Drum Dial Review?

MikeM

Platinum Member
I was thinking about buying a drum dial. I can tune toms and bass drums by ear without any trouble, but snares are so much more finicky. I was thinking that I'd get a DD and just use it to record the tension on the heads once I found my snare's ultimate sweet spot.

A friend of mine has a DD and let me borrow it, so I tried it last night on my snare and discovered that it doesn't have near the resolution to get me to any sweet spot, or if it does, it's just accidental. I could make some relatively minor adjustments on just a few lugs and get pretty drastic sonic changes that were practically imperceptible to the DD.

It seems to me that a DD is only useful for getting the head tensions in the general ball-park, but aren't sensitive enough to consistently get you right to the sweet spot.

Am I missing something? So far, I'm glad I didn't buy one.

Edit: I was thinking about inventing and patenting a laser-based tool that measures head frequency at every lug since that's really what I'm after. That could possibly make me very wealthy. Also, maybe a scanning laser to sweep over the entire surface of both heads with servos controlling the tension at every lug to keep each head in tune with itself and with each other. (just throwing that out there in case someone want to save me the trouble!)
 
A

audiotech

Guest
No, your not missing anything. I bought a DrumDial a little over a year ago to try to facilitate drum head changes, I only owned it for a week and then it went back. I tried it first and then gave it to my girlfriend to see if she would have any better luck with it, she did not. I found the same thing, you could make vast amounts of tension differences with the drum key, but only a slight difference if any showed up on the DD. Never again., it's so much easier, quicker and more reliable using the old fashion method.

Dennis
 

jlad123

Junior Member
It seems to me that a DD is only useful for getting the head tensions in the general ball-park, but aren't sensitive enough to consistently get you right to the sweet spot.
I have the Tama version (Tension Watch); I concur with you. Once I find the tone I'm looking for, I measure the center tension and record and then it's back in the case. Here's the most useful part about it: The next time I change heads, I bring the head back up to the tension previously recorded and fine tune each lug by ear. It does save some time but the only way to tune is with your ears!

Edit: I was thinking about inventing and patenting a laser-based tool that measures head frequency at every lug since that's really what I'm after. That could possibly make me very wealthy. Also, maybe a scanning laser to sweep over the entire surface of both heads with servos controlling the tension at every lug to keep each head in tune with itself and with each other. (just throwing that out there in case someone want to save me the trouble!)
Have you seen this? http://www.resotune.com/
Although, your idea sounds much more sophisticated with lasers involved. :)
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I use my DD to quickly get into the ball park.
It works just as you discovered. It is great for a quick preliminary tune.
I have gotten quite good at using mine.
It does save me time and I do think that it is worth it. It is a useful tool.
There is a learning curve to using a DD. You get better with it as time passes.
I've had mine for about two years now.
I should add that I use dial indicators at my work and I am fluent in using them.
 

McShmoopy

Senior Member
Heh thank goodness someone posted this, I wanted to buy a DrumDial as ive come to realise I cant tune drums to save my life. Back to Bob Gatzens tutorials...
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I like my drum dial. Anything that precision built is a home run with me. I agree w/ Bob. You get better over time with them. Plus it gives you clues as to exactly where your problem lugs are. They are only practical when you're at home and the drum is off the kit. Gigging? Forget it.
I use them when I rehead the drum, and maybe once every 6 months...I bring them to the exact tensions I have memorized in my brain, and if I get it right, the ear tune test passes. You know the head is getting in tune when you lift the DD up and the drum rings.
I go for 75 batters 83 reso give or take. Then I make sure the heads are singing the same note, only an octave apart with the resos being the higher note. I tune my 10" tom to the same note as my 16" floor, only an octave or two apart, and the 12" tom gets put at a 4th below the 10" tom. Thats my tuning recipe and it sounds rediculously delicious.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
It seems to me that a DD is only useful for getting the head tensions in the general ball-park, but aren't sensitive enough to consistently get you right to the sweet spot.
This is true.

I still use mine (the Tama version) because it allows me to get into the ball park and close to that sweet spot rather quickly and saves time.

