How to Tune a Drum Set

KeyTo get the best sound when you are drumming, you are going to want to know how to tune a drum set. You wouldn’t believe how many talented drummers there are out there who do not know how to tune a drum set. It is actually not a very hard task at all believe It or not! It just takes a bit of patience, and a good ear. Any drum set can sound decent with proper tuning, so before you play another beat make sure you are getting the best possible sound from your drums! In this article I will explain the basic understanding in tuning your drums. With the right tuning, you will become that much closer to sounding like a professional drummer!

How To Change Your Drum Head

Drum HeadStep one would be to replace your old drum head. If you do not need to do this skip down , however the extra advice would never hurt. Start by loosening up the tension rods on your drum with your drum key. If you do not own a drum key you should go out and buy one immediately, they are very cheap. Start loosening the tension rods off evenly, so you do not warp the hoop. Once these are all off, simply take the off the ring, and remove the old skin. Make sure you give the rim of the drum a good wipe down while you can. Once this is done, you can movie onto placing your new head on and tuning it!

How To Tune A Drum

Once you have the old head off, place the new head over top of the drum. After you have lined it up just right, place the hoop over top, lining up the holes with the tension rod holes. From here, simply screw in each tension rod HAND tight. Do not tighten them up too much yet, or you will warp the head and ruin the tuning process. Now this is where a lot of drummers go wrong. A drum head is to be tightened the same way a tire is – uniformly. This means tightening each side up evenly and the same time. This is actually not hard to do at all. Simply choose a tension rod to start with, and tighten. From here, select the tension rod that is directly opposite, and tighten that one.  Try and tighten them the same amount. This can be done by counting the amount of turns you do.

SnareWhen you have the drum head relatively tight, take your drum stick, choose a tension rod, and tap the drum 1 – 2 inches from the rim. If this is not the sound you want, tighten or loosen until you found it. Make sure that every rod is the same tension by tapping the drum by each one. Try and match the sound around the whole drum so each rod is the same tension. When this is complete, your drum will have maximum resonance and tone! You alone can chose which sound you want from your drum, whether it is high or low – it is completely personal.


This is the basic strategy to tuning your drum set. You can use this on all your drums including your bass drum. Make sure you tune your resonant head as well – this is just as important as the batter head. Remember that a beaten up skin will not sound good because there will not be uniform tension on the kit. So if you have an old head that you can get a good sound from, chances are in needs to be changed. With this easy to follow guide, you should have no problems tuning your entire drum set to its maximum ability!

For additional information on tuning, check out this in depth drum tuning article!

Learn how to tune your drum set with Mike Michalkow's complete Drumming System!

Copyright © 2013 Railroad Media Inc. - All Rights Reserved | Customer Support | Privacy Policy | Drum Forums | Affiliate Program