Kenny Sharretts
Drum Technician - Drummer - Educator
by Kenny Sharretts on July 7th, 2020

Hello to my blog readers. Today I’m writing on a subject that I receive a lot of DM questions about, and I also read a lot of smack talk about amongst drummers in online forums who stand by their opinions on either side of the matter. That matter is drum muffling. Since I just did a video for RTOM for Sweetwater’s Gear Fest 2020 discussing when, how, and why to use moon gels I figured this was a perfect time for a blog on the topic. In fact I will use “moon gels” as my catch all phrase for any products one might use for drum muffling. Because the reality is drum muffling is a means to an end, and nothing more. An incredible tool that when used properly can save time in terms of getting the sounds you are looking for quickly.
Now if you ask me as a pro drum tech I will say muffling has it’s place in the pantheon of drum sound creation, and it is something I use often to either achieve the tones my artist wants/needs or as a way of fixing a drum hum issue for my sound people. What I DO NOT USE IT FOR is to cover up a poorly tuned drum. Alas this seems to be the dominant folklore surrounding the use of “moon gels”. That you use moon gels because you can’t tune a drum, or that your drums sound terrible so you gel them up. I can understand how this has grown to be a believable myth, as many drummers DO use moon gels to get a solid drum sound rather than taking the time to learn how to tune. Drummers often DO use them to fix drum sound issues that could easily be fixed by tuning the drum. The key point to me, however, is this: if gels can make a poorly tuned drum sound good, what can they do for well tuned drums? As a pro tech I have to say they can do ALOT. Mostly it depends on the situation as to why you would use them in the first place. So let’s look at some of the reasons why you would use a “moon gel” or any muffling at all.

If you look at old snare drums, and toms from the late 70’s and back these drums almost always had built in mufflers. Why? Because the drum builder knew that . . .

 #1 In some situations muffling is needed.
    Small clubs, large halls with stone floors/tin roofs, lounge room casino gigs where you HAVE TO keep the volume down. In these instances, a Moon Gel/Muffling can make or break the situation for your group sounding good in the room, and hopefully be asked back. Drums are loud, and their sound projects far, and wide. For those who practice at home just ask your neighbors. A moon gel can curb the volume of erroneous ring without killing the feel thereby turning a ringy raucous drum sound into a tight, focused easy to mic/mix drum sound in seconds. Furthermore, moon gels can turn a wide open, sustained tom sound into a tight attack oriented sound that is often EXACTlY what a drummer is looking for. Not everyone wants sustain in their toms. Uncontrollable ring from drums is often the bane of most audio engineers. When you perform live with unmuted floor toms it may sound/feel great to you, but very often there are too many extra frequencies ringing out for the sound man to get a clean sound without using heavy gates or heavy EQ which can distort the original tone of the drum. In addition, floor toms tend to hum in sympathy with the music when not being played. That is a problem for engineers. While I’m a big fan of the cotton ball trick for floor toms with long sustains, sometimes more is needed. A cotton ball inside, and a half gel on the batter head can often lead quickly to the perfect live floor tom sound. No engineer needed. Just FYI if you don’t want to use gels, but want a little control of your floor tom ring toss 1 stretched out cotton ball into the drum. It will act like a soft gate without intruding on your feel. I LOVE the sustain of my new Rogers Covington Drums Toms. The floor tom rings for days, hence as much as I love it, I have to use the cotton ball/half gel method to get the sound I want. When I do? Floor tom perfection.
     The reality of live mixing is that the less Gates/EQ the sound person has to use on your drums the more natural the drums will sound, and the more EQ that can be applied to other areas of a mix without buildup. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the sound, and feel of wide open drums. One of my favorite drummers Danny Carey use no muffling, and it sounds killer. Thankfully he has a sound engineer who knows how to mix wide open drums. Johnny No Gels at the local club with a giant double bass, 80’s power tom kit, and a house sound engineer? Odds are that drummer is just mucking up the mix. So again, you don’t always have to use muffling, but when you need it it is a good thing to know how to use properly.

