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Drum tuners are fantastic devices that save a lot of time and effort when tuning your drums.
Having performed hundreds of shows, I know how important it is to have fantastic sounding drums both on stage and in the studio, and to be efficient with your time spent on tuning.
By measuring either the tympanic pressure or pitch around the hoop, drum tuners are able to quickly and efficiently inform you of which lugs are out of tune and by how much.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the best drum tuners to help make drum tuning a breeze. I’ve compared design, ease of use, performance, and cost to give you my top recommendations.
What are the Best Drum Tuners?
How I Tested and Selected Drum Tuners
I tested and selected these drum tuners based on various criteria to to ensure they deliver consistently good sounding results whilst tuning your drums.
Precision and ease-of-use were crucial in my assessment. I tuned my Tama Star drum set and various snare drums using these tools, examining how accurately they allowed me to achieve the desired pitch and tone.
I judged how quickly each tuner facilitated the tuning process without sacrificing accuracy.
Build quality and design were also important factors. I favored tuners that provided clear guidance and ease of use for both novice and experienced drummers.
Ultimately, the best drum tuners that stood out combined precision, speed, and user-friendliness, making drum tuning easy for all skill levels.
Drum Tuner Reviews
The DrumDial is the original and best precision drum tuner on the drum market, and is my top recommended drum tuning device.
This model is the original analog precision drum tuner that measures tympanic pressure instead of tension rod torque. It is incredibly accurate for reading drumhead tension and I find it gets it right each and every time.
I love my DrumDial, and I’ve been using it for tours as well as studio sessions for many years now. It’s an incredibly useful device that will ensure your drums sound fantastic.
Each DrumDial is handmade in the USA and is built from high-quality materials. It has a substantial weight and is packaged well in a protective foam box.
Straight away from opening it up, you can tell the product is well constructed with premium components. It is fairly heavy to hold and it includes a large edge gauge that ensures the DrumDial is the correct distance from the hoop each time.
Professional drummers around the globe swear by the DrumDial to help them achieve the best-sounding drums as possible whilst on tour.
You can achieve fantastic-sounding drums with very little effort thanks to its easy-to-read analog display and moveable locators to mark tuning ranges.
To use the DrumDial, simply lift it up and place it around the drum head at each individual lug. You can’t just slide it, you’ll need to pick it up and place it down at each lug for the device to read the pressure correctly.
Before every show and rehearsal I use the DrumDial to tune my snare drum to my ideal settings and it saves a lot of time and effort compared to only using my ears.
The original analog DrumDial is not only the most popular drum tuner product available; it’s also excellent value. It is much cheaper than lots of other drum tuning products available.
- The original precision drum tuner
- Highly accurate performance
- High quality construction in USA
- Analog display can be hard to read on dark stages
The next product up for review is made by Tune-Bot, and it is a very smart drum-tuning invention. Unlike the analog DrumDial, this product is an electronic drum tuner.
Although they provide the same function, they operate in entirely different ways. It features a clear digital display and has a host of clever additional features.
The Tune-Bot electronic drum tuner works by measuring the pitches resonated by the drum around the lugs in either frequency or musical notes. With this device, your drums will be able to be tuned to a consistent pitch around the hoop and thus will sing a sweet musical note.
Whilst using this product, I have found it offers incredibly reliable readings as well as a high-frequency range. The color display is super clear and easy to read. It also has the functionality to save and recall pitches enabling even faster drum tuning in the future!
The Tune-Bot also allows you to not only fine-tune individual drums by matching the lug pitches but also allows you to tune the whole drum kit to musical intervals! This is a brilliant feature allowing your snare drum and toms to sound clearly defined yet cohesive with one another.
- Allows for incredible fine-tuning
- LCD is clear to read on dark stages
- Functionality to save and recall settings
- Does not always work consistently
- Requires batteries as opposed to DrumDial
Much like its bigger brother, the Tune-Bot Gig electronic drum tuner allows you to quickly tune your drums through matching lug pitches and it clips to any standard drum hoop.
The ‘Gig’ version also features a large and clear LCD screen that is optimized for being seen on a dark stage. Unlike the ‘Studio’ version this product features only one button that allows you to toggle through the various modes available.
Much like the Tune-Bot Studio, it takes precise readings and has the signature Tune-Bot accuracy. It is really easy to use and has a simple and compact design that I found easy to clip onto both triple-flanged hoops and die-cast hoops.
The Tune-Bot Gig Electronic Drum Tuner is more affordable than the ‘Studio’ version and it performs great. It does not have quite as many features, however, and you will not be able to tune your drums to the desired pitch. Overall it is an excellent value drum-tuning device I would recommend to all drummers.
