The 7 Best Types of Drum Keys – Pick Your Favorite!

A drum key is a valuable piece of gear used to adjust the pitch of the drum. The drum key loosens and tightens the tension rods of all the drum hardware in your set, making it a vital piece in the equation.

Did you know that there are lots of different types of drum keys? They all do the same thing (turn lugs on your drums and hardware), but they can vary a lot in speed, strength, and convenience.

Drum keys are vital accessories for tuning drums and setting up all types of hardware on your drum set. They’re easily lost or forgotten, right before an important gig!

Standard drum keys are multi-purpose, cheap, and very versatile. However, there are many other different designs of drum keys that you might prefer.

If you’re in an adventurous mood, then why not try out any of the drum keys below? They’re all pretty cheap, so the experiment won’t come with a hefty price tag!

The 7 Best Types of Drum Keys

1. Ludwig P41 Standard Drum Key
The humble standard drum key by Ludwig.
2. Gibraltar SC-4248 Speed Key
This speed key is great for quickly changing and tuning heads.
3. Evans Torque Key
Durable, magnetic head, adjustable torque-handle.
4. Gibraltar Ratchet Drum Key
Great for tight spaces and fast tuning/adjustments.
5. Yamaha DK-30 High Tension Drum Key
Great for marching percussion and high-tension drumheads.
6. Pearl TechTool
A drum key included in this drummer multi-tool (as well as a bottle opener!)
7. Gibraltar Drill Bit Drum Key
Attach to a drill for super-fast lug turning!

1. Standard Drum Key

Recommended: Ludwig P41 Standard Drum Key

The humble standard drum key. Why change a winning formula?

Well, other drum keys can be more efficient in certain ways, but the standard drum key is a great all-rounder for most situations.

Though make sure that you buy a few of them because you’ll probably end up losing them.

2. Speed Drum Key

Recommended: Gibraltar SC-4248 Speed Key

There are many different brands of ‘speed keys’ available to buy. Use the speed key for quickly adjusting and changing heads, while you can keep the standard keys for everything else.

Our suggested option is the Gibraltar SC-4248. It’s a popular crank-shaped speed drum key that allows you to quickly change and tune drum heads.

3. Evans Torque Key

Recommended: Evans Torque Key

The Evans torque key is quite an interesting adjustment to the standard drum key design. It contains an adjustable torque control that will make the tuning of multiple drum lugs a lot more consistent.

The key also contains a magnetic head so it’s less likely to slip.

This is a very popular drum key. It’s a very useful tool to help you tune your drums more consistently.

4. Gibraltar Ratchet Drum Key

Recommended: Gibraltar Ratchet Drum Key

This ratchet drum key is very handy for making quick adjustments, as well as turning your lugs while in a tight spot. The ratchet design makes it very handy to reach places that would be more difficult with a traditional drum key (such as pedals and hardware).

The motion of it works like a regular ratchet.

5. Yamaha High Tension Drum Key

Recommended: Yamaha DK-30 High Tension Drum Key

Standard drum keys can be a little awkward for high tension drums, such as marching drums. If you want to get both hands in on the action and quickly tune your drums very high, then this is a very solid and sturdy option for you.

6. Pearl TechTool

Recommended: Pearl TechTool

This one comes with a drum key, along with a bunch of hex keys, screwdrivers, and of course the most important one: A bottle opener.

It’s made to fit all Pearl drums, pedals, and hardware – though it should generally work perfectly for other brands.

7. Gibraltar Drill Bit Drum Key

Recommended: Gibraltar Drill Bit Drum Key

If you’re a drummer that likes to do a bit of DIY work then you’re going to love this one. Simply attach it to a drill and away you go! Though be careful not to go too hard on it.

These ones are particularly useful for quickly loosening or tightening multiple lugs in quick succession.

Other ways to improve your drum tuning

Your drum key isn’t the only way to improve your drum tuning. There are a bunch of drum tuners available that can help you to get a more consistent and professional sound (such as the DrumDial).

Nothing beats the human ear when it comes to tuning drums, but these drum tuners can help you to recognize the differences in drum tones.


Drum keys are an essential piece of equipment to carry around with you. Used for quickly tuning drums, they are cheap, versatile, and efficient pieces of equipment to have on hand. Though make sure you keep a few with you in case one gets lost!

When purchasing drum keys, it’s best to choose the standard option for most situations. However, there are many different types available that can be used for specific purposes.

This list contains the 7 best types of drum keys, so you should be able to find one that suits your needs. Hopefully, this guide has helped to answer some questions about the different types of drum keys on the market.

Mike O'Connor
Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

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