Drum dails vs listening to your ears


New member
Is there a significant difference in the end when tuning between these methods?

Does even tension or even pitch determine the best sound?

I'm horrible at tuning by ear (although I'm still trying, so help me!), so I usually end up using a drum dial. But there is a noticeable when my set is tuned by a seasoned drummers ear.

Any tips when using the two methods and when training your ear (what to listen for)?

Thanks a lot.


New member
drum dials are useless if you cant tune by ear. the point of a drum dial is to tell you the tension of each lug after youve gotten your drums tuned the way you want them, not to tell you how or where the head should be at. a drum dials purpose is to get you close to where you want to be the next time you change heads, not to do the work for you. learn to tune by ear, then use the drum dial.


New member

How you tune is completely up to you. There are three general ways of tunning most drums.

1. Tune the top head a little tighter then the bottom

2. Tune them both at the same pitch (or as close as you can)

3. Tune the bottom head a little higher then the top.

I personally use method 2. This way, the heads dont fight eachother as much, because they are practically the same pitch.

If you get even tension around the head, you will have alot less conflicting overtones. So, in my opinion, even tension gets the best results.

I dont use a drum dial, only my ears. The best way to tune by ear is to mute the head your not tunning, tap the head that you are and listen to all the overtones. Then tap the edge of the head, near each lug. You should be able to hear differences in pitch between them all. Adjust them all untill the pitch starts to sound the same between all the lugs.

When i put a new head on, i usually tighten it with two drumkeys in a clockwise rotation, that way, it is more likely to have even tension to begin with.



New member
i wished i could say i had a method to tuning, but i just don't. one thing i don't do is get too anal about it. i rarely ever touch the bottom head, but i do try and make sure both heads are as close to the same pitch as possible.

as for those gadgets that measure tension: never used one, never will. i believe in using your ears to tune in the same way great guitarist and bassist can tune by using their ears when they have to.