#2 To get the specific sounds you want for a musical situation you may have to use muffling.
- LIVE DRUMMING SITUATIONS
I tech for a lot of great drummers, and moon gels are essential for a lot of those drummers or their gigs. On Stevie Wonder,  Stanley Randolph insists upon gels/dots to help get that old school Motown drum sound he wants. On the Puff Daddy Bad Boy Family Reunion tour, Boots Greene wanted moon gels IN ADDITION to Evans Hydraulic heads so his drums emulate hip hop/rap tom sounds that fit the music, and also blended well with the digital instruments. For Lil John Roberts on Janet Jackson his Tama Bubinga Floor toms had so much sustain WE HAD TO drop a few cotton balls in the drum, and use a half moon gel on the batter. LOL!
     Another are in todays modern music world where muffling can be effective is for  performers that use in-ear monitors. For IEM mixes Moon Gels can make ALL the difference. For example on Elvis Costello when we play small theaters, or sheds with tin roofs I have to use moon gels on Pete Thomas’ toms or the singers will get way too much drum noise in their in ear monitor mix. We have 5 wide open vocal mics on stage. By tightening up the tom sound with just half a moon gel (cotton ball in the floor tom) the drum sound becomes more focused/clean in the IEM’s leaving more room for a full tonal range from all the other instruments in the mix. Mainly the voices.  It also cleans up the general stage sound around the kit as well as giving more focus to drum sounds as they are heard by the over head mics. The key for my use of moon gels is using as little as possible to achieve the desired sound so as to maintain the tone/feel/sensitivity of the drum. In some places, however, less is not more.
 - THE RECORDING STUDIO
In the recording studio, moon gels/muffling can be even more important to achieving the drum sound needed for the song you are recording. An unmuffled kit that sounds great at the club may not sound great in the studio, or for the song you are recording. A wide open bass drum may sound/feel great live, but it may take up way to much sonic space in a recording, or simply might not be punchy enough to cut through. Hal Blaine used tape n tea towels on most of his legendary recordings. The Beatles legendary tom sound? Tea towels. Steve Gadd’s snare sound? Muffling. Old country recordings? Those dry toms come from a pile of lambswool thrown in a tom to create what’s known as “The Nashville Cloud”. Bottom line is sometimes muffling is required. I can tune a drum, but in the studio that’s not always enough. Moreover if it’s not YOUR BAND in the studio, having the skills/knowledge of how to dial your drums sounds to a producers needs greatly increases your chances at getting calls for more studio work from that producer.

- YOUTUBE VIDEOS/HOME RECORDING/OTHER ODD SITUATIONS
     A lot of people record drums for their recordings, and YouTube/FB Live/IG Live vids at home. Very often the rooms people record in are less than ideal for drum sounds. Using moon gels/muffling can do wonders for a drum sound in awkward sounding rooms, or when the drums are recorded by a cell phone or video camera only.
     It's the same thing for radio, and podcast performances. One example of this situation arose for me when I was with the band with Train doing Howard Stern's Radio Show with the whole band in his very nice, but not really spacious broadcast studio. We had room, but the reality was the drums were right up in all the mics. Full Moon gels on the toms, two full on the snare, one on the ride, and tiny single tent tape tents on the under side of the crashes, and bottom hats. It streamlined the drum sound perfectly for the broadcast, and tamed the drums in the lead singers mic.
Another odd situation was at a recent video shoot where I was talking about mounting a tom on a snare stand, and using Little Booty Shakers to bring back the sustain lost due to the stand clamping onto the drum. Sure the sustain was back in force LOL, and I loved it, but it was a bit omni-present in the snare mic. With a half moon gel I was able to shape, and focus that sustain into the perfect tom sound for recording, and get the sustain out of the snare mic. No sustain? No tone so Little Booty’s yes, AND Moon Gel to control that tone yes. LOL!
In the end the key to successful use of moon gels/muffling is knowing when, and how to use them. So here’s some quick tips

FOR LIGHT SUSTAIN CONTROL/LIGHT FOCUS OF ATTACK/MINIMAL EFFECT ON SENSITIVITY
Place a moon gel in the center of the nodal point between two tension rods just off the bearing edge.

FOR MORE SUSTAIN CONTROL/MORE FOCUS OF ATTACK/SOME LOSS OF SENSITIVITY
- Place a second moon gel in the same position as listed in the first tip, but move one slot over to the left, or right. OR
- Place one moon gel about 1.75-2 inches in from the bearing edge at the center nodal point between two tension rods. This will also help define the note of the batter head.

FOR A HEAVY FOCUS OF ATTACK/MODERATE CONTROL OF SUSTAIN
- Place one moon gel at a tension rod just off the bearing edge. If you want more control, and definition of the note of the batter head place the gel about 1.75-2 inches in from the bearing edge at a tension rod. This will also help define the note of the batter head.

FOR MUTING A BOTTOM TOM HEAD
- As I mentioned a spread out cotton ball can work wonders for controlling bottom head sustain, but otherwise if you need to control sustain PLEASE just use a tape tent as I discuss in the video below. Moon gels work on the bottom head, but fall off. Taping em on is good, but using a tape tent is better.

