As a drummer, you know that having the right drum key is essential to keeping your drums sounding their best. There are many different types of drum keys on the market, and it can be challenging to know which is the best for your needs. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to the best drum keys on the market.
Drum Keys: What is a drum key?
A drum key is a small tool that is used to tune drums. It is also used to adjust the tension on the drum heads. Drum keys come in various sizes and shapes and are made from different materials. Tightening the tension rods raises the drum’s pitch while loosening them lowers the pitch. Drum keys are also helpful for adjusting hardware like hi-hat stands and kick drum pedals.
Types of Drum Keys
A reliable drum key, arguably the most important accessories for drummers, can often be a life-saving situation during rehearsal or even during practices. Almost every adjustment on the drums requires a drum key, tuning the drums, adjusting your stands and stools, and sometimes even mounting the pedals. Manufacturers have created various drum keys over the years to cater to various situations and provide the drummer with even more convenience for the task. Today, we’ll look at eleven different types of drum keys.
Standard Drum Key
The standard drum key is the most common type of drum key that you will find. It is a T-shaped tool to tune drums by turning the tension rods. The standard drum key is made from metal or plastic. The standard drum key design is beneficial because it is small and compact; This makes it easy to transport, and you can easily use it to tune your drum.
Advances Drum Key
The Advances drum key is the next step from the standard drum key. The Advances drum key is a T-shaped tool made from metal or plastic. It is used to tune drums by turning the tension rods. The advantage of the Advances drum key is that it has a built-in torque wrench, Which makes it easy to get the perfect tension on your drum. The disadvantage of the advances drum key is that it is more expensive than the standard drum key.
High Tension Drum Key
Percussion manufacturers responded to their cries by developing high tension drum key (sometimes called “T-Keys”). These oversized keys won’t fit on your keychain, but they’re a must if you want to tune marching drums. They’ll also easily tune a regular-tension drum (like a drum set tom or a concert snare drum). The extra-wide handle provides significantly more torque, making tightening and loosening tension rods much more accessible, even when cranked to 11.
Drill Bit and Socket Drum Key
It’s not always about how difficult it is to tune a single tension rod but how long it takes to adjust them. That’s where these handy little adapters come in handy – insert a drill bit into your battery-powered drill. Then you can suddenly remove an entire drumline’s worth of heads in just a few minutes (but be gentle and work your way around the head patiently, Or the shell/tire of the drum may be warped). Drill drive head replacement saves a lot of time. A socket drum key can also be used on any socket wrench for extra leverage.
Wrench Drum Key
Wrench drum keys are turned in the shape of a wrench; This provides a lot of leverage, which is helpful for high-tension applications but mainly for tightening and loosening locking bolts on drum hardware, racks, and marching hardware like drum carriers.
Ratchet Drum Key
The Ratchet Drum key was created to make your life easier. When you turn the ratchet drum key, the pull rod spins, and the magic happens. When you turn back, the pull rod stays the same! A ratchet wrench simplifies tuning, changing heads, tightening and loosening hardware, and almost anything that uses a square swivel. It’s fast, it’s leveraged, and you can maintain precise control when you need it.
Crank Action Drum Key
This type of drum key is designed for speed. Crank action allows the pull rod to turn in either direction, but there is friction here. It can do it very quickly; honestly, it’s also a lot of fun. It serves a similar purpose to a drill press and is slower than a drill press, but the significant advantage here is that the exact twist can be tweaked so you can use it up to the point where the drums are in tune, different from a drill press. Drill presses are fast for installing and removing large numbers of tie rods, but they don’t need to be precisely controlled.
The Multi-Tool Drum key is an actual multitasking machine. It combines all the other keys, including a built-in torque wrench, drill bit, and socket adapter. With all these features, the Multi-Tool Drum Key is the only tool you need to change or tune your drum.
Bass Drum Pedal Key
The Bass Drum Pedal Key is a multi-tool specifically designed to adjust the bass drum pedal. They are often polyhedral rather than Swiss Army style, angled to make it easier for the drummer on the throne to reach out and adjust the pedal settings. Nevertheless, they also work perfectly as standard drum keys.
World Drum Key
The World Drum Key is a unique tool that allows you to quickly and easily change the tension of your drum. The advantage of this key is that it can be used on any drum, whether a marching snare drum or a concert tom. The disadvantage is that it’s more expensive than a standard drum key.
Timpani uses a different type of truss rod. That means you need another kind of key. Timpani keys usually look like standard keys but are slightly larger and leave the timpani head free. Standard drum wrenches rarely work on timpani, so if you plan to attend a head swap or head cleaning, you’ll need one of these.
Most Frequently Asked Questions
Can you tune a drum without a drum key?
Make sure you always have your drum keys with you. Some drummers prefer to tune the heads at the same time whenever possible to use two drum keys with equal tension on opposite sides.
What size is a drum key?
Most drum keys are around 2-4 inches long. A few drum keys come in different lengths but are usually about 3 inches long.
Are drum keys the same size?
No, drum keys come in different sizes, depending on the application.
The bottom line is that a drum key is an essential tool for any drummer. Whether a beginner or a pro, you need a good quality drum key to keep your drums sounding their best. With so many different types of drum keys on the market, it can be hard to know which one is the right fit for you. We hope this guide has helped you make a decision. Thank you for reading, and happy drumming!