How to Tune Drums – 4 Practical Drum Tuning Tips

In Drum Tips, Drummer resources, Drums, How to Tune Drums by PhilipLeave a Comment

How to Tune Drums

The ability to tune drums is something that comes with practice and patience. In this post I offer just a glimpse in the world how to tune drums. This post is not intended to make you the next great drum tuner, but should at least give you some insight in the the art of tuning drums that you may or may not have already known. This is your basic drum tuning stuff….stay tuned (no pun intended!) for some more in depth step by step “How To” drum tuning advice in one of my next posts! Enjoy!

Practical Drum Tuning Tips

  • The quality of the materials in the drum and the craftsmanship put into making the drum will ALWAYS transfer to how well the drum tunes and sounds.

For instance, there is a huge difference in the time and effort put into making a “custom” drum set from a high end drum company as opposed to a mass produced drum set you can buy for $300 at a music store. The materials in a high end kit are used because of their acoustic properties, structural integrity, and overall higher quality. Most factory produced kit’s are thrown together as cheaply as possible, using cheap woods and cheap hardware, with the expectation of the owner upgrading their kit after a few  years of playing on this “beginner” set. To put it bluntly, you will have an extremely difficult time trying to make a PDP Starter Kit sound like a Pearl Reference Pure drum set.
  • Every drum has a unique tuning range that it will resonate best at, as well as a preferred drum head.

This is why trying to tune your drums to a specific note will just leave you frustrated. Your drum may not sound best tuned to an E flat! To get the very best sounds out of your specific drum, you need to spend time getting to know your drum. Next time you replace the heads on your drums, take a good 30 minutes with each drum, gradually tuning up your drum to see which tuning the drum sounds best at! Once you spend time tuning up your drums, and tuning down your drums, as well as trying different drum heads, you will have a much better idea of your drum’s “sweet spot”. Some people are die hard Remo fans, others are Evans fans, but in order to get the best sounds out of your whole drum kit you may need to stop being such a brand snob and try some other drum heads! For example, I love Remo, and use them all around my kit…EXCEPT for my bass drum batter head! I could not find a Remo drum head for my kick drum that sounded the way I wanted my kick to sound like! You just have to experiment with different heads until you find something that works perfectly and specifically for each drum.

  • A clean and smooth bearing edge makes for a very happy drum sound.

You might wonder what a happy drum sounds like…well…it sounds like one of the best drum sounds you’ve ever heard. Seriously though, each time you change drum heads, take a moment to clear out any dust/wood shavings/debris from the inside of the drum. Take a dry dust cloth and rub it around the bearing edge, the inside/outside of the drum head collar, and the hoop. Inspect your bearing edge to make sure that they don’t have any chips or dents. If you see anything wrong the edge, you can either try to fix it yourself with a high grit sandpaper, or if you think you need your bearing edges re-cut, you can contact a local drum shop.

  • Don’t be afraid to “seat” the drum head.

This is one of the most important parts of tuning your drums. it might scare you at first because of the violent sound of the glue cracking, but if this step is over looked, your drum heads will not maintain a consistent pitch. Just like guitar players stretch new guitar strings to make sure they don’t stretch and detune while they are playing, you’ll need to seat the drum head to keep it in tune long term!

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