man playing drums after tuning drums

How to Tune Your Drums Like a Pro

Posted by KK Music Store

Are you wondering how you can tune drums? Although drums are rhythmic instruments, you should adjust them to produce a beautiful sound every time. When each hit feels better than the last, you'll be motivated to keep drumming because it requires the use of your entire brain, making you smarter.

However, developing an ear for the sound of a properly tuned bass, tom, or snare drum can take years. That's why we've put together this tuning guide. This guide is rich with tips for improving your drum tuning skills over time and the highest-quality drum sets available from KK Music.

What You Need Before Drum Tuning 

Before you can tune drums, you will need these drum tuning essentials: 

  • A drum key, to tighten or loosen the tension rods that control the drum's pitch. Tightening the tension rods raises the drum's pitch, while loosening lowers it.
  • To tune the heads, use a drum stick to tap on them. The weight of drumsticks you require should be determined by the type of music you're playing. Lighter sticks are thinner and easier to handle, whereas heavier, thicker sticks have more volume and durability.

How to Tune Drums

You tune drums to get rid of unwanted overtones—ringy sounds- and achieve a sound you love. Most modern drums have two heads: a batter (on top) and a resonant (on the bottom). The two heads complement each other, so it's critical to tune them both to vibrate in unison.

To tune existing heads, detune all of your drums' heads and make sure the tension rods are completely loose. 

When installing new heads, you should do the following:

  1. Turn the tension rods completely around and press both hands firmly in the center of the head.
  2. Spin the new head around to ensure it is centered on the drum shell. Then align the hoop with the lugs on the shell's side and place it on top of the head. Tighten the tension rods until they are finger-tight with a drum key.
  3. Give each rod a half turn in a diagonal pattern to bring the drum up to pitch. This maintains an even tension on the drum head. With a stick close to the edge of the drum head, lightly tap it. The pitch of each area should be the same if the tension is even.
  4. Press down on the drum head with both palms together, to stretch the head and remove wrinkles. You'll hear a cracking sound if you press firmly but not too hard. Do not be alarmed; that is simply the glue cracking in the drum's head, which is entirely normal.
  5. Increase the tension on your bottom drum head by tuning it, until the wrinkles disappear and the tension rods have equal strain. Repeat the process for the top head.
  6. Repeat this for each drum on the set.

How to Tune Specific Drums

As you continue to tune your bass, tom, or snare drum, you will develop an ear for how they sound when properly tuned. Follow the steps outlined above to master the art of drum tuning.

How to Tune a Bass Drum

Begin with the batter head and tighten until the drum begins to feel right underfoot. To avoid unwanted double-strokes, you'll want to feel the beater sink in and not rebound too easily as you use this bass drum. Then, tighten and loosen each tension rod starting from the top, noting what each screw does for sound. Understanding how tight or loose tensions sound will be useful when you need to recreate that beat.

How to Tune Toms

Begin with a batter head tuned to bottom and pitch on one tom. Gradually increase and decrease tension until the drums are in a symbiotic relationship. Then fine-tune the bottom head, making any necessary adjustments before retuning the batter head. Check when tuning the top and bottom heads because they must always collaborate, so they must be in symbiosis.

As you experiment with different ranges by tuning the drum's resonant head up and down, you can't go wrong with a Mendini by Cecilio 13 inch 3-piece kids drum set. Remember, it's all about finding or liking the beat you're looking for.

How to Tune a Snare Drum

The snare drum is the loudest component of a drum set. They are attached to the drum's bottom head and produce distinct sounds. Snares can be made of wood or metal, depending on the type of sound you want. If you are looking for a louder beat, metal snares are the best because they cut through a band better than wood snares.

You'll need the perfectly built Mendini Student Snare Drum Set to experiment with different sounds. 

To tune the snare drum, remove the wires first. You won't be able to tell if the drum is in tune when there's another sound going on. Start with the resonant head. The resonant (snare-side) head is generally very thin, so be careful not to over-tighten it.

To start tuning the bottom, start with a finger tight and two keys, one on each side, and tension will be enough to remove wrinkles.

When tuning the batter head, use the same method described for toms and bass, but use the two-key method to keep the tension very tight.

Replace the snare wires, making sure they are dead center across the width of the drum and square to the shell. The wires should be slightly closer to the butt end, so that when you make the final adjustment with the release lever, the wires are pulled to the center.

Conclusion About How to Tune Drums

In order to become better at tuning drums, you need to practice tuning a drum set multiple times. It is also important to experiment with different heads at various pitches to gain a better understanding of sounds. If you're looking for a new drum set, check out ours which are perfect for beginners looking to learn a new skill and enjoy the thrill of hitting finely tuned drums. We are confident in our ability to match you with affordable and high-quality drum sets, regardless of your skill level.