Really? Drums can be tuned?
You can tune your drums. 🙂
Actually, a lot of people ask me this question.
A student of mine as well.
His problem was:
Due to a bad sounding drum kit at home, he didn’t feel like practicing.
So, we had to fix this issue.
And we did.
In today’s article, you’ll learn how.
Psst ... That's what this article is about
To start-off: What you have to know about the drum sound
Can drums be tuned?
The answer to this frequently asked question is a big YES.
But how can can you tune them?
This requires a little more words to answer.
You can tune your drums in many ways.
Some musicians prefer a deeper tone.
Others go for a sharper drum sound.
It’s also a good idea to tune your drums for the music you’re going to play.
So it depends.
To find the best drum sound for you, make sure to consider different factors.
- which drum sound you like,
- what the music you’re going to play needs
- and how you can get the best out of your surroundings.
It’s crucial to know that your drum set will sound different in different rooms.
When I head for the recording studio, for example, I always tune my kit before starting the session.
I also do so when playing a concert.
Smaller rooms make your drum sound different than larger rooms.
Also, the interior of the room is having an impact on your drum sound.
Knowing this, you might have to try and re-try to find a great drum sound for you.
Don’t worry, you will get better with tuning your drums the more often you do so.
Listen closely and, if you like, use equipment helping you tune the drums.
For example, you can buy the Tama Tension Watch.
A former drum teacher of mine recommended it to me.
I do not use it myself, but I know it’s really helpful for many drummers.
Maybe you want to give it a try as well.
What you need to tune your drums my way
To start-off, you need a new drum head you can put on your drums.
I highly recommend the brands Remo or Evans.
Drum heads by them are not only durable, but also can be tuned relatively easy.
But you can go for any other brand as well, of course.
In addition, grab a tuning key for drums.
It’s a good idea to have more of them in store.
The same goes for the gaffa tape.
This is a strong tape made for fixing things under fierce conditions.
If you like to, you can also use some tissue or thin cloth for tuning your drum.
A dampening ring can be a great choice as well.
But if you want to try my way of tuning, you only need
- a new drum head,
- one tuning key and
- gaffa tape.
So how can drums be tuned?
After buying a new drum head for your kit, you need to remove the already used one:
Replace the old drum head and put on the new one.
DO NOT tighten the screws yet.
Just stick the screws into the drum lugs after putting the hoop on the head.
Your new drum head now is gently floating on the drum.
That’s cool and a great basis for mastering the next step:
Tighten each screw with your hands until you can’t move it anymore.
It’s important to do this manually. Do not use your tuning key yet.
When tightening the drum screws, do so crossed.
Imagine a clock:
You start at 12 PM, then jump to 6 PM, head on to 2 PM and then to 20 PM.
So to speak, you tune the crossed screws.
While doing so, you can also tap on the drum head to check out the sound.
- Grab your drum key,
- head to 12 PM and
- start tuning.
It’s crucial to remember how often you turned each screw.
I highly recommend starting out with 1 or 2 turns at maximum for each screw.
Repeat like explained:
Start at 12 PM, 6 PM, 2 PM, 20 PM etc.
Check your drum sound
Now it’s time for the first sound check.
Play a few strokes on your drum.
Do you like the sound?
If so, great!
You don’t like it?
Loosen the screws again.
You don’t need to start from the beginning.
Loosen each screw clockwise and crossed.
Just like we talked about before.
Do remember the changes and adjust the tension of your drum head.
Now, check the sound again.
Can your drums be tuned?
By now, you should definitely hear a difference to your former drum sound.
If you like what you’re hearing, you can optimize it.
You have several options now.
I prefer putting tape and/or soft tissue on the drum heads.
You can also stick dampening gels to it.
Maybe you’ve heard of the brand Moongels?
That’s something to consider.
Also, you can go for dampening or sound rings.
Basically, it’s up to you.
You now should have a neat drum sound.
When you change the location you’re playing the drums in, you might tune your kit.
Thankfully, this way of tuning the drums stays the same.
How often do you need to tune your drum set?
Can drums be tuned? Obviously.
But how often do you need to do so?
Unfortunately, I can’t give you a proper answer to this question.
You can tune your drums each month.
Or every 6 months.
There is no right or wrong solution.
However, you should tune your drum set when you don’t like the sound anymore.
Also, I recommend experimenting with the sound from time to time.
Your taste might change, and I’m sure you’ll be playing to different songs.
So experiment with the drum tone and see what happens.
This also helps you build a strong drum tuning routine.
Oh, and here’s another tip from drummer to drummer:
High-quality instruments are often easier to tune.
They also keep the tuning stable way longer.
That’s another factor you need to take into consideration.
Especially when thinking about buying the best drum set for you.
Can drums be tuned? Yes, and here’s another tip
You can definitely make your drums sound better.
With a nice tuning, even cheap instruments can have a fancy sound.
That’s what I know first hand.
Also, make sure to watch this incredible video by drumeo and Cobus.
Then you definitely know what I mean. 🙂
So yes, drums can be tuned.
BUT you need the right drum head.
As always, I recommend high-quality equipment for your kit.
Good drum heads simply last longer and have a better sound to them.
In addition, they tend to keep their tension better.
(When your snare drum is reliable, too.)
But that’s another story.
To sum up this article:
- Can drums be tune? Yes!
- How often should you tune your drums? It depends.
- What’s important when tuning your drums? Use high-quality drumheads like the ones offered by Remo or Evans. Then, tune them, listen closely and stay patient.
- Tune your drums clockwise, but crossed.
- Use helpful stuff like tape, Moongels or dampening rings to maximize your drum sound.
- Et voilà: The more often you tune your drums, the better you can make them sound.
Awesome, isn’t it?
I know that tuning the drum set can be a little hard when you’re a beginner.
So make sure to ask your question down in the comments below.