So, you want to make your Snare sound epic?
Whether you are in the studio, playing a gig or just love rocking out at home, a phat sounding snare can be suitable in all occasions. It can change your approach to the kit or make you feel like you’re in an 80’s rock band. I’m going to share with you this quick tip that will transform your Snare and allow you to change your sound with minimal effort.
Firstly, I will say that this technique really works best if you are in a studio. Some producers love a big sounding Snare drum and if you can nail this trick, you’ll also shake off the overtones from your Snare (great way to get in an engineers good books) that they spend ages trying to get rid of whilst editing. If you’re reading this and thinking: “I want a phat Snare when I gig but I don’t have time to change my tuning between songs,” a Big Fat Snare Drum will help you out. Available from any decent Drum Shop, they also transform your Snare sound in a matter of seconds.
First step, turn your Snare over so that the resonant head is facing up. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it for the rest of my life, tuning isn’t just in the top head. Give both skins some lovin’ so they can work together to make your drums sound like a sweet buttery biscuit. Mmmm biscuits…
Anyway… Once you have turned the Snare over, the first thing to do is make sure all the tension bolts are in tension with each other and stay tuned as tight as possible. DISCLAIMER! Go steady, don’t go snapping any resonant skins; they are incredibly sensitive and thin. Take the tension up in small measures until you reach a point you think is tight enough. Trust your intuition, you know your drums better than anyone else. Make sure you tune the opposite lugs so the skin goes down onto the bearing edge equally. The reason we want the Snare side to be as tight as possible is this will give us the best response from the Snare wires and make the drum more sensitive.
Next step, turn the drum back over so the batter side is facing up. Again, make sure all the tension bolts are equal in tension. The easiest way to do this is to turn the Snare strainer off so you can hear the pitch by each bolt when it’s tapped. Go round and tap the head by each bolt in turn to make sure it sounds the same as the one previous and adjust accordingly so the drum is tune with itself.
Cool, so to recap: the drum should be in tune with itself and the bottom skin should be as tight as you feel comfortable with.
Now the fun bit. If the Snare is in front of you, pick a lug that is directly in-front of you (sat at 6 or 7 o clock if your snare was a clock-face) and loosen it all the way. Don’t take the lug out as that’s when things go missing, but make sure it’s fully loose. Then, take the lugs either side of that and loosen them by half. For example, if the lug at 6 o’ clock was fully loose, then take the lug at 5 and 7 o’ clock and loosen them by half. With the Snare strainer still off, you should be able to hear the pitch of the drum has come down and the skin may even have some creases in it. This is what we want!
We are nearly there. You are well on the way to getting that phat Snare sound we all dream of (maybe that’s just me). At this point I personally would avoid using Moongel if possible but it may help control the overtones. The overtones can also be controlled by the tension of the Snare wire if you are comfortable with adjusting that. If you don’t want to use Moongel or adjust the Snare wire tension so that you can use the lugs at roughly 3 & 9 on the clock face to control the over tone. Loosen those slightly and experiment with sounds.
Pull the Snare strainer back on and there you have it! A phat sounding Snare! This will make it sooooo much easier to deal with in terms of mic-ing or mixing the Snare in a studio environment. Take the tip, experiment with it and let me know how you get on? As always, if you’re reading this and you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with me at @rockinrobinsdrumservices or drop me a message on the site and I’ll be more than happy to help!