The Easy Drum Tuning Method

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It’s understandable there are drummers who even after years of playing confess to having a real issue with tuning. We’re faced with the common issue of information overload and it seems no one particular method is simple enough, works consistently and is transferable.
If you’re struggling with drum tuning then give this a go:
Push all your prior knowledge aside (or at least don’t let it interfere) and follow this easy and effective guide EXACTLY as it’s described. Trust me, it won’t take long to realise that drum tuning is only as difficult as you want it to be!
Tuning Pattern
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Tuning Pattern


What you’ll learn in this video might actually be very similar to a system you already use or methods you’ve heard in other forms many times over. However, the key to getting this right is that you follow the script and be consistent. Just follow the steps in sequence and you’ll nail it. Remember, we’re not aiming for 100% perfection with each step or we’ll end up over analysing and taking too long.

Prepare the drum:

Make sure the bearing edge is in good condition and even the whole way around (try placing on a flat surface and checking for gaps)
Check the hoop is perfectly round and not warped (as above)
If the head is pitted, baggy or warped – replace it! Also check the film hasn’t tugged out of the flesh hoop


Fit the head, hoop and bolts
Finger tighten the bolts by going around the drum at least twice and applying even pressure on each (something like the Pearl Gyro Tune Key helps make this super easy)

Initial tension:

Starting from the lug closest to you and moving to the opposite one each time, apply an initial turn on each bolt – see diagram

The rotation amount can vary depending on a few variables but mainly which drum you’re tuning. Generally snares and bass drums will happily accept a full 360ø turn. Toms might prefer a half turn – experiment with this
No need to be 100% exact here just apply a rough turn but don’t vary too much on your way around the drum

Second tension (if required):

If the head is still baggy or too low to tune properly then go around once more
This could take a couple of attempts depending on the tuning range you’re after so make a decision on the degree of rotation and give it a go. On a snare I usually do a half turn
As before no need to be 100% exact, just apply a rough turn and don’t vary too much


Using a stick, lightly tap the head next to each lug and about 2in from the hoop. You can go once around and gauge the initial response
Tune up rather than down unless a lug is exceptionally high and turn the key after tapping the skin so you can listen to the note rise. Go in small increments assessing the relationship of nearby lugs
DO NOT get too caught up at this point – just work your way around the head and trust your ear

Third tension (if required):

If there is still some way to go before reaching the desired tuning range then perform another tension
Use a smaller turn than before and once again move around the drum in opposites trying not to vary too much


Follow the same tuning steps as before but using finer adjustments this time

That’s it! So I just want to reiterate that you really don’t have to be perfect at the tuning stages of this method. You might need to practice it a few times on different drums but as soon as you feel you’ve lost your way, stop the process and start again from the initial tension stage.

Trust you ear and be confident.

When I’m tuning a drum, I pretty much use this method every time but tailor it to the drum and the head that I’m tuning. Yes, there are a huge amount of variables that could affect the results of this tuning method but don’t let those change your method. Keep the same method but adapt the tension stages to suit how the drum is tuning.

Thanks for checking out this tutorial, I’d love to hear your comments, questions or suggestions!

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