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Zildjian News | Artist Buzz Roll lg

31 Tips for Tuning Drums

From our Worldwide Team of Zildjian Artists

Trouble tuning your drums? Do you dread a new head?
Well our Worldwide Team of Zildjian Artists have a little advice for you that just may help breaking a drum head a little less painful.


1. Ian Matthews – UK, Kasabian
Get to know your Drums and actually practice tuning them until you've found your touch.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll | Gary Husband
2. Gary Husband – UK, Independent
The drums should respond to you in a pleasurable and inspirational way. They should respond great to the way you play and complement the music you are playing. How they sound says a lot about you as an individual. Based on how we all play, and hit - and we all have a different sound - I think the only way is to experiment and discover. Record and listen back, and you start reaching a lot of decisions about how the drums sound best in your hands.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Toni Mateos
3. Toni Mateos - Spain, Independent
Be a TEAM with your sound engineer! Your drum kit sounds different when you place the microphones and connect the P.A. system or the recording console! The most important thing is how your drum kit sounds OUT THERE! Collaborate with the engineer to reach the perfect sound in each situation!


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Jason Bittner
4. Jason Bittner – USA, Shadows Fall
Tune for the room, remember, what sounds good at home may not sound good somewhere else. Be cognizant of the room - if you normally dampen your drums, but you're in a dead room, you may want to remove the dampening, etc.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll | Steve Judd
5. Steve Judd – Australia, Karnivool
Be sure to tune in intervals that work for the drums and that are suitable to the style of music. Trust your ear!


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll | Joe Clegg
6. Joe Clegg - UK, Ellie Goulding
Tune each drum in the range that it naturally sits, rather than trying to shape a drum into a sound that it cannot naturally achieve.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Matt Greiner
7. Matt Greiner – USA, August Burns Red
I put the head on and then use my thumb and finger to hold down the hoop and tighten the tension rod just until it touches the hoop. I work around the hoop in that way and then tune each tension rod one turn at a time until it's at a good tension.


8. Lucas van Merwijk – Germany, Independent
I always start with resonance heads and tune them a tiny bit higher than top head. This gives great projection and makes the tuning of top head easier. In studio situations I tune a bit lower than in live situations.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Stephen Perkins

9. Stephen Perkins – USA, Jane's Addiction
Stretch heads before mounting on the shell. Start tuning with floor toms first and work your way to smaller toms; prepare to re-tune after an hour or so of tuning (after head stretches into place).


Zildjian Buzz Roll | Vasily Rudenko
10. Vasily Rudenko – Russia, Elvira T
I always use my ears….only. Try to listen to your favorite drummers and how their drums are sounding. Get out your snare key and don't be afraid to experiment. If you don't have enough time, buy a moon gel to dry your drumhead.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll | Steve White AC

11. Steve White – UK, Independent /Trio Valore
Try to make sure that the heads are well seated, the bearing edges are well cut, and that you tune evenly. I try to go the same top and bottom, and just let the drums sing;  no dampening on the kick drum, bar a felt strip, keep it open and warm.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Antonio Sanchez

12. Antonio Sanchez – USA, Pat Metheny
I like tuning the resonant head kind of high, and then I start fooling around with the batter head until I get the tone I like.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll | Gino Banks
13. Gino Banks, India, Independent
Pay attention to the bottom heads.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll | Ash Soan AC
14. Ash Soan - UK, Recording Artist
Take your time. Don't worry about experimenting with tape or different heads.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Simon Scheibel
15. Simon Scheibel – Germany, Lake Cisco
Tune the drums how you like them. It´s all about your own taste; that´s what makes your sound personal.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll | Richard Jupp AC
16. Rick Jupp – UK, Elbow
Work with your sound engineer. I very rarely tune my drums; just tweak them now and again to suit the room I'm in.


Zildjian Buzz Roll | Atom Willard
17. Atom Willard – USA, Against Me
I like a short clean note for my toms, so I am right in the middle of their range, not the highest or lowest note any certain drum is comfortable in.


18. Grant Gerathy - Australia, John Butler Trio
I generally play bigger drums, so I tune the top heads lower than the bottoms; I want a nice overtone that isn't too long. Having said that, each room and each gig or session has its own set of needs. Generally in the studio I will shorten the drums note length by either dropping the tuning on one lug or by using tape. Live I'll tune them to where I like them, but always listen to the front of house engineer because they are hearing what the audience hears, so work closely with them.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll John Tempesta
19. John Tempesta – USA, The Cult
I usually like tuning my drums a bit lower to get attack; especially on the bass drums. I tune my snare a bit higher for crack. It's mostly a feel thing with me.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll | Pierre Nakano AC
20. Pierre Nakano – Japan, Ling Toshite Shigure
The best tip is to know what a good sound is, and acquire the skills of making it.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Daniel Platzman
21. Daniel Platzman – USA, Imagine Dragons
Make sure you're checking the top and bottom heads and how they interact.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Tobias Derer
22. Tobias Derer – Germany, You Tuber -Ultimate Music Covers (UMC)
Listen to your ears and to how other drummers sound. Get reference experience and tune to your ear.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Gavin Harrison
23. Gavin Harrison – UK, Porcupine Tree/ King Crimson
Make the resonant head at least one tone higher than the batter head.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Jacopo Volpe
24. Jacopo Volpe – Italy, Vanilla Sky
Try to find the right intervals between all the pieces! I like to use a mid-hi tuning right now except for the bass drum.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Kristinn Agnarsson
25. Kristinn "Kiddi" Agnarsson – Iceland, John Grant
Listen with your fingers as well as your ears. What I mean is feel the tension in the head with your hands.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Mike Gaspar
26. Mike Gaspar – Portugal, Moonspell
First of all the right head for your type of playing is important. If you play hard and only have one layer heads chances are they won't stay in tune too long. I like to stretch out the head before putting it on the drum and then, evenly tighten the lugs so the head is in balance. Then I tighten it as much as I can to get the wrinkles out. After that I’ll loosen them up and slowly tighten the head to the sound I’m looking for. Respect the drum size. I like to tune them to the drum and not the player. This means what feels comfortable for me is not always what sounds better. Find the sweet spot and that nice feeling in your stomach when you play around the kit. The bottom head is as important as the top one for sound so keep them in check and change them once in a while :).


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll | James Payne AC
27. James Payne – Italy, Hour of Penance
It really depends on the sound you want. I usually tighten the beater head and loosen the resonant head so that I have a powerful attack with a deep sound.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll Marito Marques
28. Marito Marques – Portugal, Independent
Always make sure the heads are in good condition, and train your ears to follow your ideal drum sound in your head. Always aim to have circumference of the head with the same pitch. Experimenting with tuning is the best training!


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll | Daniel Hanson
29. Daniel Hanson - Australia, Ball Park Music
You just need to spend a lot of time learning about tuning and what works best for you. The more you do it, the more natural tuning will become.


30. Bunta (Tatsuya Sugawara) – Japan, TOTALFAT
Each kit you play is different, so search for the best sound for that kit. The more hands on tuning you can do, the better your ears will get.


Zildjian Artist Buzz Roll | Ben Gordon AC
31. Ben Gordon – Australia, Parkway Drive
Get a good drum tech!


Want more Buzz? Check out these from our Worldwide team of Zildjian Artists:
34 Favorite Crash Cymbals and Why They Work
25 Favorite Cover Songs to Play
28 Tips and Inspiration for Improving Your Drum Fills
25 Motivators When you Don’t Feel Like Practicing

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