How to Tune a Drum Set

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
If you have ever warped your drum you know that it is easy to do and not a good thing. Even if you never have before but are scared you will. This is a drum warp prevention page.


  1. First, you must obtain a drum key, available at all places that sell drums and some guitar places. These are cheap but essential. They may cost around 5 dollars for a really cool name brand one but you should be able to get one for about $2. Please buy all of your drum equipment before the drum key as there are some very nice ones that come with drums, cymbals or even sticks.
  2. Second, go to your first drum that you will be tuning, the high tom. For a 5-drum set your drums will go in order from left to right; the snare drum (the one with the snares that make noise attached to the bottom of the drum), high tom (your smallest drum which you will tune first because it is the least important), low tom (slightly larger version of high tom), floor tom (big drum is the one standing on floor similar to snare), and, to kick it off, the bass drum (you kick it). While this is the recommended setup, you can technically set up your kit however you feel comfortable.
  3. You will be tightening using tightening bolts, which are the 8 square metal things sticking out of your drum.
  4. Now, take your drum key in your hand and, using the end with a square hole, attach it to any tightening bolt of your choice (it will not matter in the end) and turn 90 degrees.
  5. Next, go to the tightening bolt directly across from the one you just turned and turn 90 degrees.
  6. The next step is to go to the bolt directly to the left of the bolt you started on and repeat the turn.
  7. Now, go to the bolt directly to the right of the second bolt you turned and turn it too (you will turn every bolt 90 degrees).
  8. Now go to the bolt to the left of the third bolt you turned and turn it.
  9. If you are not yet seeing the pattern, analyze the last few steps and see if you can see how to do the next steps. If you dont see a pattern you will end up having to memorize this.
  10. .....__2__
  11. ..7./......4
  12. .../.......
  13. 5.|.........|.8
  14. ..|.........|
  15. ........../
  16. .3..\_____/.6
  17. .......1........ (Periods are to show spacing as the spaces just disappear. Pretend all those are connected if you have a good imagination or got to the edit screen where they are together correctly.)
  18. That is one suggested way to tune your drums (yes, drums are circles but, oh well) if you started on a different bolt look at the drum from a different direction and you should see they are the same.
  19. You should tune all of your drums the same way so explanation of other drums is unnecessary.


  • If you did not get a little bag with your key that attaches to your drum then you should consider finding some way to attach it to your drum as they are easy to lose.
  • Do not tune your drums just for fun tune them when they get loose.
  • The high tom was selected to be tuned first as you do not use it much and it is better to mess up on it than your snare.
  • Tuning the snare can change the feel of your whole drumset. Tightnening it as much as you can will give it a marching snare sound in the centre, and a very high-pitched ping! at the rim, especially if you have a snare drum made out of metal. Lykathes snare drum is tuned very high. Tuning it as low as it can go will give the snare a duller, more rattly sound with more of a deep, boong sound at the rim. Metallicas album St. Anger had the drums tuned this way. Snare drums are also made form varying kinds of material. Most people have a wooden snare drum, which sounds deep and warm. Some snare drums are made out of metals such as aluminium or steel. Metal snares have a more noticeable crack to them and project more of a ringing sound.
  • Yes, you must tune your bass drum, too. A tighter bass drum will have more of a click to it, which is good for double kick runs (once you get to that skill level), and a looser one will sound fatter, which is more suited to Jazz. You usually dont want it to emit an actual note like a Tom, though.
  • Once you have tuned as shown above you should check the sound and crispness of your drum by tapping it with your drum stick. Repeat the steps until you get a sound you like.


  • Although it may seem complicated, please tune your drums as shown! If you do one after the other right beside each other your drum may become warped right before your eyes.
  • Which is also why you should only turn 90 degrees, if you do more the drum may stretch to quickly before you can fix it and you have yourself a warp.

Things You will Need

  • A few bucks
  • A drum key
  • A drum set

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