Avoid these 3 Common Mistakes When Tuning Your Snare Drum
Hey everyone, this is episode number two, and today I just wanted to share with you a couple of things about tuning the snare drum. First off, I’ve got a lot of other things on my website so if you want to go check out anything that I’ve got going on, go over to danielhadaway.com and look at all the other stuff I’ve got going on.
Today I was working on … I was working on an upgrade for Boom Click Boot Camp, it’s the two-week boot camp that I’m about to launch that’s going to hopefully help you become way better at playing to a click track in less than two weeks, and each session’s only about 20 minutes long so it’s really, really cool, so if you catch this soon, go to danielhadaway.com/beta and check that out.
I was working on a special upgrade that I’m doing as part of the course and it’s all about how I tune my snare drum. I get a lot of questions when I’m on the road about, hey why does your snare sound so good, or why does it sound like that, I can’t believe that size drum sounds that way, or it just sounds so crisp and clear, what’s your secret.
For the longest time I thought it was just the drum that made my drums sound the way it was, but I got a new snare drum and then that one kind of sounded that way, and then I got a third snare drum and that one kind of sounds that way, so I was starting to think that maybe it’s not the drum, and I’m not saying that I have any special skill or knowledge or anything, but I’ve noticed it over the years, I’ve kind of developed my own way for tuning the snare drum. I didn’t ever watch any tutorials or anything, I just developed my own method.
I’m working on putting together something that hopefully you’ll find interesting, that explains 100% completely how I tune my snare drum, how I go about doing it and how you can do the same thing.
A couple of things I was thinking about as I was putting this together, are kind of common mistakes people make when they are tuning their snare drum. The first thing is they rush the route, they don’t take their time. If you think about it, your snare drum is hit more, hopefully on your drum set, than anything else. Maybe the hi hat gets hit a little bit more than the snare, and the kick is a close second or third, but you hit the snare drum more than you hit anything else. If you think about it, if the snare drum doesn’t sound good, or doesn’t sound exactly how you want it, it’s going to be really distracting, and if it sounds bad, it’s going to be really distracting, even to the non-musical people who happen to be hearing you play.
Why not take a little bit extra time on the snare drum and get it just right? That’s the first thing I want you to think about is, the next time you switch out heads or you decide to tune your snare drum, take your time with it. Fight with it, wrestle with it. It’s not always easy for me to get my drums to sound the way I want it to, but it’s worth it because once you get it there, people lose their minds about it.
Second thing I want you to think about, when you’re tuning your snare drum, try to keep in mind that the snare that you have on your kit is not a tom, and so don’t tune your snare like you would tune a tom. A lot of guys use the same method for tuning all of their drums, and then they get to their snare drum and they tune it like they tune a tom and what happens is it ends up sounding like a giant ringy tom, you know, it’s boing when you hit the snare and it rings forever, and then spend all this time trying to fight with muffling and stuff to counteract that ringing sound.
I approach tuning my snare drum completely different than I approach tuning toms or a kick drum. That’s something I share in that course, but the big thing is just keep in mind that your snare most of the time is not supposed to sound like a tom, so approach it differently. Develop a different technique if you have to for tuning your snare than the rest of your kit.
That leads into the third thing I wanted to share with you about tuning a snare, which is, that, I see a lot of guys just blow through tuning their snare and then they put that muffling or they de-tune one lug, they put their wallet on the snare, and they do a really bad job of tuning the drum to begin with, and then they just muffle it down to mask over how bad the drum sounds. I’m not against doing any of those things, muffling or tuning it down, especially in the studio where you can get really unique sounds and you can work with it, but what happens when you do those things live is that the source, the original sound before you muffle it or de-tune something, doesn’t sound as good.
If something doesn’t sound good, you can’t make it sound good by masking it over. Like I said, I’m cool with if you want to mask something, put some tape or something down on a drum, but get it sounding really good first. The way I try to do things is I always try to get it as close to the sound that I want by tuning it properly first, and then I muffle. I pretend like I’m not going to be muffling the drum while I’m tuning the drum, and then after I get it as close as I can and I say, you know what, I did my best, that’s as good as it’s going to get, I’ll muffle it from here. Then I’ll stop, I’ll stop tuning then, but don’t take shortcuts just because you know you’re going to muffle it. Unless that’s really your sound. Like I said, there’s a lot of really cool muffled sounds out there, that’s really in right now, but I like to try to tune my drum properly first and then muffle it.
The second thing with that is that I’ve had really bad experiences in the past where I’ve de-tuned a certain tension rod in order to make the sound a little deader sounding, and without realizing over the course of a show the tension rod loosens so much that it was completely loose inside the drum and I ended up turning the drum upside down or something when I’m loading out, and the tension rod falls out and it’s gone. I lost it. That’s more of a practical reason why maybe you should try to tune the drum up right first and then muffle it.
Take your time tuning your drum. Approach it differently than you tune your toms, and tune it properly then muffle it. Those are a few things that I thought might help you today when you’re tuning up your snare drum.
For more info and anything I have going on, check out my website, danielhadaway.com and thanks for listening, give me your feedback if you want, you can always send use the contact form on my website and I will read and reply to every single thing you send. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, see you later.