Tuning with a Drum Dial

The Drum Dial makes drum tuning faster and easier. I have been tuning drums by ear for years. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten pretty good at it. But it always is a little “hit and miss.” Not an exact science to be sure. It is difficult  to get drums to consistently sound great. I have known about Drum Dial for years. But I never bought one. I finally decided to get one to try out. They make an analog version which costs around $60 and a digital version which costs around $85.

I like the Drum Dial for several reasons

It accurately measures drum head tension using tympanic pressure rather than tension rod lug torque. There are too many variables when it comes to the mechanics of lug screw tension. You can dial in a specific head tension at each lug based on a tuning range for each drum. Once the tension is the same at each lug, you know the general head tension is consistent and balanced. From there it is really easy to fine tune by ear. Even with a balanced accurately measured head tension you should always tune by ear. Additionally, it allows you to get the top and bottom heads at the same or different pitches (tensions) as desired.

BE ADVISED: Different drum sizes and thicknesses of drum heads – even at the same drum dial tension – will result in different pitches. A 14 mil 2 ply batter head will be much lower in pitch than a 3 mil snare side head. And a 16″ diameter head will be much lower in pitch than a 12″ head. Finally, once I have the sound (tension reading) that I like, I can write that number down and quickly duplicate it whenever I change heads. The Drum Dial is a really handy device that I recommend to quickly and easily dial-in your drums. Don’t wait as long as I did to get one.

Tune-Bot Studio Drum Tuner

UPDATE: I just bought a tune-bot Studio drum tuner ($99). From the manufacturer: “With all the ground-breaking features of our original drum tuner, tune-bot Studio offers more reliable readings with a higher frequency range, a four-color display, streamlined keypad, and improved kit-saving options—all in a performance package that’s easier to operate.  Find your ultimate drum tunings, save them and re-tune in a flash with our flagship drum tuner.”

I really like it. Especially the tuning recommendations from their Tuning Calculator. It enabled me to select the “Fundamental” pitch I wanted AND adjust the amount of resonance and attack. I was able to quickly adjust lug frequencies. The Difference and Filter Modes make this really easy. I experimented with having the batter head higher or lower than the resonant head which changed the drum’s resonance and attack. I used to do this by “trial and error”. Now I just have to match the recommended numbers from the Tuning Calculator.

The Drum Dial works really well and is quick and easy to use. But if I want to “Fine Tune” my drums, I will use the tune-bot Studio drum tuner.

You may also want to see: Fixing Difficult Snare Drums, Aquarian Drum Heads and Vintage Aquarian Drum Heads

Tuning with a Drum Dial Image