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   I need some help on getting rid of snare drum buzz.

   Here's a popular problem!

   The snares buzz when a tom is struck because the tom's pitch is related to the snare's pitch: it's either the same or off by an interval that creates a harmonic (guitar players know all about harmonics: ask one to explain it to you). There are many methods of ridding this annoying problem; some work better than others.

   You could try re-tuning your toms or snare so there are no sympathetic vibrations that set the snares off. This is not a good option because it usually wrecks your tuning scheme.

   Some folks recommend de-tuning the four lugs on either side of the snares on the bottom head of the snare drum. This is better that the re-tuning option, but the effect is minimal, and you usually have to crank up the rest of the lugs to get the pitch back.

   Some folks like to take a shoelace and thread it between the snares across the width of the snares. This works, but will tend to muffle the snares when you strike the snare drum. You have to decide if this is a valid trade-off for you.

   The best method I've found is to put a small piece of tissue (kleenex) between the snares and the bottom head close to the side of the head (not in the middle). Usually about four plies will work. Like the shoelace method, there is a trade-off in muting the snares, but it's not as extreme.

   I tend to find muting the snares helpful in a recording situation, but rather unnecessary in a live band situation: everything's pretty loud anyway, and a small buzz in the snares will usually get lost in the ambient noise.

  • David Spener suggests:
  •    Use a baseball card between the snares and the bottom head, taped to the head; it doesn't kill the snare sound as much as Kleenex, and it does a good job of deadening the buzz.

  • Carlos Consuegra writes:
  •    This worked for me: I have CS dot on top with a remo muf'l ring, and an ambassador on bottom, the top head is really tight, and the bottom is tight also but not as tight as the one on top. I think that the trick in this is found in how you tighten the ends of the snare. Too loose and you will get lots of buzz, and too tight will get you poor snare sound, try getting it tight, not much though, and you'll have a nice sound out of the snare without any buzz. try it it worked for me.

  • Joe Grant writes:

   I find a really good way to get rid of the buzz on my snare drum is to use duct tape... yah, duct tape. This method does not dampen the sharp sound of the snare but does eliminate "snare buzz" as I call it. I have a combination Ambassador/Emperor snare. To eliminate "snare buzz" I cut off about a two inch piece of duct tape, role it so it forms a tube and place it on the back or front of my snare drum (usually one on each side). The tape absorbs head vibrations so you get to hear the beautiful clear snap of a snare drum without any background noise, and it eliminates conflicting noise from the toms that vibrate the snare.

   Professional drummers (Like the guys on tv) tune their drums. I don't know how but they get a very cool sound, and when I saw their drum heads, I saw that they don't pitch too strong their head drums, but when I pitch too weak my head drums, they just get dented with the time... What kind of heads do these guys use? They are clear, and what I have saw, they are Remo.

   Could you tell me how they do that?

   There are a number of factors working here: tuning, muffling, microphone placement and attenuation, equalization, gating, and probably a few digital and/or electronic effects thrown in for good measure (like reverb). Anytime you hear drums either on a recording or on a TV show, chances are good you're not hearing the sound coming off the heads, but a processed sound. This is a very complicated science and I don't have the space to go into it here. Suffice it to say, to expect a raw sound to come anywhere close to the sound you're hearing is rather impractical and can be quite discouraging.

   You can come close with proper tuning and muffling: tune them low (but not loose) and either tape some kleenex on the top for muffling or put a plastic ring on the head. This will kill the overring and give you the "bottom" of the sound: the lower frequencies.

   The fact that you're denting you heads means you're hitting them too hard at an angle that is too high. Try hitting closer to the rims as you hit the drum head; work the angle down so you're not damaging the heads. I've been playing loud music for years and I have yet to dent a head.

  • Jeff Woods writes:
  •    Thanks for the great website! I've been playing for about a year, mostly blues and some soul. There was some discussion about how to get a "cool sound" out of drums. I moved into a new (actually 50 years old) house with a vaulted cieling where I play. It's not a great listening room like my old house had, but when I record in it you get free reverb just like on Magic Sam's albums. But I didn't notice it until I played it back on a tape. Well, thanks again for all the tips. That drum tuning section actually made it easier to play!

