Drum Sound and Drum Tuning
A Complete Educational Course
- Why Bother with Drum Tuning? ⇨
- Drumhead Vibration and the Science of Sound! ⇨
- Tuning the Pitch of a Cylindrical Drum ⇨
- Lug Tuning and Clearing / Equalizing the Drumhead ⇨
- Drum Tuning 101 – Back to Basics ⇨
- Tuning the Resonant Drumhead – What, Why and How? ⇨
- Spectrum Analysis and Filtering Frequencies ⇨
- The Wonderful World of Drumheads! ⇨
- Timbre: The Truth about Drum Shell Vibration ⇨
- Tuning Drums for Different Styles and Genres ⇨
- Core Skills: Snare Drum Tuning ⇨
- Core Skills: Kick Drum Tuning ⇨
By Dr Rob Toulson, the world expert in drum acoustics, musician, music producer, and a university professor with over 25 years of teaching experience.
Sound on Sound Podcast Series by Dr Rob Toulson:
Download the interactive iDrumTune Pro app:
iDrumTune Pro helps you understand how the sound of a drum connects with the acoustics and physical setup of the drum. So your learning and hearing development is accelerated by the use of interactive guidance, real-world data and informative feedback – which are the foundations of all high-level education programmes!
Drum Sound and Drum Tuning covers everything you need to know about drum sound, drum acoustics and using the iDrumTune Pro app, all in one place. Whilst giving examples for you to implement with iDrumTune, the course shows all of the key acoustics theories relating to drumheads and how they apply in drum tuning. Deciding and setting the pitch of each drum is covered, along with techniques to ensure that the drumhead vibrates evenly and smoothly, we also cover the resonant drumhead in detail and dispel a few folk-law myths along the way. The theory is always connected to creative aspects of drum sound, giving examples of how and why certain tuning setups work well for different musical styles and genres. Different types of drumheads are discussed in detail, allowing you to make the correct choice for your style, along with a discussion of musical timbre and the sonic magic that is brought from different drum shells and setups. The course is interactive, including diagrams, animations, videos and sound examples, and experiments to try for yourself in order to become a drum sound master!
The course explains HOW to tune drums and get great drum sound, but focuses specifically on WHY certain changes to a drum setup influence the sound the way they do – allowing you to develop your hearing and a more critical understanding of drums, so that you can get a great sound quickly and with confidence in any situation. The course content is based on modern academic research by world experts in musical acoustics and percussion instruments, drummers, and music producers, and is presented by Professor Rob Toulson, who is an internationally published expert on drum acoustics, musician, music producer and inventor of the iDrumTune Pro drum tuning system.
It’s a good question, but one most experienced drummers will be very aware of the numerous answers to. Drums and drummers often receive a hard time from other musicians, because they are so ‘straight-forward’ in comparison to many instruments – you just hit them and they make a noise! But, actually, drums are much more difficult to tune than a guitar or violin, for example… [read more]
Let’s start at the beginning… vibration is quantified by the number of times something moves backwards and forwards in a single second, i.e. its frequency. The measurement unit for vibration frequency is known as Hertz or Hz. So, if a drum is tuned to 100 Hz, its drumhead will vibrate up and down 100 times in a single second… [read more]
‘Cylindrical drums’ are those us drummers are most used to playing – cylindrical shells with two drumheads, one on each of the batter and resonant sides. No matter how they are tuned, all cylindrical drums have a sonic ‘pitch’, which basically means the frequency which the drum vibrates at and which we hear with the most prominence…. [read more]
Lug tuning is sometimes called ‘equalizing the drumhead’ or ‘clearing the drumhead’ and ensures that the tuning is even at every point around the perimeter of the drum. We often evaluate this at each of the lug positions around the drumhead, and make adjustments with the tension rods that connect the hoop and drumhead to the lugs and the drum shell. Accurate lug tuning is important because, when completed, it allows the drum to vibrate evenly and smoothly… [read more]
Drum tuning can be quite daunting for any new drummer, and for many experienced drummers too. Don’t be ashamed of this! It takes a number of years for most drummers to develop the required understanding and hearing skills in order to tune drums unassisted. It’s really valuable to understand a little bit about the fundamental (F0) and overtones (F1) of a drum before attempting any tuning… [read more]
Do you ever wonder why cylindrical drums have two drumheads, what exactly does the resonant head add to the acoustics of the drum, and how exactly does it influence the sound? Well, there are two main reasons. Firstly, a cylindrical drum with just one drumhead is very inefficient, energy wise, because as soon as the head is hit, all the energy created from the hit gets transferred into acoustic energy that leaves the drum… [read more]
We’re very used to seeing the audio waveform of different sounds and musical phrases, especially now that people have access to DAWs or Digital Audio Workstations such as Logic Pro X, Pro Tools and Ableton Live. Every sound waveform is unique and tells us a bit about the ‘shape’ of the sound, and by that we mean the profile of how the sound appears, how long its duration is, and how steep or how quickly it decays back to silence. The waveform is a type of graph… [read more]
The great thing about drums is that there are far more ways to personalise a drum kit than there are for any other musical instrument – the number of permutations of drum types, sizes, depths, materials, configurations is endless. But the counter-side to this is that it takes a huge journey of learning, testing and experiencing different setups in order to find your personalised ‘perfect’ sound. No single aspect of the drum sound can be personalised more-so than the drummer’s choice of drumheads… [read more]
With all musical instruments, there’s a hidden quality that makes some just sound better or different to others, and some instruments which sound more suited to a certain style, genre or even the musician and their performance traits. Sometimes there’s no right or wrong; some pianists play a Steinberg, others prefer a Yamaha. Some guitarists play a Gibson Les Paul and others choose a Fender Strat… [read more]
Taking a seat behind a fully-loaded drum kit brings a moment of joy, power, and excitement to all drummers, and even non-drummers too! Just watch someone’s face light up as you pass them the drumsticks and let them experience the thrill of sitting behind your kit for the very first time. Every drummer’s kit has been meticulously setup to enable the perfect performance… [read more]
Everyone loves a superb snare sound. Even those who don’t know it; listeners involuntarily tap and clap along to the backbeat, and if it cuts through a track with power and style then it can make the hairs on your neck stand up. In fact, drummers and music producers are generally very particular about snare sounds, both in live performances and when recording or mixing a song… [read more]
The kick drum (or bass drum as it is often called too), is a bit of a beast on first sight, and that makes kick drum tuning seem a little daunting to many people. But actually, with some very simple techniques and a little knowledge on drumhead vibration, kick drum tuning can be a very simple task that doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. Getting straight down to it, the physics of the drum allows… [read more]