If you want to enjoy a drum set to its full potential, you need to know how to tune a drum set for optimal sound and performance. Here are the most critical steps to get the job done.
How to Tune a Drum Set
1. Start with the head
The drum head is where all the tuning takes place. Although this can be cheaply one in a music store, you can actually learn to do it yourself at home. This will save you the time needed to go to the store but so the money for each tuning.
For proper tuning, you will need your tuning key. This usually comes with the new drums. If you don’t have a key or purchased second-hand drums you will need to buy or borrow one from your friends. The good news is that these keys are inexpensive.
There is no secret at this stage; you will have to consider making opposing adjustments to the rods. This principle is used to get an even tension.
2. Loosen or tighten the rods in progression
The sample principle applies when loosening the rods. You would loosen one rod and then move on to the opposing one, instead of the closest one to maintain a circular rim which is not bent. This process should not be rushed.
You should only loose in small turns which would make the rim relax progressively.
These principles are not unique to drums as they are applied a wide range of instruments and circular products and taking your time with the process can actually improve the durability of the drum.
3. If necessary, replace and prepare a new drum head
In order to place the new drum head, you will need to remove the old head and check the inside of the drum for irregularities or small dents.
These can have a major impact on the overall sound quality and it is considered a good practice to check from time to time either with your hand or a fine cloth.
You should also repeat the process with the new drum head and check or early signs of irregularity.
Since it may be one of the situations in which you get a faulty head, you may want to try and replace it with the seller before using it.
Once you went through these steps you can proceed to install the new drum head. If you have an older drum, you can oil the rods before placing them back into position to ensure a smoother tuning.
You can begin tightening the rods progressively using your hands with the same technique from the loosening procedure.
To ensure the break in is as quick as possible you can even push on the center of the drum head with your palm. This can ensure the materials are set and you can even use some force as you may be required to press harder to break in the drum.\
4. Tune the drum
You are now ready to start tuning the drum. The process should not be rushed and you can experiment with various techniques.
However, it seems that the best pattern is to continue adjusting opposing rods which may help you achieve an even distribution and force impact. This is why you should only consider this technique.
You want to stay away from moving to the nearest rod and just move across for a mathematical approach. This can ensure a longer life for the drum and even a better sound.
And since the sound is the only variable at this stage, you want to continue adjusting the rods until you reach your desired result. This will involve a better sound and a better durability.
Your final results should have all the rods in similar tension which mean you can have precise results. You should continuously test the drum for optimum results.
Of course, for new drums, you will need to set the head higher and this can only mean you’ll need to break in the drum yourself by pressing hard on the middle of the drum.
Generally speaking, there are some other good tips or drum tuning. These involve maintaining snares and looking for potential issues at the bottom of the drum.
Since you will be using the drums intensely you should consider storing some extra drum head and drum rings. But the basic equipment also needs to include some spare rods and at least a tuning key.
Together with a fine natural fibers cloth, you can maintain your drums regularly.
5. Know how often to tune the drums
Although there are some general guidelines on the best times to tune your drums, you should simply do it whenever required. So if you feel the sound is not on par with what you expect you need to tune the drums.
But traditional tuning days are far behind and you can now find a dedicated smartphone app which will even indicate the smaller issues with your tuning.
Going too low or too high is immediately noticed by the app and it can be a good opportunity to learn how to tune your drums yourself.
Thus, tuning a drum is one of the simplest processes if you have the patience to do it in a correct mode.
This involves less rushed fine tuning and taking the time to check the drum for possible imperfections in which case you’ll need to take it to a professional for fixing.
But if your drum is fine and if you have a good drum head to setup, there are no reasons to think that this can’t be done by yourself.
It can actually make you a better drummer as it will give you the chance to improve your ability to instantly detect out of tune drums and out of tune playing.
Unless you are playing an electronic drum, you will need to learn to detect these sounds yourself.
This might be challenging, especially at the beginning. But this is why you can make the most of the additional tools like smartphone apps to improve the sound of your drums.