  • Marcus B- writes:
  •    Hi Tomas, excellent webpage. I use the same tuning technique: bottom heads slightly tighter than batter. Here's another great special effect I got from Mark Schulman (drummer for Cher, Foreigner, Simple Minds and Billy Idol): place an extremely heavy item, such as a sandbag in your bassdrum, not touching the heads. I have no logical or physical explanation for that, but IT WORKS, it adds "something extra, that's rather felt than heard". It works great for recording. Give it a try!!

   How often should I tune the bottom heads on my drums? Do they go out of tune a lot?

   Bottom heads will usually stay in tune longer than the top heads because you're not hitting them! They will go out, usually due to moisture and temperature shifts (and the inevitable aging of the head). If you check them once a month or so you should be fine.

   Does the bottom head serve as muffling in any way? What is the function of the bottom head?

   The bottom head on toms can serve a muffing function, but this usually involves adding some form of muffing device to it.

   It's primary purpose is to compliment the top head and help develop the sound of the drum. Consider, even though you only strike the top head, both heads vibrate - both heads contribute to the sound. How you tune these two drums will affect how the drum will sound. Hop on over to Tuning for an extensive discussion of the role of the bottom head in the sound.

   The bottom head also helps keep the sound in the drum shell longer than a single-headed drum, thus helping the sound to "mature" and develop before it is projected. This might sound rather goofy, but if you take the bottom head off, hit the drum, then put it back on, you can get a feel of how the bottom head helps round out the sound.

   Is it possible to over-muffle my drums?

   It depends on why you're muffling. If you're muffling to get rid of a nasty over-ring, then you should do as much as you can to eliminate it. If in the process, however, you wind up eliminating ALL the drums resonant tone, then you've gone too far. If the drum just makes a quick, slappy "thud", rather than speaks with a nice, pure tone, then you've killed it.

       In my experience I see an abundance of drummers who tend to overmuffle their drums, especially the bass drum. What I find when playing un-miced is that although the drums may have a lot of overtones when played alone these overtones virtually dissappear when playing with the rest of the band.

       I've heard drummers with the bass drum muffled and the bass is almost non- existant. The drummer however can hear it and thinks everyone else can. This also applies to the other drums but is most evident with the bass drum. I've mentioned this to drummers who I know well enough that they welcome advice but they just can't bring themselves to change their habits. Of course miking the drums is a different story.

  •    Shane Camilleri or Toronto, Canada writes:
  •    You may laugh at my suggestions, but give it a try. For a standard 22 "kick, I have used with very good results on almost any brand of drum, a Remo pinstripe head ,a Remo bass drum muffle ring, a Danmar hard fibre kick pad, black spray paint, a piece of carpet, and (I'm not kidding) a box of thick cheap sanitary napkins. Paint the napkins black and line the bottom 2\3 of the bass drum leaving the top of the shell open to breathe a bit. Install the muffle ring and head as normal. Place the kick pad where you want it. Use the carpet to cover the napkins. If you use a hard beater with a vented front head, this combo gives you a real kick a@# sound that will cut through anything. Try it,you will not be dissapointed.

   Can you give me some tips on drum heads?

  • Eric Fessler writes:
  •    First off my kit is a Silver Export., not the most expensive thing out there but hey I'm poor lol, it still sounds great thought... anyway; After searching through endless drum heads for my Toms and Snare both I have found what I have been looking for.. (atleast for now anyway) For my Toms I ended up with good ol' Aquarian Performance II's.. They are made to be tuned low but still have great bounce and they last along time.. I use no muffle devices on the batter heads. The Resonator sides are Remos and I use a slim piece of door weather-strip on the inside of the drum touching the shell. (How much to use is guaged on how much you want to kill the ring) The snare I picked an Aquarian Studio-X (coated) and a the thinest Remo resonant side head I could find.. No other muffling required on the snare. It has great depth and a great crack to it.. I love it! And finally the kick, I use all Aquarian here. A Super Kick II on the beater side and a regulator with port on the resonate side.. Again no further muffling required.. This combo give a great Sharp, quick punch with zero ring.. If you like some ring or more of a boomy sound, the loose the regulator head and opt of a Remo resonate head. This is the happiest I've ever been with the way my kit sounds, I'm glad I got out and talk to other drumers that help a bunch, and of coarse this site has helped me greatly... Have fun all.

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