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Tuning Toms


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So, I am and always have been absolutely terrible at tuning toms on a drumkit.


I have fitted new heads to my toms lately and they sound fucking awful. Looking at advice online, it's not massively helpful.


I've read about a 'tensioner' you can get to tune them properly, and R&B have said they can professionally tune them but it's fucking pricey.


Any advice?

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Tunning drums is always something i have battled with. It really depends on what your wanting sound wise, but i generally go by the rule of thumb of having the bottom head tuned lower than the top head. Did you replace the bottom heads? If not, how old are they? Again general rule is for every 4 batter heads, you change the resonate head. What kinda heads do you have on both sides? 


Best idea is to take the heads off both sides to begin with, tune the resonate head first, make sure its even all the way around, tuning on opposite sides keeping an even tension across the head. Get the bottom head tuned to a point, then get the top head on, again get it tuned to a point, and then play with the tuning a bit. I always think along the lines that the top head will give you the initial hit sound, the bottom head comes through after the hit, so i find a good note for the initial hit, and then find the right bottom end to the note. 


The tension keys are ok, if your kit is in perfect condition, and especially the lugs. If there is any rust, or anything it will throw the tension key off. 

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I would go a bit tighter on the bottom skin, just the slightest bit higher pitch, kills a lot of awful overtones.


Try without any skins on just tapping the side of the tom and listening for the natural tone of the shell, and aim for something that matches that when tuning the top head, they will ring nice when you find the sweet spot.


That said I've always found modern coated tom skins to sound comical and quite frankly awful...I've heard them sound good on some kits, it might depend on the space they are being played in. (don't start me on coated kick skins!!!) Can't go wrong with Remo clear pinstripes on toms, but Evans EC2 are starting to be my fave.

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