How to Play the Timpani
How to tune the timpani
Tuning the head
Set the head and the hoop in the center. Check whether all tuning bolts are inserted vertically.
If the head or hoop is misaligned, loosen the tuning bolts and realign them. When doing this on a pedal-type timpani, the pedal will quickly return when the head is loosened, so keep your foot firmly pressed down on the pedal, or insert a block of wood to keep it from returning.
On a handle-type timpani, crank the handle to the left (counter-clockwise). When the handle stops, crank it one-half revolution to the right, loosen each tuning bolt until the head tension is released, and adjust the head and hoop.
Loosen each tuning bolt evenly a little at a time to get the lowest sound specified for the timpani size.
On a hand-tightened timpani, adjust to the desired pitch for each performance. The tonal range of a timpani depends on its size, so use the timpani within that range.
For hand-tightened timpani with a plastic head, you will be able to guess how many times the bolts need to be turned in order to produce a certain pitch, once you have played it for a while. When changing the pitch in the middle of a piece, it is useful to remember how many times you need to turn the bolts for the next pitch to be played. If you learn how to turn the opposing bolts at the same time, you will be able to change pitches more smoothly.
Adjusting the pedal on a pedal-type timpani is a very important process. As the balance is obtained between the head tension and the spring, if the head has gotten old, you will not be able to balance the pedal. The head should be replaced if it has been used for one year, to a year and a half or more.
The pedal will get out of balance if the drum is tuned to a note outside of its normal tonal range. If the pedal is unbalanced, first check whether it is correctly tuned to the lowest note specified for that timpani size.
Pedal adjustment: part 1
Even though the head and tuning may be good, if the pedal is not balanced, use a tuning key to turn and adjust the spring adjustment bolt.
If the pitch goes up when the head is struck, or if the heel of the pedal goes up when releasing your foot, turn the spring tension adjustment bolt to the left to loosen the spring.
If the pitch goes down when the head is struck, or if the toe of the pedal goes up when releasing your foot, turn the spring tension adjustment bolt to the right to tighten the spring.
Be careful not to loosen the spring tension adjustment bolt too much, as this will cause the pedal to suddenly snap back from the tension of the head.
Pedal adjustment: part 2
The Yamaha timpani from the TP-7000H to the 5000 series include a PAC (Pedal Adjustment Clutch) mechanism. This mechanism allows the pedal movement to be made heavier or lighter, by altering the internal friction resistance. This feature is completely independent of the balancing spring adjustment.
Turn the adjustment bolt to the right (clockwise) to make the pedal movement heavier, and to the right to make the pedal movement lighter, as you like.
Adjusting the tuning indicator
When adjusting the tuning indicator, first adjust the pitch of the timpani to the lowest pitch available for that size.
With the drum set at lowest pitch, move the note name indicator mark on the tuning indicator to the lowest note position (the F note, for a 29" drum; the display panel can be easily moved by hand).
If the indicator mark is over to the side, fine-tuning is required. To do this, first loosen the adjustment nut with a spanner or similar tool, and turn the adjustment screw to move the indicator mark. Once you have done this, tighten the nut once more.
Following this, use the pedal or handle in order to tune the head to the each pitch. Slide the note display panel each time to match the indicator mark up with the desired position.
Loosen the locking screw on the tuning indicator using a Phillips screwdriver to change the angle of the entire indicator.