One of the hardest things drummers face is tuning their drums. I have always heard issues with this process, as it is tiring and annoying.
And that is why picking the right drum tuner is essential to me.
There are many drum tuners on the market today. Every brand promises to offer the best solution. However, not all of them will give you what you are looking for.
In this guide, I am going to introduce some of the most important things you should know about a drum tuner. Follow me.
What is a drum tuner?
Well, before we get into understanding how to use a drum tuner, do you know what it is?
Drum tuning is the process of getting the right tune for your drums, just like tuning a guitar. A drummer must get their equipment in the right key in order for the music to sound right.
Tuned drums create harmony with the rest of you’re the music instruments in a band.
A drum tuner is a tool that helps a drummer or studio engineer get the right tune. It is one of the most useful drum accessories.
I cannot start without saying that tuning a drum is not easy. Even if you have the best tool to use, there are certain things you may just never get right.
However, because it is essential, a player must be ready to spend a long time with their drums and learning how to tune them. You need a high level of patience, as well. Many people give up on drumming when tuning becomes tough for them.
Many good drummers tune by ear. But a tuner gives a visual representation of each lug’s head tension. It is an excellent tool for an untrained ear to give their drums that professional touch.
In most cases, drum tuners are used in recording studios, especially with other instruments.
They are indispensable to most recording engineers. They will even ask you to make good use of the different types of tuners available instead of just relying on your ear.
What is the best drum tuner?
The market is full of different drum tuners. As such, it is normal to wonder what the best tuner should look like.
There are several things to consider when choosing your tuner. First, take note of the following:
- The number of drums you will be using
- A digital vs. classic choice
- Your budget
Based on these, here are a few tips to help you choose the right tuner.
Your Playing Environment
A player must be sure about their playing environment. It is cruciat to be sure about the area you will be playing in.
Take, for instance; you are tuning from home or in another silent location; there are a ton of tuners designed for these locations.
If you will be alternating from loud to quiet areas, you should consider a tuner that fits for both. Fortunately, there is something for everyone.
Traditional or Digital tuner
When considering the right tuner, the player must choose between a classic or a digital tuner. There is no denying that technology is changing the world.
However, sometimes a more classical approach works just fine.
Both options will give you an accurate reading. And they will offer the same level of consistency. But an analog tuner does not have many features.
Therefore, if you are looking for special features or a tuner that can serve multiple drum sets and that’s easy to use, you should go for the digital.
Research on Famous Tuners
Go online, and you will be exposed to all sorts of drum tuners. This is both a good and bad thing. Too many options may make you feel overwhelmed.
And therefore, the best way to choose a tuner is by checking the reviews of common brands. And this is easy.
First, use the internet to search for reviews. Here, you can get all the information you need to understand about drum tuning and which tuners work best with certain kits. Also, the brand’s site should give you a clue of what to expect.
In other words, ask other drummers on how to find a good device. Experienced drummers are always happy to share information with others.
Other drummer’s opinions will expose you to tuners you never knew existed.
When to get a tuning device
The most important consideration of all is knowing when you need a tuner. And I cannot emphasize enough how crucial this step is.
Every drummer, regardless of their skill level, needs a tuner. They give you a great sound from the drums, helping you achieve that needed perfection.
Well, another option is to tune by ear. But this skill takes a long time and practice to perfect. Besides, you must play the drum on the right spot.
Having said this, drum tuning by ear is almost impossible for a beginner. Just like a guitar tuner is essential to a guitarist, a tuner to vital to a drummer.
The Best Drum Tuner review
Here are some of the best drum tuners I have found. Luckily, I have had a chance to try out each device on this list, and that is why I am sure they are the best options out there.
1. Drum Dial
Many drummers find Drum Dial to be one of the best drum tuners on the market. Besides, it is one of the oldest devices for this job.
It comes in two versions: the analog and digital drum tuner versions. The digital drum tuner works better for me, though the analog version works fine.
For more than ten years, this device has been helping drummers achieve the right sound.
It is very durable. Above all, they measure the drum head tension, as opposed to the rod torque as the case for other brands. This makes it more accurate.
The digital drum dial costs a lot more than the analog. And it is easy to see why, as it comes with better features delivering more accurate readings.
If you are using it to track at the studio, you should learn how engineers track drums. They usually have a specific way they like their drums sound. Keep this in mind, and you should have an easy time altogether.
Even if you have your own preferences, it may not be useful in achieving the best result. Therefore, follow directions of expert drummers instead.
Technology in the drum tuning industry has really developed. And the Tune Bot TS-001 is good proof.