But there is always some fine tuning after that.
 

brady

Platinum Member
I have the Tama version (Tension Watch); I concur with you. Once I find the tone I'm looking for, I measure the center tension and record and then it's back in the case. Here's the most useful part about it: The next time I change heads, I bring the head back up to the tension previously recorded and fine tune each lug by ear. It does save some time but the only way to tune is with your ears!

This is exactly what I do too.

I also have the Tama Tension Watch. I bought it when I first started playing to help tune my toms as I really had no clue back then. It's primary purpose now is to verify that I have an even amount of tension at each lug. Even then, I still do some fine tuning to get the tone I'm after. As noted by the other posters, that fine tuning is rarely noticeable on the Tension Watch.

For me, I suppose the process is like tuning a guitar by ear, then seeing how close you are with a tuner.
 

Masheanhed

Senior Member
I use my DD to quickly get into the ball park.
It works just as you discovered. It is great for a quick preliminary tune.
I have gotten quite good at using mine.
It does save me time and I do think that it is worth it. It is a useful tool.
There is a learning curve to using a DD. You get better with it as time passes.
Took the words outta my mouth.
 

drumtechdad

Gold Member
Concur: you end up needing to fine-tune by ear anyway, so why not do it all by ear? Noobs who need help tuning are better off spending the money on a couple of lessons with a drummer who can tune.

BTW, I get "back in the ballpark" via pitch. If this drum is a D, I tension it until it's a D. Simple, much quicker than the DD, and all I need to carry is a pitch pipe.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
When I first used my DD I placed it on a tom that I had tuned by ear. I took readings at each lug with the dial.
To my surprise the drum was close to the middle of the recommended tensions that were on the chart that came with the dial. The drum was also tensioned fairly evenly.
If anything, It was a mental boost for me regarding my tuning abilities.
It was worth the price of the dial just for that! :)
 
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Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I use my DD to quickly get into the ball park.
It works just as you discovered. It is great for a quick preliminary tune.
I have gotten quite good at using mine.
It does save me time and I do think that it is worth it. It is a useful tool.
There is a learning curve to using a DD. You get better with it as time passes.
I've had mine for about two years now.
I should add that I use dial indicators at my work and I am fluent in using them.
I have used a DD for our years and this sums up my stance on it perfectly. It's good to get you in the ballpark and the more you use it, the faster and more accurate it is.
 

axisT6

Senior Member
Bringing this back up. How much of a learning curve is there with this tool? I found that i get stuck chasing tension around the drum. Whenever I would change the tension on one key, even as little as one number, the values for the tension rods next to the adjusted rod would Change. I even went as far as to check the hoops and shells for flatness. I don't want to discount this tool just yet, however my experience has not been as seen on YouTube. For the record, I always tuned by ear. I bought this tool to speed the process. For what it's worth, I put the tool on a snare I recently tuned and all the rods measured pretty much the same.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Bringing this back up. How much of a learning curve is there with this tool? I found that i get stuck chasing tension around the drum. Whenever I would change the tension on one key, even as little as one number, the values for the tension rods next to the adjusted rod would Change.
Tension creep is something that you will encounter if you attempt to go straight for a particular tension on each lug. If you begin by compensating, it becomes much less of a chase. If your target is '70', begin by shooting for '65'. You'll end up at 67/68 and touch up to 70 with little effort.

It takes a while to get used to, but eventually bears fruit. It's not a direct replacement for ear-tuning and serves as a good tool for recollection/replication/reproduction of tones. It also allows for someone without an ear to tension a drum.
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
After a 40 year lay off I started playing again but didn't trust my ears so bought the analog version of the DD. Like a few of you I found myself going back and forth and around and back again trying to get everything the same tension. Perseverance worked and drums sounded great. After a while my "ear" came back and now just use the DD out of curiosity. I find I'm within a couple points either way of hitting the desired "mark", then tune each lug by ear. Guess what? Drums sound great. Any newbies who want to give the DD a whirl, I'll sell you mine. Paid $59 at GC and will let it go for $25. I'll even pay the shipping.
 
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