Did you know that a few minor changes on your drum kit could enhance the overall sound and performance of it? These 8 simple touch ups don’t require the help of a qualified technician; you could actually handle them on your own. However before we even begin — change the heads! This is the best and most basic step towards improving the sound quality and performance in general of your kit!
Step 1: Wax the Bearing Edge
Never directly melt wax and apply it on the drum. Instead use a piece of solid wax (preferably beeswax, alternatively you may use a candle or paraffin), and rub it over the bearing edge of each drum. This reduces the amount of friction between the head and shell and improves the contact and head vibration.
Step 2: Check Bearing Edges for Flat Spots
The bearing edge should be the first place you look if your drum doesn’t tune properly. A bearing edge should have an even shape all the way around the drum. To examine it for a dip or flat spot run your finger over the surface. If you find an irregularity take the drum to a professional who is qualified to cut a new bearing edge.
Step 3: Make Sure the Heads Fit Properly
You may find that contemporary heads don’t fit properly on your older drum. This is because the shell is too big and/or the drum is covered in plastic, making it a little thicker than usual. What you could do is incrementally trim back the plastic covering until the head is free to vibrate. Be sure not to damage the bearing edge when trimming.
Step 4: Experiment with Stick Tips
If you don’t like the sound of a particular cymbal, look at what stick you use. If you try out different stick tips on the same cymbal you’ll hear a big difference in sound with each tip.
Step 5: Increase your Floor Tom Sustain
There are some floor tom legs which are designed for the foot to be twisted, which would in turn expose either a metal point or a rubber foot. Did you know that floor toms sustain longer when the rubber foot makes contact with the floor? Take a look at the type of feet you have on the floor tom legs. If yours are made of plastic or you don’t have any altogether, replace them with rubber feet.
Step 6: Adjust the Bass Drum Beater
The beater on your bass pedal should hit the head extremely close to the center in order to get the best out of your drum’s resonance and tone. If you play a 22" bass drum, adjusting the beater to strike in the center of the head is simple. However, if you play a 20" or smaller, or a 24" or bigger, you’ll find it a little more difficult to get hit at the dead-center. In trying to adjust the height of the beater rod, you’ll be sacrificing some of the pedal’s responsiveness to do so. But here’s the good news if you play a small bass drum! Many music stores have introduced cradles which raises the drum off the floor, this is just enough to allow the beater to hit the head directly in the center!
Step 7: Align your Snare Wires
The snare wire should not be pulled to one side or the other but be attached so that it is centered on the snare-side head. Choppily mounted wires could choke the sound quality of the drum and reduce the potential of the snare wires.
Step 8: Lower the Ride Cymbal Overtones
Paste a piece of duct tape that is 3/4"-wide underneath your cymbal. This will properly focus the cymbal’s ping sound and dampen the overbearing cymbal wash.