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.
There are numerous different types of drum tuners that can give us a helping hand. Whether you want them analog or digital, tension or pitch testing, there are lots of options on the market.
The 5 Best Drum Tuners (2021)
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!
In order to get consistent tuning you should check the reading next to each lug on the drum. This can take a bit of trial and error to get right.
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, 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 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 ones 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 and the digital version of this tuner and they both work in the same way.
3. 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 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.
Nevertheless, 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. TAMATW100 Tension Watch
Another one of the tension watches, this tuner is very similar as 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 personally have a slight preference of the 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 Tunebot studio. The tunebot 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. Though 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 we mentioned previously in the article.
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.
There are not a lot of drum tuners on the market. Tuning drums still 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. Though it’s worth checking out the TuneBot Studio as an alternative. It’s very much a matter of preference.