FOR MUTING A SNARE HEAD JUST A TOUCH WITHOUT KILLING THE SENSITIVITY
Either place a half moon gel in the center of the nodal point between two tension rods just off the bearing edge.
OR
Use a single tent tape tent in the center of the nodal point between two tension rods just off the bearing edge.
I hope this blog has helped reframe any myths you had about what drum muffling, and moon gels are all about. You don't have to use it, but when you need to it's good to know how. 

For more drum tuning/tech videos subscribe to my YouTube Channel

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN PRIVATE DRUM TUNING LESSONS IN PERSON, OR ONLINE PLEASE EMAIL ME AT kennysharretts@gmail.com

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO PURCHASE A SET OF UEPRO IEM'S
Use my code -  KENNYSUE at checkout for a 20% discount on the UE 7, 11 18+, RR, and Live Models. Visit pro.ultimateears.com  for more info

Also please check out my band So Called Underground's latest single "Prison Cell" Hope you enjoy.
https://www.reverbnation.com/socalledunderground
Peace,
Kenny "Dexter" Sharretts

by Kenny Sharretts on April 11th, 2020

Hello everyone. Thanks for stopping in to read my latest drum tuning/tech blog. I’ve been reading a lot of articles on drums, and drumming during my 2 week self quarantine after returning from a postponed UK tour.  One of the articles I came across was an awesome review of drum kits for Jazz drumming on an awesome site called Jen Reviews at https://www.jenreviews.com . Not only did I find tons of great articles on self help, product reviews, and health tips, but they also had an AWESOME overview of some great drum kits for jazz drumming via their Beginner Guitar HQ page https://beginnerguitarhq.com/best-jazz-drum-kits/. In this post they talked about a drum kit that I have, that I love, that is great for jazz drumming, and for which I’ve done a whole slew of drum tuning videos for my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/c/KennySharretts The kit is the Ludwig Questlove Breakbeats Kit. While there were many great drum sets in the Jenn Reviews article the QBB kit is affordable, portable, and I’ve been using it extensively on my gigs as I recovered from a broken ankle. (IT’S SOOOO EZ to lug around). Hence I have a good idea of how to tune it, and what heads would sound best on this particular drum set.

     My thought in doing a tuning series on the QBB was "if you can make a discount drum kit sound great, you can make any kit sound great, as well as sound great PLAYING your discount kit." LOL! When tuned well this kit has performed incredibly well in every venue I played. Indoors, outdoors, small venue, large venue. Part of the reason it does so well are the the drum heads I chose to use, and part of the reason are the tunings I use. Now coincidentally during my hunt for good articles on drums, and I noticed a lot of drummers on Facebook forums, and Instagram posts or via direct messages to my KENNY SHARRETTS DRUM PAGE on Facebook asking for suggestions on drum head choice for the type of music they play, or great tunings for jazz drumming. Hence the new topic for my blog.  Drum head selection, and jazz tunings. While I can’t cover it all I do have some great suggestions for how to make the QBB kit sound great for jazz or pop/country music, as well as heads I recommend that will accentuate the tunings you use for each style of music. So here’s a quick breakdown of tunings, and heads I can recommend with video links to help you learn how to dial your drum sound for any style of music.

     To hear two great tunings for this kit with the appropriate head configuration for both Jazz, and Rock drumming check out my video “Discount Drum Transformation”. Tuning tips are included in the video. The first tuning, demonstrated by ATX drummer Alec Cabrera, represents one head configuration, and one tuning style for playing jazz that does well on the QBB kit. (Head setup Batter - G2 Coated. Reso G1 Clear. Tuning interval - Reso a Major 3rd above the batter) Watch the vid for the specific notes I used. The second head setup, played by ATX master drummer Brian Christopher Mendes, is great for rock drumming even though it’s the same tuning interval. (Head setup Batter - EC2 Clear  Reso - G1 Coated. Tuning interval - Reso a Major 3rd above the batter) This vid is a fine example of how the choice of drumhead you use can affect the sound of the drum.

