for many drummers. In particular, we always recommend their snare wires for anyone in search of wires for their snare drum.

     

    Yamaha

    Yamaha is another long-running drum brand that has been around since 1967. They manufacture electronic drum kits, acoustic kits, accessories, marching band equipment, and other hardware.

    They have manufactured a wide variety of products through the years. Drum Center of Portsmouth carries both current and vintage brands. For example, the Tour Custom models were introduced in the 1980’s and reintroduced in the 2000’s to have maple shells and a rounder tone.

    They also have great vintage lines of drums, like Recording Custom. Though it was introduced in the 1960’s, it is still popular to this day, and is constantly being reinvigorated with new colors like solid black and surf green. The snares are perfect for anyone looking for the vintage look with a modern high quality tonality.

     

    Gretsch

    Gretsch Drums operates under the larger Gretsch Company. These kits were founded in Brooklyn, New York in 1883. It began as a small company with a German immigrant, Friedrich Gretsch, as its company head. After his passing, his son inherited the company and began to make Gretsch into the great international brand it is today.

    Gretsch creates sturdy products that can last a long time. Though they’ve been around since 1883, you can’t call these snares old fashioned. They specialize in all kinds of different snares and entire kits for beginners, rock musicians, and people who love retro looks and sounds.

    The USA Custom snare is a favorite inside this favorite company. With a 6-ply maple shell, this drum looks impeccable and always provides that “Great Gretsch Sound” the company has been famed for for over 100 years.

     

    Buy Your Snare Drum Today!

    Drum Center of Portsmouth carries all of our personal favorite brands, and many more that we haven’t mentioned in this article! Whether you crave a vintage sound from an older company, or need a snare on a budget, we can provide any style drum you need for any genre.

  • Tips for Marketing Yourself as a Session Drummer

    Do you dream of becoming a drummer, but you’re not sure you want to just work with one band of musicians? You don’t just have to work with one group—you can market yourself as a session drummer. These expert drummers find themselves recording and performing with many different bands and artists.

    Drum Center of Portsmouth wants to help you get hired as a session drummer. We are the leading company in drum sets and accessories, and are dedicated to giving you everything you need to know to reach your potential as a session drummer.

     

    What is a session drummer?

    A session drummer, or more generally referred to as a session musician, is a musician who is hired to perform live or at recording sessions with a band. While many musicians only play with one band, session drummers are hired to play with many different bands. This means that they are professionals who need to have working knowledge of many different genres.

    Session drummers can be as popular as any drummer from any single band. Famous session drummers, like Hal Blaine, get to work with a ton of different famous bands. Blaine himself recorded with the Ronettes, the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, and many other excellent groups from the 60’s.

    But how can you begin your career as a session drummer, and how do you market yourself to be able to work with many different bands?

     

    Learn different genres

    The best session drummers are flexible in their approach to drumming. The more genres you know how to play in, the more gigs you will be able to book. Just make sure you’re proficient in different styles before you market yourself that way, because you don’t want to have false advertising.

    You may also learn different instruments to broaden your scope in the industry. There are a huge number of drums and percussion instruments, so if you practice things like the marimba, the bongos, or the cowbell in addition to the drum set, you can find yourself recording more tracks and playing more shows.

     

    Have a signature sound

    Though you should learn different genres, having one sound that makes you stand out from other musicians is the way to get a good reputation. That means more people will come specifically to you when they need the sound you make.

    If your preferred style ever goes out of fashion, that’s when it’s also good to have different genres under your belt. You can easily adapt to the musical environment while also honoring the natural progression of your interests and evolution of style.

     

    Get the right equipment

    Another thing that can help you show the world you’re a professional musician is investing in quality equipment to use. This means getting high quality drums, cymbals, and sticks. Here at Drum Center of Portsmouth, we sell this kind of professional equipment at low prices. That means that getting good equipment, even at the beginning of your career, is absolutely attainable.

    Buying a wide variety of equipment also helps. This means you could produce different sounds for each gig you do, further demonstrating your versatility in expertise in the drums. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different instruments!

     

    Be active on social media

    Use social media platforms to your advantage: advertise your drumming expertise. Posting drumming videos online can help get you exposed to the right people, and land more gigs through them!

    This isn’t just a way to show off your drumming, though. You should also act like a real, humble human being. If you show people the likeable, friendly sides of you in addition to your music prowess, it will help you get jobs and more importantly, make friends!

    Keep up with people regularly, and don’t let the endgame of getting gigs getting in the way of making meaningful relationships. You friends will be able to give you encouragement and advice, which will help your health and your career in the long run.

     

    Make a website and portfolio

    Your website, on the other hand, can be a place where you can be charismatic and show off your musical chops a little. Make a website that highlights the great things about you, and has an archive of as many shows you have recorded. This can give people a glimpse into your style and what you’re like to work with!

    You can even set up a way to book appointments with you online. That way, there is a fast, easy, and convenient way to get in contact with you. If you’re easier to reach, the easier you will be able to get jobs in the industry.

     

    Be open to feedback

    As a session drummer, you should know that the way you play a song initially isn’t always going to match the group’s vision. You should be able to adjust what you’re doing to fit the needs of the people who hired you. This doesn’t mean you stifle your own creativity and become a doormat, but working with different people allows for so many opportunities for collaboration.

