"QUICK LOOKS" - TIGHT SCREW MINI TEST
Modern Drummer, August 2005
Did you ever find yourself "playing ping-pong" in the middle of a rock gig? You know the feeling. You're playing all-out, slamming into the pocket with sledgehammer force. As the gig progresses, your snare doesn't sound the same as when you started. You tap the batter head near the lugs and find that most of the tension points sound like "ping," but when you tap the spots where the rimshots land, you hear "pong."
If you've been taking notes during the past few years, you know that this phenomenon is due to heavy playing momentarily reducing the pressure on those tension rods, allowing them to loosen in response to shell vibration. Various manufacturers have dealt with this problem over the years, using such things as locking nuts against the lugs or molded plastic heads that go on the rods to keep them in place. These solutions can take extra time and effort, and can interfere with fine-tuning capabilities. Carl Scott Percussion has come up with something different that does the job without the drawbacks.
The TightScrew is a non-loosening tension rod that is designed to stay right where you put it. It features a small channel cut along the length of the rod where the threads go into the lug. The channel is filled with something that looks like nylon, and the friction of this substance against the threads inside the lug casing keeps the rod in place. This technology is used on Apache helicopters to prevent parts from loosening under extreme vibration and temperature conditions.
To test how well the TightScrew rods worked, I replaced two rods on my snare and laid into it. The TightScrew rods stayed right in place, and I didn't have to do any retuning during the test period. I appreciated having infinite control over my tuning, without the constraints of a device that uses a plastic edge or ball-bearing click to hold the rod in place.
Carl Scott says that if you play at light to moderate volumes, you only need to replace the rods positioned immediately under your sticks. For higher volume levels they suggest that you replace all the rods on the rim. Once this is done, you shouldn't need to do anything until the head stretches. The rods come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which should be plenty of time to determine if you'll have a problem. The rods on my test snare remain where I first tuned them, and I haven't had to touch them since.
TightScrew rods are available in three lengths: 1 5/8" (42 mm), 2" (52 mm), and 2 1/2" (65 mm). I think they're worth it; you can get tight and stay loose at the same time.