Tuning Tips Selecting a Snare Drum
Wire coils are known for actually breaking bottom heads! The point of the coil has a sharp of enough edge to split a bottom head under heavy playing. To compensate, manufacturers and players tend to use thicker bottom heads, thereby choking the drum sound. Since our snares lay flat, they allow you to use thinner, more resonant heads-an advantage you should consider. A thinner head also brings out the beautiful sensitivity that our snares are capable of! (The best head combination for band/orchestral is the 7.5 mil head i.e. Diplomat batter for the batter side, and the regular Diplomat for the bottom snare side. For orchestral playing, you can remove the rough-coat for an ultra smooth surface with 400 grit gray sandpaper. This is done AFTER the head is mounted on the drum. The furthermost edge for ultra soft playing can be smoothed down with 600 grit sandpaper. About head tensioning…. A lot of players may confuse the fact that the snare side should sound higher, and assume that the bottom head should be tighter! Not so. The bottom head should sound anywhere between a major 3rd to a 5th higher than the top–even though it is looser! The reason a thinner head sounds higher even though it is tuned looser is the result of the bottom head being thinner than the top. (A good analogy is with guitar strings. With in reason, a thin string tuned more loosely will still sound higher than a thick string tuned more tightly.) I mention all of this because a tight bottom head–especially an Ambassador–will choke your drum sound. The bottom head is actually a resonating head. For in-store sales, where acoustics are usually muffled due to enclosed areas, know that the thinner more resonant heads will bring out the best capabilities of our snares. For drum set, you can tune the top head around a G-FLAT to an A-FLAT with the bottom head sounding a 3rd or 5th higher. For most symphonic playing, tune the top head to an A-FLAT or an A with the bottom head a 5th higher. For lower drum tunings (jazz and general set) tune the top to about a G flat, A 5th will give you a somewhat dryer/crisper sound with a great rim crack. (A third higher with a low top head tuning is too loose for our snares.)
SELECTING A DRUM
If you look over the typical magazine ads for drums, you’re likely to come away quite bewildered and confused. Every manufacturer, whether the lone custom drum builder, or one of the big established names, will claim their latest model is “the one.” And with a price range of $400 to $2200, how do you know you are getting your money’s worth? Well, with a few basic facts at your disposal, you can pick out or even put together your own great sounding snare drum. Also, you can decide if it is worth the time and money to fix up that old “classic” you’ve always wanted to restore. The basic ingredient to a great sounding drum is a shell with structural integrity. You want a shell that is rigid, round, and “flat.” Following is a list of items you should mentally check before buying or making a drum.
- How rigid is the shell?
- What is the shell made of?
- How is the shell constructed?
- Is the shell round?
- Does the shell lie “flat?”
- What about the bearing edges?
- What kind of snares are used?
- How is the snare bed cut?
- What about the “Snare Strainer?”
- What about the rims?
- What about the placement of lugs and vent holes?
- What kind of lugs are best?
- What about heads?