    The best session drummers are excited to try new, innovative beats and rhythms. On the other hand, they’re also grateful for simpler drum parts—anything to create musical cohesiveness with the rest of the band.

     

    Bottom Line

    Becoming a session musician is a great way to get in the industry while also doing what you love—drumming. The life of a session drummer is exciting and spontaneous. Marketing yourself as such means you should be willing to be flexible, friendly, and professional!

    You should be willing to work hard in this sort of career. Moving to cities with famous music scenes, like Nashville, Los Angeles, and New York, can also help you get more popular as a session drummer. Put yourself out there as a great person to work with, and you’ll be booking shows in no time.

  • Top 7 Mistakes Beginner Drummers Make

    Learning an instrument, especially when you’re learning the drums, is a fun and rewarding experience. The road to becoming an expert is long, but you’ll be able to do it with patience and lots of practice. But beginner drummers can make mistakes that form into bad habits—and these can prevent you from practicing well!

    We at Drum Center of Portsmouth want to help beginner drummers know how to correct their mistakes, and learn from them effectively. Here is a list of the top 7 mistakes that beginner drummers make:

    1) Having an incorrect grip

    Though gripping the sticks is one of the first things you should learn when playing the drums, it is easy to hold them incorrectly. There are many different styles of grip, and each of them have basic principles to guide drummers. One of the most common mistakes with any of these different styles is that drum novices will hold the sticks too tight.

    When you hold your sticks, you should be able to feel them rebound from the drumhead freely. If you grip your sticks too hard, the sticks won’t bounce. You’ll also use more energy to move your arms when you play, rather than your wrists. You shouldn’t have to use your arms to play at all—the sticks should make a natural arc to hit the drumhead.

     

    2) Hitting the edge of the drum

    If you’re not precise with your hits, you can end up hitting the edge of the drum rather than the center. While this is sometimes appropriate, depending on which genre of music you’re playing, it is often not necessary. You will always achieve better sound clarity when you loosen your grip on your sticks and hit the center of the drum.

    Make sure that your drum set isn’t too close or too far away from your drum throne. This can cause discomfort and the inability to hit the center of your snare or tom. Place your stool so that you can hold the sticks to your side and hit the drum comfortably.

    You should also tune your ear to the different sounds each drum makes when they are hit on the edge rather than in the center. This will allow you to better identify when you are playing them incorrectly.

     

    3) Not using a metronome when practicing

    If you are a new drummer, it is essential that you practice with a metronome. Though you may have a naturally good sense of rhythm and beat, you can never be too good at keeping a beat. Using a metronome can help you hone your drum skills.

    You can start with the metronome clicks on every beat. From there, you can get into more advanced settings to help you improve the way you play. One of the ways you can do that is by reducing the speed on the metronome. For example, if you play at 120 beats per minute, or bpm, reduce it to 60bpm so that it clicks on beats 1 and 3. You can reduce it by half again, and have it only play on beat 1 of each measure. Eventually, you will not need to rely on a metronome to keep a steady beat.

     

    4) Having incorrect bass drum form

    When you first start off incorporating the bass drum into your rhythms, it can be difficult to use your hands while also keeping the correct form! The most common mistake in learning the bass drum is completely lifting your foot to stomp on the pedal. This creates a loud, unpleasant sound that can eventually damage your feet and muscles!

     

    Rather than stomping on the pedal, there are two main ways to play the bass correctly:

    • Heel down method. This means that your foot, from toe to heel, stays on the pedal the entire time you play. This gives you the most control and ability to play quietly. It will also create a more open sound, and allow the mallet to return to its starting position quickly after hitting the drum.
    • Heel up method. This is when your toes hit the pedal without putting your heel down. This method is preferable when you are playing in the rock or pop genres, or you need a bigger, louder sound. You exert more energy from your legs when you play this way, and the mallet rests on the bass drum after striking it before returning to its original position.

     

    5) Sitting with bad posture

    Whether at a desk or a drum set, slouching is never a good thing. Keeping a good posture while you play the drums can help you control your movements better, and it keeps your back and neck healthy and straight. Slouching will eventually hurt your spine, and make drumming hurt.

     

    6) Never practicing exercises

    Though basic exercises can seem repetitive and boring, they are essential to help you keep the beat and have a good playing technique. Sticking patterns, learning beats, and putting every rhythm in your muscle memory is what really makes an excellent, versatile drummer.

    Exercises in beginner drumming books can also help you learn to read music. Many drummers may think that it doesn’t require knowing theory, but this can’t be farther from the truth. If you become fluent in reading music, you will be able to pick up any piece of music available to you.

     

    7) Only playing fast

    When you’re first starting out, you should learn to keep a steady beat at a slow pace so you know you’re hitting the drum on each count. If you’re not able to play slowly, there is no way to tell whether you have control over your sticks yet. Experts can play at any bpm.

     

    Bottom Line

    Drumming is a hard skill to learn, so it’s only natural that beginners will be making plenty of mistakes. Once you are patient, and you learn how to break bad habits and learn from your mistakes, you can become an expert drummer.

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