tuning drums help


Well-known member
is there a video out there that been decided upon collectively to be the best? Is there an app to help listen and tune? am i suppose to have specific notes on each drum?


Gold Member
Rick Beato offers up one of the most simple and logical drum tuning "methods" for beginning drummers. Watch all three episodes and he'll get you in the ballpark for a properly-tuned ROCK drum sound.

Some drummers tune their drums to specific notes, but it's not too common. Most drummers try to find pitches where the drums have their sweet spots and sound harmonic in a row.

There are tuning devices like Tune Bot or Drum Dial, as well as apps to find the desired pitches. Youtube offers loads of tuning tutorials (Bob Gatzen an and many, many others) that show good tuning methods. You will realize that they all follow the same principals with some minor variations.

To really learn how to tune drums requires some time, so be patient.
Another vote for Rob Brown's method. I was highly skeptical. Tried it and was absolutely knocked out by how good and how easy it was.


Gold Member
I agree with Supernoodle - the Rob Brown video is good, too. And you will find him teaching you the exact same process that Rick Beato uses. I just like the Beato videos because he wastes no time jabbering (same with Rob Brown) - they just get down to it. Bam.



Platinum Member
YouTube is your friend. Actually lots of people tune to notes and use things like tunebots. If you are having trouble I highly suggest it as a learning tool. Using your ear, and learning how high to tune the reso and batter with a tunebot makes life so much easier. After you get it down you can sell the device if you don't need it. I still use one for getting into the ballpark of where I need to be quick then fine tuning by ear. I tune to notes. Using perfect 3'rd or 4'ths sounds so good and consistent.


Gold Member
is there a video out there that been decided upon collectively to be the best?
Not a "best of all", but there are plenty to watch with decent info. I thought the videos by Bob Gatzen were informative. There's also plenty of good articles like this one.
Is there an app to help listen and tune?
No, but there is the Tune-Bot. They are helpful when a drum head isn't tuning up easily, or when you need a specific note/tone.
am i suppose to have specific notes on each drum?
No, but some drummers do it for specific bands and/or music.

Learning to tune your drums will take practice, and with time you will be able to tune your drums by ear as easily as riding a bike. A couple pointers:
  • Start with new heads, batter & resonant. Choose a couple toms, the 16" and the 10" or 12", and spend a few hours taking apart the drums, inspecting them, oiling the tension rod threads (1 drop, light motor oil), checking the bearing edges. When the heads are off, it's the best time to inspect your instrument.
  • Be prepared to spend an hour learning to tune one drum. Learn how the head clearly changes tone with very small turns of the tension rods. Learn how the resonant head affects the overall tone of the drum and its resonance/decay. Experiment. Try high pitch, low pitch. Try to get a short decay. Try to get long decay. Take ownership of how your kit sounds.
  • Try different brands of drum heads. I used Remo for decades, and on a fluke decided to try Evans and the difference in sound was shocking, in a good way. On my snare drums I've tried about 20 different types of drum heads (over time) because I wanted to learn how they sounded and how their design affects the sonics of the drum.
  • Embrace this process of learning to tune. Once you "got it", you'll be able to sit down at any kit and know which drums (if any) need tuning, and tune 'em up within minutes. If you play churches, this skill alone will get you callbacks.


"Uncle Larry"
There's 3 basic tuning approaches.

Batter looser than reso
Batter the same as reso
Batter tighter than reso

Intervals between top and bottom heads typically sound best with a 3rd, 4th, 5th or octave intervals between heads. Or tuned to the same octave/pitch.

After you learn how to "clear" each head (get the head in tune with itself) you will have to choose one of the 3 options above to see what your personal preference is. There's no "wrong" way to tune. It's all about what you like.

This is not a quick and easy thing. It's exactly opposite of that. Learning to clear the heads is important. Drums sound best when each head is in tune with itself (cleared) and the intervals between the top and bottom heads are pleasing...they add to one another....as opposed to head intervals that subtract from one other. (subtraction is also called phase cancellation or comb filtering, bad)

Each head makes a set of frequencies. When these 2 sets of frequencies blend, they either add to each other (constructive), subtract from each other (destructive) or have no effect on one another. We go for the additive tuning generally speaking. We want the most that drum can make.
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Gold Member
Want to take a quick Jump in drum tuning tone?

