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  • Writer's pictureNathan Coles

How to Seat a Drum Head on an Orchestral Snare Drum

Updated: Mar 14

Seating a snare side head on an orchestral snare drum is a crucial step in maximizing sensitivity and response. The snare bed, a slight dip in the bottom bearing edge of the drum adjacent to the strainer, plays a vital role in creating the right tension for optimal performance.


how to seat a snare side head

The snare bed, often overlooked yet indispensable, is a subtle but critical feature on an orchestral snare drum. Positioned adjacent to the strainer and butt, this slight dip in the bottom bearing edge plays a pivotal role in enhancing the drum's responsiveness and tonal quality. While its dimensions may vary, the purpose remains constant: to facilitate the proper seating of the bottom head. When executed correctly, the snare bed creates a subtle bow or bubble in the head, ensuring maximum contact between the cable snares and the drum surface. This crucial contact optimizes sensitivity and articulation, allowing for nuanced expression and dynamic range in orchestral settings. Understanding and mastering the art of seating a snare side head on an orchestral snare drum is fundamental to unlocking its full sonic potential and achieving superior performance.



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Materials Needed:

- Snare drum (you knew that, right?)

- New snare drum head (e.g., Remo Diplomat Hazy)

- Heat gun

- Two drum keys



Step 1: Prepare Your Drum

1. Place your existing drum on a stable surface with the old head, hoop, and tension rods removed from the drum's snare side.

2. Clean off the bearing edge of the drum with a cloth to remove any dust or dirt.

3. Orientate the new bottom (snare side) head on the drum, ensuring the snare gates are positioned above the strainer and butt.


Step 2: Install the Bottom Hoop and Tension Rods

1. Carefully place the bottom hoop on the drum, aligning it with the head.

2. Install the tension rods and finger tighten them until snug against the hoop.

3. Be carful not to cross thread the tension rods. Go slowly and try installing the rods again if you feel a lot of tension right away from the rod.


Step 3: Apply Heat to Seat the Drum Head

apply heat to seat the snare side head

1. Hold the heat gun approximately three to four inches away from the bottom head.

2. Make wide, sweeping passes across each snare bed and around the entire bearing edge.

3. Avoid holding the heat source too close or in one spot for too long to prevent damage.


avoid holding the head source to close to the snare side head for too long


Step 4: Tighten the Tension Rods

Using your two drum keys, tighten two rods a half to a full turn simultaneously.

1. Using your two drum keys, tighten two rods a half to a full turn simultaneously.

2. Work in a star-shaped tuning pattern to ensure even tension across the head.

3. Repeat this process several times until any wrinkles disappear and the head is fully seated.


Step 5: Check for Bowing

1. After fully seating the head, observe for a slight bow over the snare bed.

2. This bow indicates proper tension and contact with the snare gates.


a slight bow found in the snare bed of a black swamp pro10 snare drum

a slight bow found in the snare bed of a black swamp pro10 snare drum


Step 6: Tune and Reinstall Snares

1. Tune the head to your desired pitch using the tension rods.

2. Reinstall the snares and begin tensioning the cables to boost your drum's performance.


If you're curious how to to tune a Multisonic or SoundArt snare drum, check out our blogs posts detailing the process:


 

Seating a snare side head on an orchestral snare drum is a straightforward process that significantly impacts the drum's sensitivity and response. By following these steps and exercising caution with the heat source, you can achieve optimal sound quality and performance from your drum. Enjoy the process and embrace the improved capabilities of your instrument.



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