Updated on May 14th, 2021
Drum tuning involves positioning a drum head appropriately, which ensures that the drum shell and the resonant head are in harmony with themselves. When tightening the tension rods, the rim is used to position the head onto the bearing edge of the drum. Knowing ways to turn your durm is important.
While drums can vary in how they are tuned, most drums use standard techniques. We have listed down some basic steps that will guide you to turn your drum the perfect way.
How to Tune a Bass Drum?
- Place the bass drum on its side, with the batter side facing up, and release the tension from the head. Press your palm in the center – if it’s a new head – to stretch it out.
- Bring all the tension rods to the tightness of the finger. If you want a drum tone (for example, if you’re playing jazz), you can use a mallet to match each part of the head with a pitch. Otherwise, just drive it all up to tension. You don’t aim for as much of a sound as you look for a certain amount of attack.
- There should be no wrinkles if you loop your hand around the edge of the drum.
- You can use something like Remo’s internal muffling device when you want to muffle your bass drum, or you can just place some beach towels inside.
- Next, tune the resonant head the way you tune the head of the batter. The bass drum resonance and the action on the batter head are mainly dependent on whether the resonant head has a hole or not. A hole allows a lot of air to escape every time you reach the head of a batter. If you want to check the sound, feel free to do it. Put the bass drum up and press both sides in the middle of the head for comparison. If any wrinkles are noticed, tighten the tension rod closest to the wrinkle.
How to Tune a Snare Drum?
- Use your finger to tighten all the tension rods. Bring the snare drum up to tension with each one going around the drum in a star pattern with a full turn. The most important thing to do is listen, no matter what strategy you use. Try to immediately pull up and make the snare tight.
- Test the pitch by tapping around the drum until you have the overall sound in the range that you’re looking for.
- For the resonant head of the snare, disfigure it like the head of the batter. Tune it ‘tabletop tight’: as flat as the top surface of a table. Get your head up to tension. You want the wires to be heard, but not so much that the attack is overwhelming.
How to Tune Toms?
- All tension rods ought to be loose and nice. Start by tightening each of the fingers. Having it finger tight means that you just let the tension rod hit the rim’s edge. Do this all the way around. If the lugs are a little close, use a drum key to make sure the rim is touched by each one.
- Make sure the tom is on the floor and press down on the middle of the drum head with the palm of your hand to stretch it out if you’re putting on new heads.
- Any tension rods could loosen a little as you stretch the head, so double check that everything is still finger-tight, making adjustments as needed.
- Start with your smallest tom, in a star pattern, bringing up the tension. To increase the tension, give the rod closest to you one full turn, do the same with the one across from that, then the next one, and so on. To bring them uniformly up to stress, each one gets a complete turn. Hit the drum. Tighten all the tension rods with another quarter turn if it sounds a little flat.
- There are instruments that can make tuning simpler for you (such as the Drum Dial), but if you can do it by feeling and by ear, it’s perfect. The final sound you should get from the tom is the initial attack, followed by a sound tapering-off.
- Try to achieve a similar pitch/note for the resonant heads. You may want to tune the head of the reso slightly lower than the side of the batter, but see what works for you. You can tap your finger on the head close to each lug, to confirm an even tension around the drum. For your high toms, you may use this strategy, but when you get to the floor tom, it can shift.
- If you need a slightly higher pitch, tune your next tom, giving each tension rod a complete turn to start, and then give each one another half turn.
- Compare the pitch of the drums to one another. It’s all right if the notes are not equally spaced between drums (a third, a fifth) if it sounds like you’re hearing it in your head. Try to sing this out loud!
- Offer each tension rod half a turn to tune a floor tom, moving around the drum in a star pattern. Hit the drum now and compare how the other toms sound. Next, in front of each lug, tap the head around the drum to ensure that the pitch sounds even. You may want to tune the bottom head a little higher than the top head for a floor tom.
Tuning drums perfectly requires some practice and can be done with finesse only with time. But if you’re a dedicated musician, you know that all great things come with constant effort.
We hope our ways to you tune your drum will help out.