American Musical Supply
American Musical Supply
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American Musical Supply
Music Equipment Buyer's guide

Drumheads & Tuning



Drumheads & Tuning

1. With your fingers tighten the tuning screws (key rods).

Drumheads & Tuning

2. With the drum key (below, center) tighten each screw one rotation at a time, using a crossing pattern –first the screws at 12:00 and 6:00, then the screws at 3:00 and 9:00.

Drumheads & Tuning

3. As the tension on the head increases the wrinkles will smooth out. Tap the head near a tuning lug and listen to the pitch. After you have made your way around the drum press on the center of the head to stretch and seat it.

4. Fine-tune the drum by listening to each tension point near the tuning lugs. Even the pitch for any lug that sounds too high or too low.

5. When the head is in tune, turn the drum over and repeat the process on the opposite head.

Tuning a drum is the art of getting the desired sound balanced with the right amount of ring. Single ply heads have a higher tuning range and increased projection while two ply heads have a lower range. Each style of music has its own characteristics so experiment with several sounds to find one that fits your style of playing.


The first step in tuning a drum is to make sure that the drumhead is tensioned evenly. Isolate the head that you are tuning by placing the drum on the floor or on a table away from the rest of the drum set. Inspect the bearing edge and make sure that it is clean. Next, check the mounting screws on the drum hardware and tighten them up if they have become loose. Place the head on the center of the drum; make sure the counter hoop is clean then place it on top of the head.




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