Tune the Drums

It is easy to say “tune the battery”. Obviously you will need to know which sound you like, based also on the genre you play, the type of skin you have fitted and the battery, taking into account the diameters and “scales” you want to get.

There are a large bibliography and many opinions about how to tune the battery, because basically what you have done so far has been to pull the skin evenly.

But how much should we pull it?

This is the mother’s question because you could follow the path correctly, pull all the tie rods perfectly and have a bad sound. 


Because the skin is too slow or too tight.


At this point, you will have to decide then if the sound that comes out is the right sound for your drum and pull it again or loosen it according to your needs, but always being careful to turn each tie in the same way so as not to lose the work done in previously.

There is no unique and universal way to tune the battery. Many professional drummers choose to tune based on many factors.

In general, I can tell you that for the rock we use a lower ” tuning ” , with the skin not very tight, while for the jazz we tend to pull it more, especially the toms.

If you don’t know where to start, go with a medium voltage. Make sure though that the drum sounds good, without annoying frequencies or queues.

It won’t be easy at first, but there are no shortcuts, you will learn to tune the battery only by doing it many times, making mistakes and trying again.

The ideal approach for tuning would be to first tune the resonant, then move on to the swing. At this point maintain an interval between the stems, for example of III ( third ), V ( fifth ) or even an octave, depending on your taste, genre, kit, the acoustics of the place where you are playing and the moment.

range in music is the distance between two notes. For example, a tympanum tuned in MI (“E” in English) sounds better with a tom in SOL (“G” in English). This would be the third interval.

Even if you’re a drummer, study the notes and (at least) the basics of harmony, scales, etc.

There are many sources available online for free information. Do it, it will be VERY USEFUL .

This is often not possible, either because we do not know what a third is or why we do not have a tool that gives us reference notes and therefore what we need to do is look for the note of the drum.


Start and do all the procedure WITHOUT anything resting on your skin, no tape, no jellies or the like. Once you have achieved a homogeneous tension, look for the right note and then later help yourself with gel or tape if necessary. 

It is not a problem to do it, nor a shame. Often the drums are not perfect and putting something helps to remove certain annoying resonances or frequencies faster.

I remember a discussion with Lele Melotti in which he explained to me how in the studio he adopted any kind of strategy, tape, cartoons, anything to achieve the sound he was looking for. They do it all, you can do it yourself.

Certainly, do not overdo it, always let the stem sound. Don’t stop the sound too much.


What do I mean by drum notes? If you tap with the finger on the drum, even without skin, you will feel its true note of that particular stem.


There is a sacred tuning monster which is John Good by DW (it is mandatory to find out if you don’t know who it is), which tunes the resonant skin by taking that note as a reference. He starts just by tuning the resonant first from there and then tuning the beating skin a little more tightly, but little, half a turn of the key.

John Good does not use his wand to hit the skin, but his index finger. He claims that it is better because it guarantees you the possibility of having a certain reference, both as a power and at a distance from the circle.

Obviously it may not be a panacea for all ills, but if you’ve never tried it, try this technique. It will be one of many, but it’s John Good’s, not just anyone.

As a 3 cm stick, use your index finger!

John Good (DW Drums)

Always consider that each drum has its own sound, ie a tuning range in which it sounds good. Everything revolves around the note of the drum, how it was built and the wood used.

You will probably have heard phrases like “this snare drum has a great sound with both tight skin and slower skin”. Great, but it’s not for everyone like that, it also depends a lot on the type of skin.

So the game is to understand the note of your drum, so what voltage range does your battery make better . Net of the skins used obviously.

It is therefore essential to understand that an important game is played by the resonant skin.

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