Woodwind & Brasswind | Drum Set Tuning

The Music Room > Drums & Percussion Articles > How To Tune Your Drum Set

How To Tune Your Drum Set

Author - Woodwind & Brasswind


General Tuning

  • Take a clean cloth and wipe around the bearing edges and counter hoop. Also make sure to remove any lint or debris from inside the drum shell.
  • Pay close attention to the sound of the head as you tune the lugs of your drum. You want to achieve a clear, focused sound.
  • Also take note of the amount you turn each lug and how each turn affects your drum’s pitch. Getting a solid feel for tuning will help you to develop your “key technique.”
  • When you’re tuning your drum, make sure you use the Opposite Lug tuning Sequence (OLS). This will help ensure your drum sounds its best at all times.

Quick Tips for High Performance

The Hoop-Laws –Counter hoops can greatly affect the sound of your drum. Let’s take a look at some of the different types available, as well as their characteristics.

  • Die-Cast – Offer a dry, focused sound by reducing overtones and resonance
  • Flanged – Offer an open, rich tone by increasing overtones and resonance

Tuning the Bass Drum

  • Prepare your drum for tuning and mount the head.
  • Using the sequential tuning pattern, tighten the batter head until it begins to resonate.
  • To make sure the drum is at its lowest pitch while still fully resonating, place your palm in the center of the drum head and apply pressure. While doing so, de-tune each tension rod until wrinkles appear on the head, and then turn the key one full turn back.
  • Make sure the head is clear of excess overtones.
  • Turn the drum over and repeat this process with the resonant head.
  • After you have completed your initial tuning of the bass drum, put it in playing position and strike the front head above center while adjusting the resonant head batter until you are satisfied. You may use the wrinkle technique here if necessary.
  • There are several different ways that an Evans EQ pad can be installed in your bass drum. Multiple pads can be installed at the same time, increasing your muffing options. The key is to experiment.

Quick Tips for High Performance

Angling Your Bass Drum – Make sure your bass drum is angled parallel to the floor for more low-end. If your bass drum is tilted towards you, the wood hoop will be distorted, which, in turn, will raise the pitch of your drum, limiting its responsiveness.

Micing Your Bass Drum – To keep the drum head resonating freely when you’re using an internal bass mic, use a binder clip to make sure the mic and its cable do not touch the front bass head.

Tuning the Toms

  • Begin by tightening all your lugs by hand to create an equal starting tension.
  • Tune your head with ½ turns from a drum key until it resonates. Be sure to use the appropriate tuning sequence.
  • Tap the drum head slight off center with a drum stick while tuning each lug in ¼ turns. Continue this process until the drum resonates and the wrinkles disappear from the head.
  • Tap the drum directly in front of each tension rod with a stick and continue tuning around the drum. The goal here is to achieve equal pitch at each tension rod.
  • Repeat the same process with the bottom head, matching the pitch to the batter head.

Quick Tips for High Performance

Mounting Your Rack Tom – There are two different types of tom arms, and your dynamic range is affected by your tom’s position on the arm. Experiment with different positions until you find the spot that works best for you.

Floating the Floor Tom – Placing a piece of foam underneath your floor tom, referred to as “floating,” can greatly increase your tom’s resonance.

Keep on Top of Your Resonance – The bottom heads on your toms will start to lose their tone over time due to constant vibration. Change your bottom heads every third or fourth time you change your batter heads; doing this will help you maintain a lively drum tone as you play.

Tuning the Snare

  • Follow the same steps provided for tuning the toms to tune your snare.

Snare Wire Installation

  • Make sure your snare wire unit is dead center on the bottom head
  • Thread your snare cord or nylon strap through the back end clamp and partially tighten it. Keep the cord loose within the clamp.
  • Pull the snare unit across the while adjusting the clamped cord with your other hand. When the snare is centered, lock the clamp.
  • Set your strainer tension knob so it halfway between the highest and lowest positions.
  • While the strainer clamp is in the off position, thread the snare cord through and secure it in the clamp. Make sure to not fully tighten the clamp.
  • Engage the strainer to "seat" the strap, then tighten tension knob
  • Adjust the strainer while tapping the head to fine tune your snare response.

Quick Tips for High Performance

Snare Sweet Spot – Make sure the snare drum basket is not over-tightened. If the basket is too tight, the hoop can knock the head out of range, which can, in turn, limit the dynamics of your snare.

Pick the Sound You Love – Different wires can produce different sounds. Experiment with wires for drier, brighter, warmer, and more open sounds.

What’s the Buzz? – To minimize your snare buzz, check to make sure your drum is properly tuned and make sure your snare wires aren’t bent or loose.


CONTACT OUR TEAM SPECIALISTS

Call toll-free

800.348.5003