It is called the Age of Information. This hustle-bustle world of super computers, fax machines, cell phones, e-mail pagers, intranets, extranets, and last but not least - the Internet. The more freely the information flows, or perhaps I should say gushes similar to a fire hose at a three-alarm fire, the more we struggle to filter out the useless information and hone in on the relevant. It is no small irony then that the people who play the world’s oldest musical instrument not only have a lack of information regarding how to tune it, they have also been inundated with misinformation on how to do practically everything BUT tune it. The instrument, of course, is the drum; more specifically, the modern drumset.
Indeed, in Western music A=440 Hz is the standard tuning to which musical instruments adhere. Consider, if you will, telling a new trombonist, "If you are a little out of tune, just put a blanket in it." Or perhaps telling a piano tuner, "Just turn the tuning pins until it sounds good to you." No strobe tuners, no reference notes - nothing. Or perhaps, try suggesting to an out of tune guitarist, "Put a little gaff tape on that string to stop that annoying wobbly ring." At the very least, these suggestions would garner you a few odd looks. Why? Because these musicians have a structured, organized approach to tuning their instruments. In the heat of battle, we have all undoubtedly done some pretty strange things, but as a rule those under the gun tactics should not become an acceptable way of life and replace proper tuning. And yes, there is a proper way to tune ALL instruments - even drums.
Drummers are frequently told that every drummer has his or her own sound. Somehow this frequently gets misconstrued to mean whatever sound (tuning) you come up with is your signature sound. While it is true that players often have a signature sound, that signature sound is usually a combination of three things: Their choice of equipment, their physical technique, and their approach to playing their equipment. For example, if you had Buddy Rich and Charlie Watts sit down and play on the same set of drums, Buddy would still sound like Buddy and Charlie would still sound like Charlie, regardless of how the drums were tuned. The point in all of this is that a structured, technical approach to tuning drums has been generally lacking in our profession. In this book, Drumset Tuning Theory, I provide drummers, drum techs, and others, with a simple, structured approach to tuning drums.
My book is based on years of experience as a professional player and professional drum tech both live and in the studio. As there are numerous techniques for tuning guitars, so there are also numerous techniques for tuning drums. Drumset Tuning Theory represents one simple, structured approach to tuning the drumset with techniques that consistently work for me, and with a disciplined implementation, (practice, practice, practice) can work for you. I have modified and refined these tuning techniques over the years, and they continue to prove effective for me today in the diverse environments in which I work. Producing the optimal drum sound at the precise time it is needed requires more than luck - it requires knowledge and technique (and sometimes a bag of tricks). Old habits are hard to break, but your sincere desire to learn a structured technique will help you overcome them.
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