Last Updated on December 28, 2021 by Danny
If you have noticed that your drums are not sounding as good as they used it, then they’ve probably gone out of tune. While you can try drum tuning with your ear, there is a faster and more reliable method. With a drum tuner, even someone with minimal tuning experience can get perfectly tuned drums every time. So now that you know that you need a tuner, how do you go about picking one. Well, we have listed the six best drum tuners on the market right now, along with some of the things that you have to consider while buying a tuner. We have mentioned a variety of drum tuning products, so you should find one that is perfect for you irrespective of your need.
What is a Drum Tuner?
A drum tuner is a device that will help you tune your drum kit. While experienced drummers can tune drums by their ears, not everyone can get consistent and reliable tuning in this manner. A drum tuning device will provide a way for you to consistently and reliable measure your drum’s tuning. With a tuner, even an inexperienced drummer will be able to tune his drum perfectly.
Drum tuners are especially important for recording sessions. Recording engineers are especially in love with them because they are better than tuning drums with ears.
6 Best Drum Tuners – Our Top Picks
1. DrumDial Drum Tuner
- Extremely easy to use
- There are a lot of guides on how to use this tuner
- Even beginners can use
- Provides direct feedback, making the tuning process quicker
- Quiet tuning
- Covered by a one year warranty
- It can be hard to fine-tune
- It cannot be read in dark locations
- It has a shorter than expected lifespan
- Needs manual recalibration
This is one of the most easy to use and most popular drum tuners in the world. All you have to do is take it out of its box, and it is ready to tune. The overall construction is extremely well made. The tiny tuner is quite sturdy, and the chances of you damaging it are pretty low.
However, since it is pretty heavy, do avoid dropping it onto your drum head. Since it allows you to tune your drum by directly measuring the drum head tension, you will not be making any sound during the tuning process.
Also, since this drum tuner does not measure sound notes but rather the pressure, you can even use it in noisy environment and still get perfect tuning. You can even use this to measure the tension of your electronic drum kit. While it doesn’t affect the sound of your e-kit, it will drastically alter the responsiveness to your sticks.
The one possible issue with this is that it uses a spring to measure the drum head’s tympanic pressure. Over the years, the spring might lose its elasticity, thereby rendering the tuner ineffective. Another thing you have to take care of is calibration.
While the drum tuner comes pre-calibrated and will perform accurately when you take it out of the box, you will need to recalibrate it once in a while to make sure it functions as it should. You do not have to stress about this as it comes with a small plane of glass that helps you calibrate it.
The Drumdial precision drum tuner is also one of the cheapest drum tuning devices that are good. A one-year warranty even covers it.
2. Tune-Bot TBS-001 Studio Tuner for Acoustic Drum Kits
- You can fine-tune
- Has onboard memory that allows you to save and recall pitches and settings
- LCD is large and clear, making it easy to read values
- Has overtones filter
- Cannot be sued in loud areas
- A bit pricey
- It goes through batteries quickly
The Tune-Bot Studio is probably one of the most capable and feature-filled drum tuners on the market. This electronic drum tuner functions like a guitar tuner and can measure the pitch of your drums. This is one of the best drum tuners in the market for acoustic drums. It is filled with many features you won’t find elsewhere.
You will have to clip the Tune-Bot Studio onto the drum hoop and hit the drum head to record the frequency. Make sure you always hit the drum with the same velocity and at the same spot to make sure you get consistent readings. The product can be a little hard to use for beginners, but with enough patience and maybe a few YouTube videos, you can get into grip with this tuner.
The full-color display is quite big and very easy to read on. It can display the measurement in both hertz and even musical notes. You will also be able to measure a much more extensive range of frequencies. There is even a companion app for the Tune-Bot Studio that tells you the ideal way to tune for the sound you want.
What sets this apart from the below listed Tune-Bot Gig is that it has a filter mode that allows it to filter overtones and provide you with an accurate measurement. This ensures that you have consistent tuning.
Since the Tune-Bot Studio functions by listening to your drum’s sound (it works similar to a guitar tuner), there is no way for you to tune your drums silently with it. Also, you will not be able to use it in a loud environment as it will be affected by other sounds. It is best for you to use it in a studio of some sort where you can get a quiet environment.
The Tune-Bot TBS-001 comes with onboard memory that lets you store the pitches settings of five drum kits(with up to ten drums each) and recall them whenever you want. Therefore, even if you change your drum heads, you will be able to get back your original tune. This feature is especially great for professionals who own multiple drum sets. All the readings are also very precise, more precise than you can ever get with tension tuners.
P.S. always keep spare batteries in your backup with all digital tuners.
