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Drum Center of Portsmouth Blog

  • 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.

  • The Search For The Best Crash Cymbals

    With hundreds of options to choose from, finding the right crash cymbals for your situation can seem daunting. Never fear! In our latest comparison video, we demo 10 of our favorite crashes that can be used in a wide variety of musical situations!
  • 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 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 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 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 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 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.

  • The Best Heavy Metal Snare Drums

    We’ve put together a list of 7 heavy metal shelled snare drums that will project all the volume you need, along with providing some excellent tone.
  • 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.

  • Finding the Best Solid Ply Snare Drum

    At the Drum Center of Portsmouth, we carry dozens of solid ply snare drums from over 10 different drum makers. In our latest shootout, we compare 10 solid-ply snare drums from 10 different manufacturers.
  • New Yamaha Recording Custom Wood Snare Drums

    A Soft Reboot of the RC

    When it comes to drums, few names are as iconic as the Yamaha Recording Custom line. In the mid 1980’s, Yamaha transitioned their 9000 line to the “Recording Custom” line, which marketed their birch shells as the ultimate recording sound. For the next 30 years, The RC’s remained relatively unchanged until 2013 when the line was redesigned with the assistance of Steve Gadd.

    The reboot of the Recording Custom included some pretty significant changes. Most notably, the shell material changed from Hokkaido birch sourced from Japan to North American Birch. Hardware changes saw the addition of weighted lugs designed to enhance low fundamental tone. Notably absent from the lineup were the wood snare drums...where did they go?

    Due to a lack of popularity, or demand, Yamaha only offered RC snare drums in Aluminum, Steel or Brass after the redesign. It was only recently (2018) that Yamaha announced the re-release of the Recording Custom Birch Snare Drum.

    What’s Different?

    Like the newly revamped RC kits, the new wood snare drums have benefitted from North American Birch shells and weighted lugs. The 6-ply, 6mm shells feature 30-degree bearing edges that deliver sharper response and better sensitivity than their previous iteration. The shells seem to have a broader tuning range, and are slightly easier to tune.

    The only negative we can seem to come up with regarding the new Recording Custom Wood Snare Drums is that they are only available in 2 sizes: 14x5.5 and 14x8. We would love to get our hands on a 6.5” deep version of this drum, but we’re happy enough just to have the RC wood snare drum return so triumphantly.

    DCP Knows RC

    The staff at Drum Center of Portsmouth is all about Yamaha Drums and Yamaha Hardware. We carry everything from Stage Custom to PHX. We also carry a huge stock of Yamaha Hardware. If you have any questions about the new Recording Customs, or anything else Yamaha-related, give us a shout! We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.

  • Hendrix Snare Drums at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we are very particular about whose drums we will carry. We are all about SOUND FIRST. Hendrix had us at day one with their fantastic line up of snare drums and drum sets.
  • Why Choose to Play Drums?

    Drumming is a form of musical self-expression that humans have engaged in for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations made drums from animal skins and used the instruments for ceremonial events. More recently drums are a stable in rock bands. They're used by the military, meditators, scientists, and people from all walks of life.

    These versatile instruments remain popular to this day, but why do so many people enjoy playing drums? Keep reading to learn about some of the fascinating benefits playing the drums can bring to your life if you've ever considered buying your own set.


    Versatile Instrument

    When many people think of playing the drums, they consider them to be loud and cumbersome. But not every drum is meant to make loud sounds.

    Today drums come in all shapes and sizes. They can even be nearly silent. If excessive noise is a concern for you, then consider using an electric drum in which the sound is transmitted through headphones. You can still benefit from the soothing sound of rhythm in your life at a level that's more comfortable.

    If you get bored with one type, you can switch and choose a different style. It's easy to keep up with the latest innovations in the drum world to choose from with our helpful reviews. You can learn more about which are the best single hand drums, traditional full drum sets, and anything in between. The possibility for playing the drums is endless with so many types from around the world.


    Reduce Stress

    While you are playing the drums, you don't have to think about anything that may be troubling you in your life at that moment. For a short period of time, you don't have to worry about overdue bills or familial troubles: you can just focus on the beat. Drumming is a fantastic escape for many people, and extremely stress-reducing.

    Research has even shown that the act of creating music can release endorphins and immediately elevate your mood. Having a hobby that isn't related to your day job can help you live a happier life.

    If you only think about work and your obligations, you will burn out. Having something fun like drumming to turn to will give you motivation to take a break from work and ultimately perform better in the long run.


    Enhance Coordination

    Playing the drums requires fine-tuned motor skills and intense concentration. Through practice, you can improve skills that will help you to become a better drummer. Drum practicing will also help you to excel in many other aspects of your life that involve rhythm, memorization, and hand-eye coordination. Drumming can help you become a better student, partner, and employee.

    Learning to play the drums well can also help you to play other instruments as well. When you play the drums, you need to focus exclusively on the rhythm because there are not different notes. Therefore, your drum practice will help you focus on the cadence when you go back to playing another instrument.


    Get Fit

    The physical nature of drumming can actually help you to burn calories. To exert the energy needed through constant, controlled arm motions, you need upper arm strength. Drumming builds muscle in this area. Over time, it becomes easier and less tiring to play.

    Compared to the process of playing many other types of musical instruments, drumming is one of the most physically active. If you drum with a foot pedal, you strengthen leg muscles too!


    Express Yourself

    Drumming gives people a creative way to express their feelings. You can make the rhythm reflect how you are feeling and use it to help you process your emotions. You even have the ability to create music that speaks to you, which you can choose to perform for others.

    Instead of engaging in an unhealthy activity such as violence or substance abuse, you can bang on the drums for a while to help you work through intense emotions. Having a constructive outlet to release negative emotions can help you to maintain healthy relationships with your friends, family, and even yourself. Turning to the drums instead of something nefarious will give you a safe coping mechanism.


    Develop Confidence

    As you work on your drumming skills and become better, you are also very likely to become more confident as well. When you work hard to excel at a certain activity, it can help you realize that you can excel at anything that you decide to put your mind to. Additionally, drummers are in charge of keeping time for all other musicians they are playing with. When you realize that people can count on you, you understand that you can count on yourself.


    Join a Community

    When you decide to take up drumming, you will suddenly find that you have something in common with millions of people throughout the world. It gives you something to bring up in casual conversation or delve into deep discussion with other interested people. You may even be able to find clubs or meet-ups in your area that celebrate other drummers and will help you to build new connections and make friends.


    Make Extra Money

    If you get good enough, you could eventually take your drumming from a hobby to a source of income. Drummers are always in high demand for bands and musical functions. You could start playing gigs with a band or on your own at local bars or at weddings.

    Another option is to set up a microphone and record drum tracks that you could then sell online. You could also make a YouTube channel, and if you get enough of a following, you could monetize your videos. There are many creative ways out there to make a full-time living through drumming, or just a couple extra bucks.

    No matter whether you want to drum just for the fun of it or you want to make it big, you are sure to get something out of taking up drumming. Drumming reflects our heartbeats and helps us immediately connect with the sounds of the world, and each other.

    There are so many benefits of drumming that are just waiting for you to discover if you give this wonderful activity a chance. What are you waiting for? Give it a try today!

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