Tuning drum heads can be quite an art. Beginners often don’t know where to start and professionals can still struggle to get a consistent sounding kit every time. Drum tuners can make this a lot easier.
Numerous different types of drum tuners can give a helping hand. Whether you want an analog drum tuner or digital, tension or pitch testing, there are lots of options on the market that offer a precise calibration.
My top recommended drum tuner is the DrumDial Precision Drum Tuner. It is an affordable and easy-to-use tuner that is immensely popular and of great quality overall.
If you’re looking for a good digital tuner, then the Tune-Bot Studio TBS-001 Digital Drum Tuner is a great and popular choice to go for.
- The 7 Best Drum Tuners (2023)
- 1. DrumDial Precision Drum Tuner
- 2. DrumDial Digital Drum Tuner
- 3. Tune-Bot Studio TBS-001 Digital Drum Tuner
- 4. TAMA TW100 Tension Watch
- 5. Tune-Bot Gig Clip On Drum Tuner
- 6. Cherub DT-10 Acoustic Drum Tuner
- 7. TAMA TW200 Tension Watch
- What is a Drum Tuner?
- How to tune your Drums in proper order?
- What to look for in a Drum Tuner when buying?
- The Importance of Tuning Your Drums
The 7 Best Drum Tuners (2023)
Let’s compare these in more detail.
1. DrumDial Precision Drum Tuner
The DrumDial Precision Drum Tuner is one of the most popular drum tuners around and for good reason! This tuner is essentially a pressure gauge (learn more about how it works in my more detailed DrumDial review).
You simply place the drum tuner on any part of the drum head and it will tell you its pressure reading. You don’t even need to hit the drum!
To get consistent tuning you should check the reading next to each lug on the specific drum. This can take a bit of trial and error to get right.
This tuner has to be used together with good hearing and the ability to tune the drums, at least for the first time. Since it doesn’t show you the exact specific note your drum is playing when you hit it, you still need to have a good ear to get the tuning part right.
Once you got it, you can write down tension values for as a reference point and just simply use them the next time you tune your drums.
2. DrumDial Digital Drum Tuner
From the same company comes the younger brother of the previous tuner, the DrumDial Digital Drum Tuner.
Essentially, they work in the same way, but this one has a 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 version and the digital version of this tuner and they both work in the same way.
3. Tune-Bot Studio TBS-001 Digital Drum Tuner
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 makers 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 with this tuner is that you need to tap 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 as well in a noisy environment as it will pick up sounds around it.
This tuner is a fan favorite, and for a reason. It will give you high precision readings and you can memorize your tunings on the device you the next time you can fast tune it in no time essentially.
4. TAMA TW100 Tension Watch
Another one of the tension watches, this tuner is very similar to the DrumDial we mentioned earlier in the article. The 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.
I have a slight preference for the DrumDial over the Tama tension watch. that said, they are both very similar drum tuners, and I certainly recommend getting either one.
5. Tune-Bot Gig Clip On Drum Tuner
The Tune-Bot Gig is a more affordable drum tuner and an older model in comparison to the Tune-Bot Studio. The Tune-Bot Gig has cheaper build quality, it’s not quite as accurate, the screen is more basic, and it doesn’t work as well for tuning the bottom head on the snare.
That said, if you’re really on a budget and you want a Tune-Bot drum tuner, then it’s certainly not a bad option.
In my opinion, it’s worth spending the extra to get the Tune-Bot Studio instead. It works in the same manner as the Tune-Bot Studio that I mentioned previously in the article.
6. Cherub DT-10 Acoustic Drum Tuner
This slick-looking tuner features a more modern approach and design for drum tuning. With only two buttons, which are used for the clip-on tension, automatically start the tuner once you mount it in place.
It uses lights as marks for accurate tuning on its color display which are orange (too low), green (on-point), and red (too high). Don’t let the design fool you as this is a very easy-to-use device for successful drum tuning.
Overall, this is a sturdy drum tuner that is easy to use and has a striking display for overall better tuning. Despite the hefty price tag, it’s a great and accurate tuner.
7. TAMA TW200 Tension Watch
To finish off this list of drum tuners is the TAMA TW200 Tension Watch. This is a newer model of the previously mentioned TW100 on the list that features a more easy-to-use design for successful tuning.
In addition to facing up as opposed to the TW100 which has a vertical meter, this detachable bumper offers a simple yet effective approach to tuning with ease of use written all over it.
It is particularly great for achieving even tension around the head due to the removable nylon bumper, as well as the option to duplicate (have consistent) tunings when you are changing heads.
Overall, the TAMA TW200 Tension Watch is a great option to consider, with a slightly higher price tag than the older model, it offers great, accurate, and successful tuning.
What is a Drum Tuner?
A drum tuner is a very useful device that aids drummers in tuning their drum kit with more detailed accuracy, as opposed to tuning them by ear. There are analog and digital options available on the market. They can be pressure-based, or clip-on.
Professional drummers often use the old-fashioned way of tuning which is by ear. Although, when it comes to studio time, nothing is more reliable than a drum tuner, as it precisely narrows down the frequency of the tension and ignores any unpleasant overtones in the process.
How to tune your Drums in proper order?
When it comes to tuning your drums, it’s not just tuning where you want and starting wherever, a proper method and order comes into play. To get the best out of drum sets and achieve the drum’s sound desired. I’ll use a clock method description for a better understanding.
You want consistency, and the best way to do it is by tuning one and then going straight for the opposite tension rod. Start by tuning the tension rod on the drum hoop with your drum key at 6 o’clock, then go to 12 o’clock. Afterward, go with 4:30 and 10:30, then 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, and so on.
This way, you evenly tune your drum head by immediately tuning the core and opposite drum head tension rods. This method is proven to be the go-to and the most accurate.
What to look for in a Drum Tuner when buying?
When buying a drum tuner, a few key features come into play like the type of drum tuner, the quality or manufacturer, and the price.
What type of drum tuner you need is all preference at this point. You have analog and digital ones, it’s hard to say which one is more accurate, but analog ones have a longer history of use. On the other hand, digital tuners are more convenient and straightforward.
Quality depends on the manufacturer as there aren’t a lot of drum tuners on the market. Choosing the right brand or manufacturer plays a giant role. The ones mentioned on the list are by far the most popular in the world so you can’t go wrong.
Considering the importance of drum tuners or drum tuning in general, the price for tuners isn’t all that much, however, you don’t have to spend more than you actually need. Each one of the tuners on the list can get the job done.
The Importance of Tuning Your Drums
A well-tuned cheap drum kit can sound better than a badly tuned professional set (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.
There are not a lot of drum tuners on the market. Tuning drums remains quite a difficult art to master, but these tuners certainly make the task a little easier.
If you’re in doubt, then you can’t go wrong with the DrumDial Precision Drum Tuner. A great, affordable, and popular drum tuner.
Though it’s worth checking out the Tune-Bot Studio TBS-001 Digital Drum Tuner as an alternative. It’s very much a matter of preference.