Updated: Oct 1
Hello everyone. Pro Drum Tech, Drummer, and YouTube Educator, Kenny Sharretts blogging to you from The 2019 Elvis Costello/Blondie Summer Tour with a quick tuning tip blog on how to get the “Ultimate Punk Rock /New Wave Floor Tom” Sound.
To be sure legendary drummer Pete Thomas of Elvis Costello and The Impostors was one of THE progenitors of using the punk rock floor tom beat in power pop/new wave music. The drum has to have attack to drive the band, but a spongey feel so you can easily ride the floor tom with power, and groove. In addition it needs a warm controlled sustain as the floor tom pattern is basically a rhythm guitar part.
In creating the sound for Pete I have to take into account his preference in heads AND what his hands like to feel. Thankfully it’s a classic classic rock combo of a coated ambassador on top, and a super thin Diplomat on the bottom. While generally, I would choose an Ambassador/G1 weight clear single-ply bottom head, and possibly even a coated double-ply head on the batter side, the coated single ply is a great choice for the spongey effect, and coincidentally my artist's preference. Hence, to achieve THAT classic Punk New Wave Floor Tom sound I’m tuning the batter head about a 1/2 step to a whole step higher than Pete’s preferred “as low as they can go” to enhance projection, and attack while not sacrificing feel for Pete. Then I tuned the reso head to a major third above the batter pitch to tighten the sustain, but still sound warm, and full. Normally I would use my beloved perfect 4th interval, but using the third with the coated single-ply helps keep the toms “tone” a bit lower at a higher tension. Finally, I have one cotton ball in the drum to act as a natural gate, and a half piece of R-Tom moon gel to add a touch of heft to the attack. Same with the snare drum. The Half Moon gel is the perfect amount of heft to focus the Floor Toms attack WITHOUT killing the tone. Absolutely love moon gels from R-Tom, but in this case I'd call them ESSENTIAL!
But in the end, tuning for the “Ultimate Punk Rock /New Wave Floor Tom” sound, and feel is only part of the game. The most important part of getting the ultimate punk rock floor tom sound is how you hit it. LIKE YOU MEAN IT!!!!!!
I hope this blog has helped you in your quest for a great punk rock floor tom sound.
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Kenny "Dexter" Sharretts