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Most engineers and even a lot of drummers don't know the proper way to tune their drums, but it's not a difficult process. Keep in mind that in most major-label sessions the drummers will usually bring in an expert to tune the drums for them, but this is the basic technique that would be used. Before tuning up the drum make sure that you put new heads on, since that's the key to a great drum sound. For a drum to be properly tuned you got to keep all the tension rods that hold the head on where they have the same tension at each lug. Here is how it's done.
Hit the head an inch in front of each lug of the drum. (music playing) Using a drum key adjust the tension so that the sound is the same at each lug. (music playing) When the pitch is the same with each lug then hit the drum in the center, you should have a nice even decay.
(music playing) Remember that the kick and snare are the two most important drums, because they are struck the most frequently. As a result most drummers tune the toms around them and try to make sure that the rack toms aren't being set off when the snare is hit. Try to tune the toms so that the smallest have the shortest decay with the decay getting longer as the drum get bigger. Tune each tom as far apart as the song will permit. (music playing) It's easy to get the right spread between a 13 and a 16 inch tom, but it's more difficult to get it between a 12 and a 13.
If these are the sizes you have, tune the 12 up and the 13 down a little to get an adequate spread like we have here. (music playing) That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drum tuning. If you have any doubts about drum tuning get the best person that you can to tune them for you. Remember for a drum to be properly tuned, you've got to have the same tension at each lug on the drum head so that the pitch is the same at each lug as you tap near it.
This can take some practice, but when you get it right, the results are a drum kit with a lot of tone that's free from sympathetic vibrations.
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