As far as toms go, I try to find the "sweet spot" where they sound big and fat. I tune the bottom heads tighter than the batters, not only because it makes sense from a physics standpoint, but also because it helps to eliminate the "pitch-bend" effect that is apparent when both heads are tuned low, close to or at the fundamental frequency of the shell.

My object being a sustaining drum without a great pitch bend, I usually end up with the batter head tuned low and the resonant head tuned medium to low.

For that lovely beast we call the bass drum I generally tune low on the batter (wrinkles-out), and a bit higher on the resonant side. I am particularly happy if there is nothing inside the drum, but this requires a) playing without burying the beater, b) music that benefits from such a huge sound and c) a soundman worth his or her salt, especially if there is no hole on the front head.

For the most part, a very small towel against each head, along with a small (no greater than 5") hole in the front head, gets the job done. Such a setup also leaves enough life to the drum so that the difference of sound between a buried beater and a quick-return type stroke is both apparent and ready to be used to your discretion.

As for the snare, both heads are quite tight. I pay great attention to avoid overtightened snares, overtightened snare baskets and lug locks. I avoid lug locks, because all the force exerted on a snare must give somewhere. Tune-safe devices in the lugs themselves are good, proper technique is even better. I've seen cracked shells on snares, because the brawny owner slammed as hard as he could with stiff hands, while using lug locks so that the tuning wouldn't move. Well, something else did. Granted, there might have been construction flaws on the drums, but I prefer being alert and tuning up once in a while.

As for cymbals, regardless of brand choice, one thing I must mention is that all too often I see cracked stuff because of the wrong choice in weight and/or size, in relation to the playing style. I like mine crisp, high-sounding, and brilliant. Cymbals are extremely personal, and the players' touch can make them stand out or subdue them.

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