Tuning your drums can be an annoying and tedious task. For someone with little tuning experience, picking out a drum tuner might be the best solution. While some of these products claim to provide perfect results, do they really stand up to the age-old ear? Today we’ll be taking a look at some of the best tuners out there and give our pick for best drum tuner in 2018.
Best Drum Tuner 2018
If you want just a basic summary of our reviews, take a look at the chart below.
- Drum Dial
- The Standard In Drum Tuners
Somewhat Outdated Comapred To Others
- Drum Dial Digital
- Updated To A Digital Display
Price Is A Bit Steep For Value
- Tune Bot Studio
- Our Favorite Drum Tuner
Extremely Accurate Tuning
- Tama Tension Watch
- Works Similar To Drum Dial
Not Very Accurate, Pricey
- Tru Tuner
- Change Heads In Seconds!
A Little Clunky In The Design
1. Drum Dial
Drum Dial is one of the most popular drum tuners on the market. This is the OG tuning product. I got my first Drum Dial as a kid and have had it for ten plus years. It’s definitely very durable and holds up over time. Drum Dials are so accurate because they measure the drum head tension and not the tension rod torque.
To use this drum tuner, place it on your drum, in-line with a lug, about an inch away from the rim. Then, apply pressure to the top of the dial to get a reading. Take the number from the reading and repeat the same step all around the drum, adjusting it to the reading of the first number. Once your drum is in tune with itself, you can make adjustments to lower or raise the pitch of the drum.
Drum Dial currently makes two types of drum tuners: analog and digital. The Digital Drum Dial is a bit more expensive, but does provide a more accurate reading.
2. Overtone Labs Tune Bot Studio
The Tune Bot studio is another contender for best drum tuner. This product measures the pitch of a drum as a frequency, giving you an actual note representation. Rather than placing the drum tuner on your head, this product clips on to your drum’s rim. This tuner is far more advanced than the Drum Dial in my opinion.
For starters, you can tune your kit to actual musical intervals. This works great if you’re tuning your toms to the key of a certain song, which is becoming more and more popular with modern recording engineers. It also has the ability to save and recall pitches for up to five kits with ten drums each. You actually can buy new drum heads and tune them exactly how you had them before!
Some drum tuners have a problem when it comes to false readings. The Tune Bot Studio has a filter mode that avoids this issue altogether. Since it clips to you drum hoop, you’ll also be able to tune hands-free.
3. Tama Tension Watch
Just like the Drum Dial, the Tama Tension Watch operates in a similar fashion. I found that the Drum Dial is more accurate and produced better results every time. It’s much more user-friendly and is more consistent.
The Tama Tension Watch resembles an old drain plug if you ask me. It features this detachable nylon bumper that ensures a consistent measuring distance from the rim. It’s a good idea in practice, but looks rather strange.
I noticed that Tama also makes another tension watch that looks eerily similar to the Drum Dial’s design called the Tama TAMTW100. Just like the other tension watch, this drum tuner gauges real head tension and not the tuning rod torque. Both drum tuners feature an analog display which is not as accurate as its digital counterparts. Instructions included contain sample tuning settings.
4. Tru Tuner TT001 Rapid Drum Head Replacement System
This thing is wild. From the picture alone, you can’t even imagine what you are buying. This is a bit of an outlier on our list, but still deserves some recognition. This drum tuner allows you to remove all lugs on your drum simultaneously to reduce the hassle of changing heads. You can change your snare drum head in less than a minute!
When using the Tru Tuner, you’re actually tuning all the tension rods at the same time, allowing for perfect tension at the same time. One of the big issues of tuning a drum by hand is uneven tension to the opposite lug. For example, if you tune the closest lug to your body, the one farthest away of the opposite side will naturally detune. This drum tuner completely alleviates this problem.
While not a traditional drum tuner by any means, the Tru Tuner still makes our list as one of our favorites. It’s not a bad price to pay for how useful this product will be to you.
5. Using Your Ear – The Best Drum Tuner Is You
We have to remember that every product on this list is just a tool. Even after using the Drum Dial or the Tune Bot Studio, you’ll need to go back in and make fine-tuned adjustments for each drum. There’s no way a computerized system can predict all factors on your drums. For example, if your drum’s bearing edge is a little warped, the Drum Dial might give you a good reading, but you’ll need to make a subtle adjustment on certain tension rods.
You need to know what tensions sound good for each individual drum. Learning how the batter head and the resonant head interact with each other is equally important! You can have both drum heads perfectly “in tune,” but fight against each other because the interval between them isn’t good.
Imagine that you lose your drum tuner. What will you do then? The best thing to do is to use these drum tuners as tools to supplement your already good drum tuning ear. If you are completely in the dark when it comes to tuning drums, be sure to check out the millions of YouTube videos on tuning drums. Here’s one of my favorites.