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  • Easy Drum Set Tuning Techniques

    Like all instruments, drum sets need to be tuned in order to be on pitch. There are no right or wrong ways to tune a drum set. The right way is simply whichever way you prefer to get the sound you want.

    In this article, we'll go over some of the most popular techniques and how they can benefit your sound.



    Tuning Basics

    1. Replace the Heads

    If you are installing new batter (top) heads, the first thing you are going to want to do is to remove the old head and to replace it with this new one. After the fresh head is on, put the rim over it and hand tighten the tension rods.


    2. Check for Wrinkles

    Place your fist on the center of the head and press down. Notice the wrinkles on the drum's skin. You are going to want to remove these wrinkles by further tightening the rods.


    3. Tighten the Rods

    For the proper method of tightening the rods, think of it like changing a car tire. Start with one tension rod and give it a half turn. Then move to the rod directly across the head and tighten that one a half turn.

    Then go clockwise from the original and give that a half turn, followed by the rod directly across that. Continue this pattern until you've tightened all the rods and eliminated all the wrinkles.


    4. Seat the Head

    In order to properly seat your drum's head, press its center with your palm. By doing this, you are pulling the flesh loop into the rims' channels. The head is now conforming to the drum's bearing edges.

    Tap the skin and check its pitch. If you notice that it is producing a lower pitch than before, that means your head needed to be seated. Repeat the process of tightening and seating until the pitch remains constant.


    5. Muffle the Sound

    Take the drum and place it on something like a clean towel or rug. The head should be upwards facing.

    This not only muffles other sounds that might emanate from the drum but also allows you to easily spin the drum around, giving you quicker access to the lugs.


    6. Tap the Head

    Using either your drumstick or finger, give a tap on the heads of each of the rods.

    Note which areas of the drum sound high and which sound low. Typically, where one part of the head sounds high, the opposite end will sound low.


    7. Adjust the Rods

    For all the rods that sounded low, tighten them by giving them 1/8 turn clockwise. Tighten the ones that were high by turning them 1/8 counterclockwise. Reseat the head.

    Repeat steps 6 and 7 until the drumhead gives a uniform pitch all the way around.


    8. Tune the Bottom Side

    Turn the drum over and tune that side using steps 1 - 7.

    Now, let's get into more specific tuning.


    Tuning a Bass Drum

    Tighten the batter head to right above the wrinkle. Make sure that the beater sinks in. It shouldn't rebound easily. This way, you can stop any unwelcome double-strokes. After this, you can start tightening and loosening the tension rods until it sounds right to you.

    Keep in mind that you usually need to muffle bass drums in order to get a good sound. Common items for muffling include things like blankets, pillows, clamp-on devices, and foam. Whichever way you choose to muffle your drum is up to you.

    Some drummers prefer to cut a hole in the front-facing head. The bigger the hole, the less "boom" sound you get. The smaller the whole, the bigger the boom.


    Tuning a Snare Drum

    For the snare drum, tune the batter head as you would regularly tune a drum. When you get to tuning the snare (bottom) head, you have a few options. You can either tune the snare to match the top head, to be higher than the top, or to be lower than it. The most common method is to tune the snare head tighter than the batter.

    It is generally a good idea to tighten the snare head until it starts to sound a little choked. When you hear that, loosen the rods about a 1/2 turn or so. It may be helpful to mute the snare wires while you tune. This can be accomplished by sliding your drumstick underneath the wires. Just be careful—you don't want to pull too much on the snare-side head.


    Tuning Toms

    Tune your Tom's batter head until it is on pitch. From there, you can tighten and loosen the tension until you get a sound you are happy with. Turn over to the snare-side head and tune that one to be one tone higher than the batter. This should be the general relationship between the two heads. Check every so often to make sure they are tuned accordingly.


    Use a Drum Tuner

    If you are concerned about pitch-perfect tuning, you may want to consider purchasing a drum tuner. These devices supply drummers with a visual representation of each lug's tension. Although most drummers still prefer to tune by ear, drum tuners can often be found in recording studios.



    It is a good idea to check your drums every time you take them out of the case. Give them a good whack and check that they sound alright. How often you need to tune your drums is related to how hard you hit them and how often you play on them.

    It's best to check them constantly like this so you can fix minor issues quickly instead of ending up with a completely off-pitch drum.


    Want More Drumming Tips?

    Check out our site, Drum Center of Portsmouth, for more informative articles on everything drums.

    We have tips, guides, and all kinds of reviews on the latest drumming equipment and techniques. Have a question? Feel free to contact us today to learn more!

