Drum Tuning - How Often?


Silver Member
I tune my drums before every gig and before practice.
I'm not making drastic changes or anything just tuning them up to where I want them, I tune my batter heads pretty loose and after a two hour rehearsal they definitely need some slight tuning adjustments.

My practice space is a big two story warehouse for band rehearsals. The walls floor and ceiling all have a ton of sound deadening material to keep the sound IN the rooms as much as possible, that being said the acoustics in the room are weird and when I tune my drums in there and take them to a gig they sound off and vice versa.


Platinum Member
I find I will retune sometimes when my ear gets fatigued to the pitches....helps hear them clearer...just minor adjustment.

Mostly, when the heads start creating sympathetic resonance in something I don't want them to....or start loosening beyond where I want them.

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I re-tune a little bit every time I play a different venue. I'm only talking a tiny adjustment. Might be more habit than anything.

When I was younger, I had to re-tune my drums after every performance of "My Generation" by the Who. While the guitar player was smashing up his guitar,
I was knocking my drums over and kicking them all around the stage.
I suppose if I had tried explosives, I would not have had to re-tune them. And I would not still have the same drum set.



Gold Member
I don't tune every day, or every session, but I listen to the drums every time I play. I am always listening, but only adjust as needed. I listen constantly, otherwise, how would you know if they need work?


Senior Member
So, those of you who have above average tuning skillz, how/when/why do you see a need to re-tune your drums?[/QUOTE]

When my ears pick up that something does need a tune up and that is not very often. I would say seldom do I bother.

I learned not long after getting my drum kit how to get it to sound good enough for where I was and not just me but everyone started to notice it. My ears where developed being a guitarist and I still am doing that.

But being a Tama owner and fan I went with a Tama Tension Watch mk I and followed the instructions. Tried the samples and took a little more or less tension as where I thought it sounded great. After doing all 9 drums on both sides I wrote down the tension settings.

That was way back in 2003 and I find that the tension stays pretty well for very long periods of time. When I do a tune up it is a little low or high but around where it should be not knocking it ever totally of balance.

I took any tape and crap of the old skins back when I got it and its a wide open kit. It is loud but sounds great and muffle anything is never needed. I can sit and practise more than constantly have to tune.

drumming sort of person

I've seen references to tuning for the room, which I don't understand.
You wouldn't "tune for the room", but you do play for the room. If anything, you may dampen more or less depending on a room's acoustics. Changing the tension/tuning more than a slight amount will result in a very different feel which you may not favor.


Gold Member
I fine-tune my drums every time I play them. But rarely do I dismount toms or play with the resonant heads, or anything like that. Again mostly just fine tuning.

The only drums I really mess around with are the snare drums. My 5x14 Supra is probably the most frequently changed, just for kicks and to play for various tuning ranges.


Platinum Member
Thanks for the responses guys, keep 'em coming.

Nothing to add, just wanting to let posters know that their responses are being read.


Staff member
I've seen references to tuning for the room, which I don't understand. I've never seen a guitarist tune for the room.
A guitarist tunes to set notes, & that remains static no matter what the situation (except for a planned detune).

I effectively "tune for the room" every time I play, except for a static practice kit. That can mean anything from leaving them exactly as they are, to a slight tweak, through to a total retune, or even a complete change of heads. In other words, I optimise the instrument according to the playing environment. I tune differently according to stage reinforcement too. Different tunings for acoustic playing, close mic'ing, 3 mic capture, etc.

To put some detail to the stage reinforcement bit, if I'm tuning for acoustic playing in an amplified band, I'll typically raise the pitch of all the drums - especially the bass drum. If I'm tuning for close mic capture, I'll increase tension on the resonant heads to shorten the voice & head sustain. If I'm tuning for 3 mic capture then I'll revert to my default tuning of 3rd or 5th intervals depending on the number of drums with the resonant heads around a 3rd above the batters - all around "medium" tension.

Tuning for the room is mostly applied to acoustic playing and / or recording scenarios, & really only takes account of significant differences in room acoustics, the primary method of getting the sound to the audience taking precedence over room acoustics most of the time.


Senior Member
Everything Andy just said and also guitar and bass players absolutely do tune to the room. They are always adjusting the tone of their amps to each place they're in.

And that's largely what's happening with drums.

We don't really care what pitch the note is (some do but im not talking about that). we usually tune to get a certain tone from our drums... i.e. wide open, low and thuddy... whatever. drum tuning has a profound effect on the tonality of a drum not just its pitch. unmic'd i go for higher/more open and mic'd up i go for lower with less ring and overtones.