Your Ultimate Drum Sound
This guide offers suggestions based on years of experience with various drum sets, heads, and tuning methods. These are my personal views that might be useful to you. Let your ears be the final judge of the ideal sound.
Build quality is very important. Perfect roundness and bearing edges will affect the sound far more than shell thickness, depth, or composition. An imperfect out-of-round shell or uneven bearing edge are obstacles to achieving your sound goals.
These problems hinder proper tuning which is the the heart and soul that creates the your best sound. Choose high quality heads. When buying in person always them for factory defects of the collar, and for flatness and roundness.
Check the bearing edge when installing a new head and remove any particles of dirt or debris. Place the head on the shell and turn it slowly to check for inconsistencies on the shell. If a head is imperfect from the factory or the bearing edges are faulty, your tuning efforts will be severely hampered.
I belive tuning is a learning experience that evovles over time. A good starting point is to find a recording with drums that sound great as a "tone template' and experiment with tuning tensions of top and bottom heads until your ears are pleased. Turn the tension rods by hand only until there is resistance. Then key tighten slowly in a criss-cross pattern to help the head "seat" properly.
Try matching tension or combinations of tension of the top and bottom heads. It usually takes a few days or so for the heads to stop most of the stretching. Try different head types, tuning and muffling if desired. Ring-Arrestor drum mufflers will eliminate ringing overtones and focus the tone of the drum. Distortion or buzzing can also be minimized, especially on larger toms.
Room acoustics is a big factor that is sometimes overlooked, especially during recording. Sound absorption materials influence sound waves dramatically. A muted less "live" room is usually preferable because the sound waves are easier to control with minimized reflections. Absorbent carpet and wall treatments really help control the reflective sound waves thus improving sound.
Drums have a sweet-spot or a specific range of head tension that produces the best overall sound. The sustain is longer and the tone is very full. A suspension mount on the toms will allow the head and shell to interact freely without hardware restrictions.
Creating your "Ultimate Sound" is based on quality drums, properly tuned heads and your amazing ears! It takes time but is well worth the effort. Good luck and always keep a happy beat!
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