  • The Ultimate Guide to Snare Drums

    There are many ways to set up your snare drum. You can have a warm wooden sound as a result of using birch to build a set. Alternatively, you can attain a higher pitch and metallic timbre from an all-metal snare drum. There are the sharp, staccato bursts that come from a piccolo snare. Then, there is the machine gun explosion of a rim shot performed on a Yamaha Free Floating marching snare.

    No matter the type of sound you are seeking, you will find it at Drum Center of Portsmouth. The following are the three different snare drum types and their sounds in the DCP collection. This guide will break down each type to help you choose a snare for your set.

    Marching Snare

    This is the type of snare drum that marching bands use. These drums can endure higher tensions and produce a deeper sound than orchestral or kit snares. The newest models feature free-floating devices. These allow you to attach the rim to the opposite rim. The result is a drum tightened to the highest possible level.

    This is important due to most snare heads being made of Kevlar now. These will endure no matter how heavy you play. They will last through changes in temperature and humidity. The marching snare is the biggest of the snare drums available.

    There are also similar drums like a pipe band snare or a field drum. A pipe band is similar to a traditional marching band snare. However, it has an extra snare added to the head. This gives it a crisper sound. Mostly these drums are useful for marching bands. On occasion, set drummers will use one to create a sound effect like a gunshot going off.

    Kit Snare

    Most musicians grew up with a traditional wooden shell drum. This probably had a head over one end with a snare held tight. The sound produced would have been a high-pitched rasping sound. This is the distinct drum sound we all grew up hearing in most traditional music.

    There are many different types of wood that make the drum heads.

    • Maple - The most common is maple. Maple produces the typical kit snare sound. Birch presents a much brighter sound.
    • Mahogany - This is the most vintage wood used for making kits. Beech and poplar are both softer woods. These give a warmer sound. They are similar to birch but not quite as powerful.
    • Oak - Lastly, there is oak. Oak is the loudest of drum materials. It can last on the negative register the longest. This means it takes a bit longer for those deep bass sounds to wear away.

    There are many ways to change up the sound. However, the biggest difference comes from the metal on the body. Metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, steel, and bronze offer different sounds.

    Aluminum is the closest to the traditional wooden snare sound.

    Brass creates a bright cracking sound with mellow overtones in the follow-up tones.

    Copper bodies offer a warmer but darker tone. It also is cleaner than copper sounding snares.

    Finally, there is steel. This is the material of choice for drummers in rock bands. Some say steel produces the ugliest of all the snare sounds. However, that’s what makes it perfect for rock and heavy metal music.

    Piccolo and Popcorn/Soprano Snares

    Piccolo snares are smaller than a traditional snare due to their shell being much shallower. Most piccolo snares act as an accessory for kit applications. The depth of most piccolo snares isn’t much deeper than 4” to 4.5”. The small shell size tends to bring about a higher pitch and a faster response than a traditional 5” drum. This leads to a sound with less body and bass.

    Soprano/popcorn snares are similar than the piccolo snare. They feature non-standard shell dimensions. The typical soprano snare runs between 5” to 7” deep with a diameter of around 10” to 12”. These drums generally have a high pitched sound with slightly more body to the sound than what a piccolo could make. Usually, the snares come in the shallowest sizes.

    Different Snares for Different Needs

    Ultimately the snares that you choose to purchase will depend on the specific sound that you desire out of your kit. You might also just need it to replace a drum you already use. There isn’t one drum sound that will work for every application. That’s why it is important to look at all drum types before settling on the one you think will best suit your needs.

    Rock drummers may be looking for a steel snare to provide a dirty muddled thunderclap sound. Jazz drummers may want the bright warmth of a wooden drum or a piccolo snare. This is why it is so important to try out the drums you have an interest in. Even one drum sound can change the way you sound as a whole.

    Style Impacts Sound

    It also helps to know the style of drumming you wish to play. This will help you decide upon the type of drum set to settle on. Gretsch and Slingerland are historically great drums for a jazz setting. Premier and Pearl make excellent marching band drums. The options available are truly staggering. It is easy to see why so many different drums need looking after.

    Which to Choose?

    Deciding upon a snare drum is a task that can be extremely difficult. There are many different ways to convey the same style of note. The entire process can make it hard to differentiate between the top picks.

    However, it is safe to say you know a good sound when you hear it. The previous sounds described are among the many available to choose from. Picking a sound and making it into a signature sound is one of the ways that the team at DCP can help you out when looking at new snare drums.

  • How To Assemble Your First Double Bass Drum Pedal

    Adding a double bass drum pedal to a drum set is an exciting day in a drummer’s life.  When you purchase your first double pedal, you unlock access to a new world of drumming possibilities.  While this is a momentous occasion, you may quickly find yourself overwhelmed by its complexity.  Depending on which pedal you get, there can be a ton of adjustments and tweaks required to get you pedal dialed in.  Here's a step by step guide on how to assemble a double bass drum pedal.