With its clip-on feature, you can easily keep it on a drum kit without worrying about it slipping off.. And it also comes with a ‘hands-free’ tuning mode where you don’t need to press it into the head or anything.
One of the best things I enjoy on this device is that you don’t need to position it in a specific way. Just keep it anywhere on the rim, wait for the display and adjust accordingly.
Also, it comes with an internal memory on which you can store different pitches for different drum kits. This will enable you to make faster changes whenever possible. Also, this feature allows you to keep your sweet spot so that you continue exploring other options.
This digital drum tuner is top on this list because it comes with features you will not find in any other tuner. Also, it has grown very popular with many drummers since its release.
The only disadvantage of the Tune-Bot is the price. But this will not be a problem for those seeking high-quality performance.
This sleek-looking analog tuner is everything you may need to keep your drums in check. It was modeled after the Drum Dial tuner; so it operates just as good.
You get accurate readings from this tuner, as long as you give it just enough pressure. This means you have to be extra-careful when aligning it with the tension stick.
Note also that this device gives out the accuracy of any high-end versions. Perhaps the presence of a detachable bumper may be the only difference. With this feature, the user does not have to measure the distance between the rim and the tuner.
Though this does not give it any more accuracy, it makes it much easier to use. For those who have a lot of work on their hands, the Tama TAMTW100 can be a great choice.
It is easy to use and very durable. Its build is quite fantastic and provides everything you need to get your tuning needs in place.
The only downside I noticed was its simplistic design. And because it is analog, you shouldn’t expect any cool features.
The DT-20 is a sure example of a contemporary drum tuner. It is a sleek-looking device with a design from the future.
Better yet, the device comes with a free application available from the AppStore. This adds great when tuning the drum heads.
This tuner works in two modes – the mic and infrared. And this is what makes it unique to the ones I have mentioned above. The mic mode works just like a guitar tuner by recording the drum, so don’t use it in a noisy place.
But you still have the infrared tuning option that uses the principle of measuring the tension on the head through infrared rays. This can work well, even in a noisy area, like when you are gigging.
Also, it comes with a USB charger and a big screen. You can connect this to your phone and tune the drums in any amount of light.
It is a wonderful piece that will give you the perfect tune for your drums.
Perhaps its price is the biggest limitation. But it may not be if you are willing to invest in quality. Sometimes it’s worth it to invest in a device if it’s accurate and easy to use.
Talk of technology in a drum tuner and the Overtone Lab’s TBG001 will be your perfect selection. It is an improved version of the Tune Bot discussed above.
This device has been gaining the fastest recognition in the market. It matches the lug pitch of frequencies and allows the drummer to do fast changes for the needed pitch.
It comes with a large and greatly readable LCD. And the light lets you see everything well, even in the dark.
You can clip it on the drum hoop. And with the way it is designed to work, you don’t have to lug alignments for accurate readings. Also, it has a toggle button so you can easily switch between programs.
Its price, however, keeps it off the budget of many drummers.
Frequently asked questions
What notes should I tune my drums to?
Tuning the drum is one of the most important things a drummer must do. And so, understanding which sounds to choose must be important.
First, you need to be aware of where each tom achieves the best sound. From here, you can come up with a tuning scheme using notes. It is not advisable to force a drum to play beyond its range.
There are different tuning ranges a player must pass each tom through. And for every drum, the tones range between 2-3 semitones apart.
Generally, you will know the note based on the music you are playing. If you want to tune drums by ear, you’re going to need to practice rigorously. It took me almost an entire year to learn how to tune your drums by ear accurately.
How do drum tuners work?
Different drum tuners have different ways of working. They work depending on how they are designed. For instance, using the Drum Dial is pretty basic. Simply put it on your drum in line with a lug. Ensure to keep it at least an inch from the rim and apply pressure on top of the dial, and you will get the reading.
Using this number, repeat the procedure around the drum and adjust to the first numbers.
This is the standard procedure for many drum tuners. But the digital version is always changing with technology making it easier to use. Now tuning your drums is a lot easier than it used to be.
Can you tune drums with a guitar tuner?
Yes. But you need to find a mic. Also, you must tune each lug first, then the whole head. I would advise you to just use a drum tuner for tuning drums.
A drum tuner is one of the most vital tools you will need to buy if you want to get serious about drumming.
If you tune well, even a cheap drum kit, it will sound way better than a poorly done professional drum. The best drum tuner needs to be simple. That is why I recommend you get a tuner that has a digital version. Tuning drums might be frustrating but it’s an essential skill for drumming. Once you’ve got it mastered, playing the drums will be a lot more fun. I hope the ones discussed above makes your work easier.