If you have a drum kit set up and ready to go with some of the best cymbals and a snare that has just the right sound, there’s only one thing that might be missing. If you don’t have a drum tuner to keep the sound exactly where you want it, you could end up with a flat tone that isn’t pleasing to the ears. That’s why we created this article to help you choose the top tuner to meet your specific needs.
When a drum goes untuned, it can sound unprofessional and clunky when you play. Some people are able to tune their drums by ear, but most people find using a tuner is a more straightforward proposition. What tuning does is adjust the drum’s frequencies to remove unwanted tones and create a better sound.
Whether you’re entirely new to using drums or you are a master at the craft, a tuner is something you need to have available. Since there are so many options on the market, we wanted to make things a little easier for you. We’ve compiled the best five drum tuners on the market today, as well as offering some insight into what sets the great tuners apart from the not-so-great.
Best Drum Tuner: Reviews & Comparisons
|DrumDial Drum Tuner||
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|Tune-Bot Studio TBS-001 Digital Drum Tuner||
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|Tune-Bot Gig Clip-On Digital Drum Tuner||
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|DrumDial Digital Drum Tuner||
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|TAMA TAMTW100 Tension Watch||
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DrumDial Drum Tuner
As the first on our list of the best drum tuners, the DrumDial model makes it simple and easy to get your drum to the frequency you want. There’s no need to spend time banging on the drum in order to get the sounds you want to come out. This model comes at a low price and does its job quickly and accurately so you can move on to making the music you love.
Without a device like this one, tension rod torque can offer some information about whether you’re overtightening bolts to avoid thread damage. However, this doesn’t create proper tuning due to differences in thread wear, plating, screw tolerances, and corrosion. When using this item, you measure tension directly from the drumhead for precise tuning that can be done faster and easier than ever before.
Tune-Bot Studio TBS-001 Digital Drum Tuner
This drum tuner from Tune-Bot Studio is easy to use, whether you are tuning one drum kit or a few different options. With the inclusion of filter mode and difference mode, you can accurately tune each drum in a kit to sound precisely the way you want. It also offers the chance to save pitches and recall them later so you can play with different sounds as often as you like.
When choosing this model, you get a flexible option that makes it easy to match lug pitches. It also comes with a complimentary tuning calculator app that works on Android and Apple devices. It gives you extra support to tune for the sounds you want to make and lets you recreate sounds of all different types. In addition, it comes with a carrying case to avoid any unnecessary damage.
Tune-Bot Gig Clip-On Digital Drum Tuner
This is a clip-on tuner for your drumhead that offers a streamlined design that fits any standard rim. There is a one-button toggle that allows you to swap between difference and absolute modes. Absolute mode lets you see the pitch in Hz along with the octave and nearest note, while difference mode helps you create similar pitches at every lug.
As one of the best drum tuners on the market, this model includes a built-in filter that stops notes that are far higher or lower than the pitch you want for easier tuning. It also has an extensive tuning range of between 30 and 400 Hz with a 750-millisecond response time. It’s built to fit nearly all standard drum kits and can fit on toms, snares, and kick drums.
DrumDial Digital Drum Tuner
This digital tuner from DrumDial features a large LCD display that can be easily read when you need to tune your drum set. It quickly and easily tunes any kind of drum by measuring the head tension in the most accurate way. This particular model is one of the higher-quality models from DrumDial and measures tympanic pressure from zero to one hundred.
In addition to the edge gauge, this also comes with a foam-lined hard shell and a calibration glass square, so you have everything you need to get the job done. It also includes the required batteries and a distancing attachment for additional convenience. In addition to that, it comes with a one-year warranty for extra peace of mind.
TAMA TAMTW100 Tension Watch
This Tama Tension TAMTW100 Watch is a simple drum tuner that doesn’t rely on digital readouts and modern technology. While that might seem like a negative thing, it allows the device to do what it needs to do quickly and easily without extras you may not care about. It’s made of durable materials so you can bring it along to gigs or other locations without concern about damaging the unit.