WHICH HEADS TO USE ON THE QBB FOR JAZZ DRUMMING

    Now here is a topic that truly depends on the drummers taste, and feel. A drum needs to respond in a way that suits the players technique, and feel. Hence for jazz drumming, drummers tend to use single ply coated heads on the batter side for 4 reasons. 1. Single ply heads provide the kind of sensitivity needed for jazz music. 2. Very often single ply heads were used in the recording of jazz music drummers are trying to emulate. 3. In order to keep volume low, AND play with sensitivity drummers often use thinner/lighter weight sticks such as Pro Mark’s Acid Jazz TX718W’s to play jazz drums. My stick of choice for jazz drumming. 4. Single ply coated heads have a bright, but controlled sound that speaks well in smaller jazz clubs. While in the past a clear single ply head has been popular as the resonant side head, recent trends have been leaning towards using single ply coated, or synthetic calf skin style heads in order to emulate the warm tones of classic jazz, and big band recordings. So let’s take a look at some options.

HEAD CHOICE FOR TOMS AND SNARES ON THE QBB

     With single ply heads, however, there are a variety of choices for a player to choose from. Since I’m an Evans guy I will mention a few head models that fit the bill. To check out any of the Evans Drumheads I talk about in this article please visit EVANS HERE
G1 COATED
For Evans the standard single ply head is the G1. It’s a single ply of 10mil film that allows for great sensitivity, but is still durable. Tuned low its a great head for a thunderous rock sound, but tuned high it can be the perfect head for a warm, focused jazz sound on your toms, and snare. On the QBB Kit, however, I have found that the G1 Coated sounds great tuned high, but tends to be a bit wangy at lower tunings on this kit.
     As the resonant head, however, I can’t speak highly enough of the coated G1 for controlling the tone to give you a warm sustain no matter what head is on the batter side. The only coated Evans head I like better as a choice for your resonant is the ...
RESO 7 
THE RESO 7, which is also coated is designed TO BE a Resonant Head. I's a variation in the film that provides a touch of control to the sustain, and a certain sweet warmth to the tone of toms that I can't quite get enough of it. Reso 7's are my jam no two ways about it. If I'm playing a loud rock gig, or a huge outdoor gig though a clear G1 as your resonant head can NEVER GO WRONG. LOL!.
G14 
The G14 is a single ply of 14 mil film that adds a bit more heft, and control to the toms, and snare without sacrificing sensitivity. It aims to be more durable, and gives you a sound akin to old school big band toms, or warm classic rock toms. Think thud with a warm, but short sustain.
UV1
 This unique drumhead is a single ply of 10mil film that’s been treated with a patented UV coating which gives this head a unique sound that performs very well for jazz tunings on the QBB. We will talk about tuning in a moment, but please note the UV1 kills it for both higher tension tunings onthe batter with looser resonant skins or loose batters with tighter reso skins.
CALFTONE
The Calftone is a synthetic calfskin style head designed to replicate the tone of old school calf skin heads. The tone is pretty warm, with good attack on the toms, gives you deep textures when played with brushes, and it is hands down my favorite Resonant Head For bass drums of ANY size. It adds a rich texture to the tone. A certain depth that hints at a vintage tone without it being the only tone it can get. If you want a more vintage sound to the QBB this may be the head for you. As a reso head it can be a bit too controlling, but again if that's your sound, this may be a head to try.

COATED G2
     While all of these heads sound good on the kit I will say, however, that for the QBB kit at low tom tunings, a coated G2 (2 plies of 7mil film) on the batter, and a G1 clear on the reso has been the best sounding head combo I've found for a warm jazzy sound, while still giving the drummer sensitivity on the toms. I will also say that the drumhead I found that works best on the QBB snare, which can be a bit rangy due to it’s shallow depth, is the Reverse Power Center Dot. The dot helps focus the drums sound while still allowing for enough sensitivity to play delicate buzz rolls, or to play brushes. With the dot being on the bottom, you still have a great surface for playing brushes although if brushes are your mainstay I highly recommend the UV1 for the QBB snare, and G14’s for the tom batters.

300 SNARE SIDE
      On the snare side I highly recommend an Evans 300 Snare Side as it’s the most versatile bottom snare head Evans has to offer. Light enough for great stick, and brush response, but thick enough for a good rock backbeat.

BASS DRUM


For the QBB Bass Drum I highly recommend using a Calftone for the front head on this QBB 16" Bass Drum. Rich which dark sustain that fits EVERY MUSIC STYLE. Love it!  For a truly jazzy tone, though, a coated G1 just may give you what you need. Especially if you are putting in a mic port. You can here the difference between the two in th "Discount Drum Transformation" video posted above.  For the batter side I recommend the EQ3 for rock, and the EMAD for Jazz (and rock). The best part about using Evans Drum Heads on this little 16” kick drum is they make bass Drum Heads with a collar that’s DESIGNED FOR BASS DRUMS. Make sure that’s what you use on this tiny kick, or you will not get the bottom end a drummer needs for their kick drum.  Here’s a video explaining how to set up the QBB 16” kick drum for maximum bottom end. 


