28th Oct 2014

Tuning Your Snare Drum

For many drummers, the snare drum is the most important drum in the kit. For this reason it is important to become proficient at tuning your snare drum. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it will help keep your drums sounding as good as possible and keep drum replacement to a minimum. Tuning your drums is one of those basics that everyone must learn if they want to continue to enjoy drumming because it affects the quality of the sound. Here are some tips for those relatively new to the game:


  1. Always Start with the Snare Side. That is the resonant head and it is thinner than the other side, so be gentle. Make sure you don’t overtighten the head.
  2. Remove Wrinkles. You do not want to overtighten the heads when tuning your snare drum, so as you work your way around the drum, tighten just enough in the beginning to remove the wrinkles in the head.
  3. Listen to Your Drum. You do want the resonant head to be pretty tight eventually, so listen to it and hear how it sounds. Take your time.
  4. Batter Head Lower. It’s a generally good idea to make sure the batter head is tuned to a lower pitch than the resonant head. Again, you will need to listen to your drum to figure out how much of a difference you are okay with.
  5. Troubleshoot. If your drum does not sound the way you want after tuning your snare drum, you might have overtightened the batter head or you are using the wrong type of snare for the sound you are trying to produce.
  6. Snare Wires Stretch. Keep in mind that, over time, snare wires will stretch. Because of this, you will need to replace them at times. They should be centered across the drum’s width and square to its shell when replaced properly.
  7. Slacken the Snares. Snares should also have some slack to them; don’t overtighten. If you tap the batter head and you hear nothing, the snare wires are too tight.

Tuning your snare drum is a basic maintenance act that will come in handy through your years of enjoying your drum set. Learn to do it well and your drums will serve you nicely during your drumming career. It is not difficult or time consuming to tune your snares, but the effort is well worth it.