Best Drum Tuning Device

Your snare drum doesn’t sound as bright. The bass sounds too high.

You need to tune your drum kit.

Here are the best drum tuning devices out there to help you with it:

Best Drum Tuning Devices Compared

NameHow it interprets 'sound'ProsConsPrice Comparison
DrumDial Drum Tuner
Drum head Tension (Physical Pressure)+ Simple to use
+ Fast tuning
+ Can tune drums without making noise
- Spring may lose elasticity over time, accuracy might drop
- Not the most accurate tuner around
Tama Tension Watch TW200
Drum head Tension (Physical Pressure)+ Simple to use
+ Can tune drums without making noise
+ Slightly more accurate than DrumDial
- Spring may lose elasticity over time, accuracy might drop
- There have been mentions of oversensitivity that slows tuning
Overtone Labs Tune-Bot
Detects frequency via Microphone+ Relatively simple to use
+ Ability to store pre-sets for 5 kits
- May not be accurate in noisy environment$$$
Cherub DT-10 Acoustic Drum Tuner
Detects frequency via Microphone+ Relatively simple to use
+ Clear feedback given in color code (helps to speed up tuning)
- May not be accurate in noisy environment$$$$$
Evans Torque Key

Tension Rod (Lug) tension+ Low cost
+ Relatively easy to use
- May be inconsistent
- Tuning may be affected by state of your tension rods
- May not be durable

Can’t decide?

My pick for the best drum tuning device is…

Best Drum Tuning Device

The DrumDial Drum Tuner

DrumDial Drum Tuning Device

Why I like the DrumDial?

Advantages of using the DrumDial drum tuner:

  • Simple to use.
  • Direct feedback for quicker drum tuning…so that you can get to the playing faster.
  • No need for much experience to use.
  • Has a great repertoire of guides for users.

In my opinion, the DrumDial is one of the easiest ‘plug and play’ kind of drum tuning device.

All you need to do is unbox it and you are good to start tuning.

Plus you can tune your drums silently because it allows you to tune your drums by adjusting the drum head tension directly.

Read my full review and thoughts below

Of course it’s not perfect. In fact, I doubt there’s a ‘perfect’ drum tuner at all.

Here are some disadvantages:

  • May not be very sensitive = not the most accurate drum tuner around
  • Shorter lifespan

The DrumDial Drum Tuner works by detecting the pressure feedback it gets when it is placed on the drum head.

It detects the pressure using a spring within the contraption.

Overtime, I would expect the spring to lose its elasticity. It should not be an issue within at least 5 years. But beyond that, you might want to reconsider a new tuner.

On the flip side, if you are a diligent drummer, you could probably start tuning by ear after 5 years.

If you’d like to tune up your drums asap, get the DrumDial drum tuner here now.

Or, continue reading for more drum tuning devices and useful tips:

Table of Content (click to skip to section)

Best Value For Money Drum Tuning Device

On a tight budget?

This is the best budget drum tuning device in my opinion:

Evans Torque Key

Evans Torque Key

It’s a tuner and tuning key, all in one.

What more can you ask for?

Read 836+ reviews by Evans Torque Drum Key owners now

The Evans Torque Key is also relatively easy to use.

All you need to do is to select your desired lug tension, and start tightening your lugs! The key will lock when you have reached your pre-determined tension.

Read my detailed review on the Evans Torque Key below

Best Drum Tuning Device for Beginners

DrumDial Drum Tuner

DrumDial Drum Tuning Device Digital Version

Sorry I had to mention DrumDial again. It really saved me when I got my first kit.

It’s really simple to use, just place on drum and tune to desired pressure.

Surely even a 5 year old can do this.

Read my full review and thoughts on the drum dial below

Most User Friendly Drum Tuning Device

Cherub DT-10 Acoustic Drum Tuner

Cherub DT 10 Acoustic Drum Tuner

Cherub DT-10 has great user experience built into the interface.

All you need to do is to determine your desired note.

And as you tune the rest of your lugs, it will indicate if the note is too high (red), too low (orange) or just nice (green).

Best Drum Tuning Device for Drummers who also play the Guitar

Overtone Lab’s Tune-Bot

tune bot

If you are familiar with the use of guitar tuners, the usage of tune-bot should be second nature to you.

Plus, tune-bot provides users with recommended frequency ranges in their drum tuning guide, so you have something to start from.

Read my detailed review of the Tune Bot

Still pondering about which is the best drum tuning device out there, and what you should get for yourself?

Let’s move on to the next section then.

We’ll go deeper into the function, use and feel of each drum tuning devices:

Individual Drum Tuner Reviews

Ok, now that I’ve given you my take on some of the best drum tuning devices for your needs, here’s mym detailed reviews.

I’ve done extensive research pouring over fellow drummers’ comment on forums, reddit, asking fellow drumming friends for their take and also tested each of these tuners at a music store.

