So you’ve been drumming for a while now, you’ve found your jam, and you are confident in your sound! But for some reason, the drum doesn’t sound right anymore. Maybe the set you bought wasn’t as good as you thought? Or have you been hitting the drum skins too roughly?
Tuning your drums is an essential part of keeping your drums in good condition, despite this few people know how to do it! Tuning is a difficult skill to master, but we have listed the 5 best drum tuners to help you get your drum set back to its original sound!
OUR TOP PICK
The Drum Dial is a classic tuner and is the oldest drum tuner on the market. With its analog face, you can tell just how much tension is directly coming from your drumhead, meaning you can have precise tuning measurements.
Because the Drum Dial is analog, it is very easy to use and quick to deliver results! It’s a classic for a reason!
How Do I Use a Drum Dial?
First, you need to place the Drum Dial on your drum. Keep it in line with a lug. Lugs are the rods or structures which secure the rims and the skin. They are used to adjust and correct the tension of the skin.
When you are happy with the position, apply some pressure to the top of the dial. This is how you get a reading. Make sure you write this number down, as you will need to compare it to the other lugs around your drum.
With your first reading done, move onto the next lug and get a reading in the same way as before. This time tighten the bolt when it matches the first reading you took. Doing this will make your drum in tune with itself.
At this point, you can decide if you want the drum to have a lower or higher pitch! Because it has been equalized, you can make equal adjustments on each lug to make the pitch higher or lower as you need.
Remember to turn each one the same amount of times to keep the drum in tune with itself.
- Very Quick
- Easy to Use
- Small and Sturdy
- Reasonably priced
- Not good in dark surroundings
- Not as precise as others on our list
One of our cons for the analogy Drum Dial was that it wasn’t good in dark surroundings. That's because it doesn’t have a digital LCD screen. Drum Dial saw this problem too and brought out a Digital version for their drummers who are preparing backstage.
This digital version also picks up on the more delicate changes in tensions, meaning it’s more accurate than the analogy version. With all these upgrades, it is not unsurprising that the Digital Drum Dial is also more expensive.
Despite the upgrade, Drum Dial has kept its process simple. Using the same process as before there are no buttons or settings to mess around with and get confused by. Just measure and tighten.
- Easy to use
- Very Quick
- Small and Sturdy
- Can be used in the dark
- Very accurate
- More expensive than the analog version
If you want to rely on sound and as well as numbers, the Tune-Bot Studio drum turner might be better for you. It has the ability to record, save and recall the pitches of up to 5 drum kits, even if you have 10 drums per kit.
This means that your low tom pitch and be saved along with your high tom pitch on the same device without having to delete the recording. This is great for when you like to have your drum sets at a certain sound.
The Tune-Bot Studio also has a free app you can use to help you tune your drum. Giving you tips and tricks to make that drum sound perfect!
How do I use a Tune-Bot?
Unlike a Drum Dial, you clip the Tube-Bot Studio to the rim of the drum. This method means that it measures the frequency of a note and not the tension of the skin.
This works really well if you want to tune your drum to a certain sound rather than going off a number, for example, if you have a certain song you want to play.
To tune your drum using Tune-Bot Studio, place the drum on a cushion. This will make sure you are tuning the head your Tune-Bot is attached to, and not the other side. Hit the area near a lug and the Tune-Bot Studio will record the number.
Press the triangle button to make that lug your reference pitch. That will make the number 0.0. Now hit the area near another lug.
The Tune-Bot will tell you how far off it is from 0.0. If it is over 2.0 higher or lower than your reference pitch, then you will need to tune it.
There are many ways to use Tune-Bot Studio and all of them can be found on Youtube. The problem with Tune-Bot Studio comes with patience. Some customers write off the Tune-Bot
Studio as ineffective because they haven’t looked at the youtube videos to help them understand how it works. If you have the patience to learn it, the Tune-Bot Studio is the most accurate drum tuner on our list.
- The most accurate drum tuner on or list
- Can record pitches
- Free App
- Most expensive
- Hardest tuner to learn.
If the Tune-Bot Studio sounds great, but a little pricey, have a look at the Tune-Bot Gig. Like the Studio, the Gig has a massive digital interface to give you many options to help with your tuning but it isn’t as easy to use as the analog.
