Updated: Oct 1, 2021
"GETTING BALANCED BEFORE YOU LOSE YOUR HEAD"
When changing a head, I find it very useful to first retune, and rebalance the drum BEFORE YOU TAKE OFF THE HEAD TO BE REPLACED! A drum is a tensioned instrument, therefore bottom head tension affects top head tension and vice versa. They both affect the shell. If the drum is balanced when you remove the one head, minor imperfections in pitch from lug to lug become much more obvious and easy to fix. Furthermore, the shell is balanced to the "regular" tension of the bottom head therefore making tuning back up to "how you like it" a much easier and quicker task.
LEARN SOME GREAT TIPS FOR TUNING, AND CHANGING A DRUM HEAD PROPERLY
IN THE VIDEO BELOW.
"TUNING YOUR SNARE IN THE STUDIO" AKA "DID THE DRUMMER REALLY ASK WHAT KEY THE SONG IS IN?"
Want to have your snare sit perfectly into the fabric of a song? Try tuning the top head of your snare to the key of the song. This is a common practice in the "big boy" recording studios. I tend to tune snare drums pretty low in the studio to maximize the "balls" of the snare sound. Surprisingly there is a lot of crack down low if your playing can handle a lower tension. Also, it's easier to accentuate crack via EQ than it is to EQ some whump where there is no whump. Low tension snares tuned to the key of the song are a perfect opportunity to tune the snare's bottom head up to a perfect fourth. Adds a little crack to the whump of a low tensioned drum. If your floor tom is tuned to the key of the song, however, I recommend tuning your next highest tom to the 5th above the tonic. Then you can fit the snare between the 1 and the 5 by tuning it to the 3rd of the key. This helps minimize snare buzz due to interaction with the toms.
"YOU GOT A HOLE IN YOUR HEAD"
Holes in bass drum heads are like colonoscopy at 50. A necessary evil (at least in a live setting). Most sound engineers at a club level do not have the luxury of being able to isolate the kick drum sound, and maximize click AND thump without a hole. Since the big dogs usually use 2 microphones for the kick (usually a SM91 inside the drum, and an SM 51/ D112/etc. in the hole), the hole becomes mandatory unless you mount the microphones inside the kick. So where to put the hole? How big should it be? As far as size goes, 5-7 inches across is all you need. Any more, and the tone of the head significantly suffers. More head, more tone. Any smaller, and you can't position the BD mic very easily. As far as where to put the hole, a lot of cats put the hole in the lower left or right hand corners of the drum. This is a useful technique if you want a lot of rich overtones in your kick sound This is the method we used on Rihanna, and that we currently use with Train.
Sometimes, however, I need a tighter, punchier kick with controlled, but voluminous bottom-end. I achieve this by cutting the hole DEAD CENTER of the bass drum head. Think about it like dropping a pebble in a pond. The circles of sound go outward from the center of the head. By cutting the hole dead center, you maintain the continuity of the circular sound waves. Plus a lot of the air from the beater strike shoots straight out of the center. This tends to tighten the sound of the kick without sacrificing bottom end. I began using the "center hole" technique with Kenny Aronoff on a Melissa Etheridge tour. The FOH mixer said the difference was night and day in terms of punch, bottom end, and control.
BTW, two products I recommend for cutting the hole, are the Aquarian Port Holes or the Remo Dynamos hole templates, and "The Hole Cutter". The template is a must. Not only does it give you an easy, almost fool-proof guide for cutting a clean hole (please use an exacto knife or "The Hole Cutter"), but it protects the hole from tearing, AND acts as a gentle mute for the front head. This greatly reduces the amount of muffling needed (so you get a bigger sound), and you can avoid the tone robbing felt strip many people use. "The Hole Cutter" is an outstanding tool for the hole cutting procedure. (Hence the name, LOL!) Strangely enough, it doesn't fit perfectly within the Aquarian/Remo templates, but you can make it work.
Finally, use a protective disc where your beater hits the BD head. I know some people complain about how it affects the tone, but they really do protect the head from breaking due to friction. They can also add a little attack to your kick sound. Remo falam slams are great for rock and funk drumming, but are a little heavy for some cats. Evans makes several different thinner, and less intrusive kick patches that I absolutely love.
LEARN HOW TO CUT A HOLE IN YOUR BASS DRUM RESO HEAD IN THE VIDEO BELOW.
For step by step drum tuning videos stream lessons here at kennysharretts.com ,
and for more drum tuning/tech videos subscribe to my YouTube Channel
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Kenny "Dexter" Sharretts