Choked Snare Drum: What it sounds like, feels like, and how to prevent it

BenOBrienSmith

Senior Member
This is one of the most common tuning issues I've come across when people have asked me to help with their snare drum sound. I've seen the problems blamed on model of heads, the drum shell material, the bearing edges, the temperature, the room sound, you name it. In the end, it often has everything to do with the tuning of the drum itself and how it's being restricted.

Because "choked" is such a nebulous term (as are most with describing sound), we wanted to create some examples featuring three different drums and the three most common causes of a choked snare sound:
 

Mustion

Senior Member
Nice video. I've been cranking everything for years--batter, snare side, wires--and am only recently realizing that it can be counterproductive. I actually found this out in an extreme manner recently with a 14x8 DW steel snare where the snare side head and wires were both cranked so much that I actually got no snare sound at all! It was as if the strainer was disengaged, and sounded terrible.
 

drumnut87

Well-known member
good advice and a good vid :)


i used to get a choked drum when i was younger and less experienced, now im oldere experienced i tune my snares where theyre beautifully in tune without choking. the *ONLY* drum i found incredibly hard to tune was a tama starclassic B/B, didnt sound good at any tuning other than *REALLY* cranked, which felt terrible to play and sounded it (IMO)
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Another great vid.

I played a Gretsch Catalina 14x5.5 at a jam night that was the most choked snare I've ever played. You can feel it in the hands. You worded it better with feel frustration!
 

NouveauCliche

Senior Member
This is one of the most common tuning issues I've come across when people have asked me to help with their snare drum sound. I've seen the problems blamed on model of heads, the drum shell material, the bearing edges, the temperature, the room sound, you name it. In the end, it often has everything to do with the tuning of the drum itself and how it's being restricted.

Because "choked" is such a nebulous term (as are most with describing sound), we wanted to create some examples featuring three different drums and the three most common causes of a choked snare sound:
Great video - easily the best non-lesson video series on youtube.

Keep it up!
 

gmiller598

Senior Member
I definitely found this video helpful. I've been trying to find the sweet spot of tuning on my drums, especially my newest 5x15 Classic Maple and watching this made me realize I had my reso cranked too high because my the excessive ring I was getting even though I was using a Vintage Ambassador head.
 

Mustion

Senior Member
This guy likes to talk. Maybe the choked sound starts about 9 minutes.
Fair point. I would rather have had the "un-choked" example in the same video for the purposes of hearing the contrast. But, we're nitpicking a bit much for what's essentially a free lesson here aren't we?
 

BenOBrienSmith

Senior Member
Agreed. This whole series of videos is way too wordy in my opinion. We’re drummers and only have a 2 minute attention span :)
We knew some people would feel that way but that, ultimately, those that actually listen to the details and conversation will learn a lot more and be able to effectively put it to use. Kind of like if you took drum lessons with someone and all they did was play examples for you rather than providing context.

Fair point. I would rather have had the "un-choked" example in the same video for the purposes of hearing the contrast. But, we're nitpicking a bit much for what's essentially a free lesson here aren't we?
That was included as an extra video referenced in this episode and the description:
https://www.patreon.com/posts/33743154
 

Bonzo_CR

Silver Member
Hey Ben, this is great! After watching your video I was inspired to re-tune a drum I already like, and now I like it even better :)

Thanks for putting it up. I think your videos are great.
 

vtran711

Well-known member
Thanks for the video but as a beginner with an untrained ear some of the examples sounds good to me. I know it's all very subjective but in general I thought some ring is good like the first example. It would be great to do a side-by-side comparison of choked/unchoked.

edit: Went back to listen again and I think I do hear it. I dont mind the ring on the first one but it's too high for my taste. I like a fat sound but after listening to the last example again I can hear how there is no snare response.
 

BenOBrienSmith

Senior Member
Thanks for the video but as a beginner with an untrained ear some of the examples sounds good to me. I know it's all very subjective but in general I thought some ring is good like the first example. It would be great to do a side-by-side comparison of choked/unchoked.

edit: Went back to listen again and I think I do hear it. I dont mind the ring on the first one but it's too high for my taste. I like a fat sound but after listening to the last example again I can hear how there is no snare response.
This is totally understandable. A lot of our series is about ear training and recognizing the cause and effect of certain elements. As we mentioned in the episode (and throughout the series) "good" drum sounds are all about context. Those that judge drum sounds on their own often lack the experience of developing sounds for a particular context the way that a guitarist shapes their tone for a particular song. Sometimes a choked snare drum is the right fit. Sometimes a "janky" sound is just right.
 
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