FREE!! KENNY ARONOFF HITS A DRUM HARD! ONE REASON WHY YOU LEARN TO TUNE DRUMS BY HAND/FEEL, AND EAR.
Updated: May 30
LEARN TO TUNE A DRUM BY HAND/EAR BEFORE USING TUNING TOOLS
Here’s a real road story from my first tour as a tech for the inimitable Mr. Kenny Aronoff that will emphasize the value of learning to tune drums with your hands, and by “ear” , BEFORE relying on any tuning instrument to help you tune your drums. ( like a Drum Dial, Tune Bot, Evans Torque Key, Tuning App, etc,). Kenny hits hard y’all. I mean like REALLY HARD! LOL! One evening, mid show, I heard his snare drop a little in pitch on a backbeat. By the next stroke I knew the hoop had broken. I wasn’t using IEM’s yet so paying attention during the show PAID OFF. Had I had my UE7 Pro’s by then I would have known BEFORE the first little drop in pitch. LOL! Kenny was rocking the Tama Drums Air Ride system so we flipped snares to his backup I had ready to go for the show before the next song, and I instantly went to work. I was trying to be a badass tech like the guys around me, so rise up drum nerd!!!! 🤓🤓 🤣🤣 To be safe on tour we carried several backup hoops for his snare. So I grabbed a hoop, mounted the head, finger tightened, and blasted through the drum 2 key style. I had the method down pat so it is was like dancing vs tuning a drum. I tightened the head up high to stretch, used palms to accelerate the stretch, then tuned down to where I knew the drum head belonged.
As I tuned down to the tension I wanted, I COULD FEEL WHICH RODS WERE A BIT LOOSER INSTANTLY WHEN USING 2 keys. To check pitch, I put my cheek bone against the hoop, and tapped the tension rod points head with my finger to hear pitch variances, then tapped the tension rod with my key to hear the high harmonic as I tuned (that’s where the key tap trick was born. Thx KA 🤘🏻🤘🏻). Except a few lugs during 3 rounds of quarter turns down I noticed the drum was pretty much balanced the whole way through. Why? I started with a balanced head at finger tight, and used 2 keys.
If that snare was not tuned to the same place it was to start the show, AND the same place the current active backup was tuned, then it would be a PROBLEM. For Kenny, FOH, and Monitor World. It had to be right, and I couldn’t hear a thing. Full rock concert blazing!!! 🤣🤣🤣 Now again, had I had my UE7’s at the time I would have been able to “hear” my pitches better via the bone conductivity method discussed earlier. Had I had a Drum Dial, I would have been able to double check my work at the end, but there was no way in the world I would have had time enough to tune the drum using only the Drum Dial, or the Evans Torque Key I had. I did have a chance to do a quick double check with the Evans Torque key, and thankfully I was spot on. Which brings me to my point. ONCE I TUNED THE DRUM BY HAND, ONLY THEN did I use an Evans Torque Key for sussing out any trouble spots/checking your work. In fact that’s when these tools shine their brightest. During ANY of this experience, a Tune-Bot would have alas been useless. Great when you can hear, but during a full-on rock concert no way.
Again all these tools are great for fine tuning your work, but are no substitute for good tuning technique. Point being is I’m glad I 🤓🤓 nerded out to get the drum re-headed/tuned in one song, and two-keyed it because at the moment I triumphantly arose to show Kenny that I had his original snare ready, I heard the b/u drum drop pitch, and sighed as I already knew what Kenny would say which was “Great job cause I just broke this one”. 🤣🤣🤣😂😂😂
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Kenny "Dexter" Sharretts