    Finding The Right Pedal For You

    There are many factors that go into choosing the correct double bass drum pedal.  For the purposes of this tutorial, we are going with a solid entry-level pedal for the beginner - the DW 3000 Series Double Bass Drum Pedal.  We like this pedal for its balance of affordability, adjustability and reliability.  Other comparable pedals at this price point include the Tama Iron Cobra 600 Double Pedal and the Mapex Armory Double Bass Drum Pedal.  Any one of these pedals would be a great choice for the double-bass beginner.

    Step One: Pedal Placement

    Attach the “primary pedal” (the one with the beaters) to your bass drum using the hoop clamp.  To set the space of the hoop clamp for your bass drum, use the allen wrench provided to loosen the set screw on the clamp and then rotate the knurled nut to narrow or widen the gap. Retighten the set screw. Position the pedal on the center of the hoop and tighten the side wing screw securely. Use the provided rubber hoop protector to avoid damage to the bass drum hoop.

    Next, place the auxiliary pedal in a comfortable position next to your hi-hat stand, making sure you have enough leg room to accommodate your snare drum stand.  

    At this point, you may find that your hi-hat stand isn’t cooperating with your ideal auxiliary pedal placement. Many hi-hat stands have 3 fixed-position legs which aren't very double bass pedal friendly.  You can either try and work around this, or invest in a 2-legged hi-hat stand like the DW 3000 Series Two-Legged Hi Hat Stand or the Tama Iron Cobra Lever Glide Hi Hat Stand.  Other alternatives include hi hat stands with an adjustable legs, like the Pearl 930 Hi-hat Stand.

    All DW Bass Drum Pedals include built in adjustable spurs and non-skid Velcro on the bottom of the pedals to prevent bass drum crawl.

    Step Two: Connecting The Pedals

    Now that your pedals are in place, connect them using the “double pedal linkage”.  You can adjust the length of the linkage by loosening the 4 key screws located at the top of the linkage.  Before attaching the linkage to the pedals, make sure the footboard height and beater angles are similar on both pedals.  You should then be able to attach the linkage to both cams so that the 4 key screws are facing upwards. Firmly tighten the two key screws at the end of the linkage rod to the primary pedal hex rod, ensuring the footboard height and beater angle are optimal.

    Repeat this step with the auxiliary pedal side. Once your pedals are in place and attached via the linkage, make sure all 4 key screws are on the linkage are firmly holding the linkage rod in place.  If this is not the case, you may find your pedal in pieces before long.

    Step Three: Adjusting The Beaters

    The length of the beater shaft can be adjusted to achieve the desired feel and impact area. The beater should hit the center or an area 1-2 inches above the center of the drum. Once the desired height is achieved, secure the beater shaft by tightening the beater hub key screw.

    The standard Two-Way Beater has two usable sides.  One side features a curved, medium felt side for a warmer attack.   Spin it around for a hard plastic side that produces brighter attack.

    Step Four: Fine Tuning

    Depending on the quality of your double bass drum pedal, you will find more or less adjustment options to dial in the feel that’s right for you.  The DW 3000 features Spring Tension Adjustment, Stroke Adjustment, and Chain Position & Footboard Angle Adjustment.

    Spring Tension Adjustment affects how much force is required to move the beaters.  To increase or decrease the spring tension, loosen the round knurled nut at the base of the spring assembly.  Pull down on the spring to release the locking hex nut.  Tighten or loosen the lock nut to create the desired tension, then release the hex nut and retighten the knurled nut to lock in the adjustment.

    Stroke Adjustment can be used to vary the distance the beater travels before hitting the drum. For a slightly heavier (longer) stroke move the screw towards the back.  For a lighter (shorter) stroke move the screw forward.

    The length of the chain determines the angle of the footboard.  Adjust in combination with the beater height and stroke adjustment to change the length of the stroke.  To change the position of the chain, remove the master link connector from the chain and sprocket.  Then, reposition it as directed by moving it to an alternate hole in the sprocket.  The factory settings are recommended for most general playing situations and preferred by many drummers.


    Depending on the music you play, the double bass drum pedal can be an excellent tool to have in your arsenal.  When you invest your money into this hardware, it’s important to also invest some of your time.  Become familiar with it, and keep it properly maintained.  The more you know about it’s capabilities, the better it will be able to perform for you.

    If you’re thinking about purchasing a double bass drum pedal, let us help you choose the best one to suit your individual needs and budget.  We carry a huge selection of double pedals from the most basic beginner models, to the ultra-high end professional performance pedals.  At the Drum Center of Portsmouth, drum gear is our passion. Give us a call anytime!

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