anyone else have trouble tuning a sonor kit?


Senior Member
I've had 4 kits. Dw, starclassic, pdp, pearl export pro and now a sonor s class pro. Never have I had such a difficult time finding an even pitch on the drums. Would a change in temperature caused the shells to expand or change to a point where tuning could possibly become difficult. I can't get a consistent note very well at all. I go by tension first, then ear. It's quite difficult. Anyone else have a hard time with these kits? I miss the true pitch tuning feature.
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What Sonor kit in particular are you having issues with.



Gold Member
What heads are you using? Have you had a look at bearing edges and so forth? Temperature and humidity affects drums greatly.


Senior Member
The temp. would be my first guess also. I play a Sonor kit myself. I like my drums tuned pretty low, so I can get a nice response and still have some tones. Sudden cold makes them go near completely dead.

I keep them setup in a back room of my apartment, and I figured it would stay warm enough without the heat on in that room, but I was wrong. I now have to leave the heat on kinda' low at the least or they'll come out of tune and sound like garbage.

It's worth it if you can keep some heat going to them. I'm messing with my drums several times a day, so it's nice to not get chilled when I go mess with them. So it's a double win.

You can buy space heaters from about any store. You want one that'll turn off if it falls over,

If it's the bearing edges, you'll want to have somebody professional look at it. I usually end up re-cutting the edges on every set of drums I buy, and even when you know what you're doing it's a difficult task. If you try to do it yourself without the knowledge you WILL trash your drums.

Anthony Amodeo

The temp. would be my first guess also. I play a Sonor kit myself. I like my drums tuned pretty low, so I can get a nice response and still have some tones. Sudden cold makes them go near completely dead.
this makes nearly no sense

where extreme weather will affect a mylar head ..... extreme cold weather will contract mylar and extreme heat will expand it

contraction will up pitch


Senior Member
At the moment:
Ec2 coated/G2 on toms
Snare ST dry

I've not checked the bearing edges. I don't really know what I would be looking for/at.
I have noticed that when I put the head on, finger tighten all lugs, and then give each lug a turn and half, there is usually a small area by one of the lugs that seems almost like it bubbles up. By the time that area is stretched out properly, i will have as many notes coming from the head as a marimba. Maybe some drums are like that but I've never ran across it before.

As far as the storage goes. They've been stored in a garage that isn't heated. The temps were fairly mild. Lows in low 40s highs in high 50s. I brought them into our house a week before tuning.


Senior Member
I have an S Class Pro and I learned to tune on this kit, so I don't have much to compare to. I can say I had a hell of a time learning, so maybe there is something about this kit that makes tuning hard. I did finally get to a point where I can tune it to my satisfaction, but I do use the tune-bot.

Are the other kits you've used thin maple shells without reinforcement rings? If not, maybe you're just not used to the resonate overtones of these shells (which are awful in a small room without acoustic dampening). Another issue I often have with this kit is that the lug screws are often tight when the tension itself isn't tight and sometimes vice versa. Also, sometimes the screw is too close to the hoop and that makes the screw hard to turn.


Junior Member
Is it one drum on the kit or the entire kit? My suggestions for investigation would be:

1) Are your hoops out of round?

2) Any warping in the shells?

3) Do you seat new drum heads before you tune them? This is often overlooked and can lead to tuning issues.

Bruce M. Thomson

Gold Member
Nice kit and I hope you can get to the problem, I myself would be very frustrated and have been by something similar. This could be a long shot but I have a snare that had the same sort of problem (not as extreme however) with one spot on the head being out of whack with the others and this was a new phenomenon and had not existed before; then I noticed that the shell was not flat on the surface, there is a slight warp so that the shell actually wobbles a wee bit. I solved the problem (as it is a good snare and worth keeping) by going to shorter tension rods and doing what you are doing now, I tune up with a drum dial and then use my ear and spend a bit more time than usual getting it right but it is nessary of course and works out just fine; if I had paid a large sum of money I would have been extremly upset but as it is the shell must have reacted to tempurature changes during travel etc. it works just fine now.
The snare is not a Sonor but most of the rest are and I have not had problems with them, in fact they tune up very quickly.

boltzmann's brain

Senior Member
my sonors gave me FITS. until i discovered what they like. keep experimenting. now that i know what mine like, they tune right up, and hold tune, regardless of meteorological phenomena. mine are birch, with the razor sharp bearing edges (made in the early nineties), and they like single ply heads (ambassadors) on everything, tuned really low on the larger sizes, getting tighter on the smaller sizes. keep experimenting. no two are alike.


