Tip regarding drumhead tuning and wrinkles.


Junior Member
Hey guys. :)

This seems to be my go to place for asking drum related questions, and the community is always great to me. So I'd like to ask advice, and get opinions based on something that well... I can't just make my mind up on.

I know that wrinkles in drumheads are obviously bad, and could ruin the drumhead. My question is this; are wrinkles acceptable to a point? I have my floor tom tuned low, and I love the sound I get out of it. I have it tuned to the point where there are no wrinkles visable, and when I'm playing on it there are no wrinkles. However, when I apply a fair amount of force I'll see a wrinkle or two. Should I tune these completely out? I love how it's tuned right now, both batter and reso are tuned to my exact liking, but I'm constantly finding myself wondering if I'm harming the drumhead by having it this low.

The heads I'm questioning are Evans EC2 clear batters over clear g1 resonant side.


Platinum Member
Wrinkles imply next to no tension.....No tension = next to no tone. If you want them to sound like drums, get rid of the wrinkle mate.

That said, what do you mean by "when I apply a fair amount of force I see a wrinkle or two"? I'm not getting it. Force with a stick or force with your hand?
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Junior Member
Force with my hand. When I play it with a stick I see no wrinkle at all. Only when I apply force with my hand do I see wrinkles.


Platinum Member
Then it sounds like you are tuning at JAW or just above wrinkle. I don't care for it personally......far too lifeless for my tastes, but many would disagree with me. Lots of guys use this type of tuning on their drums. Lord knows I don't understand it.....but then again, I don't have to. ;-)

At the end of the day, if you're not seeing any wrinkles when the drum is just sitting idle, you have even tension at each lug and you're happy with the sound you're getting out of the drum, you should be good to go.


Platinum Member
Wow, it sounds like you are a loose tuner.
My floor toms are about 1/2 turn above wrinkle and if I press on my head there are no wrinkles.
As Pocket said, its fine if you like it that way.


Senior Member
I've been in this situation. That little tension will give a nice focused tone on a floor Tom but you lose a lot of resonance and overall volume. If you tighten it just to those wrinkles are gone, you'll get a higher pitched Tom but he time will be bigger and lower. Just the way I've ignited it out.


One of the first things I do after applying a minimal amount of tension to the head and before actually tuning a drum is to put pressure on the center of the head with just my index finger. I then look around at all the tension rod positions for wrinkles, some of these are more evident depending on what heads you are using. I eliminate these wrinkles by slightly tightening the tension rod next to the wrinkle or wrinkles before going on, it's basically like starting with a clean palette. These wrinkles will have a sonic affect on other portions of the drum head where you might not even see wrinkles. Drum heads should have a constant tension around the circumference of the entire head, this is where the phrase "in tune with itself" comes into play.

You should go with whatever works for you. The above is just what I do.



Gold Member
That is actually similar to the tension I usually keep on my toms, just above wrinkling. If I push down in the center of the head with my hand, I can see a little bit of wrinkling. This is perfectly fine, lots of guys tune this way!

On a related note, ever notice how stupid the word "wrinkle" sounds if you say it a few times?


Silver Member
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Oh Spambot, you slay me with your wit. Hopefully with your continued skin hydrating, you'll be able to avoid the inevitable JAWFACE.


Senior Member
I usually tune to where there are no wrinkles visible when I press down on the head. I like my drums tuned to a lower pitch, but I don't like seeing any wrinkles in the head.


Platinum Member
They are your drums , tune them how you wish BUT realize the sound you're hearing on your drum throne may be far different than a meter or more away. It may not sound that good out there, with no resonance. It may convince you to tune up a little.


"Uncle Larry"
Your drums, your rules. Hey whatever tops your pizza. Your tom tone will kinda suck from a distance at that tension though if you are unmiced. They will sound like wet cardboard with a slap and really, absolutely nothing afterwards. But if you aren't playing out, it doesn't matter. Drummers need to tune for either the audience, the drum mics, or themselves if there is no one listening. I think most drummers like that low tuned tone from the throne, but one listen from the audience's perspective should convince you that at that low of a tension, your shells aren't really involved and they aren't projecting your tone. Shells need a certain threshold of tension before they start to really project your tom tone.

The downside to tuning for yourself, is when you realize your drums need to be tuned higher to sound good where it counts, in the audience, you will not be used to the tightness and ringiness that actually makes a drum sound like a drum from a distance. So it will be an adjustment, and not a small one either. And a high tuned tom that is muffled, even a little, is no better than a low tuned drum. Muffling kills overtones. Toms need every available overtone to sound like a tom from 15 feet away when the rest of the band is playing.

That's the kicker right there. As soon as the band is added to the fray, it's your overtones, meaning the ringiness, that allows your toms to sound like toms. Eliminate that "annoying" ring, eliminate your killer tom tone. Overtones are your best ally.

Overtones, the very thing that people try to eliminate, is the very thing that makes a drum sound great. People will go to great lengths to ruin their own tone. I will concede that a low tuned tom sounds killer from the throne, but if that's the only place it sounds good, it's not enough.... unmiced.

For an unmiced tom to sound good in the audience, it has to be tuned medium to medium high, or high, with zero muffling. That's the long and short of it. A pretty high tuned floor tom has surprising depth in the audience.

If you mic yourself then you can tune lower and still get a good tone in the audience.

A low tuned drum is selfish IMO if you are playing live and unmiced. If you are the only one who can experience a great tom tone, that's selfish. Plus you won't sound good in the audience. Micing is the only way to satisfy yourself and to also have a decent tom tone in the audience. Unless you condition yourself to basically ignore, or listen through, the overtones, and instead just hear and focus on the fundamental note. After you condition yourself to be comfortable with higher tuned toms, you will always have a good tom tone in the audience. I had to go through this same conditioning, and now I can't stand playing a flappy tom, especially a smaller rack tom. I want them high.


Platinum Member
You're allowed to prefer a loose tuning, of course, but if you haven't explored other tuning scenarios, you won't know if you prefer something else. If you first become a master of different drum tunings, and then decide that you prefer what you have now, then you wouldn't be asking us for help, right? Go explore the range of your drums!

Larry is right about tuning for yourself versus tuning for the audience, but there's also tuning for the genre, and tuning for the studio, tuning for the song, and tuning for specific pitches.

But don't stop with drums! Develop your ear by learning to tune a guitar and a bass to a piano. Play and sing major and minor scales and common intervals.

Here's a link to a free ear-training website.

Spend $100 or so on a Tune Bot, which has to be the coolest invention in drum tuning yet, since it measures drum head frequencies, and not tension. I don't own one myself (since I learned to tune the hard way), but have heard great things, and the online demos of it confirm what I've learned.

In a way, this is like the "how important is playing to a metronome?" question: don't attempt to answer until you can play your ass off with the thing, and then decide for yourself! :)

Good luck!