Why Do My Drums Sound Off?
You may be in the same boat every drummer ends up in if you’re here. What is the best drum tuner I can use to get my drum kit sounding better? Look no further, but here!
Drum Tuners Galore
The best drum tuners are the following 5 based on ratings, reviews, and personal experience:
- Drumdial Drum Tuner
- Tune-bot Studio Digital Drum Tuner
- Drumdial Digital Drum Tuner
- Tama Tension Watch
- Tune-bot Gig Digital Drum Tuner
These tuners are the most popular in the drumming community and have been around for years due to their reliability, durability, and efficiency.
An Essential Tool For Any Drummer
Drum tuning can be a headache, but a tuner can be an extremely useful tool. Let’s jump into what makes these the best tuners and why it’s a good choice to always have one in your drumming arsenal!
The Best Drum Tuner Explained!
1. Drumdial Drum Tuner
The Drumdial precision tuner (or sometimes spelled Drum dial by a lot of people) is and has been one of the most popular drum tuners on the market.
It features a precision mechanism that measures tympanic pressure for accurate and repeatable tuning.
The large edge gage is easy to read and it has a locking bezel with locators that are moveable. This makes it easy for the marking of your tuning range.
The lug back included improves handling and the foam lined box this thing comes with protects the tuner during any transports you have to make.
This tuner allows for a more accurate tuning than you would get with a usual torque-based tuner or torque key. You don’t even have to hit the drum head.
Whether you are playing in an orchestra or playing rock music, this thing works in any loud environment.
Drummers have said they are able to get the attack and tone they were after using this tuner and that it’s easy to balance the tension in any head, whether it’s a snare drum, bass drum, floor tom, or even banjo!
Unwanted noise is also a thing of the past with drummers using this handy tool. Some cons I’ve heard are frustrations over the needle not moving for certain tension rods and that it doesn’t measure pitch.
I’ve had one for a really long time (at least 2008) and use it all the time to get my drums sounding great! I had to get a new one several years back because I dropped my old one and it broke.
Although, you can have them fix your broken Drumdial, which is a plus. I normally use this to equalize the tension across the drumhead and then tune each individual tension rod to a similar pitch.
This tuner makes it easier to get to that point, but you don’t have to mess with the pitch if you don’t want.
You can still get a pretty decent sound from by your drum head tension alone in my honest opinion.
They also have a guide to help you determine what tension you should have depending on your drum size and the batter/resonant heads you have (clear, 2-ply, coated, etc.). I think this is the best drum tuner.
- Tympanic pressure allows for accurate readings
- Get rid of overtones easier
- Locators make it easy to mark in a tuning range
- Potential for uneven drum head makes it harder to tune for tension
- Easy to break if dropped
2. Tune-bot Studio Digital Drum Tuner
First release in 2012 by Overtone Labs, they released this Tune-bot studio 5 years later and it’s more impressive than its predecessor.
This electronic drum tuner includes two pitch ranges that are selectable so it’s ready for anything from a huge kick drum to a tiny piccolo snare.
It features a 4-color display that is easy to read and also offers enhanced accuracy regardless of where you move this tuner.
You could move from lug to lug on the same drum, or resonant head to batter head or even different drums and you will come out with a consistent sound across your whole kit.
The best thing is that after you dial in your settings, it allows you to save up to 10 drums per kit in five kit slots, which is 50 saves essentially (that’s a lot of drums)!
It’s also built robustly so you can get rough with it and not worry about it breaking on you. In includes a clip you can use on any standard drum rim for hands-free tuning.
Drummers have said they like how precise they can get the desired fundamental pitch for each drum and how their drums have never sounded so good.
You can also pinpoint exactly what lug pitch is off and fix it. Some complaints have been about a lack of battery life, a steep learning curve, and potential inaccuracies.
I’ve never used this tuner, but I’ve been hearing about it for years and can see how useful it is!
It’d be a really great addition for the recording studio and the fact that you can dial into musical notes is pretty cool. This tuner has some really great features that will really save you a lot of time.
Digital tuners are something that is still new to me, but I can’t deny how much time they can save.
- Two selectable pitch ranges make it ready for any size drum
- Precise fundamental pitch can be found with this, including an easy-to-read 4-color display
- Steep learning curve with so many features
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3. Drumdial Digital Drum Tuner
We discussed the Drumdial’s analog drum tuner, so we have to include the digital tuner version. This one also measures the tympanic pressure, but it includes a large digital LCD so it’s super easy to read.
This also features a custom foam-lined protective hardshell case, which the analog version does not include. A piece of glass is included so you can calibrate the Drumdial on a flat surface.
The analog one doesn’t come with a piece of glass and you pretty much just have to find a level surface with glass around your house.
