Tuning your drums is a process that some drummers love while other drummers hate. Many people have an ear for it. They can sit and hear when all the right tones are being produced.
Then you get drummers like me who are absolutely terrible at it and find tuning drums to be a difficult process. Thankfully, companies produce these things called drum tuners that do all the hard work for us.
So, let’s check out some of the best drum tuners on offer.
The Tune-Bot is one of the most popular drum tuners on the market. When someone is struggling to tune drums, people will often just resort to the phrase of “just getting a tune-bot”.
So, what makes this thing so popular? Firstly, it’s incredibly easy to use. The interface is simple to navigate through and you’ll figure out how to do everything with a few minutes of experimentation.
It will help you get an even tension across the drum, creating the best drum tone possible. It checks the tones of your drums. It has a fantastic range of frequency options, allowing you to work easily with vey deep bass drums as well as high-pitched snares and toms.
It even allows you to tune your drums to certain pitches. A great feature for those drummers that are musically inclined. The Difference and Modes provide some variety and accuracy to boot.
You can save 5 kit presets with up to 10 drums. This means you can take your kit to the gig and tune it to sound the exact same way it sounded in your practice room.
The Tune-Bot is best suited for drummers that want to assign pitches to their drums. If you just need something to check tensions, it may be a bit pricey, considering most people are least likely to using all of its features.
The DrumDial is a strong contender to the Tune-Bot. The difference is that the DrumDial offers a more mechanic approach. It measures the pressure of drum heads and reflects the tightness on a dial.
This system is fantastic for people who don’t want to put too much trust into technology. Imagine that you need to tune your kit just before a gig and your batteries die in your drum tuner. That’ll never happen with the DrumDial!
The pressure gauge is extremely easy to read. If you’re used to measuring food in the kitchen, you’ll feel right at home with the DrumDial measurements. A great feature is that it can lock in on a certain measurement, allowing you to compare different parts of the drum head to that measurement.
A great thing about this tuner is that you don’t need to know anything about tuning drums or pitches. You just need to make sure that all the tensions around the lugs are the same and your drum kit will sound beautiful.
You just need to be careful when handling the DrumDial as it has the potential to damage your drum heads. The pressure measuring tip at the bottom tends to leave marks on thinner heads (here's how to clean drum heads).
3. Tama TW100
The Tama TW100 essentially works the same as the DrumDial. It’s a fairly large tuner that sits on the edge of the head to read the tension. Once you decide what tension to use, you can adjust the tension at every lug to get a well-tuned drum.
Tama is one of the leading drum manufacturers in the world. All the kits sound immaculate and are well-produced to deliver consistent tones. The fact that this tuner has Tama’s name in front of it kind of guarantees you that it will produce the same high-quality goodness that Tama’s kits do.
The measuring gauge is large and easy to read, making tuning a smooth process even for older people with poorer eyesight. The dial is generally accurate most of the time.
You just need to pick the tuner up when moving to new lugs to get a fresh reading. If you drag it across the drum head, the reading won’t be as accurate.
Unlike the previous tuner, it doesn’t have the potential to damage or mark anything. It would then seem like it’s the superior choice. However, it comes at a fairly higher price. So, you’ll need to decide which one to get based on those factors.
The Tube-Bot Gig is a smaller and more portable version of the standard Tune-Bot. It’s intended to take with you on gigs. Although the original Tune-Bot is still pretty small, this gigging version just adds more depth to travel capacity.
It works mostly the same, having a backlit LCD screen that will tell you the pitch around each lug on the drum. It clips onto the rim, allowing you to play normally while you check the pitches you’re getting. If you’ve ever used a guitar tuner, this thing works very similarly.
The biggest difference between this one and the standard Tune-Bot is that this one only has one large button. This button switches frequency and note modes. That’s all it does, simple and easy.
If you’re looking for more bells and whistles, the standard Tune-Bot will be a better choice. However, if you need something simple, this Tune-Bot gig is fantastic.
It’s a more affordable alternative to the large version that will still allow you to get a great sounding drum kit tone. Each drum will sound incredible once the pitches are matched and varied as you go down the kit.
The batteries do tend to run through quite quickly, so you’ll need to stock up on some spares if you’re going to use the Tune-Bot at gigs.
The Tru Tuner is majorly different from the previous products on this list. It may seem a bit confusing at first glance, but it’s very easy to use. If you follow drum pages on YouTube or Instagram, you’ve probably seen it being used once or twice.
It’s a device that is made to help remove drum heads extremely quickly. When you put the drum head back, it will tighten the lugs very quickly.
It allows you to change your heads in a few minutes. Many drummers hate the process of replacing drum heads as it can take incredibly long sometimes. Not with the Tru Tuner! Although it works mainly as a speedy head replacer, it also works well for tuning.
Because you’re tightening all the lugs at the same time, the tension generally stays the same for each one. This will give you a great drum tone with minimal overtones. Once you’ve tightened them all, you can do some fine-tuning with a drum key afterward.
Products like these make you wonder why nobody invented them sooner. It works incredibly well and saves you a lot of time. The only downside is that it’s not the most visually appealing thing in the world.
Tuning Drums with a Key
Every drum kit needs a drum key. It’s the only way you’ll be able to adjust a lot of gear. It’s also the only way that you can tune your drums. The drum tuners will give you a reference point, but the key is what you use to adjust the lugs on the drums.
If you don’t have a drum tuner, you need to adjust each lug to the same tension by listening to the sound of the head and trying to match the tones at each lug. The more you do this, the better you’ll get at it. However, you’ll never be as accurate as a drum tuner will be.
So, before you get a tuner, make sure you have a drum key. They’re extremely inexpensive and they tend to frequently get lost, meaning you’ll definitely need more than one.
A drum tuner is something that all drummers should have in their bag of gear. They’re especially useful for drummers who aren’t great at tuning. However, you may still need one even if you have the best ear in the world.
There may be times when you need to tune your drums in loud environments. You won’t be able to hear well, meaning you’ll need to just see the pitch or tension that is shown on a drum tuner to get the job done.