WHICH TUNING TO USE FOR JAZZ MUSIC

TOM TUNINGS

All right now this is a broad topic, and everyone has their own taste so I’m going to offer up a few suggestions for tom tunings

1. THE MAJOR 3RD  (Reso a Major 3rd higher than the batter) FOR THOSE WHO LIKE LOWER TENSIONS/TUNINGS
  All right, all right this is the interval I LOVE for playing jazz, or pretty much ANY style of music on this kit. This setup gives you a warm , but controlled tone for your toms. It’s best when used at lower tensions. This tuning interval brings out the lower tones that are possible with the QBB toms even though they are “smaller sized” drums. Here’s two videos that explain how to achieve this tuning interval, and what it sounds like. 


2. THE MINOR 3RD  (Reso a  Minor 3rd higher than the batter) FOR THOSE WHO LIKE LOWER TENSIONS/TUNINGS, AND A JAZZY BEND TO THEIR TOM SOUND
 This tuning is a classic staple for jazz drum tuning. The minor 3rd gives the drum a lot of tonal color, and presence that is often needed in the jazz realm. Also great for lower tensions, as this interval can bring out the lower tones of these smaller sized drums.  Here’s two videos that explain how to achieve this tuning interval, and what it sounds like.
3. THE INVERTED MAJOR 3RD FOR THOSE WHO LIKE HIGHER TENSIONS/TUNINGS, AND A JAZZY BEND TO THEIR TOM SOUND
Now this tuning interval is my MAGIC TRICK for drummers who want their high tom (a 10” on the QBB) to be able to get timbale like rimshots, but still have a deep tone when played normally. This also helps you tune the 13” QBB floor tom to have a lower tone, but still fit well with the higher 10” tom. Any time I’ve done a private tuning session for a jazz drummer using a cocktail sized kit like the QBB THIS IS THE INTERVAL THEY LOVED on their toms. Here’s two videos that explain how to achieve this tuning interval, and what it sounds like.

SNARE TUNINGS

Snare tuning in jazz music is COMPLETLEY a matter of taste to the drummer. They know what they want to hear, and so here are some intervals I recommend to help the jazz drummer find the sound for which they are looking.

1. THE HALF STEP (Reso a Half Step Higher Than The Batter)
This is a classic tuning interval that is straight to the point. Crisp, dry, clean, and great at all tensions. Not as much projection as the next two intervals, but that’s often a great thing in Jazz music. Perfect for 5” to 5.5” snare drums, but also effective on shallower, and deeper snare drums.

2. THE PERFECT 4TH
This is one of my fave tunings for lower tensions as it adds, beef, focus, projection, and depth to a snare drum’s sound. Great for 5” and 5.5” drums, but even better in 6.5”, and 8” deep drums. This interval is also great for Big Band drumming as it adds the volume a drummer needs to project over a large band. Very often with this tuning interval it’s best to tune the bottom head of the snare to a pretty tight tension, so the reso is actually an Octave & a perfect fourth above the reso. This will enhance projection, and stick/brush sensitivity. If you like it fat, though, keep it at a perfect 4th.

3. THE PERFECT 5th (Reso a perfect 5th above the Batter)
This is hands down my favorite tuning for snare drums. Especially 6.5” deep or 5.5” drums with the batter tuned loosely. The 5th increases projection, and sensitivity more than any other tuning interval. As with the Perfect 4th, very often with this tuning interval it’s best to tune the bottom head of the snare to a pretty tight tension, so the reso is actually an Octave & a perfect fourth above the reso. This will enhance projection, and stick/brush sensitivity. If you like it fat, though, keep it at a perfect 5th. 

Here’s a video which shows you a classic jazz tuning using the Perfect 5th, on a classic jazz snare drum. The 5” x 14” Rogers Dyna- Sonic.
Here’s a video on a 13” x 7” Tama G-Maple Snare that explains how to achieve these tuning intervals, and what they sound like. Includes tuning instructions, and the three intervals at two different tensions that are great for jazz drumming.
BASS DRUM TUNINGS 

Finally we come to bass drums. Again tuning a bass drum is a matter of taste, and feel, but with this tiny bass drum the low tuning discussed in the video posted above on "How To Tune A QBB 16" Bass Drum" Is really what works best to get the maximum bottom end out of this  tiny kick drum. As not everyone wants the sound I want here’s a few tuning intervals I recommend for the QBB 16” Bass Drum that may help you find the perfect sound you are looking for. 

