RhythmArt Blog

A day in the life of a percussionist

RhythmArt Blog

Drum Tuning Clinic, Feb 26, 2010

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Drumset tuning and set up clinic at 2112 Percussion here in Raleigh NC! I hope you all got some good info to get you started in your own experiments with customizing your set up and sound at the drums.

If you weren’t able to make it out to the clinic, I did video the the whole thing, and can send you a DVD if you’re interested in checking it out. Just send me an email and we’ll work out the details. To keep up to date with future clinics, make sure to sign up for my mailing list!

During the clinic, we put several different heads on a 12″ Percussion Plus tom to hear the dramatic effects different heads can have, and also recorded them in order to compare the sounds, and visually compare the waveforms themselves. So, for your review and comparison, here are the files:

head choices on a 12" tom

head choices on a 12" tom

First, here’s teh session file of all the waveforms. At the top is the factory heads, 2nd is factory top, ambassador bottom, 3rd is emperor top, ambassador bottom, 4th is coated emperor top, ambassador bottom, and last is pinstripe top, ambassador bottom. You’ll notice that I hit the pinstripe twice, the first wasn’t a really good hit, so I lined up the second with the others for comparison.

Zoomed out like this, you can see major features and tendencies. A few that stand out to me:

  • The factory heads have less distinction between the decay and sustain, and the sustain as a much higher amplitude, than the other heads.
  • The factory/ambassador and pinstripe/ambassador combinations have the most distinction between decay and sustain of all the head choices.
  • The differences between coated and clear heads – the coated head has only a slightly shorter sustain, but a much faster decay. The Release is not very different at all.
  • I’m still amazed at the “wavy” character of the pinstripe sustain. This may be what makes it seem to have a distinctive “tone,” which can be very useful on single-headed drums.
a closer look

a closer look

Next, here’s a closer view of the same recordings. It’s harder to see overall characteristics at this zoom level, but sometimes it’s nice to have a good detailed look. You’ll notice that all the attacks are cut off – I had the mic sensitivity set too high and they ended up getting compressed. Thankfully, the mic has a built-in compressor, so they weren’t completely destroyed!

Finally, here are the recordings themselves:

It should also be noted that I was severely rushing the head mounting process to get all these head changes in without taking all night, so they could all sound better with more time and care. I think these really show some big differences, though!

If you’d like to keep the clinic going, feel free to post your questions, or share your experiences, either in the comments here, or on the Facebook discussion page!

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