[Which involves screwing up the tuning on their test kits and re-tuning them to see if these tuners are easy to use and fast to tune…and also involved getting chased out by some shops…]

This is what I think about each of these tuners for drums:

DrumDial Drum Tuner

DrumDial Drum Tuning Device Digital Version

My favorite pick.

How it feels

The DrumDial feels tough and sturdy in my hands, in fact it is quite heavy, for something so small.

Do be careful when you are tuning your drums with it. Avoid dropping the DrumDial onto your drum head.

You’ll need to calibrate it on a level surface before you start your tuning.

It works by detecting the timpanic pressure on your drum head.

About the manufacturer

The DrumDial is created by a group of geeks who are constantly looking to improve their product. The founder claims that all the springs in the DrumDial have been calibrated and hence every DrumDial will give the same reading on the same drum head.

I love their chase for precision.

My 2 cents

I prefer the latest digital version over the original analog version for 2 reasons:

  1. With the digital version, we no longer have to worry that its spring would lose its elasticity over time..which means longer life.
  2. No need to spend time trying to figure out where the needle is pointing.

See Pros and Cons above

See what some other users said:

If you want to hear your drums sound like they’ve never sounded before, make this modest investment” – Fatman, user of the DrumDial

I’m actually really mad at myself for not finding this sooner! I have played drums as a hobby for a long time. I’ve always had issues with tuning because it just took so long.” – Arok5, DrumDial enthusiast

Read 316+ reviews by current DrumDial users here

Or learn how to use the DrumDial Drum Tuner to get your drums in tune:

(all videos used were compiled from YouTube)

Tama Tension Watch

tama tension watch tw200 tuner

Works like the DrumDial.

According to drummers who have both the DrumDial and the Tama Tension Watch, they are similar.

Except Tama Tension Watch can be a tad too sensitive, which could prolong the tuning process.

The image above is of the latest Tama TW200 Tension Watch. It comes with a nylon bumper that helps ensure consistent distance from the rim of your drum. However, there have been reports of inconsistency on the TW200.

You might want to look into the TW100 instead, which looks exactly like the DrumDial…

Overtone Labs Tune-Bot

tune bot

How it feels

It feels durable, and the buttons are relatively easy to figure out.

It comes with a clip that allows you to clip the tune-bot onto your drum head.

I would assume that one should clip it at the nearest area that you are tuning at the moment. This means you’ll need to shift your tune-bot to the different lugs. However, most tutorials only dismiss this. If you have used the tune-bot, let me know which works better!

My 2 Cents

I do not like tuners that rely on microphones to detect the pitch.

There are 2 issues that I’m worried about:

  1. I might get in the way of my tuning

Although the tune-bot detects frequency and pitch, it is inevitable for the frequency feedback to be affected by how I hit the drum.

i.e. you should be consistent when hitting the drums, during your tuning.

Which draws an important question in my head: “Would my drums really be tuned properly and consistently?

  1. Tuning can probably only be done in a quiet environment

As with issue #1, noise can also affect the pick up by tune-bot. This means if you are tuning in a place where there are other drummers jamming, or musicians doing their thing, your precision may be affected.

With these questions in mind, I tend to avoid drum tuners that relies on microphones. (which is also why i prefer a physical drum tuner over a mobile app drum tuner anytime)

What others say:

However, the above is just my opinion.

Or, see what 10+ tune-bot users say here

Here’s a great test on the accuracy of tune-bot as a drum tuner, as done by an experienced drummer:

Evans Torque Key

Evans Torque Key

Ah, the torque keys.

How it feels

Minimalistic, simple and very cost-effective.

It works as a tuning key at the same time too.

It’s relatively simple to use, here’s a quick video tutorial on how to use the Evans Torque Key:

However, it does come with its downsides.

My 2 Cents

The reason I avoided torque key drum tuning devices is because they rely directly on the tension of the lugs to help you tune your drums.

It works great on spanking new drums!

But, if you’re trying to tune a used drum, that’s where bad things happen.

You see, the torque key only measures the resistance of the tension rods on your drum.

But, it does not take into account of things like:

  • Dirt
  • Lubricant build up
  • Rust

All these can clog up your tension rod’s threads, which means it might feel tighter than the note you are trying to tune for.

And adding lubricant alone will not mitigate this issue. You’ll need to clean out the tension rods if you want your drum lugs to be of the same tension.

What others say:

It’s pretty cool,works good for the small price

I have tried MANY different tuning “helpers” and this is my favorite. First of all, you’ll NEED TO KNOW HOW TO TUNE YOUR DRUMS!

see what 836 users of the Evans Torque key say here

Which brings us back to the age old advice…

If you ask the pro or experienced drummers, everyone would say its best to tune your drum kit by ear.

I agree too! Wholeheartedly.

But regretfully, I wasnt borned with the gift of discerning musical notes.

Most people ain’t.

You may be in the same boat as us.

Fret not, it comes with experience. “As with most things…”, my grandma used to say.

But while you are getting there, let’s be grateful for drum tuners 😜

How drums work

A drum in its essence is box that resonates sound in the form of vibration.