1. Purchase a tune-bot.
2. Read everything you can about a tune-bot.
3. Watch any videos you can about a tune-bot.
4. Read what I have written here about the tune-bot.
5. Go tune your kit with the tune-bot.

No joke. Some will throw stones at it. But, I have been playing for very long time, and it was the tune-bot that allowed me to quickly Step Up in tone. Consistently. Easily. With any kit.


Platinum Member
All the advice so far is sound but I'd also do some exploratory noodling on my own getting a feel just how tuning the batter or reso head influences the sound and feel. Many like both heads tuned to same others like batter head little looser than reso head and then others like batter tighter. Cheaper kits often don't have a big tuning range so often limited to finding their sweet spot. Pressing down on center and tightening is called "seating" the head then tapping and tuning each lug to same is "clearing" the heads. So you'll hear that nomenclature too. You may find adding some cloth or gel pads to get sound you want so lots to experiment. Now you have to decide on head choice-which nowadays there are so many to choose from. I use to tune by ear but now I use an iPhone app to tune to pitch. A drum dial is helpful to clear heads and get each lug tuned evenly. Also before putting on a new head check out the bearing edges of drum and make sure rims round because if either off you'll have a difficult time tuning. And giving credit where credit due-I learned all this on DW an encyclopedic cornucopia of drumming knowledge and a great reference.
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Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
I like the 2-key method as shown here. This is what I've always done, as long as I had 2 drum keys.

I've never really had a need to tune to a note. I wouldn't worry about that yet. Practice tuning. Low, Medium, High tunings. Find YOUR sweet spots and what sounds good to you.

I understand the consistency of the tune-bot and what it offers. I would rather START with trying to train my ears a bit. Understanding what and why you're doing what you're doing. I don't deny it's capabilities though.

Always a lot of great advice here. Good luck.


Senior Member
there is no proper tune?
There are many proper ways to tune a drum. The trick is to find one that works for you.

Here's my not-so well informed thoughts on the topic.

The first thing to decide is if you want the drums "tuned" (i.e. lugs on a head are tuned to the same note) or "detuned" (i.e. the lugs on a head are tuned to different notes).

Rob Brown shows his method for detuning. That approach is a lot easier for beginners. It's also preferred by quite a few more advanced drummers, especially for recording Rock music. With that approach, the different notes on the same head cancel each other out somewhat, giving a fatter, deader sound with more body, but less attack and overtones. It usually works best with some damping on the heads because it's hard to detune the drums without getting some nasty, random noises, and the whole point is to produce a more controlled sound.

If you want to tune the drums, you need something like a Tunebot (unless you have great ears). It takes quite a bit of experimentation to find the tunings that work for you and your drums. I really like the videos by Kenny Sharretts. He shows how different intervals produce different sounds.

I watched a video by an orchestral drummer who suggested that if you want well tuned drums, you pretty much need to make a separate hobby out of tuning drums, and play around with it constantly.
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Active member
As you can probably see from the responses, there's no single way to tune drums. Some guys will absolutely swear by their method, and will back it up with some rock solid logic only for another cat to do the exact opposite method and get wonderful results as well. The TuneBots and Drum Dials are wonderful tools to have, but I think that is to your benefit to develop a comfortable understanding with getting tension rods fairly even with each other, and what the relationship in tension between the two heads (or single head if you're a no resonant head guy) and the drum itself can do to affect sound.

My only advice is to TUNE. All the time. Show up early to practice a few minutes early and just throw a quick tune on your snare drum. Bored or uninspired to play one day? Tune your kit! I've found that all the resources that exist on the ol' www.internet.com didn't really hit home until I made my own breakthroughs and actually discovered things through experimentation.

That being said, when it comes to resources, I think that "Sounds Like a Drum" is bar none the best tuning resource out there right now.