- Simple and compact design
- Matches lug pitches
- Great value tool
- Less functionality than the 'Studio' version
This DrumDial Digital Drum Tuner displays its readings clearly on a digital screen instead of on an analog display. Much like its analog counterpart, this DrumDial digital drum tuner is manufactured in the USA and is built with top-quality components.
This DrumDial is also packaged in a custom foam-lined protective hard-shell case so you can keep it safe when taking it to rehearsals and shows.
What I really like about this model is that it is even faster to use than the analog version to measure drum head tension.
Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the small discrepancies between readings with the analog gauge, but this digital version clearly displays the exact level of pressure on the drumhead.
This digital dial allows you to save tensions into its memory so once you have figured out the perfect settings you can replicate them time and time again!
The Digital DrumDial is simple to use and achieves fantastic results with its pinpoint accuracy between the different lugs.
- Renowned DrumDial accuracy
- Simple and easy to use
- Clearly displays exact tension
- Screen isn't easy to read in dark
- Tune-Bots offer more functionality
The Tama Tension Watch Drum Tuner is a well-constructed device that is just as hefty as the original analog DrumDial. This drum tuner reads tympanic pressure and measures the tension across drum heads.
This model is precision-engineered by Tama and is really easy to use. It performs well and allows you to get the best sounds from your drums effortlessly, which means you spend more time playing and less time tuning!
This model I would say is very similar to the DrumDial but it is more expensive, so I would recommend the DrumDial over this product. Nonetheless, this is a great precision drum tuner and will make your drumming life much easier.
- Simple to use
- Accurate readings
- Good quality construction
- More expensive than DrumDial
- Feels like a DrumDial imitation
Drum Tuner Buyer’s Guide
Using your ear for tuning drums is important, and only you will be able to decide if your drums truly do sound good. However, it’s also easy for your ears to miss small and minute details that can go unnoticed.
With the aid of a drum tuner, you will be able to catch missing nuances and overtones from the drums and fix them easily.
To tune up a full drum set by ear may take 25-30 minutes when you include the time spent tuning both the batter and resonant drum heads.
But with a precision drum tuner, you are able to easily read the numbers on the gauge and tune your drums accordingly. It’s almost effortless to get fantastic-sounding drums time and time again with the use of a drum tuner.
Tuning drums can be a repetitive and boring process, not to mention frustrating! All of these products I have listed in my drum tuner buying guide will save you lots of time and energy in order to help you achieve the best sounds from your drums.
Even when drums aren’t played they will naturally go out of tune over time due to the weather, humidity, and other contributing factors.
Whether set up on a drum set or packed away in cases, drumheads will loosen and will require tweaking and tuning to sound great again.
Benefits of Using Drum Tuners
- Fast and repeatable tuning: Using a drum tuner along with using your ears makes tuning much quicker and easier when it comes to getting the same tunings for your drum kit at each show. It also helps to achieve these preferences faster than you could use your ear alone.
- Enhanced accuracy: Drum tuners will give you enhanced accuracy for tuning your drums and help you come up with the same tunings for any set of drums, by reading the dials around each lug, or tuning the drums to specific pitches.
- Helpful for beginners: A drum tuner makes tuning quick and easy, even for beginners. They provide a visual reference that you can use to have the best possible sound for your drums along with using your ears.
- Excellent for both live and studio: Drum tuners are especially useful in both studio and live settings since you will be able to quickly get the same tuning for each drum and save precious time during setup.
Is The Best Drum Tuner Analog or Digital?
Whilst both types of drum tuners will fulfill the same role of aiding you in your quest for perfect drum tones, it’s up to you to decide if you would prefer a digital or analog drum tuner.
I find digital drum tuners easier to read compared to analog dials. Having numbers clearly displayed on a large LCD screen is exactly what I wanted whilst tuning up my drums. Sometimes the negligible differences between the pinpoint markers on my analog DrumDial are quite hard to see.
There are several notable benefits of analog drum tuners. They do not require batteries, as a digital drum tuner does, and they will never malfunction from electrical issues. In some ways, I think the analog tension watches are also more authentic pieces of equipment.
Drum Tuner FAQs
Are Drum Tuners Worth it?
Many professional drummers tune their drums by ear alone. But most hobbyists and developing drummers find this very challenging. Drum tuners are worth it because they make it easier and faster to get lugs correctly in tune with each other, which is crucial for achieving a great drum sound.
How Often Should Drums be Tuned?
You should tune your drums before every show or recording session, and ideally before each rehearsal too. You should pay attention to your drum sounds and if they are dropping pitch or sound off, then its time to tune up your drum heads correctly.