Kick drum tuning?


New member
For years, I've basically tuned my kick by leaving the batter head somewhat floppy, and my front head tight.

I recently found an old torque wrench tuner, and tried even tensioning my two kick heads. Of course theres more response, and tonality, but it kind of lost the thud.

Have any of you a/b'd this, or found a balance spot to get optimal thud/tone?

It might just be down to personal preferrence, but I'm curious what others have tried :?


New member
Hmmm...the heads and muffling make the biggest difference in my opinion. I use the emads on both sides and keep them both at the same tone/tension which is not to loose/flappy and not to tight/ringy and then put a small blanket that touches both heads and I'm usually set. Mess around a bit.


New member
I also play my batter head floppy and the front head tight.......

I found that using the Aquarian heads, with built-in muffling rings, on both sides, allowed that tonality of a booming jazzy kick, but the attack of a rockin metal kick....... with absolutely NO PILLOW in side the drum......

so I would try using more padding on the heads, and leave the shell hollow.......

your beaters might have something to do with this as well, as far as effecting the tone your looking for : )


Tabber Millard

King J

New member

Head principal: what I tried, and blew me away, was putting on a coated remo ambassador as front head. Lots of tone but never loosing sight of the attack and definition. Mostly people use a front head that's too thick on bass drums (Remo powerstroke 3 ebony, Evans Emad) in my eyes.
Always used the remo powerstroke 3 as batter head, bur recently using the Evans Emad. It's punchy and reaches lower frequency's
Tuning principal: batter head very loose, front head not too tight/ not too loose.
Muffling principal: a little bit of muffling on the front head by laying a little wrapped up towell against it on the inner side of the shell and with a little bit of tape to hold it (tape not against the head, but only the shell). Simmilar to the Weckle muffling but now only for the front head and a much smaller towell.
Hole principal: no hole in your front head makes greater tone and bigger sustain. It's a little bit more difficult to play though, because of more bounce from the batter. Also you need an internal mic if you go on stage. If you want more definition and attack, put on a hole, but never more than 4", otherwise tone and sustain are gone with the wind ...
Philosophical principal: a lot of phenomena are in the eye of the beholder...especially the phenomenom of sound

King J
So many drummer don't have a clue how to tune drums!

Drums are different and will require different head types and tunings, but with my Jalapeno kit I find a loose tuning both ends just above wrinke, then a small amount of muffling on both ends. As long as the muffling doesn't meet in the middle of the drum so you still get some resonance.


New member
Yes, I agree too. Just above the wrinkle with minimal muffling.

If the head is new, tighten it up so tight and stand on the head and
bounce up and down gradually to stetch it out completely.

Then take a bathroom towel folded like a rope length wise and tape it in on to shell
leaning against the beater head and tune above the wrinkle on both sides. Met Simon Phillips at Namm Show and he gave me the tip. It worked really well for me get this resonance and doom
sound that projects really loud in a acoustical room.


New member
wow, I feel like im going to be killed my the drumming mafia for saying this..

but I play with an Emad on my batter head, tuned 1 1/2 FULL turns after finger tight, and I use an Aquarian..something or another..that I got for practically free...1 full turn after finger tight.

I also have a blanket folded up and placed inside the drum so that it touches both ends equally. I have experimented for days on tuning my drum, not leaving my house incase I would think of something while I was out. This is the best way for my bass to be tuned. I suggest experimenting and get someone else with you so you can have them kick while you walk around the room and listen. You can only hear so much from behind the kit.


New member
vetis knows whats up. just curiouse but what kinda tone do u get outa of wrinkled up head lol not tryin to hate just makin a point.

aight lemme let ya'll in on a lil bit of sweetness. ok so first of the head that you have will determine what kind of sound you have, i use an aquarian super kick but the evans e mad works just as great (thats the batter). on the resonant head i use another aquarian with a ring in it. the secret to good sound with good tone is investing in your heads and KNOWING HOW TO TUNE A DRUM. A lot of drummers need to take a class or watch a dave weckl video to learn how to tune but thats another rant. i use the evans eq pad for dampening but it has a very full thud to it. I can crank that batter and it still has the same thud just a higher pitch. I usually play the batter head at 1 1/2 cranks past finger tight but with the right heads you can really make it as tight as you want. Ohh ya and if you on any kind of seriouse level with mics then who really cares how your kick sounds acoustically, its called a good mic and some eq adjustments. What i am getting at is why not mkae the batter tight so you have more response and then make the adjustments on the sound board?? Just a thought. Any way I have been playin for 8 years now and i haven't been happier with the way my kick sound since i went aquarian.

