Tuning drum heads is a pet-hate of most drummers. Beginners often don’t know where to start and professionals can still struggle to get a consistent sounding kit every time.
Thankfully, there are numerous different types of drum tuners that can give us a helping hand in this matter. Whether you want them analog or digital, tension or pitch testing, there are lots of options on the market.
We decided to help you with your decision and write this article about the five best drum tuners out there. Let’s begin:
The 5 Best Drum Tuners – Our Pick
1. DrumDial Precision Drum Tuner
The DrumDial Precision Drum Tuner is one of the most popular drum tuners around and for a reason! This tuner is essentially a pressure gauge that shows you tympanic pressure on your drums – what they mean by that is the pressure of your drumhead when you’re tuning it. Of course, sound changes when the pressure of the drumhead is different, thus enabling you to monitor your tuning.
This tuner has to be used together with good hearing and ability to tune the drums, at least for the first time. Since it doesn’t show you the exact note your drum is playing when you hit it, like other tuners, you still need to have a good ear to get the tuning part right. But, once you got it, you can write down tension values for perfectly tuned drums and just simply use them the next time you tune your drums. Of course, you get manufacturers‘ suggestions of how to tune your drums and which values to look for, so you can find it pretty easy the first time around.
This is one of the greatest pieces of equipment you can get as a drummer, so don’t hesitate when buying this high-end quality piece, or it’s younger, a hipper version which is next on our list.
2. DrumDial Digital Drum Tuner
From the same company comes the younger brother of the aforementioned tuner – DrumDial Digital Drum Tuner. Essentially, they work in the same way, but this baby doesn’t have an analog gauge which points tension with the needle, but more modern LED display. This can come very useful if you’re out on the road and tuning your drums in the dark environment because this LED display has a backlight, as opposed to the gauge with which you have to have a flashlight on you.
There are no differences in quality between the analog and the digital version of this tuner and they both work in the same way. In the packaging, you get a tuner itself and a small piece of thin metal that serves as a guard to having the tuner positioned in the right place every time. Also, you get instructions on how to use the tuner as well as a little book with suggested approximate values for different drums and sizes.
What makes these two Drumdial tuners so special is the fact that they don’t measure notes as the other three on this list, but simply the pressure of the drumhead. Because other tuners measure notes, they can’t be used in a loud environment (same as guitar tuners if you will) but these babies don’t mind if the world is falling apart around them, they will do their job. Also, you don’t need to actually play the drums for them to work, which is great if you just need to tune your drums quietly.
3. Cherub DT-20 infrared drum tuner
DT-20 is a drum tuner slightly different and more modern than two tuners mentioned before. This slick–looking piece of equipment looks as if it came from the 22nd century and is doing its job perfectly. This tuner is combined with a free app downloadable from AppStore, in which you can find values for specific drum tuning from the whole drum set to each specific drum or tom, be it in tension marks or in notes.
There are two modes in which this tuner works – mic and infrared. Mic mode is simply recording the drum and works just as a guitar tuner would and is great if you’re in a studio condition. But, if you are somewhere noisy, like a gig, the mic is really useless. So, enter the stage infrared tuning. The infrared tuner is working on the principle of measuring the tension of the drumhead via infrared rays and can work easily in noisy environment.
This tuner comes together with the USB charger and its big bright screen together with the phone will enable you to tune your drums in no time no matter whether it’s light or dark around you. This is a quality piece that will help you tune your drums even if you don’t know anything about drum tuning.
4. Tune-Bot Studio TBS-001
This is one of the most known drum tuners out there and for a good reason. Tune-bot TBS-001 works on the same principle as a guitar tuner, simply recording the drum and giving you a reading of the sound, by which you can then fine–tune your drums.
You can use an app on the phone to get suggestions from tuner maker about how to get your drums tuned finely and a great plus of this tuner is that you can tune your drums by note, which is great in a recording setting especially.
The main issue of this tuner is that you need to top the drums for it to work, so it’s not an option if you need to tune your drums silently (at a gig or somewhere). Also, it can’t be used in a noisy environment as it will pick up sounds around it, which altogether makes it usable only in a quiet environment.
Nevertheless, this tuner is a fan favorite and for a reason. It will give you high precision readings (more precise than tension tuners) and you can memorize your tunings on the device you the next time you can fast tune it in no time essentially.
5. TAMATW100 Tension Watch
Another one of the tension watches, this tuner is basically the same as the DrumDial we mentioned earlier in the article. TAMA TW100 Tension Watch is an analog tension watch tuner, which means it’s basically a pressure gauge measuring the tension of the drumheads when you tune them.
The great thing about this tuner is that it’s just an analog gauge, which means there are no electrics in it to break, and it’s really easy to use. Bad thing (if that is really is a bad thing) is that you do need your ears trained to get that right tone, as this is just a pressure monitor, so the perfect tone is on you to find. But, nevertheless, this is a great piece of equipment to have if you need a quick and precise tuning every single time.
The Importance of Tuning Your Drums
A well-tuned cheap drum kit can actually sound better than a badly tuned professional sets (If you don’t believe me, check out the great video below). Beginners may not acknowledge that drums should be treated as they are: tuned instruments! The tension of the drum heads should be tuned consistently and the tuning of each drum should also complement each other.
We hope that this article will help you in finding the right tuner for you. No matter which one you choose, you are sure that they are all high–quality pieces which will in no doubt help you tune your drums effectively every time.
You can rest assured that your drums will sound great every time you play them, whether you’re a professional or just a beginner.