3. Drumdial Digital Drum Tuner
- Reliable and accurate readings
- The digital display makes reading values easier
- Great for silent-tuning
- Great battery life
- It is more expensive than the Analog version
- The screen could have been a bit brighter
- You will have to replace the battery eventually
If the original analog DrumDial Drum Tuner is one of the best tuners in the market, the Drumdial Digital Drum Tuner is its prodigy. While it shares many of the components and features of the original version, it comes with a digital display. The display is big and uses a large font, making it easy to read values. The Drumdial digital drum tuner is powered by a lithium battery that lasts quite long.
If you are wondering if there is any other advantage other than the digital screen, sadly, there isn’t much. All the underlying mechanisms are the same between both variants, so do not expect improved performance. However, the calibration process is easier with the digital version as all you have to do is a single touch. This is a affordable drum tuner that is great for beginners and less experienced drummers as it is easier to calibrate and easier to read.
Also unlike most silent tuners that measure the tension rod torque, this tuner measures the real head tension. This gives you a more accurate and relevant reading, therefore your drums will sound great.
As you would expect, the Drumdial digital drum tuner does cost significantly more than the original one. So, which one should you get? Well, that comes down to your personal preference and whether you are willing to shell out more money for better readability.
4. Tune-Bot Gig
- Simple design
- Compact shape
- Easy to read display
- Affordable digital drum tuner
- Reduced functionality
The Tune-Bot gig is a much simpler electronic drum tuner than the Studio. While it also has a large digital screen (LCD) that displays clearly, it lacks many of the Studio version’s functionalities. It has only one button that lets you cycle through the various modes.
Similar to the Studio, this Tune-Bot drum tuner is also capable of very accurate and precise readings. The single button interface makes it easy to use, and the compact design makes it easy to carry. It is also capable of quickly tuning your drums by matching lug pitches. The Gig does lose out to the Studio when it comes consistently and accurately hitting the desired pitch.
As you would expect, this tune-bot drum tuner is much cheaper than the Tune-Bot Studio. However, the Tune-Bot Gig is still able to perform exceptionally. This device’s low cost, combined with its ease of use, allows it to be one of the best drum tuners for beginners.
5. Tru Tuner Rapid Drum Head Replacement System
- It perfectly balances the tension in all your lugs
- It can be used for nearly all drums
- Quite easy to use
- Allows you to swap drum heads quickly
- It isn’t very accurate nor durable.
This product from Tru Tuner is not your conventional drum tuner. As you would have deduced from its name, it is a drum head tuner that allows you to quickly and easily swap out your drum heads (both the resonant head and batter head although not at the same time). It is so amazing that it even allows you to swap out your snare drum and rack toms in less than 60 seconds. (Using it for very large bass drums can be a little tricky though)
The reason why this is on this list is that it tunes all your tension rods during the swapping process. Since it adjusts all the tension rods simultaneously, you get a fully balanced tuning all-around your kit. The usual problem with tuning drums by hand is that when you tighten one lug, you inevitably slightly loosen the opposite lug.
With this system, you altogether remove that problem. It might look complicated but with the included instruction manual it is quite easy to grasp the steps. The Tru Tuner Rapid Drum Head Replacement system is unique in this list. While it is not the best drum set tuner by any means, it is memorable enough for us to include it in this list.
6. Tama Tension Watch TW100
- Quiet tuner
- Extremely sensitive, possibly to a fault
- No edge gage
- Manual calibration needed
- calibration susceptible to disturbances
- No warranty
If you are someone who isn’t happy with the sensitivity of the DrumDial tuner, the Tama Tension Watch would be an excellent option for you. It is extremely sensitive, actually so sensitive that your tuning process can be prolonged. The Tama tension watch and the DrumDial are incredibly similar in every other aspect.
From the underlying mechanism to the general design, they are pretty much the same. Both of them give out pretty much the same reading in nearly all circumstances. The aesthetics do differ a bit, and we slightly prefer the Tama tension watch in this aspect. Since the tuner measures the head tension, even this is a quiet tuning option like DrumDial.
There are two disadvantages to this Tama drum tuner. First, you use a ring to calibrate the tuner. While this method is much easier to use than the locking pin in the DrumDial, it is very easy to disturb the calibration. Second, it doesn’t have an edge gage. This means you have to approximate the distance from the lug every time visually. This can lead to some inconsistencies.
The second problem has been solved in this tuner’s latest rendition, the Tama TW200 Tension watch. The TW200 has a nylon bumper that ensures you always get a consistent spacing from the rim of your shell. However, the issue with the Tama tension watch is that a few users have complained that it can be inconsistent.
Why Do I Need a Drum Tuner?
Yes, even if you are a super experienced drummer, you will still benefit from a drum tuner. I do not mean that a drum tuner is critical for a drummer, but it can make your life a little bit easier. While you can tune with just a drum key (AKA torque key), it is similar to filling up your car’s tire without a pressure gauge.
