The Drums – How to Tighten the Lug Nuts

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,829
    Professional drummer Wes Crawford demonstrates how to tighten the lug nuts on your drum to get the proper tension.

    Wes Crawford

    Wes began his professional music career after graduating with a B.S. in Psychology at Virginia Tech. Soon thereafter, he began performing drumset with the extraordinary Jazz/R&B singer Jane L. Powell, a musical association that lasted eleven years and continues as a managerial relationship. The group toured throughout North America and the Caribbean performing at festivals, universities, resorts, nightclubs, and cruise ships. They opened for such acts as Ray Charles, Melba Moore, Freddie Jackson, Lou Rawls, The Crusaders, Joan Jett, Ernie Watts, and Paula Poundstone, and occasionally performed alongside artists such as Tony Bennett, O.C. Smith, and Dorothy Moore. The 1,300 colleges and universities comprising the National Association for Campus Activities voted the group Entertainer of the Year in 1990, their highest honor, and Jazz Artist of the Year for 1990-1992. During these years of touring, Wes also recorded two albums with Ms. Powell as well as for several outside artists. Wes also conducted electronic percussion seminars at VA Tech and at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Gifted. In 1992, Wes settled with his family in the Washington, DC area as an independent artist on drumset and percussion where he currently performs and records with acts such as Shahin & Sepehr (Higher Octave/Narada world music recording artists), Cocktail Nuts (aka “C-NUTS”- Jazz versions of rock classics, on Wildchild/Mapleshade Records), mrudangam virtuoso Umayalpuram K. Shivaraman (including a clinic at PASIC 2000 and a featured performance at Baltimore Drum Day 2000), Squeeze Bayou (1998 winners of the “Best Non-Louisiana-Based Cajun Band Recording” awarded by the Cajun French Music Association), and Night Life (high-energy show band). Wes has also regularly performed and/or recorded with Aisha Kahlil (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), Eva Cassidy, Catalyst Events’ “Beatswork!,” Zydeco Crayz, Mary Ann Borelli, “Oh Susannah!”, Sugar Jones, and Armadillo recording artist Daryl Davis. His other noteworthy performances and recordings include those with the David Bach Consort (2nd place winner in the 1998 BET unsigned band video contest), Hennesy Jazz Search regional winner Jerry Gordon, and performances with Milestone recording artist Ron Holloway. Wes considers education to be an important link to the future of the percussive arts and teaches drumset privately and at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. He also performs in public school assemblies with Mosaic, which provided the musical instruction and curriculum for the 2000 Maryland Artist/Teacher Institute. Wes serves as the Director of the annual Drumset And Percussion Camp of the Goucher Summer Arts Institute and as Vice-President of the MD/DE chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. In 2000, Wes started, a site to feature his interactive educational media such as his popular “Drumset Play-Along DVD.” His latest “A Rhythmic Murder Mystery” interactive DVD features a solo electronic drumset concert, which he also performs live. Wes holds Associate Artist relationships with Maryland Drum Company and with Trueline Drumsticks, and he occasionally works as Music Consultant for the not-for-profit Sustainable Environments for Health + Shelter.

    Hi! I am Wes Crawford and now we are going to talk about probably the most crucial aspect of changing a drumhead and thats actually tightening the lug screws into the lugs to get the proper tension on the drumhead, to get the sound you want because thats what it's all about. First just take your fingers on the lug screws, they are very easy to tighten, and so what we want to do is have them all to the same equal tension and we will do that finger tightening each set of lug screws all around the drum and as you can see I am doing this with opposite screws that is opposite sides of the head, exactly, and this is not really putting any tension on the head yet because we are just getting them basically to what we would call the zero point. I am tightening so that they won't tighten with my fingers anymore and we can bring our key into play. At this point you also want to watch and make sure that the rim is going down evenly over the head that you dont see more collar on one side or the other, more part of this bottom part of the head here. So, now I am going back around and checking to see they are all at what I am calling the zero point, zero tension, the drum is now ready to be tensioned and we will start. In this case, I am starting in about the 8o clock position in relation to my body and I am going to give it one half-turn, I will go to the opposite side, finger tighten again because the act of tightening one side can affect the tension on the other side, it might have loosen it up, thats particularly true of the bigger drums. So, Ill give this side one half-turn. Now, I am going to remember my 8o and 2o clock positions and go over here to the 10o and 4o because thats as far away as I can get from these other two and Ill most evenly tension it, by doing a half-turn on each of these. Again, you always want to make sure, you are starting with a tight finger, tightening tension. Now, this is a 10 lug drum, so we have just covered four of them, lets move two more from lugs away from the last one we just did, which actually puts it only one away from one that we did earlier. A half-turn will move two away. Again, you want to make sure nothing is loosening up as you do this, and finally as you can see this did loosened up, we are doing the ninth and tenth lugs. Your drum may have fewer or perhaps more lugs. The point is to do them as evenly as possible, and some have indeed loosened up a little bit. So, lets go through and do a whole next cycle, in the same order, trying to tighten them in an even fashion and I compensated on this one by doing two half-turns because for some reason it has loosened up. So, now we have done two half-turns or one complete turn equally around the drum. Now, if you are tuning a tom that might be fine, that might be the tension you want, and I would suggest and start tapping to see if its around of kind of tone you want, the kind of pitch you want. With a snare drum, top head, we generally tune it a little bit more taut, so, I am going to do two more half-turns all the way around, and sometimes you will just feel, just by a feel, you will feel that one lug is not as tight as the others it offers less resistance, so you might compensate by tuning a little extra. The point is you want to get the head equally taut at every point around the drum, so what you have to do to make that work is what you have to do.