Imagine tiny waves being created each time you hit the drum heads:

Source: Wikipedia

Why Different Drums Sound…Different

The quality of that sound can be affected by:

  1. the material of the drum
  2. the build quality
  3. the tightness / tautness of the drum heads (aka skins)

You get to choose #1 and #2, when you buy your drums. Once you have made your purchase, these are relatively fixed…unless you own multiple drum sets.

#3 allows you to finetune the sound you’d get from your drum.

You can tune your drums by controlling the tightness of your drum head.

This is done using a drum key via the lugs:

drum lug

Drum tuning devices allows you to pinpoint your drum’s current sound and allow you to tune your drums using that as the baseline.

How Drum Tuners Work

1) Measuring the tension of your drum head

With the drums, we create beats by beating the drum head. A range of sounds can be created just by varying the depth of the vibrations.

Drum tuning devices like DrumDial and Tama Tension Watch give you an idea of the tension of your drum head by measuring the timpanic pressure near the lugs.

Your job during tuning is to make sure that the tension at each lug is consistent across the entire drum.

How tense should your drum head be?

Well, this depends on the note that you are trying to tune your drum to.

DrumDial provides a great drum tuning reference that works with their equipment. Beginner drummers should find very useful.

2) Measuring the tightness of your lug

We tune our drums by varying the tension of our drum heads. This is done with a drum key, which is used to tighten the tension rods located along the side of a drum.

The Evans Torque Key and the RhythmTech RT7350 ProTorq Drum Key allows you to tune your drum by determining your ideal lug tension.

You can set the torque setting on these drum tuning devices and tighten your lugs. (remember to tighten the lugs in a star pattern so that your drum head remains relatively leveled)

Once you’ve reached your desired tension on the lug, the key will click and lock as an indication. You’ll want to make sure the tension across all your lugs are consistent.

You can test different torque levels to find the your favorite level for your drums.

3) Detecting sound using a microphone

The previous methods make use of drum head tension or lug tension as indicators for drum tuning.

The 3rd way to tune drums using devices is to take a sample of the sound and compare it to a know repertoire of pre-determined notes.

This is what Overtone Lab’s Tune Bot and the Cherub DT-10 does.

Their built in microphones will detect the sound from your drum kit and give you the frequency reading in Hz. Here’s a quick overview:

drum frequencies for tuning

You’ll have to decide the fundamental frequency that you’d like to tune your drums to. Overtone Labs provides a useful drum tuning guide for Tune-Bot users. They provided recommended frequencies for different drums, based on the drum kit set up too.

Despite the functionality of these tuners, you should note that you’ll usually still need to fine tune your drum!

2 Essential Drum Tuning Accessories

So…now we’ve decided on a drum tuner.

What else do you need before you can start tuning your drums?

Tuning Key

Unless you are using the Evans Torque Key or the RhythmTech RT7350 ProTorq Drum Key, you’ll probably need a good’ol traditional tuning key to tune your kit.

Tuning keys allow you tighten or loosen the tension rods of your drums via the lugs.

*If you purchased a complete drum set, you’ll most likely have received a tuning key with your kit.


vic firth 7a drumsticks

If you are tuning your drums using the Overtone Lab’s Tune Bot, the Cherub DT-10, or using a mobile app, you’d need take sound samples at the different parts of your drum head.

You’ll need a pair of drumsticks to do this. With exception to the bass drum, you’ll need pedals for that.

P.S. after tuning with the drum tuning devices, you may need to finetune your drums further as well. Afterall what’s truly important is that the sound you produce on your drum kit suits the song you’re jamming to.

How to tune your drums

This will be just a quick introduction to drum tuning.

There are 2 things you want to ‘aim’ for when tuning your drums…especially when you are relying on drum tuning devices.

  1. What is the fundamental frequency (or note) that you want to tune to?
  2. Are all your lugs tuned to the same tension?

5 quick steps to tuning your drum

This is a quick protocol to getting your drum from being unplayable to being decent in just 5 steps.

  1. Place your batter head and resonance head in place. Make sure all the lugs are finger tight.
  1. Place Drumdial near a lug (you can start from any lug), tighten the lug to the recommended pressure as provided by DrumDial.

Make sure you tighten the lugs in stages. i.e. do about 2-3 turns of the drum key and switch to the opposite lug. You might need to do this several times.

This is to make sure that your drum head is not overstretched on one side – this will damage your drum head and also cause it to be unbalanced on one side.

  1. Repeat this with the resonant head.
  1. Once you are done with both heads, try playing the drum by itself.
  1. [Optional] Fine tune the drum if you’d like the sound to be higher or lower.

(This step is not necessary for beginners. As you gain more experience and get more familiar with your drum set, this step will come in naturally. dont rush it)

I hope this has been useful in helping you decide which drum tuner you should be getting. If you’d like a summary, check out our table!

Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. you can tune your drums using  your phone, here’s some of our favorite mobile drum tuner apps.

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