1. RESO A HALF STEP OR WHOLE STEP HIGHER THAN THE BATTER
 This is my tuning of choice on the QBB kick in order to get the deepest tone possible, and is the one I used in the video I referenced earlier. Max bottom end, and a loose feel to the batter head. Notes are relative in terms of this drum. Tune the batter as low as it can go without wrinkles, then tune the batter either a half step (more sustain/boom), or a whole step (tighter sustain/ boom) higher than the pitch of the batter head.

2. RESO A HALF STEP OR WHOLE STEP LOWER THAN THE BATTER
This interval is for drummers who like a bit more tension on their batter head, but don’t want to sacrifice bottom end. With this interval you would tune the batter to where it feels good to you, then tune the front head a half step (tighter sustain/boom) or a whole step (more sustain/boom) below the pitch of the batter head.
Here are some videos that give you a listen to several bass drum tuning intervals, and how they affect the bass drum sound. It’s on a 22” bass drum, but you will get the point.

I hope this blog has helped you gain some perspective on drum head choice, and tuning intervals that will help you get the sound you want for jazz drumming, and a great idea of how to make your Questlove Breakbeats Kit or other small cocktail kits sound great in a jazz setting. BTW please remember to check out Jen Reviews at https://www.jenreviews.com for all KINDS of great info on health, life hack, and product reviews for musical gear.
More Blog posts coming soon.

For more drum tuning/tech videos subscribe to my YouTube Channel

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN PRIVATE DRUM TUNING LESSONS IN PERSON, OR ONLINE PLEASE EMAIL ME AT kennysharretts@gmail.com

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO PURCHASE A SET OF UEPRO IEM'S
Use my code -  KENNYSUE at checkout for a 20% discount on the UE 7, 11 18+, RR, and Live Models. Visit pro.ultimateears.com  for more info

Also please check out my band So Called Underground's latest single "Prison Cell" Hope you enjoy.
https://www.reverbnation.com/socalledunderground
Peace,
Kenny "Dexter" Sharretts



by Kenny Sharretts on March 26th, 2020

The Ultimate Punk Rock Floor Tom
Hello everyone. Pro Drum Tech, Drummer, and YouTube Educator, Kenny Sharretts blogging to you from The 2019 Elvis Costello/Blondie Summer Tour with a quick tuning tip vid on how to get the “Ultimate Punk Rock /New Wave Floor Tom” Sound.
To be sure legendary drummer Pete Thomas of Elvis Costello and The Impostors was one of THE progenitors of using the punk rock floor tom beat in power pop/new wave music. The drum has to have attack to drive the band, but a spongey feel so you can easily ride the floor tom with power, and groove. In addition it needs a warm controlled sustain as the floor tom pattern is basically a rhythm guitar part.
In creating the sound for Pete I have to take into account his preference in heads AND what his hands like to feel. Thankfully it’s a classic classic rock combo of a coated ambassador on top, and a super thin Diplomat on the bottom. While generally I would choose an Ambassador/G1 weight clear single ply bottom head, and possibly even a coated double ply head on the batter side, the coated single ply is a great choice for the spongey effect, and coincidentally my artists preference. Hence, to achieve THAT classic Punk New Wave Floor Tom sound I’m tuning the batter head about a 1/2 step to a whole step higher than Pete’s preferred “as low as they can go” to enhance projection, and attack while not sacrificing feel for Pete. Then I tuned the reso head to a major third above the batter pitch to tighten the sustain, but still sound warm, and full. Normally I would use my beloved perfect 4th interval, but using the third with the coated single ply helps keep the toms “tone” a bit lower at a higher tension. Finally I have one cotton ball in the drum to act as a natural gate, and a half piece of R-Tom moon gel to add a touch of heft to the attack. Same with the snare drum. The Half  Moon gel is the perfect amount of heft to focus the Floor Toms attack WITHOUT killing the tone. Absolutely love moon gels from R-Tom, but in this case I'd call them ESSENTIAL!
But in the end tuning for the “Ultimate Punk Rock /New Wave Floor Tom” sound , and feel is only part of the game. The most important part of getting the ultimate punk rock floor tom sound is how you hit it. LIKE YOU MEAN IT!!!!!!

