Drum Tuning – How To Tune Toms (In-Depth Tutorial)


Toms, or tomtoms, are the adhesive which holds our drum kits together. When you’ve got two or twelve, each provide a means of movement all through a musical bit. When tuned properly, they can be our favorite drums to play. Tuning the Toms could be daunting in the beginning, but once you’ve recognized the techniques outlined in this tutorial, you will be amazed at how awesome your drums will sound.

This tutorial assumes you’re putting fiber barrels new drum heads in your own tom. If you are using heads that are older and want to follow along with the tutorial, then just evenly loosen the tension rods on either side of the drum and get rid of the sticks, hoops, and heads to begin anew.

I prefer to start with the resonant or bottom side of the drum.

The very first measure to pruning a tom, or some other drum for this thing, is draining the bearing-edge of debris. Most often they have been dirt, grease, and wood chips from sticks.

Just work with a clean cotton cloth (micro fiber if you’re fancy) and run across the edge of the drum. This provides a wonderful clean contact between drum head and also bearing-edge.

Seating the Top

The most important thing that you can do to make sure your toms song up right and can remain in tune, is properly seating the head. Although this might appear to be a “no-brainer”, most drummers either miss this step or simply assume that by placing the head about the drum and also rotating it a few times, that they will have seated the head correctly.

A precisely seated drum head is one that’s centered on the drum casing, and at exactly the same distance from the ring of their head to the posture edge across the diameter of the drum. This permits the hoop of the drum to apply an excessive level of downward pressure on either side of this drum head and averts over tensioning of a single side.

It sounds far more difficult than it is when words. Just set the drum on the casing, fasten the hoop beneath the drum head, then, eye down the drum and also adjust its own posture until the exact distance between the jigsaw border and the bearing border are equal across the drum.

Once chairs the mind, thread from the tension rods until they have been touching the hoop. Only at that time ensure that you haven’t moved the head around while threading the pressure sticks, throwing off your own chairs. If the head has moved, only repeat the last measures to make sure that the mind is seated properly and can receive even strain.

Now catch a set of pressure sticks on different sides of the drum with your fingers and start tightening them until you feel they’re snug onto the hoop. This is usually known as “finger tight”. Don’t overdo it. From there, jump over one strain pole in a counter clockwise fashion and grab the next set of tension rods bringing them to some finger tight position. Repeat this round the drum until each of rods are finger tight.

When all rods are finger-tight, split the drum and decide on a strain pole. I like to start with the rod at the 12 o’clock position. Begin by turning the primary 1/4 of a turn. Move to the tension rod across the opposite side of the drum ( the 6 o’clock position in my instance) and turn it 1/4 of a turn exactly like before. Again, in an counter-clockwise fashion, skip over a pole and land onto the next one. Switch this strain rod 1/4 of a turn. From this rod, proceed across the drum into the opposing strain rod and transform it 1/4 of a turn.

The Star Formation

This is referred to as the star formation of tuning. It ensures you evenly strain down the hoop at a consistent pattern. The pattern is dependent on the range of lugs that the drum you’re tuning has. Six and ten haul drums would be the easiest. The only alteration when dealing with a ten lug drum is always to skip over two sticks rather than just 1. For eight and (the infrequent) a dozen tug drums it gets slightly harder, but is the same practice.

The Specified Pitch

When all pressure sticks round the mind have received your first 1/4 twist, you’ve made your very first pass. Of course 1/4 turnon every pole is going to lead to a really dead and loose head. In general two to three passes are required to bring the mind till resonating tension. This is the point where personal preference comes into play. If you’d like a lower sounding tom with a great deal of body, two passes should be a lot of If you’d like a greater pitched tom demonstrably more passes are expected.

This is why I prefer starting on the resonant side of this drum. Here we are able to get the desired pitch we desire our tom to be set at. There is no one correct pitch to listen to your drum to, it’s all dependent on the sound you are after and what’s pleasing to your ears.


Our resonant mind are at the desired pitch, so let us make sure that the strain at each pole is.

In the event the opposite mind is on the drum while still fine tuning, remember to mute it together with carpet, pillow, etc..

Tuning By Sport-

1 type of achieving this is by ear. Simply said, this is listening into this overtones which are looked by tapping each tension rod and matching those orbits round the drum. John Good of all DW Drums has a way that I prefer. It involves using both middle and pointer finger together (such as making finger pistols ) and tapping each lug in order for the center knuckle of your middle finger strikes right on the hoop and also the tip of this finger strikes your mind. This results in a far more accurate remarkable position when getting round the drum instead of tapping at random with your finger, then stickdrum or drum key. Listen into this overtones of each respective rod and find the one ( or several ones ) that you like. When matching the rest of the overtones recall that one simple rule-

Consistently tuneup to pitch, never down.

If a tension rods over-tone is too large, then loosen it with 1/4 twist, then tap along with your “finger pistol”, and bring it up into the required pitch fitting that of another sticks.

If you don’t have perfect pitch, or would like to create this process a bit easier on yourself, explore investing in a drum strain watch. Personally, I utilize the Drum Dial. (pictured at right) They make either an analog and electronic edition. My experience is based with the analog variant and I really like it for easily fine tuning. On toms, I discover that a hearing between 70-75 on the back head is just right, though that is entirely dependent on the drum mind. By having an Evans g 1, an investigation of 7 3 is perfect.

Hey Batter Batter

Together with the searing head seated properly, at the pitch, and finetuned, we are able to proceed ahead to the batter mind. It’s OK… have a breath. You’ve done the difficult part. Tuning the batter head is the exact same procedure, except we now have significant pitch already established to base off our pruning of.

They are a handful of techniques to approach the batter thoughts.

Stands in the same pitch (In Sympathy)
Batter head tuned at a higher pitch than the resonant (Downward fall in pitch / less maintain)
Batter head tuned at a lower pitch than the resonant (Less-defined pitch/ longer sustain)
My favorite is fitting the pitch of the batter together with that of this resonant. This approach lets the minds revolve sympathetically, leading to a bloated tone using a controlled accept.

With one of these processes, just stick to the last steps we went over on the back mind, making certain the bearing-edge is sterile and the mind is seated correctly. As you make each pass, hit the top in the centre (recalling to muffle the alternative mind) and listen to the pitch. Twist the drum and hit the back head (again, while muting the opposite head) listening into its pitch, and then compare between them both. Keep your passes on the batter until you’ve reached your preferred pitch in respect to this resonant.

As with the resonant, this is done either by foot or with a tension watch. Do everything you can to get even tension across the head and, even in case afterwards the pitch between the back and batter head are away, make fine adjustments to correct it. (Tension Watch configurations vary here, but aim to get a reading involving 73-82 around the batter mind)

Something to bear in mind; the batter head is typically thicker than the resonant head, so it is going to demand more passes to get to the appropriate pitch.

At the end of the day, the goal is to obtain what sounds good to YOUR ears and not obsess over the minor details. Like any practice, the longer you can do it, the better your results will be!

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