If you are a drumming beginner, you probably have no idea how to tune with your ears. Having a tuner will allow you to tune you are tuning drums actually right rather than making approximations with your untrained ear.
If you are someone who does many recording sessions, having a tuner helps make sure that your drums are perfect before each session. While the Studio’s sound technician probably has a tuner, it does not hurt for you to have one. If you are someone who knows a recording studio, getting a tuner is essential. You cannot expect professional drummers to have a drum tuner with them, and a properly tuned drum is necessary for a recording session to go as expected.
If you are someone who tours a lot, a drum tuner (and a drum key) is highly crucial for you. You can never know what happens during gigs, your drums may go out of tune during transit, or maybe the house kit is entirely bonkers.
Having a drum tuner handy makes sure that these situations don’t end up ruining your performance. Gig venues are usually quite loud, and it is tough ( if not impossible) to properly tune your drums by ear in a noisy setting. Having a tuner that can function in these loud environments helps make sure that your drums are all properly tuned before a gig.
If you tune your drums with a tuner, you will save a lot of time compared to drum tuning with your ears (less time tuning = more time playing). Not everyone can get perfect sound with their ears, and at the end of the day, your drums sound better when you use a tuner, no matter where you are in your drumming journey.
The Importance of Tuning Your Drums
Tuning your drums is extremely important. A properly tuned $500 set will sound way better than a poorly tuned $5000 drum kit. What many beginners fail to acknowledge is that a drum kit is a tuned instrument. It’s not a flute for you to pick up and start playing.
You will have to tune the tension of each of your drums properly; you should also make sure that each drum’s tuning goes along with the rest of the kit. You have to tune your drums to get the best out of it. Having a properly tuned drum kit is how you get the most out of a drum set, be it an ultra-cheap one or a super premium one.
If you are still not convinced of the importance of tuning your drums, even professional musicians who fill stadiums use drum tuners to make sure they sound perfect.
What to Consider When Buying Tuning Devices?
While there aren’t many options for drum tuners, you still need to be considerate of what you buy. It’s easy to end up with a tuner that isn’t suited to your needs. To prevent such things from happening, we’ve listed the most important things that you will have to consider to get the best drum tuner for you.
Classic vs. Digital drum Tuners vs. Tension Watches
A Digital tuner (AKA electronic drum tuner) has many advantages. The display of these tuners allows them to have better readability and to be used in the dark. They also can give a precise reading, unlike an analog drum tuner one where you will have to approximate where the needle of the analog display is. Digital ones also have more functionality.
Digital drum tuners are like guitar tuners and measure the frequency/pitch of the drums’ sound. This makes them easier to use. You can also save all your different tunings and intervals and use them to retune your drums in the future quickly. However, they are usually not as durable as analog gauge, and their batteries will need to be occasionally replaced.
Analog drum tuners (including classic tuners and tension watches) have been used for a very long time. They measure the tension in your tension rod or the pressure on your drum heads. The pressure of your drum head correlates to the tension in your tension rod.
As they do not need you to strike the drum, they can be used for silent tuning. An analog tuner can also be used for tuning drums in loud areas where a digital tuner won’t function due to disturbances.
However, since they cannot measure the pitch of the sound produced, you will have to spend some time finding the perfect tension level for you. The lack of electrical components means that there aren’t many things that can malfunction in an analog tuner, making them last longer. Also, using analog machines to tune your drums has a unique feel to it.
Where You’ll Play?
Where you play is a significant factor in deciding what type of drum tuner if you want to buy. If you are someone who tunes your drum at home or some other quiet place, you can use any drum tuner.
However, if you have to tune your drum in some loud location, say a concert, you will need a tuner that isn’t affected by external sound. Getting tension watches is the best solution for such noisy places. They directly measure the tension of the drum head, and therefore external noise won’t affect you tuning your drums.
How Much Should I Expect to Spend?
Typically, the price of a good drum tuner ranges between $50 and $100. The more fancy features your tuner has, the more you should expect to pay for it. Digital drum tuners are costlier than analog ones, but you do get more features for the same price.
Avoid buying premium drum tuners from some big names like Pearl. There is no inherent advantage in using them, and honestly, the money is better spent upgrading your kit.
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So, what’s the Best Drum Tuner?
Well, this is what you are here for, aren’t you? The best drum tuner for you honestly boils down to your preferences and needs. If you want the best drum tuner that is reliable and can work even in loud environments, the Drumdial precision drum tuner is probably the best choice for you (Digital or analog is really up to you).
If you need something extremely precise and with sophisticated features, then the Tune-Bot Studio will be an excellent option. Drum tuning by ear is an art, but you can make it science with drum tuning devices and get reliable tuning every time. Hopefully, this list of best drum tuners helped you out.