As an important (and often overlooked) tool for drummers, the drum tuner is a must-have item. We're going to take a look at the 5 best drum tuners in 2020 to help shed a little light on what's available.
Even though these are newer digital upgrades to their analog ancestors, the tuner's designs have changed very little over the years.
Table of Contents
- View The Best Drum Tuner Below
- Drum Tuner Buyers Guide
The functionality of a drum tuner is simple, so don't expect any real bells and whistles in today's reviews. But make no mistake, each is well worth their salt, as any seasoned drummer will already know.
Related: In-Ear Monitors for Drummers.
View The Best Drum Tuner Below
1. DrumDial Precision Drum Tuner
The DrumDial OG models are the most popular on the market, so popular in fact, that they have stolen 3 out of 5 positions in our selections today.
The precision model measure pressure instead of pitch and it is very accurate. It is very well designed and pretty much a go-to gauge, though the analog nature can be tough to master for some if they don't know what they are doing.
It has an understated simplicity which essentially couples a dial indicator to a custom designed base resulting in a very basic but thorough product that enables the user to set lug each to precisely matching tensions.
It comes ready-calibrated at absolute zero and has an instruction manual to fill-in the newbies on its easy functionality. Once you have the technique down it shortens tuning time by up to 60%.
+ Very precise.
+ Easy to use once you know how.
Why We Liked It - It is one of the most trusted analog tuners on the market which measures the pressure of the actual drum head rather than the tension rods making it far better.
2. Cherub DT-10 New Black Shelf Drum Tuner
Our second selection is a digital drum tuner which features a universal clip making it compatible with all acoustic drums. The clamp is flexible and won't cause any damage.
It gives the note in keys and has a meter to help visual denote whether you need to tighten or loosen.
It is easy to use you simply use the MARK function to set a key and then use the visuals which work on cherubs proprietary algorithm to balance the drum head.
It is a rechargeable USB option which means you don't have to worry about carrying spare batteries. It has a battery life of around 5 hours.
+ Pitch tuning.
+ Rechargeable USB.
Why We Liked It - It is an accessibly priced bus powered option that makes for a convenient digital tuner. The clamp is flexible so it fits any drum.
3. Tune-Bot Studio TBS-001 Digital Drum Tuner
Next we have a digital model up for comparison. Electronic models work by monitoring the pitch rather than the tension like an analog tuner. They work much like a digital guitar tuner which some of you may be more familiar with.
It is easy to set up and just clips to the rim of your drum hoop. It capably filters out the overtones to decide the pitch your strike produces at each lug position. It gives a visual reading via its 4-color LCD display, both in hertz and musical notes.
It is capable of recognizing a range of frequencies making it a useful tool for tuning low bass drums high toms and everything in between.
It lets you save 5 pitch setting for easy recall at a later date allowing you to experiment with different tones and still find the sound you previously had.
+ Color LCD display.
+ Reading in Hz and notes.
+ Save and recall settings.
Why We Liked It - It is a handy piece of tech which is easy to use and competitively priced.
4. DrumDial Digital Drum Tuner
Now for the DrumDial digital model which is the electronic version of the analog precision tuner that works by assessing the tension rather than pitch.
It accurately measures at each rod point gauging and reading the head itself for better rebound performance.
It has a colored LDC screen which is back-lit to help on stage and in dimmer environments. Though it is a little draining on the batteries so you will want to ensure you lug around some spares.
It comes with a protective case to keep it in to ensure it stays as accurate as it was fabricated to be.
+ Digital tuner.
+ Tension measure.
+ Back-lit screen.
Why We Liked It -It gives an easy to read measure of the tension across your head.
5. TAMA TAMTW100 Tension Watch
The Tama TamTW tension watch is an analog tuner which works in a very similar manner to the DrumDial we opened our article with.
It accurately measures the tension allowing users to set each rod position to the same pressure ensuring the head is equally pulled from every direction 360-degrees.
Each line of the dial is 1 millimeter apart and each represents 1/10th of an inch so it is very precise.
It is well-manufactured and functions very simply, and again once you know what you are doing is an easy option which helps cut-down tuning time very effectively.
+ Analog tuner.
+ Accurate measurements.
Why We Liked It - It is another great example of an analog drum tuning model.
Drum Tuner Buyers Guide
What is a Drum Tuner?
A drum tuner is a tool to help you adjust the frequency or pitch of a drum they can be analog or digital in nature and they make the process of tuning your kit easier and quicker as well as more accurate than with a torque key by ear.
An analog tuner measures the tension of either the drum head or the tension rod itself. A digital tuner focuses more on the pitch itself measuring the frequencies the drum produces when struck.
Do I Need a Drum Tuner?
There are a number of tuned percussive drums such as timpani which are utilized in orchestral performances which need to be kept at a definite pitch so they don't clash with the rest of the music.
Whilst a drum-kit is technically speaking are non-pitched percussive instruments, they do still require tuning. Most ready-made drum-kits will come with a standard torque key for that exact reason.
A drum is made from component parts with the skin or heads seated over the top. The vibrations left over from striking the drum can produce overtones that are disharmonious, spoiling the tone.
The majority of drummers will tune by ear until they reach their preferred tonality. As the skins stretch (and dent) a little over time the sound changes, and so this needs doing once in a while to get the best out of your drums.
Temperature can also affect the tone of the drum because the metal rimmed hoops which help hold the tops in place expand when they are hot and shrink when they cool, which in turn stretches and loosens the skins.
This really affects the rebound and therefore the response, the poor rebound can actually make your tempo less accurate.
So tuning is important and is a constant process, to tune by ear can be tough and can be a rather lengthy process even for a professional, so the assistance of a drum tuner is a wise idea.
How To Tune A Drum?
You simply tighten or loosen if necessary the lug of the tension rod with a torque key. You should always tune the tension rod opposite the one you have just tuned. Whilst you tighten one you will find those around it actually loosen but tuning on opposite sides in order can help counter this speeding thing up.
What to Look for When Buying a Drum Tuner?
You need to decide whether you want an analog or digital option there aren't too many competitive models on the market and whilst most drum makers will have their own brand some of these can be quite pricey and aren't drum-kit specific, so don't feel you need to spend $500 on a Pearl tuner for a Pearl kit.
Analog tuners are generally the cheaper way to go but some can find them a little frustrating at first, as digital tuners are visually easier to read.
The analog versus digital argument is a tough one to settle and really boils down to personal preference but you ought to consider if you are looking to have a particular pitch on your drum or just keep the tension equal for 360 degrees to ensure you get a good rebound.
A drum-tuner is a pretty essential item which can help save hours of painstaking work.
With so many variables that can affect the sound of your drums and its tuning and rebound abilities, their benefits really do speak for themselves.
Whilst there are some on the market that fetch in the excess of four-hundred-bucks there are also some more conservatively priced options available.
They differ very little, but here are a few top items choose from and hopefully, our reviews and the info packed into our guide will help you.
With analog tuners and older heads, it is important to remember that the suggested pressure/tension settings might not be suitable higher tensions can cause splits so adjust accordingly.
Did you Know
Sometimes the sound you prefer may require less of a ring, this can be adjusted by muffling methods there are a number of rings, gels, and pad products on the market to help with this and they can work especially well for older skins when applied.
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