I remember the first drum set I ever bought: even though it was visible that everything was taken good care of, the sides of the drum heads and even the shells were full of glue remains.
I did not really understand why it has to be so ugly and why the issue of dampening cannot be done once and for all.
My drum teacher, who also happened to be the previous owner of the drum set told me that whenever he played at a new place he removed all the dampening and played around for an hour until the dampening and the tuning sounded perfectly in that place.
He used the set almost every day in different places so he did not have the time to remove all the remains. However, even if I had to spend a whole day removing glue, he indirectly taught me how important it is to tune and dampen my drums.
Obviously, a well-tuned drum set produces a nicer sound. Further on, a cleverly tuned drum set produces a sound that accompanies the played song. Such tuning is almost only available in the case of studio recordings or very short performances since re-tuning for a new song during a usual gig is impossible due to time constraints.
In the case of studio recordings you should try out different sound schemes for the certain songs, and do the recording with the optimal one. Playing attention to the tuning is essential – a changed snare sound can change the whole aspect of the song. Also, with cheaper recording equipment there might be certain pitches and tones that just will not come across beautifully.
The choice between an electronic or an acoustic set is absolutely up to the musician. Both types come with their advantages and disadvantages. Speaking of drum tonality, we should mention that most electronic sets come with balanced sound presets that you can switch easily during live performances.
Recording electronic drums is also a lot easier – and cheaper, too, since you do not need too much equipment, just a few cables. However, you have to keep in mind that electronic drums also come with their limitations – they have wonderful presets, but that is what they are: preset values that you can only change to a certain degree; your freedom as an experimenting musician becomes thus somewhat limited.
There are two different types of tuning that you should take care of. On the first hand, you have to schedule an all-rounder maintenance about monthly. This is your special time when you have to disassemble your drum set, clean the shells and the drum heads, assemble it again and tune all the members of the set to your preferred pitch.
On the other hand, you have to realize that tuning your drum set once a month is not enough. You should build up a simple tuning routine which you go over every time you sit behind your drum set. Temperature changes, moisture and even just the passing of time can greatly change the tension in your drum heads – you should check all the members quickly and make adjustments where needed.
That means you should always have a drum key in your pocket. Also, there are special tools that will make tuning your drums easier, like Tama’s Tension Watch, which allows you to measure the tension precisely at the different lugs.
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