OT: Indoor Tuning Techniques

Hi folks,

A few questions.  First, I have  16-18-20-22-26 Pearl basses.  I'm only marching 4.  Which do you recommend and how would you tune and muffle them for an indoor venue.  Then, kevlar or mylar on the bottom of 14'' snares?  Again, for indoor.  I'm fairly new to the indoor stuff so any advice would be helpful!

Thanks for your answers!

Some very basic thoughts...

If you have a bass guitar or other bass ensemble instrument, maybe you take your top 4.  Personally, I'd lose your 20, assuming your top two have chops.  If not, lose the 16.  If you pull out a 16, there's a little bit of chop expectation...

On your snares, it depends.  Kevlar is easier, but it depends solely on the level and number of kids.  It's not just the head choice; tuning even the snares, whether you tape, stick choice, and technique all have a play into how heavy the sound is.  If you've never done indoor, make sure you ensemble in a gym.  Then use your ears.

For snares, you can add foam on the bottom heads, but the most effective tuning trick I know is to make sure that the snares themselves are all tightened equally, and the heights are tuned crisply, with lots of bite.  Then adjust with any foam accordingly.  Ralphie Jrs or other indoor stick is recommended.

On the basses, if you have the foam on the inside and don't want to mess with it, no problem.  Just don't ";mirror"; the foam on the outside.  If it just lays on top, it won't be as effective, nor as consistent.  For simple adjustments, consider purchasing patches that you can just remove for next fall.  Make sure the pitches the drums are tuned to are actual pitches, and are in key with most of your tunes.  And don't add too much; those sizes are tight sounding anyhow.  Play with a lighter mallet, or one with a narrower impact point first, and see if you need any padding at all.  Seeing a trend?

Same with tenors.  Try a tenor stick, and see what you get.

Indoors is not just about cranking all of the heads up to super-reef.  Listen inside and adjust your ensemble sound accordingly.  But remember this truism...  even if you didn't change the tuning, are your musicians playing to the environment?

Wow; the former indoor judge is coming out in me...  ;)
I don't claim to be an expert in the realm of indoor marching percussion, but if you are going to have marching drums in a gym, I think it's worth placing an emphasis on how the [i]playing[/i] will accomplish your result, in addition to the [i]tuning[/i]. Granted, appropriate tuning is a part of any venue, it's not going to solve the problems of players overplaying the venue. If you've ever been in a smaller restaurant or club, and there's a group playing as if they're in a coliseum...that might be something of an analogy. Musicians always need to adapt to their environment, and indoor marching percussion is just as relevant.

If it were me, I'd focus first on getting the tuning of the drums to sound good in the gym, then adapt the approach of the players to suit their environment. This is something of a quandary with the indoor scene as (from what I can gather) sometimes groups don't change their musical approach for the indoor venue from what they'd normally do on the football field. I may be wrong, but I don't necessarily think a different set of sticks and dampened drums will do everything to create good sound in a gymnasium. It may be a part of it, but most likely not the bulk of it.

I admire groups that have a good command over balancing all elements in the gym. These concepts are certainly easier said than done. Experimentation and a good set of ears will undoubtedly be your best guide.

Good luck!!
[quote author=markc01 link=topic=1527.msg7162#msg7162 date=1169515178]
Hi folks,

A few questions.�� First, I have�� 16-18-20-22-26 Pearl basses.�� I'm only marching 4.�� Which do you recommend and how would you tune and muffle them for an indoor venue.�� Then, kevlar or mylar on the bottom of 14'' snares?�� Again, for indoor.�� I'm fairly new to the indoor stuff so any advice would be helpful!

Thanks for your answers!


I would go 16-18-22-26.  When you get into the gym, check for bass clarity.  If they are too boomy, take the tuning up higher and add another ring or half ring of foam to the head, about an inch or so away from the rim.

As for kevlar or mylar bottoms, it is up to preference.  If the snares are too wet, add a maxi pad or wad of paper towels to the bottom head and re-tune the gut snares.  Try and avoid over cranking the snare tuning, you loose a lot of body.
Here is what I do

snares- take off the top head, then lay a t-shirt(1 side, not the whole thing) over the bearing edge. Then sit the head on top of the tshirt and rim. Tune the head up alittle and then stretch the tshirt out to get out the wrinkles. then crank to your liking. On the bottom, either tune the snare guts to the same pitch or to an arpeggio.You still get a good sound even at low playing levels .

tenors- well , not much you can do. If you have full size drums then poke holes around the edge of the lowest drum. That will kill some of the sustain and even out the drums better.

basses- I use foam on the inside of the head.

It's about adjusting the kids when they are inside like Jim was saying.  You can muffle a drum all you want, but its still going to be loud in a gym. Dynamics can be the deciding factor in who gets first and who gets second.  You CAN ram dynamically...

-darryl jones
To echo Jim a little, writing for indoors is important.  I think it's 100X more important than coming up with a muffling technique.  If you write a lot of bass unisons, it's going to sound terrible.  Full ensemble/battery playing should be less frequent as well. 
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