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Jim Dunn on Drums
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What kind of drums do you play?

I have a beautiful set of Premier Signia's-- Cherry Wood finish-- in all their British glory.  My kit consists of 6 power toms, 8", 10", 12", 13", 14", 15", 2 floor toms, 16" and 18" and a 22" bass drum, as well as a 6 1/4" x 14" Ludwig Maple snare, a 3 1/2" x 13" Pearl Brass snare, and a 5 1/4" x 14" Gretsch Aluminum snare.

What do you look for when you are shopping for a drum?

I first look for resonance-- I like a long decay.  Second, I look for a wide tuning range.  With these Signia's, the shell is undersized a bit to achieve just that-- a wide range of tuning possibilities.  I also like the warmth and attack of a maple shell, and lastly I look for a natural wood finish.  With a natural finish, the wood can't hide-- you know that you are getting an almost perfect piece of wood for your shell, not to mention the pure aesthetics of a natural finish!

What do you look for in a snare drum?

To me, the snare is the meat of most modern Western rock drumming.  It can be many voices in the drum choir, and there are available many different types to suit these voices.  There are now piccolo snares, soprano snares, and many other specialty snares to choose from.  I use three different snares.  I have a deep natural maple Ludwig that I use in most of our songs, I have a Pearl brass bell Piccolo thiat I use in a couple of songs as the main snare and as in effect in yet other songs, and I have a standard 5 1/4" aluminum Gretsch snare that really cuts through, which I use occasionally also.  I like a snare that I can really "ghost" on, which requires a tighter snare strainer.  In some songs, like "Devil's Advocate" and "Wounded", I like a lot of tone, which is the hallmark of the maple snare.  On other songs, like "Time Out" and "Spiritual Animal", I am going for a real tight snare with no intrinsic tone, hence the brass piccolo, which works really well for this application.

What are your thoughts on tuning drums?

In the studio, we tuned fairly high, especially on the last few songs that we recorded, such as "The Climb".  When recording, I have to respond to the fact that my drums are under a microscope, so to speak.  Any buzzes or excess overtones must be dealt with.  Initially we had some problems with the larger, deeper toms sounding a bit too tympanic, but with a great deal of patience and tweaking of both heads, we got these drums sounding excellent.

In general, I try to tune the drums to the drum shell's intrinsic sound and not some specific note.  I tap softly on the head at each lug until I get an even note across the head.  I tune the bottom head to get the desired sustain and over-all tone.  On snares, I tune the top head high and the bottom head for ample snare sound, with no choking of the snares

What plans do you have for the future, as far as your acoustic kit is concerned?

I will probably get two more toms, 9" and 11" as well as possibly some ethnic percussion. If John had his way, I would probably have all kinds of extra acoustic percussion, which would be fine if he would help me carry it [laughs].


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