Kenny Sharretts
Drum Technician - Drummer - Educator
by Kenny Sharretts on December 8th, 2017

Since many people have asked here it is.
​Hello to everyone who has asked me how I tuned drums for Stanley Randolph in the recording of Stevie Wonder’s Live At Last DVD.  I was blessed to have Pearl’s engineer’s test this method in their sound lab. I was quite humbled to have received glowing revues. Thank you to Pearl Drums. Do note that while Stanley likes his drum tuned a bit lower these days, the template works in any key. So here are the details . . .
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As we begin this discussion let me say that when I first speak of “tuning” a drum to a specific note, I am speaking about the top head. Top head = pitch. Bottom head = tone. Because venues vary, and sometimes we use a kit other than Stanley’s, the deciding factor for the tom tuning range begins w/ the 8". I tune it to where A) it feels right for Stanley, and B) It doesn't sound like a bongo. :-). From there I usually tune the top three toms to a first position inverted major triad. IE 8" – 6th tone of a major scale, 10"- 4th tone of a major scale, 12" –1st tone of a major scale. That's a triad with the 5th in the base. In the key of C Major, for example, that would be an F Major chord (F A C), laid out like this: 8" – A, 10" - F, and 12"- C. I try to tune the snare to sit between the 10" and 12" so as to minimize sympathetic resonance between the snare and the toms. In C, that would be about an E flat. Or, I might go above the 8” in terms of note value. It all depends on where Stanley feels it, and where minimal snare buzz occurs. Most important is that the inverted triad allows him to be able to play the NBC theme on his top 3 toms (yessss)! Lately, however, Stanley has been raising the snare tension of his main snare (a 14" x 6.5" Reference snare). Luckily, Stanley's 8" Pearl Reference tom has been sounding sweet tuned a little lower to a G. Subsequently, I have been tuning his top 3 toms to a minor triad (12" - C, 10" - E flat, 8" - G), and tuning his snare to an F-ish note. Again, I keep the snare settled in between the 8"and 10" to minimize sympathetic snare buzz. From there, Stanley goes to the 16" floor tom next. I tune the 16” to a perfect 5th, with tonic being the 16" and the 12"  being the 5th. So if we have 8"- G, 10" - E flat, and 12" - C, then the 16" would be an F. You can play the intro to "My Girl" between the 12” and 16”. Then I tune the 14" to a A or an A flat. With the 14" on his left at A (or A flat) you get a major (or minor) triad between your 16, 14 and 12. This is the other reason I now tune the snare to F-ish. Avoid sympathetic snare buzz between the 16" and the snare

So to recap in the key of C , for example, 8" - G, 10" - E flat, 12" - C, 16" - F, 14" - A (A flat), Snare 1 around F Then I tune the bottom tom heads to a perfect fourth above the top head. ie if 12" top is C, then the bottom head is an F. Same with his second snare and the bass drum. I tune his main snare to a half step these days because that seems to be where Stanley likes it. So in C if your top snare is an F, then the bottom head is an F#. Also, in order to personify the "old school" vibe of the left side of the kit, I tuned the 14" floor tom to a minor third for that "drop" in pitch sound. So If the floor tom is tuned on the top head to an A, then the bottom head is tuned to a C. 

Tune on my fellow drummers, and please check out the video for the song "Empty" by my band So Called Underground from our CD "How To Paint A Silver Lining" available on iTunes, Reverb Nation, and CD Baby. This song includes some incredible guitar work by Errol Cooney (Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera), and some unbelievable keyboards by Lamar Mitchel. Hope you enjoy.
Peace Out, Kenny....