More Blog posts coming soon.
For more drum tuning/tech videos subscribe to my YouTube Channel

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN PRIVATE DRUM TUNING LESSONS IN PERSON, OR ONLINE PLEASE EMAIL ME AT kennysharretts@gmail.com

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO PURCHASE A SET OF UEPRO IEM'S
Use my code -  KENNYSUE at checkout for a 20% discount on the UE 7, 11 18+, RR, and Live Models. Visit pro.ultimateears.com  for more info

Also please check out my band So Called Underground's latest single "Prison Cell" Hope you enjoy.
https://www.reverbnation.com/socalledunderground
Peace,
Kenny "Dexter" Sharretts

by Kenny Sharretts on February 10th, 2020

One of the most common questions I receive via DM’s from my Social Media accounts, and see in Facebook Drum Groups is about when one should change your snare wires, and what is the best way to install your snare wires. These are excellent questions as a properly setup snare drum with a good set of wires makes all the difference in a great sounding drum set. When snare wires are properly centered, leveled, and balanced it makes the drum sound better, louder, it has way more snare sensitivity, and greatly reduces something pretty much all musicians, band leaders, and audio engineers dislike; EXCESS SYMPATHETIC SNARE RESONANCE!!! LOLOLOL!
Some snare resonance is unavoidable. It’s a snare drum doing what a snare drum is designed to do. Low bass notes, and toms strikes will always cause a touch of buzz. When snare wires are properly mounted that buzz will be minimized, and hence musical.  If not done right, however, poorly mounted snare wires will cause an enormous amount of sympathetic snare resonance. (Especially if the bass amp is right next to you. LOL! The same goes for snare wires that are old/worn out, bent, or missing a strand (or 2). Snare wires stretch when used, and eventually the coil will loose it’s elasticity much like a worn out spring. Same when the wires are bent in any fashion. They in essence “don’t hold tension” the same as the other wires, and hence they rattle. I’ve seen great drummers locally here in the ATX not get  gigs because their snare sound was terrible/“rattley”. Here’s a few indications it’s time to replace your snare wires
- The snare sound becomes papery, even with new heads
- The wires are bent
- The wires are rusty or, dirt laden
- Excess snare resonance at your normal tension settings even when centered, leveled, and balanced.
- The only way to stop the excess buzz is to choke the wires. For more specifics please watch this video.

   
Now installing them, is another story entirely. While everyone has their own method, I have found the method I use gives me the largest range possible of snare wire tensioning options. Just note as a pro tech, I don't have the option of being wrong. LOLOL! To make sure the work I do to center, balance, and level is effective, I install the wires with the snare strainer ENGAGED. I set the tension knob to halfway between the tightest setting, and it's loosest setting without it feeling like it's coming undone. Then you attach the strainer side first making sure both edges of the snare wire plate are evenly distanced from the shell, and the wires are just the tiniest bit off center towards the butt plate. Then attach the butt plate side by pulling on the strap/cloth/string evenly so both plates are evenly distanced from the shell. Then tighten the strainer knob slightly to center the snare wires  while pulling lightly on the butt side strap/cloth/wire tighten the butt plate. When you have installed the wires they should pull evenly, and be centered when engaged. IN GENERAL, they should also be level. That is when the wires are disengaged, you can hold the drum up to eye level and see the wires are hanging evenly. Not too twisted in one direction or another. While this is not always a 100% fool proof method of verifying your work, 9 times out of 10 it's a great indicator that the wires are installed well. This video shows the whole process in a way that will help you see the technique
The importance of fresh wires mounted properly is even more important for those using IEM’s. As a pro tech I need my mix to be as clean as possible so I can instantly hear a problem, or an instrument failing. That’s why I use UE 18 Pro’s on my tech gigs. As a singing drummer, I need my bottom end to be ripping, and my high end to be as clean/clear as possible so there is space for both the click, and my voice in the mix. That’s why I use UE11 Pros when I drum. Excess snare resonance is the direct enemy of both of these objectives. If snares are buzzing away it truly affects the “AIR” of your IEM mix. I once worked with a drummer who initially told me he hated his IEM mix. On the first gig I tuned up the kit, and dialed his snare wires. My artist flipped!! He said his mix was instantly better. That being said the best way to describe the concept is for you to imagine listening to your fave song, in your fave headphones, but there is a constant buzzy wash humming along with the song keeping you from hearing it well. Now imagine that annoying wash being gone. LOL. Another comparison I could make is that it’s AM radio station that buzzes out when you slowly go under a bridge in rush hour traffic. Now think of how the signal clears up when you emerge from under that bridge. Properly maintained snare wires can seriously make that much of a difference. More drum tuning blogs , and videos coming soon. Until then, here's a quick tip vid on tips for reducing sympathetic snare resonance. 
More Blog posts coming soon.
For more drum tuning/tech videos subscribe to my YouTube Channel