The Tune-Bot Gig gives you two different modes to choose from.
The Absolute Mode shows you what the pitch is and the nearest octave or note, whilst the Difference Mode tells you how close or far away the lug is to that pitch. This is a great tool to help you create an accurate tune.
How do I use the Tune-Bot Gig?
Click the little button to turn the Gig on. You are automatically put into Absolute mode. As said before, the Absolute mode is the pitch of your drum. Hit your drum to record this pitch. Now press the big button again to flip to Difference Mode.
Difference Mode is how different the next sound is from the Absolute mode’s recorded pitch. Hit the drum near the lug to see how much you need to tighten or loosen the skin to match the Absolute Mode’s pitch. Do this until the pitches match.
- Cheapest Digital Tuner
- Easy to use
- Can be used in dark rooms
- Only two buttons, so hard to get the settings right
The quickest drum tuner in our collection is the Tru Tuner.
This is the only one in our list which lets you remove all the lugs at once, meaning you have less hassle when you are changing the heads. Because you can turn the lugs at the same time, you create a perfect tension each time.
The problem with the Tru Tuner is simply that it’s bulky.
You need to have as many keys as you do lugs to make sure each of them is being turned at the same time, and the size of the Tru Tuner is bigger than the drum itself. That being said it is super easy to use and gives you an even tension.
How do I use the Tru Tuner?
First, figure out which pattern you want to use. Do this by placing the Tru Tuner against your drum and see which one fits it the best.
Then take off all your screws and put the keys in each one, making sure that they are all facing the same direction. Next place the Tru Tuner over the drum in the correct slot you found earlier.
Now turn the disk until the rim comes off. When you’re ready, put the lugs back in place, and turn until the tension starts to build. All the lugs will end up with the same tension creating an even tune.
- Cheapest Tuner on our list
- Quickest Tuner on our list
- Easiest Tuner on our list
- Always Tunes to itself
- Not accurate to a pitch
What is a Drum Tuner?
A drum tuner is a tool that helps you tighten your drum until it gets to the desired frequency or pitch.
The same way you need to tune a guitar or piano, you need to tune a drum. Otherwise, the drum will sound out of tune, will have too much give, and can even break.
A drum tuner makes this process easier and faster, but it is possible to tune a drum using just your ears and the keys.
Tuning using your Ears
Tuning a drum using just your ears and the keys is a very difficult job, but not impossible. Professional musicians and audio engineers train their hearing for this very reason. To do this you need to hear the frequency or pitch that you want your drum to sound like.
You can find a pitch you like as a sound on youtube, then you hit your drum near the lug and tighten it to match this sound.
It takes years of practice to get this right, so don’t be surprised if the drum sounds strange on your first couple of goes. We would recommend using just your ears as a fun experiment until you get the hang out of it. Until then, use a drum tuner to make sure your pitch is accurate.
Analog Drum Tuners vs Digital Drum Tuners
Analog drum turners use the tension of the rod to get their readings. Digital drum tuners use the pitch and frequency when a drum has been hit, to measure the sound.
Both are good, as long as they are used separately. Do not use both a Digital and Analog tuner at the same time, as they are measuring different methods.
Digital tuners tend to be more accurate to a certain pitch and can be easier to tune if you are aiming for a certain sound.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should You Tune Your Drums?
It depends on how often you play. If you don’t play often, then you might not need to tune it for a while. If you haven’t played in months, then you probably need to give it a quick tune before you start playing again.
If you practice once or twice a week, then we would suggest tuning your drums every week to match up with your schedule.
Can Drums be out of tune?
An out-of-tune drum is different from an out-of-tune guitar or piano, the difference isn’t as noticeable.
But if you want to create clear and full tones then the drums need to be tuned, otherwise, the sound you get is sloppy and dull.
Why do drummers put blankets in their bass drum?
Blankets, Pillows, and Jumpers. These are all good materials to muffle the sound of your drum. You might be wondering why they want the sound of the base muffled, and the reason is because of the sound they are trying to make.
A bass drum can make a power thud that makes your heart move, but if you are playing a more soulful song, you probably want the bass to be smoother and gentle. Muffling the sound with a couple of blankets can help make that effect.