by Kenny Sharretts on March 2nd, 2015

Hello everyone. I have been asked MANY times about the amazing kit Chris Johnson used on Rihanna's 2011-2012 tours. So I figured I'd post a bit about the kit for my gearheads. :-) 
     The foremost feature of this rig is a customized Yamaha Hex rack designed by legendary drum tech Chris Achzet. Achzet designs the sickest racks in the business. Period. Whether using parts from rack manufacturers (DW/Gibraltar/Yamaha/Pearl), or using his own custom designed systems Chris Achzet's work is unparralled. To see some of the most amazing rack designs on the planet please visit L.A.D.S (Los Angeles Drum Service)
This rack was so much fun to build, and so easy to pack up super quickly. 
To view a quick video of CJ's setup CLICK HERE
​The drums CJ uaed for thr 2011/2012 tours were Black stain Yamaha Oak Custom. The kit layout is as follows:
Chris Johnson uses Remo drumheads.
 8” tom (Remo Clear Emperor Top/Clear Ambassador Bottom)
10” Tom (Remo Clear Emperor Top/Clear Ambassador Bottom)
12” Tom (Remo Clear Emperor Top/Clear Ambassador Bottom)
16” Floor Tom (Remo Clear Emperor Top/Clear Ambassador Bottom)
18” Floor Tom with an open bottom head and a PS3 C2 w/ Clear Dot so it acts like a Gong Bass Drum. I cut out the bottom head with an exacto knife leaving only a thin rim of head attached to the collar. This allowed me to put the bottom hoop on, while still getting a concert tom vibe, and protecting the bearing edge.
22” Kick on stage left (Remo Clear PS3)
24” Kick on stage right (Remo Clear PS3)
CJ's  main snare is a 5 1/2” x 14” Manu Katche with an Emperor X on top. Tuned moderately tight. 
His second snare is a 7” x 14” Yamaha Oak Loud series snare with an Emperor X on top. Although I had to use a little gaff tape on each DT20 trigger to make sure it stayed put, I also put two tape tents on the this drum to create what I like to call the "Superstition Snare". This drum was tuned super super fat.
His 3rd snare is a 13” Musashi with a Coated Emperor, and I tuned it gunshot tight.
We use a mixture of Yamaha and DDrum Triggers for gates, and samples
- The 8”, 10”, and 12” toms have Yamaha DT10 triggers to control the gates
- The 16” and 18” Floors have DDrum DST triggers for gates, and on the 18” there is an extra DDrum DST for samples
- The three snares have Yamaha DT20 triggers for samples
- The Bass Drums have Yamaha DT20 triggers for samples
- There is an Yamaha TP100 Tom pad on his left, and a Yamaha XP100T Tom Pad on his right for samples
The triggers are mapped through an Alternate Mode Turbo KAT 4.5 Trigger controller which also has samples assigned to its 10 pad surface.
CJ uses the FP9310 or the new FP9500C Bass Drum Pedals
His Sabian Cymbal set-up left to right are:
13” Sabian Mini-Hats on a Yamaha Remote Cable Hi-Hat
14” Sabian Evolution Hi-Hats
22” Sabian Legacy
10” Sabian HHX Splash
18” Sabian HHX Evolution Crash
  6” Sabian AAX Splash
12” Sabian HHX Splash
19” Sabian HHX Xplosion
17” Sabian AAX Xtreme Chinese
20” Sabian HHX O-zone Crash

Chris uses Vater 3A wood Tip

by Kenny Sharretts on February 28th, 2015

Hello everyone. Here's a tip for making 8" toms rock. While I am an aficionado of using a fourth interval from top head (tonic) to bottom head( perfect 4th above) this tuning can make an 8" Tom sound a bit bongo like at higher tensions. To avoid this, I tune the 8" Tom to a minor 3rd interval from top head (tonic) to bottom head (minor 3rd above). Not only does this warm up the sound of the drum, but it adds a natural bend down in pitch. A drop if you will. It adds an ingratiating leading quality to the start of a big Tom fill. This interval also well on floor toms when you that little bit of whang, but do not want to sacrifice the quality of the sound hitting the mic.
If you like my tech tips, please like my Kenny Sharretts Drum Page on Facebook.

