This is just a basic overview with some general advice. I’ll be posting tuning tips for specific drums, and specific tuning techniques later, but for now, here’s a small step to happy tuning!
Tuning drums is both an art and a science, and striking the right balance depends on the player and the situation. I’ll let you know now: drummers argue about this stuff all time, (we only argue about grip more!) and I’ve found that there’s really no “right” answer, but there certainly are some “wrong” ones if you know what I mean?
I’m also assuming that you know what a drum key is, and what a lug is, so I won’t bother explaining that. The only thing you need to know about your drum key is its location–do you know where it is right now because the answer is that you’ve probably already lost it, so find it, keep it safe, and get a couple more because you’re going to lose that one sooner than later ultimately and inevitably. Trust me.
There are many videos on Youtube both from the Pros and the Joes, here’s an example from Evans:
Now, I don’t personally use the “singing” method, Bob (above) recommends, but if it works for you, go for it. Ultimately, it’s your kit, if you like it then that’s all that matters–the rest is the sound guy’s problem…
I find the problem with tuning to a specific pitch is that it takes longer–for me at least–and if you’re at all a perfectionist, it’ll drive you crazy! The best way (IMO) is just to find a tone that sounds good. That’s what really matters.
Heads matter, too, and some heads just sound better on different drums, depending on material, size, etc. A lot of it is, again, just personal preference, but the brands out there may tell you otherwise. Try them all, and decide for yourself.
Also, people tend to over tighten more often than under tighten at first, so start with the big drum, and get them to sound as deep as possible (usually just after the drum starts to resonate–the head isn’t wrinkly, and doesn’t sound like you’re hitting a sheet of paper over a cardboard box) and work your way up to the smaller toms.
By the way, if anybody has a helpful tip, wants to share a video, please let me know, and I’ll post it up!
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