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN PRIVATE DRUM TUNING LESSONS IN PERSON, OR ONLINE PLEASE EMAIL ME AT kennysharretts@gmail.com

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO PURCHASE A SET OF UEPRO IEM'S
Use my code -  KENNYSUE at checkout for a 20% discount on the UE 7, 11 18+, RR, and Live Models. Visit pro.ultimateears.com  for more info

Also please check out my band So Called Underground's latest single "Prison Cell" Hope you enjoy.
https://www.reverbnation.com/socalledunderground
Peace,
Kenny "Dexter" Sharretts

by Kenny Sharretts on February 3rd, 2020

LEARN TO TUNE A DRUM BY HAND/EAR BEFORE USING TUNING TOOLS
Here’s a real road  story from my first tour as a tech for the inimitable Mr. Kenny Aronoff that will emphasize the value of learning to tune drums with your hands, and by “ear” , BEFORE relying on any tuning instrument to help you tune your drums. ( like a Drum Dial, Tune Bot, Evans Torque Key, Tuning App, etc,). Kenny hits hard y’all. I mean like REALLY HARD! LOL! One evening, mid show, I heard his snare drop a little in pitch on a backbeat.  By the next stroke I knew the hoop had broken. I wasn’t using IEM’s yet so paying attention during the show PAID OFF. Had I had my UE7 Pro’s by then I would have known BEFORE the first little drop in pitch. LOL!  Kenny was rocking the Tama Drums Air Ride system so we flipped snares to his backup I had ready to go for the show before the next song, and I instantly went to work.  I was trying to be a badass tech like the guys around me, so rise up drum nerd!!!! 🤓🤓 🤣🤣 To be safe on tour we carried several backup hoops for his snare. So I grabbed a hoop, mounted the head, finger tightened, and blasted through the drum 2 key style. I had the method down pat so it is was like dancing vs tuning a drum. I tightened the head up high to stretch, used palms to accelerate the stretch, then tuned down to where I knew the drum head belonged.
     
As I tuned down to the tension I wanted, I COULD FEEL WHICH RODS WERE A BIT LOOSER INSTANTLY WHEN USING 2 keys. To check pitch, I put my cheek bone against the hoop, and tapped the tension rod points head with my finger to hear pitch variances, then tapped the tension rod with my key to hear the high harmonic as I tuned (that’s where the key tap trick was born. Thx KA 🤘🏻🤘🏻). Except a few lugs during 3 rounds of quarter turns down I noticed the drum was pretty much balanced the whole way through. Why? I started with a balanced head at finger tight, and used 2 keys.
   
If that snare was not tuned to the same place it was to start the show, AND the same place the current active backup was tuned, then it would be a PROBLEM. For Kenny, FOH, and Monitor World. It had to be right, and I couldn’t hear a thing. Full rock concert blazing!!! 🤣🤣🤣 Now again, had I had my UE7’s at the time I would have been able to “hear” my pitches better via the bone conductivity method discussed earlier. Had I had a Drum Dial, I would have been able to double check my work at the end, but there was no way in the world I would have had time enough to tune the drum using only the Drum Dial, or the Evans Torque Key I had. I did have a chance to do a quick double check with the Evans Torque key, and thankfully I was spot on. Which brings me to my point. ONCE I TUNED THE DRUM BY HAND, ONLY THEN did I use an Evans Torque Key for sussing out any trouble spots/checking your work. In fact that’s when these tools shine their brightest. During ANY of this experience, a Tune-Bot would have alas been useless. Great when you can hear, but during a full-on rock concert no way.
     
Again all these tools are great for fine tuning your work, but are no substitute for good tuning technique.  Point being I’m glad I 🤓🤓 nerded out to get the drum re-headed/tuned in one song, and two-keyed it because at the moment I triumphantly arose to show Kenny that I had his original snare ready, I heard the b/u drum drop pitch, and sighed as I already knew what Kenny would say which was “Great job cause I just broke this one”. 🤣🤣🤣😂😂😂  
More Blog posts coming soon.
FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN PRIVATE DRUM TUNING LESSONS IN PERSON, OR ONLINE PLEASE EMAIL ME AT kennysharretts@gmail.com

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN MORE INFO ON ULTIMATE EARS PRO IEMS, OR WANT TO PURCHASE A SET OF UEPRO IEM'S PLEASE EMAIL ME AT kennysharretts@gmail.com 

Also please check out my band So Called Underground's latest single "Prison Cell" Hope you enjoy.
https://www.reverbnation.com/socalledunderground
Peace,
Kenny "Dexter" Sharretts