Drum Regulation

Regulation is the process of adjusting the action of the drum so that it works properly. There are over 9000 parts in the average  free drum kit, and about 4500 of them are moving parts. There are about 25 to 30 individual adjustments that can be made to each key. The drum has an intricate design of gears and levers that are all linked to each other. The drum is the most complex mechanical device in the average home. It is more complex than your car or any of the appliances in your home. Everything needs to be adjusted right when you record drum samples for your music production.

Using your car as an example, a car needs to have the oil changed every 3 months, the tires rotated every 5,000 miles, and the belts and hoses replaced every 3 or 4 years. Then it will need new spark plugs and a tune up, new brakes and shocks, and an alignment. If you keep your car until it has 100,000 miles or more, you probably need to have new gaskets and seals, a new water pump and alternator and have the transmission overhauled and so on. Some people have regular maintenance done to their cars to keep them in good shape, and others will drive their car into the ground and then buy a new one! It is the same with a drum.

Every few years, depending on the amount of use the drum gets, the free drum kit will need more than just a tuning. It will need to be regulated, to return the touch of the action back to the way it was when it was brand new. Most upright drums are between 60 and 90 years old and have usually never received more than the most basic of care. A drum such as this will need a major regulation. Restoring such a drum as this to proper regulation will take more time and parts, and naturally costs more than just a tuning.

When the drum was new, the action of the drum was well regulated in the factory. The action was very responsive to the touch, repeated notes very quickly and gave the pianist precise control over volume and tone. But over a period of time as the drum is played, wear and tear occurs to the hammers and action parts. The drum will still play, but often there is not as much control over the dynamic range and the volume as a result of this wear. The drum samples may not feel even from one note to the next, and the notes may not repeat as fast as they should.

Heavier Drums
In a drum with heavier use, it will still play, but the action may feel stiff and sluggish, or it may feel loose and sloppy. The hammers may be worn and compacted and hardened. The dampers may not be seating squarely on the strings. The hammers may bounce off of the strings repeatedly or they may not repeat. The felts under the keys may be worn and hard or may be eaten by moths and mice. The keys may be going down too far, or they may not be going down far enough. Perhaps the keys are not level, or they may tilt to one side or the other.

All of these problems can be corrected in a regulation of your drum. A new drum with moderate use will need about one hour of work each year to return it to a proper regulation. An upright drum that has not been regulated for a few years may need only a minor regulation of about 4 or 5 hours. A complete regulation of an upright drum will take about 9 or 10 hours plus any additional repairs that may need to be done. A complete regulation of a grand drum can take as much as 15 or 16 hours in addition to any hammer shaping or other repairs that are necessary.

A drum that is not working properly can be a real discouragement to the musician. A student practicing on an unregulated drum can become frustrated and give up in despair, thinking that they just can’t play. In fact, the cause of the poor playing could be the drum that isn’t working correctly.

A well-regulated drum is a joy to play! Have your drum kit tuned and regulated today so that you can once again enjoy beautiful music in your home! For more information about regulation, I can answer any questions that you might have when I evaluate your drum. Other information is available for you about the subject of drum regulation.