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Seating a Drumhead

Technique by Kirby Jacobsen // August 03 2013
Seating a Drumhead

Venturing into snare drum mechanics, I’m going to cover what should be the first step when placing a head on a drum—and that is, to seat it. To seat a drumhead is to essentially have it lay flush on the shell. This will ensure easier tuning and maximum resonance from the head. To seat the head on a drum, follow these steps: 

Step 1: With hands, tighten each lug sleeve finger tight. 

Step 2: Give each sleeve a 1/4 to 1/3 of a turn. Apply pressure at the head’s center using a fist or palm. You may hear cracking. This is the glue, no biggie. Just don’t push too hard! 

Step 3: Feel around the perimeter where the head touches the shell to make sure the head is flush all around and adjust if necessary. Check to see if the rim is centered on the shell by sliding a finger (between the rim and the shell) around the perimeter of the drum. Move the rim into place as necessary. 

Step 4: Give the sleeves another 1/4 to 1/3 of a turn then apply pressure in the center. Tap around the perimeter to check for consistent pitch. Adjust if necessary. Checking for even tension, detune each lug sleeve until you feel it just coming loose then crank it back up 1/4 to 1/3 of a turn as before. Apply pressure in the center. Tap around perimeter, adjust if necessary, then another give it another round of tensioning.

Step 5: VOILA! The head is seated. You may want to, when tuning it up, crank it uptight and let sit for a day. This will aid in stretching the head so it will hold your final desired tension more consistently.

This is the recipe that I’ve put together in a way that I find works. I always get a lot of projection and sustain out of my drums. Even if you have some sort of ritual you already perform, hopefully you can incorporate these steps to aid in the process.

 

seating a drum head




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About the Author
Kirby  Jacobsen

Kirby jacobsen (drummer, composer, author). Kirby studied Studio Recording and Jazz at the University of Miami and Jazz Performance at William Paterson University. He composes and arranges music for concert band, string and jazz trios and percussion ensemble. His snare solo book, Not Just Another Snare Solo Book, 20 Uncommon Snare Drum Solos, will soon be available on-line through HaMaR Percussion Publications, Inc. Kirby leads the Blue Brush Trio which performs in the NY/NJ metro area. 

Send questions or comments to Kirby at symphonic902@yahoo.com.



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