Best Drum Tuners: 4 Options for an Amazing Sounding Kit

Best Drum Tuners for Drummers and ProducersAs drummers, we’re precious about the sound of our kit. As such, the search for the best drum tuners is one that every drummer must undertake at one point or another.

But, your search is over.

I’ve written an easy to use post on 4 of the best drum tuners available this year, so you can stop spending your time online and get to making your kit sound amazing!

Best Drum Tuners: Compared

Before we get stuck in let’s do a quick showdown between the tuners:

ProductPrice RangeTypeRatingLatest Price
Tama Tension Watch 1$$Mechanical(4.8/5)
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Tama Tension Watch 2$$MechanicalNo rating
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DrumDial (Editors choice!)$Mechanical(4.7/5)
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Pearl Tunebot$$$Digital(4.1/5)
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Tama TAMTW100 Tension Watch

(4.8/5)

 

Tama’s Tension Watch (TW100) is the most popular drum tuner available. Chances are, if you see a drum tuner in the wild, it will be this one.

Most other tuner’s actually use this design.

The TAMTW100 is very accurate, giving very precise readings in tension, allowing you to get every lug sounding the same.

What others are saying:

I thought I would be able to tune things perfectly, which it totally makes it possible, but it is hard to get used to. Definitely A LOT easier than tuning by ear. I really enjoy it, I have two bass drums, and they need to sound exactly the same. I’ve tuned two different drum sets now, and the only things I dislike are the recommended tunings for drums they have; which is an easy change. It has opened my eyes to a couple of things about tuning drums.

Check it out!

DrumDial Drum Tuner

(4.7/5)

Using the same design as the the Tama above, the DrumDial looks very similar but differs in two main ways:

  1. It’s not as sensitive (I’ll explain more below)
  2. It’s cheaper! (always a bonus)

Each small line on the DrumDial indicates 1/1000 of an inch while the Tama indicates 4/10000 of an inch – meaning the Tama is much more precise… although this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

While we want accuracy we need to be able to tune our drums quickly too so if you don’t need perfect sound the DrumDial should suit you just fine!

What others are saying:

This thing is really slick. I’ve tuned drums for years, and I don’t consider it that big of a problem, but the DrumDial can considerably speed up the process, and it does reduce error, no matter how experienced you are. It comes with a little guide chart that indicates an approximate head tension for different sizes of heads and drums, which is nice; but the real benefit is in the consistency you get from being able to check each head at each lug, so you get perfect tension all the way around on every head.

Check it out!

Tama Tension Watch v2

 

Being the innovators in the drum tuning game, Tama took their classic design and made it even better!

A big complaint of the DrumDial and previous Tama model is that most people tune drums looking over them, not at eye-level.

This makes reading the other two tuners a bit harder.

Tama fixed this with TW200 Tension Watch – making it use a flat design which can be ready easily and provides a handy gauge to position it the same distance away from each lug.

Check it out!

Pearl TB001 Overtone Labs Tune-Bot

(4.1/5)

So far the tuners we’ve covered have relied on measuring tension mechanically.

Enter the Tunebot, a digital drum tuner!

The killer feature of the tunebot is that it not only gives you lug tension measurements, it gives you the musical note your drum is tuned to!

This is incredibly important for studio use so you can match the pitch of your toms to the key of the song.

On top of that, you can save your tuning. Making it easier to match tunings between sessions and between drums.

What others are saying:

Bottom line? It works. You can know tell what note your drum is tuned to. You can decide what note you’d like it be tune to, and with a little practice get it there with very impressive accuracy in about 5 minutes per drum.

Check it out!

Some helpful information about drum tuners

What is a drum tuner?

Most drum tuners measure the drum head’s tension to show you where you need to tune up or tune down to get an even spread around the drum.

Do you need a drum tuner?

Drum tuners are most useful if you’re a drum technician or a studio engineer.

Why?

Well, those two roles require getting a consistent sound out of a drum again and again, something that’s really tough to do by ear alone.

A common scenario in the studio is where you want to get two drums sounding the same (usually two kick drums) or getting the same sound as you had in a previous session.

While tuners are must haves for engineers and drum techs, they’re useful for anyone looking to get the best sounding kit they can.

How to use a drum tuner:

As I mentioned, all drum tuners work in one way – they measure the tension on head where they’re placed.

Here’s a quick and easy drum tuning guide to get you started:

  1. Start with a clean drum with no head on it.
  2. Seat the new drum head.
  3. Put the drum hoop back on and finger tighten all the tension rods.
  4. Gently lower your drum tuner of choice on to the head.
  5. Position the drum/tuner so you can easily read the dial and about 15mm / 3/4″ in front of a tension rod.
  6. Now take note of that lug’s tension.
  7. We want to find the lug with the highest tension. So move the tuner around the rest of the lugs on the drum. (Pick it up each time! Don’t drag it!)
  8. Tune the other lugs to match the highest reading.
  9. Test the drum! How does it sound? Go higher and lower in an opposite lug pattern starting from any lug.
  10. Play you perfectly tuned drum!

Have a I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below!

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