Beginner’s guide to drum tuning

Billy Cunningham

December 13, 2019

This Christmas 2019 special blog is learning about drum tuning.

Some of you may be receiving a drum kit for Christmas and therefore the drumheads may need tuning. There are some fantastic online videos about this subject. I thought I would add my take on this as a beginner’s guide to tuning.


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What do I need to get started with drum tuning?

First of all you only need to start tuning is your drum you are planning to tune, a drum key and a drum stick, that’s it.

I’m ready to go, how do I tune?

  1. To tune the drum, loosen the drum head completely so that when you play it with a drum stick it sounds completely flat, dead, no resonance at all. 
  2. Finger tighten all the tension bolts moving from one side to the other.
  3. Take your drum key and starting with the batter head (the head you play) 1/4 turn each tension bolt moving from one side to the other. Once you have gone all the way round, repeat so you have now gone twice round.
  4. Repeat on the bottom drum head.
  5. Now you may need to adjust the tension of certain bolts by tapping an inch away from the bolt on the drumhead and setting the pitch evenly all the way around the edge of the drum. This can be done by tightening or loosening the bolts depending on whether the bolt needs to raise or lower the pitch. This takes practise so don’t worry if you find this difficult in the beginning. Keep working on it!
  6. Try to match the overall pitch of the batter and bottom drumheads.
  7. If you have a 2-ply batter drumhead try to make the bottom head a little higher in pitch.

I’ve done this, is that it?

This is the general idea, there are various other techniques I’ve seen people talk about regarding tuning. This does take practise and there are also various ways of tuning in terms of lower and higher tunings.

This guide is meant for beginner’s to get you started on tuning and to experiment on your own drums, so please have a go, enjoy it and if you have any questions please ask. See my video below for more info too!

So I hope that this has been some help in learning how to tune drums.

Have a lovely Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Best Wishes,



Happy holidays
and seasons greetings to all.