Staying on pitch with TightScrews

(mtebaldi | Posted 2011-05-05)

Staying on pitch with TightScrews

The lower you tune and the harder you hit, the more important it becomes to rely on a kit that can hold the tune and pitch of each of your drums during a live gig or a studio session. It's just part of performing with an acoustic instrument; normally, in addition to changes in temperature, the factor that the most influences the detuning is actually your own performance. Many drum kit manufacturers have tried to solve the problem of drum detuning and de-pitching during performance, sometimes achieving great results. DW is known for creating the True Pitch Tension Rod that features 5mm threads rather than the 12/24 found on standard rods. The True Pitch has 20% more threads, making detuning rare but the only problem is that they can only be used on DW kits. Then, there is the lug lock, little hard plastic squares that lock the head of the rod against the rim. They can be used in any kind of drum and seem to do the job well, but are they really versatile?

I got this product in the mail recently and at first glance it seems to be a combination between the True-Pitch's versatility with Lug-Lock's universal use. TightScrews are standard rods that feature a small soft nylon insert on a milled channel at the lower side of the threads, offering versatility of tuning and universal use. At the first moment I started to insert the TightScrews on my snare drum, I could feel how these rods were going to be able to hold tuning. Unlike standard rods, the TightScrews will require you to screw them in with a drum key until its head touches the rim, a job commonly done with your fingertips. The nylon insert becomes responsible for tightening the rod's body against the interior walls of the lug, thus working against de-tuning or coming loose. I found out that this tightness comes with another beneficial factor, it allows for more accurate fine-tuning. With the rod being tougher to screw, its place is held even when turning it slightly when you are looking for the pitch desired, thus giving you a better sense of control and precision.

With TightScrews in place, I took a test drive with them by putting them through a quick experiment, just to make sure they really wouldn't de-tune. First, by the use of a DrumDial, I took the measurements prior my playing. Then I quickly mic'ed the kit and tracked a 45 minutes performance of heavy hitting beats. Forty-five minutes being the usual time for regular club gigs (at least in NYC) and also enough time to track multiple takes for a song in a studio session. Right after my 45 minute “gig”, I quickly checked the dial. All measurements matched my prior reading. I wasn't too surprise about that, since my DW snare lugs also hold tuning very well because of the True-Pitch rods. I played back the recording, comparing the hits of the first minute, to the ones at minute 45. The sound doesn't lie. TightScrew did the job and the pitch and tune of my drums stayed the same after an intense and hard-hitting performance.

I played around a bit more with the TightScrew after that first experiment. I wanted to see how low it could hold tuning without loosing pitch. With my floor tom down to the lowest I could get it without sacrificing its musicality, I again laid down some pretty heavy grooves. The results were identical to my first experiment. Tone and tune remained constant.

After my test's approval, I see TightScrews as being one of those little details that can make a huge difference in one's work. TightScrews certainly help to maintain sound consistency, quality, and ultimately improve one's performance. I highly recommend them specifically to heavy-hitting drummers and those who like to have their kit tuned toward the low side. Just make sure to measure your rods prior to purchasing their TightScrews substitutes. Lug and rod sizes tend to vary a lot from manufacturer to manufacturer. Keep an eye on that and you will be all set.

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