To calibrate this one, you’d just place it on glass and hold the ‘CAL’ button until it displays 100. It includes one battery in the Drumdial and a spare one, so you’ll be good to go as soon as you get it.
Lastly, a drum key is included which is another plus because we can never have enough drum keys (I’ve lost SO many).
Drummers have said they can tune their drums faster with this one and that the LCD screen is easy to read from any angle.
You can get more precise tension measurements down to the decimal. Drummers have complained about the battery life draining fast and one drummer even had issues with the center piece not budging.
I haven’t used this one personally, but it mostly has good reviews. I may have a bit of a personal preference here, but I think Drumdial makes the best drum tuner, even if this one is digital.
- Easier to calibrate than regular Drumdial along with having all the same functionalities (easy-to-read LCD screen as well)
- Includes a plastic foam-lined case
- Potential issues with center piece not budging
4. Tama Tension Watch
The Tama TW200 Tension Watch is another great option for a drummer’s toolbox. It’s equipped with a dial that is easy to read and it shows you the tension of your drum head (similar to a Drumdial).
This one will help you to have consistent tuning whether you are putting on new drum heads or just tuning up before practice.
It comes with a detachable nylon bumper that takes out the guessing work for the distance it has to be from the drum hoop.
This will ensure your drum heads are evenly tensioned. Drummers have said they like how easy and consistent this tuner is to use.
A complaint I’ve seen is that the dial can be hard to read. This product is basically Tama’s version of the Drumdial, but without a lot of the extra stuff. I haven’t used it, but I think the removable bumper is a nice touch.
Drumdial has a metal piece you can clip on it, but it’s easy to bend during transport and also easy to lose (I can’t find it for the life of me).
I’ve never used the Tama tension watch, but I’ve been using Tama’s hardware (cymbal stands, hi hat stands, kick pedals, etc.).
They make phenomenal gear and I’m sure this Tension Watch is up there based off of the overall reviews. It may not be the best drum tuner in my opinion, but I wouldn’t turn it down.
- Detachable nylon bumper takes out guessing of distance from drum hoop
- Tama is known for some of the highest quality and durable products
- The dial can be hard to read
5. Tune-bot Gig Digital Drum Tuner
I have to bring up the other Overtone Labs drum tuner and that is the Tune-bot Gig digital tuner. It’s really easy to use.
You just clip it on your drum hoop and tap and then match each lug to that one. There is a single button that you’re able to toggle through modes while tuning a note or matching the lug pitch.
This also filters overtones so they don’t interfere with your tuning, which is great! A drum tuning chart is included, as well as pitch recommendations so you’re all set to get the best sounds from your drum set.
These tuners can handle many different drum sets, from vintage to modern and all intricate kits in between. You’re able to get pretty close measurements (+/- .5 Hz).
This one has an easy-to-read backlit LCD display as well, and is a bit more affordable than the Tune-bot studio tuner.
Drummers have said they love how easy this tuner is to use and has the same functionality as a guitar tuner.
A complaint has been about not having a good filter mechanism, making it difficult to get a good read on the snare bottom head due to overtones.
Another complaint I’ve heard is the consistency being questionable, like possible different readings on the same drum when tapping.
I haven’t used this tuner either, but I would say it has an overall positive review among the drumming community. I’d say It definitely beats an even less consistent tension rod torque tuner.
- Easier to learn than the other Tune-bot tuner mentioned
- Filters out overtones, making tuning easier
- Potential issues with consistency of tuning, like different readings on the same drum
Most drum tuners are pretty similar regardless of what brand you go with. They either measure the tension of the drum head or the pitch of your drum (including frequency).
Other than by ear, there isn’t really another way to tune a drum. These devices make it easier and save you time on your tuning.
With the tension-based tuners, a lot of drummers will get equal tension across their drum head and then tune each lug to the same pitch from there.
As I mentioned, these are great for loud environments and are still dependable enough in quiet environments.
The digital tuners that measure pitch and frequency require a bit more finesse and you definitely can’t do them in a loud setting. However, they would be perfect for in the studio and attaining precise tunings.
The Best Drum Tuner Can Vary
So, whether you regard a tension-based tuner or a pitch tuner as the best tuner, it can’t be denied that they are super helpful tools.
Drummers would tune all their drums by ear before drum tuners existed and many drummers still swear by it.
I personally opt for an easier method using the Drumdial and save a lot of time with my tuning. I think it is the best drum tuner because it’s never failed me and several thousands of other drummers.
There is no right or wrong way with any of this and as long as you can get great-sounding drums, that’s all that matters.
How Do You Feel About Drum Tuners?
Have you tuned your drums by ear before? What is your favorite drum tuner? Is there one I didn’t mention that is really good?
I have lots of questions! Let me know in the comments below, also I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything else and any questions you may have!
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Until next time, stay attuned!