Hope it helped.

p.s. the pillow sound is soooo 80's, time to to move on broskis.


New member
Bottom line is a Bass drum head is harder to tune than any other drum. 2 problems plague tuning - muffling and frequency.

First of all, if you muffle your outer head, then you should just get rid of it. The outer head is there for resonance. Muffling it heavy doesn't make sense. Putting on a thicker head or doing the "cloth strap" technique (piece of light cloth across the head) to lightly control the resonant head is acceptable.

OK - now the two problems. First - Muffling the kick head to get that pop. I like the EMad head simply because you can take the muffle out and hear the head. I have used those Remo Muflr's before, but the biggest problem is the plastic is in between the head and the wood - so you are not getting any sound from the wood. Another thing that can control the sound a bit is window insulation. It has a sticky side, so you buy the foam, cut it in 1" pieces with 45 degree angled ends and put it around the inside of the head.

Next - Frequency. Face it, the toms and snare drum are usually in frequencies we can hear. When it comes to the Bass drum, the frequency is around 100 hz or below. So you hear the initial "Thud" but overtones might not be noticable by the human ear. In fact you might have to play a couple shows before you hear the overtones kick in.

I am a big advocate of even tuning. I tune my drums to open chords - the chord depending on what type of music I am playing. In rock, I will either tune to a C or an E chord. Bass drum is usually C.

When I tune I tighten the head hard for at least 20 minutes. That way I can hear the even tensions and can keep the eveness when I detune for the proper sound and I can push down on the head to strech it out properly. I always think of a drum head like preparing to work out - you have to stretch the muscles first.Besides, stretching it will keep it in tune better - especially since the end result won't have much tension to it.

There is a technique called "The Blow Dryer" where you get a standard hair Blowdryer, you tighten your drumhead, turn the dryer on "Hot" and let it warm up then you run the dryer over the head circling the head about 4-5 times. The heat will relax the drum so it stretches out properly. Then tune your drum to the desired sound.

Of course everybody does this differently for the right sound. I also think that knowing your drums and the woods they are made of is important to tuning. After all, if you are playing rock, you don't really want a set that's geared towards funk or jazz players.


New member
I like the feel of the drum when theres a good muffled thud.. I use evans eq4 on the batter with a evans eq3 ported on the front.. inside i muffle with one of the best things I have found.. its a pet bed, they are thin with about a 4 inch thick ring around the outside.. fits perfectly inside the drum and slightly touches both heads... looks good too. 8)


New member
My opinion is that if your kick drum is hard to tune, you might want to invest in a different drum, or you might want to stop practicing in a small room, or you might want to take the 5 quilts out of it, or you might want to quit overthinking things. There are tons of head combinations that work for different kinds of sounds. My recommendation is to keep it simple and don't over muffle. I personally stick with both heads just tight enough so that there are no wrinkles. These are the four combos that I like:

ATTACK No Overtone batter and ATTACK No Overtone Ported front with NO MUFFLING -- Sounds super punchy and tonal but not pitchy, limited sustain. ATTACK heads are the bomb, you've got to give them a chance.

Powerstroke III batter and Acquarian Superkick 4" Port (built in muffling) front with NO ADDITIONAL MUFFLING -- Again, super punchy but not so tonal, more focused and short.

Emad batter with NO FRONT or a screen head on front and again, NO MUFFLING. Sounds surprisingly similar to the last mentioned combo but way louder and deeper in pitch, still retains some slight tone/sustain.

You've got to have a shallow drum to pull this one off, preferably a 24x16 or 26x14. Coated Ambassador batter and Coated Ambassador ported front with very light muffling. Not so punchy with more of a high end "clicky" attack and a concert bass drum style sustain. Sounds great recorded.