A Guide to Tuning Drums

tuning drums

For a novice drummer, tuning drums can seem like a mystery. But there’s good news. For a start, unlike guitars or pianos, drums can be tuned to any pitch you wish. And, if tuned properly, any kit can be made to sound like Ginger Baker’s. All you need is patience, practice, and the following pointers:

  • Start with any tom-tom, loosen all the tuning rods on the top side, then make them fi nger tight. With a drum key, tighten each rod a half turn using a criss-cross sequence.
  • Keep tightening till the skin is wrinkle-free and then tap the head next to each ten-sion rod, adjusting the bolts till the same tone is produced all the way round.
  • Turn the tom over and repeat with the bottom skin, which can be tuned to the same pitch, higher, or lower depending on your taste.
  • With one tom in tune with itself, repeat the procedure with the other tom-toms. Most drummers prefer these to be tuned a fourth apart, the difference between the fi rst two notes of the wedding march “Here comes the bride…”
  • Tune the snare last. Begin with the bottom skin and tune it tightly. Be careful not to over tighten the top head; it should be moderately tight to give the snare a nice “crack.”



Instead of being dedicated to one instrument, young musicians, or professionals, MakingMusicMag.com is a lifestyle resource for all music makers, regardless of age, instrument, or ability. We focus on providing educational articles teaching people how to play an instrument, but we also favor travel pieces, music related health articles, interesting news stories, and plenty more.

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