For those of you who tune to notes....question

sillypilot

Junior Member
Hi all note tuners. I have a question for you when tuning the batter higher than the reso. How do you select the octave which the top head is tuned to and what do you then tune the reso to (number of semi-tones). For example, if I have a 10, 12, 14, and 16 and want to tune them to 3D, 2B, 2G, and 2D what notes do you pick for the batter? I know how to do it when the reso is higher, but not sure the other way around. I tried to tune my 14 to a 2G, but the batter felt way too high.

I appreciate the help!!!
 

EricT43

Senior Member
I like to tune my toms with a minor third between the batter and reso, so the reso will be 3 semi-tones higher in pitch. When tuning this way, there's an easy formula. Let's use your 10" tom as an example:
  1. Select the fundamental for your drum (3D).
  2. Tune the reso to one octave higher, minus one semi-tone (4C#).
  3. Tune the batter head 3 semi-tones lower than the reso (3A#).
In your case, you want the batter higher than the reso, so follow the same steps, but use the higher note for your batter and the lower for your reso. You can use the same formula for any drum, just figure out the notes accordingly. I prefer to tune to frequencies rather than notes because I feel it's more precise. Here is a handy reference to find the frequencies.

I'd wonder why you want your batter tuned higher, especially since you are tuning a bit on the high side to begin with. That call-to-post tuning you are using tends to make the 14" too high, IMO, and then you're tuning with the batter higher. It's going to feel like a snare drum. I usually tune my 14" to 2E with the reso lower.

It took me a long time to find the tuning combination that I like. I have the same tom configuration as you, and usually tune 3D, 2A, 2E, 2C. It sounds good to me this way, with a nice spread between each tom. What I don't like about it is that 2A is a bit low for the 12", and 2C on the 16" floor tom lacks tone. I prefer the 16" to be around a 2D, but then it gets too close to the 14", and I don't want the 14" any higher than E. Same for the 12", I like it better at a 2B or 2C, but then that pushes the 10" up into a jazzy type of tuning range.

TLDR: when tuning batter higher than reso, use the same pitches for individual heads as you would for reso higher, just reverse them. The fundamental pitch will be the same not matter which head is tuned to which note.
 

sillypilot

Junior Member
I like to tune my toms with a minor third between the batter and reso, so the reso will be 3 semi-tones higher in pitch. When tuning this way, there's an easy formula. Let's use your 10" tom as an example:
  1. Select the fundamental for your drum (3D).
  2. Tune the reso to one octave higher, minus one semi-tone (4C#).
  3. Tune the batter head 3 semi-tones lower than the reso (3A#).
In your case, you want the batter higher than the reso, so follow the same steps, but use the higher note for your batter and the lower for your reso. You can use the same formula for any drum, just figure out the notes accordingly. I prefer to tune to frequencies rather than notes because I feel it's more precise. Here is a handy reference to find the frequencies.

I'd wonder why you want your batter tuned higher, especially since you are tuning a bit on the high side to begin with. That call-to-post tuning you are using tends to make the 14" too high, IMO, and then you're tuning with the batter higher. It's going to feel like a snare drum. I usually tune my 14" to 2E with the reso lower.

It took me a long time to find the tuning combination that I like. I have the same tom configuration as you, and usually tune 3D, 2A, 2E, 2C. It sounds good to me this way, with a nice spread between each tom. What I don't like about it is that 2A is a bit low for the 12", and 2C on the 16" floor tom lacks tone. I prefer the 16" to be around a 2D, but then it gets too close to the 14", and I don't want the 14" any higher than E. Same for the 12", I like it better at a 2B or 2C, but then that pushes the 10" up into a jazzy type of tuning range.

TLDR: when tuning batter higher than reso, use the same pitches for individual heads as you would for reso higher, just reverse them. The fundamental pitch will be the same not matter which head is tuned to which note.
Ok, so it is basically the same was as I tune with the reso higher just upside down. I was doing a perfect forth for some reason which made the tom sound strange. I actually like the call to post tuning even on the big toms, it doesn't sound too high to me but it is on the higher side. My "higher" tuning preference probably comes from not liking floor toms that sound too low..so everything gets moved up. I'm going to try to tune the 14 down a bit to F or E and see what that sounds like. I appreciate the info!!
 

EricT43

Senior Member
Ok, so it is basically the same was as I tune with the reso higher just upside down. I was doing a perfect forth for some reason which made the tom sound strange. I actually like the call to post tuning even on the big toms, it doesn't sound too high to me but it is on the higher side. My "higher" tuning preference probably comes from not liking floor toms that sound too low..so everything gets moved up. I'm going to try to tune the 14 down a bit to F or E and see what that sounds like. I appreciate the info!!
I agree, I like floor toms to be high enough that a clear tone can be heard, not just attack followed by rumble. Having 4 toms means there are going to be compromises in tuning, some drums will need to be higher or lower than we'd otherwise prefer. This type of thing keeps eating away at me to just go with a 4- or 5-piece.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
I like to tune my toms with a minor third between the batter and reso, so the reso will be 3 semi-tones higher in pitch. When tuning this way, there's an easy formula. Let's use your 10" tom as an example:
  1. Select the fundamental for your drum (3D).
  2. Tune the reso to one octave higher, minus one semi-tone (4C#).
  3. Tune the batter head 3 semi-tones lower than the reso (3A#).
In your case, you want the batter higher than the reso, so follow the same steps, but use the higher note for your batter and the lower for your reso. You can use the same formula for any drum, just figure out the notes accordingly. I prefer to tune to frequencies rather than notes because I feel it's more precise. Here is a handy reference to find the frequencies.