Senior Member
Good stuff in here. I'll try out the suggestions. Nothing seems bent. Not sure what yo look for on the bearing edges though. Would it be obvious if something was up with them?


there is a slight warp so that the shell actually wobbles a wee bit. I solved the problem (as it is a good snare and worth keeping) by going to shorter tension rods and doing what you are doing now, .
I don't understand how using shorter tension rods would help a warped shell? I have had similar problem with a catalina maple and also a cheap metal snare.

The metal snare was out of round and the bearing edge lip was slightly lifted up in a 3" section. Never really found out why the cat's 12" tom was tough to tune other than it was probably out of round.


Senior Member
I've noticed on all of my drums a one half inch section on the head that is always looser than the rest. I even tried new heads. I apply equal tension all around but it's always one small section that needs a little extra to even out. I can't get around it without doing it. The heads have a buzz/rattle if I don't. So I apply the extra tightening and then it all begins. The two note battle on the head. (We're still talking about just one side). It'd be fine if they were focused notes but they're awful.

Haven't noticed anything that looks unusual with bearing edges and hoops. They all fit just fine. Edges are smooth.

This sucks because I really dig this kit.

I did seat the heads. As I mentioned I've dealt with several other kits and have changed many heads, this one is just a bugger.


Junior Member
Yep. I have the same kit. I finally called a music store in Portland , Or that sold Sonor and they said for that kit, you want to use Remo Emperor heads on the toms and Remo diplomat(slightly thinner than the ambassadors) heads on the bottom.

I use the Evans EMad head on the Kick and any heavy coated head for the snare seems to do well. I've been using Remo? G3

Also this kit taught me that the standard paradigm for tuning drums does not always apply to every kit(bottom head is your pitch, top head is your attack); This kit has a sweet spot for each drum and thats what you want to find and stick with. Usually the top head will be right about where the bottom head is. They are maple so they like be be a little low. Get em just right and they sound pretty amazing.


Platinum Member
Sonors purposefully have a tympanic sound from the slightly smaller diameter and the straight 45º bearing edges. That causes the sound to be less focused and more open. It also makes them harder to lug pitch. If you're in a room with a lot of reflection, each ear will hear reflected sounds and will lose discrimination. Close enough is usually good enough, but moon gel in the center of the head, using one earplug, or tuning with two keys usually gets it closer.

I tune by opposite pairs.
Tune by feel and then use two keys at opposite sides to match each other, and then only turn opposite keys equally until they're close to the others.


Silver Member
I have an Sonor S Class Pro .. I hadn't really noticed they were that much harder to tune, maybe a little bit. I've always struggled to tune any kit though ;-) I had the bearing edges done when I got the kit as it was second hand and hadn't been treated that well - I'm hoping they cut it using the same angles it originally had ... I currently use coated Emperors with Ambassadors on the resonant side and they are sounding pretty good at the moment, maybe even a little too warm.

There's some good tips in this thread so going to try them myself when I next come to changing heads.

Emmanuelle Caplette's drums always sound nice, as do Benny Greb's and Gavin Harrison's. 3 different sounds but all sound good, all Sonor. Benny shows how he tunes his drums on his Art and Science of Groove DVD and seems to ignore one or two conventions, like tuning across the drum.. he calls it a myth, and jokes he doesn't do this because he forgets which ones he's done. I agree with him that tuning for maximum sustain is not necessarily the way to go.. especially mic'd up.