by Kenny Sharretts on May 12th, 2014

All right all right. The time has come for part B of my tip for reducing unwanted snare buzz. Beyond the causes of snare buzz discussed in part A, the most common cause of snare buzz is sympathetic vibrations from the other drums in your kit. While it is next to impossible to get rid of all sympathetic vibrations from your other drums, it is possible to limit the influence of vibrations by tuning your toms (and even your Bass drum) around your snare. Take for example a standard five piece kit w/ 3 toms. By choosing good tuning intervals between the toms, you can create tuning "spaces" in between the tom's pitches where you can "fit" your snare's pitch. For example lets start with a five piece kit with a 10" Tom, a 12" Tom, and a 16" Floor Tom. As a basis, my preferred interval between a 12" Tom, and a 16" Floor Tom is a perfect 5th or what I like to call the "My Girl" interval (if it's a 14" I tend to use a perfect fourth). Then I will usually make the interval between the 10" and 12" Tom a major third. An example using the key of C would be 16"=C, 12"=G, and 10"=B (14",12"=G, and 10"=B). For those who like a low tension tuning on their snare drum, that gives you a wide range between the 16" (Tonic/C) and the 12" (perfect 5th/G) in which to tune your snare. For those who prefer a higher tension snare tuning you can tune it to an A right between the 12"(G), and the 10"(B) or to a D above the 10". Again these are just examples to give you an idea of how to create spaces in your Tom tunings in order to avoid snare buzz. None of these intervals are hard and fast rules. There is always some give and take between"where the drum sounds best/where you like it" and the intervals you choose. Just remember, the next time you have excessive snare buzz, check to make sure your snare is NOT tuned to the same pitch as any of your other drums. Also be reminded that 1/2 step intervals can be just as troublesome for snare buzz. Tune on fellow drummers.

by Kenny Sharretts on September 4th, 2013


     A common issue for ALL drummers is getting rid of unwanted snare buzz, be it a live setting, or the recording studio. While you want your snares to vibrate freely for the best “snare” sound possible, too much unnecessary buzz is a drag. Whether it’s rattle from a kick drum hit, or sympathetic buzz from a ringing tom, how you control snare buzz can make you a friend or foe to an audio engineer getting drum sounds. There are several tips I will recommend here for solving this problem, but none is as fundamentally important as centering, and leveling your snares. Centering, and leveling the snares not only reduces snare buzz. it also increases snare sensitivity which in turn makes the snare drum sound, and play better.
     Try this: Release your snare strainer (ie turn off the snares), then lift the drum up to eye level. As you look at the snares through the slot that allows the snares come through the bottom hoop, take notice of how they hang. Ideally you will want your snares to hang “level” with themselves, and perfectly horizontal on both ends compared to the drum. For example, much like horizontal leveling of a picture frame on a wall compared to the ceiling trim so should your snare ends be horizontally “level” with the bottom edge of your snare drum. Next turn your snares back on, and flip the drum over onto its top so you are looking at the snare side of the drum. Are your snares centered, and even? By centered I mean that each end of the snares is equal distance from the edge of the drum. By even I mean that each end is horizontally “even” with the edge of the drum. If not, your snare wires become unevenly tensioned when you tighten them leaving one side tight, and the other side loose. Hence snare buzz.
      To properly center the snare wires, pre set your strainer to be engaged at a light tension. Next, rest the drum upside down on a flat surface. From here lightly release each side of the snare wires from the strainer, and butt clamps. Center the snares, and then tighten the string/strap on the butt side. Then while keeping the ends of the snares even, and centered, tighten the string/straps on the strainer side. With the drum still upside down begin to tighten the strainer to make sure your wires stay straight. Fine tune for perfection, and voila centered snares. Very often this act will level the snares pretty well. Then fine tune in little increments, as the act of leveling is a test of patience, and precision. Little movements also help preserve centering. You may have to try several times to get it perfect, but the time spent on this matter is well worth it.