I'd wonder why you want your batter tuned higher, especially since you are tuning a bit on the high side to begin with. That call-to-post tuning you are using tends to make the 14" too high, IMO, and then you're tuning with the batter higher. It's going to feel like a snare drum. I usually tune my 14" to 2E with the reso lower.

It took me a long time to find the tuning combination that I like. I have the same tom configuration as you, and usually tune 3D, 2A, 2E, 2C. It sounds good to me this way, with a nice spread between each tom. What I don't like about it is that 2A is a bit low for the 12", and 2C on the 16" floor tom lacks tone. I prefer the 16" to be around a 2D, but then it gets too close to the 14", and I don't want the 14" any higher than E. Same for the 12", I like it better at a 2B or 2C, but then that pushes the 10" up into a jazzy type of tuning range.

TLDR: when tuning batter higher than reso, use the same pitches for individual heads as you would for reso higher, just reverse them. The fundamental pitch will be the same not matter which head is tuned to which note.
I always wondered how to do this using the fundamental note as a starting point. Thanks for sharing!
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
If you already selected a note, the head itself will tell you which octave. One above will be way too tight and one below way too loose.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I tune my toms to "Here comes The Bride". Don't ask me what notes they are cause I don't know.
It's great for drum solos. But when you play un-miced and the electric guitars start up, it hardly matters.

.
 

EricT43

Senior Member
OTOH, if you wanted call-to-post tuning for some reason, the D-F-A-D (16-14-12-10) works well for those sizes.
That wouldn't strictly be call-to-post if you change the intervals, but the notes you chose would work well together. It's a D-minor chord. Phil Collins tuned his toms to a D-minor 7 chord for "In The Air Tonight". Change the 10 to a C and add a 8" tom tuned to D.
I tune my toms to "Here comes The Bride". Don't ask me what notes they are cause I don't know.
It's great for drum solos. But when you play un-miced and the electric guitars start up, it hardly matters.

.
The first two notes are a perfect fourth interval. On a 4-piece that would be E on the floor tom and A on the rack tom, for example, a common tuning for a 14/12 setup. That's how I tune my 20/14/12 kit. If I use a 16 on the floor instead, I tune it down to a D, for a perfect fifth interval (as in the intro to "My Girl").
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I like to tune my toms with a minor third between the batter and reso, so the reso will be 3 semi-tones higher in pitch. When tuning this way, there's an easy formula. Let's use your 10" tom as an example:
  1. Select the fundamental for your drum (3D).
  2. Tune the reso to one octave higher, minus one semi-tone (4C#).
  3. Tune the batter head 3 semi-tones lower than the reso (3A#).
Hey Eric, do you find that this approach works across drums of all (reasonable) dimensions? I usually find I have to tweak the relationship between batter and reso, as the drums get larger and deeper.

That wouldn't strictly be call-to-post if you change the intervals, but the notes you chose would work well together. It's a D-minor chord. Phil Collins tuned his toms to a D-minor 7 chord for "In The Air Tonight". Change the 10 to a C and add a 8" tom tuned to D.

The first two notes are a perfect fourth interval. On a 4-piece that would be E on the floor tom and A on the rack tom, for example, a common tuning for a 14/12 setup. That's how I tune my 20/14/12 kit. If I use a 16 on the floor instead, I tune it down to a D, for a perfect fifth interval (as in the intro to "My Girl").
Doh! I meant to type F#.

And you're the only person I've ever come across to also know that Phil Collins used a Dm7 chord for his toms. Cheers! :)
 

EricT43

Senior Member
Hey Eric, do you find that this approach works across drums of all (reasonable) dimensions? I usually find I have to tweak the relationship between batter and reso, as the drums get larger and deeper.
Generally, yes, but I'm curious - what adjustments do you make with the larger drums? I've noticed in some of the published artist's tunings that they'll use a closer interval on the floor toms, but I haven't tried it yet myself.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Generally, yes, but I'm curious - what adjustments do you make with the larger drums? I've noticed in some of the published artist's tunings that they'll use a closer interval on the floor toms, but I haven't tried it yet myself.
For example, on a 16” floor tom, if I keep the reso higher, then it’s overtones galore, and the batter head is pretty loose. So I usually bring the batter up and the reso down. I’m doing this and checking overall pitch with a keyboard. I’m not keeping track of individual heads at this point. And I’m using single ply heads top and bottom.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
I do 3rds, I believe that is the "my girl" tuning. The 4 notes of "my girl, my girl" would be large rack, floor, small rack, large rack" that is the interval, ,then the toms I tune perfect 4ths from the batter to the reso with reso being tighter.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
For toms, I usually only get one note, I think the bottom usually just resonates at about the same tone frequency as the top. I can get different timbres by adjusting the resonant head, shorter longer decay maybe some ring or pitch shift. For snares, the resonant bottom appears to have different tones.
 
Top