Primer on Tuning Drums

Tuning drums requires time, skill and plenty of patience. It is not for the faint of heart, but then again, neither is playing them. There are some steps one must take, as with anything, the more time spent, the more capable you will become at tuning drums. It’s best to use a snare or tom when you’re first starting out. Your best bet is to start with more basic parts of a drum kit, like the snare drum. Once you’ve mastered the snare, you will be able to tune any other piece of a standard drum kit, drums like the tom or bass drum for example.


Start by removing the tension rod from one side of the drum, this will give you enough play to remove the head and edge of the drum. The drum lead and edge should fit nicely together and not too snug. If they are fit to firm, it will be impossible to tune later, so make sure you get a good fit. Next, tighten the pressure bars so that they are flush against the drum. Again, do not tighten too much as you will end up with a really sharp sounding snare. Now you can go ahead and hit the drum using a drum stick, paying attention to how it sounds. What you’re looking for is something that sounds steady.  Also, if there are any wrinkles in the drum, this is probably the best time to flat them out.

Seating the leader of a drum lets you to retain the pitch the drum makes. Place your palm into the inside of the drum and push, which may require a few tries. Don’t stress, but remember that this is an important step, so make sure you get it right.  Keep tapping the drum to ensure that the sound remains consistent. If the pitch seems off or if there are any flaws on the leader of the drum, then go ahead and re-tighten and redo the steps until the drum pitch sounds correct. You will need to tune the pressure bars in an askew example. Begin with the tension bar closest to you then the following one to be tuned will be over the drum uttermost from you. Proceed with the example to make all inclusive tuning on every tension bar.

Once the above has been completed, go ahead and tap the drum around each tension bar. When they are reliably the same pitch around, then your drum tuning was a success. If you’re still off slightly in some areas, then try adjusting by an 1/8 of an inch at a time. You can also use a drum key, which is an economical apparatus to buy and is utilized to tighten and tune drums. Using this key makes things a lot easier in the long run.

That’s pretty much all there is to it. Easy, right? Repeat the above steps as much as you want across all drums in your drum kit to have a great sounding set of drums to play on!

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