Tuning question - before I mess up


Well-known member
I have a 8 yr old Pearl SoundDesign kit (22"x16" kick, 14"x 5.5" snare, 10"x9", 12"x10", 16"x16" toms). The resonant heads have never been replaced on any of the drums. I did recently replace the batter head on the kick and snare with Remo heads. I'm planning on replacing the batter heads on the toms as well, but I wanted to get a tuner first.

I purchased a tune-bot and it arrived today. I'm using the recommendations from their website PDF: https://tune-bot.com/tunebottuningguide.pdf. I started with my snare drum. I'm attempting to tune the batter side to 299 Hz and the snare side to 398 Hz. I had no issues at all tuning the batter side. But when I tune the snare side (which as I stated has an original head), I've been cranking down pretty hard on the lugs, and I'm getting a range of 150 to 180 Hz. I can't imagine anyway I'm going to crank those any where near 398 without something breaking. I did check back on the batter side, and those frequencies are up over 340 now (which doesn't surprise me too much I guess). Do I just need to keep cranking? Or am I doing something wrong here? Thanks!
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Staff member
Make absolutely sure you're measuring frequency right at the lug, not the overall frequency. Lay the drum batter side down on a towel or cushion to completely deaden the batter head. Take the Tunebot and hold it right over each lug position, then tap close to the hoop, preferably with a soft mallet, just loud enough to get the Tunebot to register. This should give you an accurate reading, but wait - there's another issue to consider. You may already have over cranked the reso head, and this often causes false readings (essentially, you're reading an overtone). To check this, back your reso head right down to something fairly low, ascertain the lug frequency in the way I described, then tension incrementally as you go. If the readings seem to be making sense, engage the filter. This will cut out any extraneous overtone readings. Each time you increase tension, reset the filter to keep it on focus.

Hope this helps.


Senior Member
Tap about an inch away from each of the lugs on the batter side until you find the one that reads much higher than the others, then turn on the filter function since that one is probably reading properly.

You might get a bunch of 180's then suddenly you'll hit one that says 398 or something. Turn the filter on then and go back over the others. They'll likely read somewhere in that same range. Tune the rest of them with the filter on.

Using the filter like this will help dial in all of the drums. It works on all of them.


Well-known member
I think it might have been a combination of a very old (and not good quality) stock head and not using the filter function. I obviously did overtighten the tension rods on the snare (resonant) side head. I decided to back off the tension rods all the way on both sides and start over. While I was able to untighten the snare side, two of the eight tension rods locked up when I was near the end of removing them. I had no option other than remove the lugs from the shell, clamp vise grips onto the swivel nut, and crank until the tension rod broke off. Luckily my local Guitar Center had replacement parts. When I put a new Remo Diplomat Hazy Snare Side head on, I was able to see higher frequencies with FAR LESS tension. But even then, I had to hit it a few times with a rubber mallet to get the higher one. Once I got the higher value, I pushed the filter button on the tune-bot. Since I never saw any high values on the old head, no matter how many times I hit it, I'm not convinced it was just me not using the filter button correctly...but possibly. Either way, I learned some new things about fixing drums and I purchased an overdue head for the snare! Thanks for the answers, it definitely helped.


"Uncle Larry"
My initial guess is that you are not used to cranking down the resonant side as much as it can go for concern of breaking the head. 3 mil film stretches quite a bit before failure.

You could experiment with an old snare side head, tightening it down until failure, just to see how far you can crank it, measuring the tension with the tune bot along the way. Try tensioning the 4 snare bed rods first because that's the lowest points on the shell. Use 2 keys opposite each other. It's critical for proper head performance/life to tension the head so it's parallel, not angled, in relation to the bearing edge of the shell...north, east, west and south. The 2 key trick helps with that. Since the snare side film stretches so much, it's very easy to get the head going on an angle. Use your eyes.

FWIW, a 3 mil snare side is considered standard. The 2 mil Diplomat excels in sensitive orchestral playing. If you are a medium or harder hitter, most would recommend a 3 mil snare side head. If you prefer the sound of the Dip, disregard. No fixed rules. General guidelines sure, but no fixed rules.
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