The analog nature of this item features a face like a clock that ranges from zero to 100 to show tympanic pressure as you work with it. However, for those who are used to using a digital model, it can take some time to get used to this tuner. That said, the accuracy it offers and how quickly it can provide a reading might make it well worthwhile even for the most tech-savvy individuals out there.
Everything You Need to Know to Choose the Best Drum Tuner
One of the first things you need to think about when choosing a drum tuner is whether you want a digital or analog model for tuning. Those who are in favor of analog tuners tend to argue that they help your drums sound better and offer better preservation of your tone. These devices work very efficiently and provide accurate readings, especially for head tension rather than rod tension.
On the other hand, a digital tuner can be just as accurate but tends to take longer to calculate and then match up frequencies. This can make them more frustrating to use if you are in a hurry. In addition, electric drum tuners tend to be more expensive, which might be an issue for those with a budget.
However, even if you choose an analog tuner over a digital one, some are going to do a better job than others. There are also various ways to tune drums, depending on the device you choose.
What Tuning Offers to a Percussion Player
It’s not uncommon for someone using a tuner on their drums for the first time to experience a strange situation. You may find that your drums don’t sound the same as they used to. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and is to be expected when using tuned drumheads for the very first time.
The reason for that has to do with the difference between the pitch of drums and tuning drums. When you are tuning drums, it helps each of the drums to stay in the same tune as the rest. It also assists with placing an equal amount of tension on the lugs for consistent sounds.
After you have finished tuning your kit, you can then lower or raise the pitch of the drums to create the sound you want. Some people mistake a tuner for an adjuster for pitch. This isn’t the case, and changing the pitch is something you will need to do on your own to meet your preferences.
What tuning really does is maintain consistency, even out sounds, and remove imperfections and overtones from your drums.
How to Tune Drums and Change Heads
Once you are ready to do some drum tuning, there are a few steps that are involved. We’ll share the basics below, so you have an idea of what the process entails.
- Remove Old Heads – Step one involves moving the old drumhead, which is done by loosening the tension rod, which offers pressure, that is located around the drum using a key. After you get it loose, remember which tension rod went to each lug, so reassembling is simple and straightforward.
- Clean the Bearing Edge and Inside of Drum – If you have never changed your drumheads or it has been a long time, you may find there is a lot of dust and debris on the bearing edge as well as inside the drum. You want to clean all of this out using a soft, dry towel using minimal pressure.
- Add Wax to the Bearing Edge – This is an optional step but can be helpful to the process. Many people believe that new drumheads sit better on the bearing head when a little paraffin wax is underneath.
- Place the New Head on the Bearing Edge – Take out your new head and seat it on the bearing edge with little pressure. After you are done, you can bring back in the tension rods and the counterhoop. Seat it right on top of the head and use your fingers to tighten the tension rods.
- Tuning with the Drum Key – After you’ve tightened things with your fingers, use the drum key to tune your tension rods. Two or three full turns of the rods usually provide enough pressure but be sure to do it in the opposite way as your starting lug.
- Tuning the Drum to Your Taste – Use your finger again to create light tension and pressure at the center of your drum. While you press down, tap down an inch or so away from the lugs while listening for pitch differences. Keep adjusting the tension until the drum sounds as if it needs no further tuning. This is the point where you can use the drum tuning device to complete the process.
At this point, you should have an idea of one or two tuners that will work well for your type of drums and style of making music. You might find it’s one of the 5 best drum tuners on the list, or you may have decided there’s another option that better fits your needs. Make sure the one you ultimately choose is easy to use for tuning of drums and doesn’t take a lot of work to handle.
Now that you know everything you need to know about tuning drums, you can make an educated decision. You may be surprised by how much of a difference you’ll feel in your drumhead after proper tuning. Let us know in the comments which tuner you decided to go with and how it works out for you!