Your thoughts on a Drum Dial

Swole2112

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I just got a Drum Dial as an early birthday gift and used it today. I only tuned the rack tom, set it to 75 for both batter and reso. Even though the tension is supposed to be the same on the hoops at every rod, it didn't feel like the force I exerted with the tuning key was the exact same at every rod to get them there. It was mostly even but for one or two it was more, and for one or two, way less (as in almost none at all). Correct me if I'm wrong but that sounds like an imperfection somewhere (heads, hoops, bearing edge, lugs, etc.). I haven't had a chance to hear it yet though. My two year old son would've thought it was time to drum and it breaks daddy's heart to say "no" to that :-( So, I'll give it a test spin later.

Anyway, what are the thoughts from some of you vets out there? Uneven angular force on the tension rods = imperfection somewhere in the drum?
 

Swole2112

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Idk. I still haven't been able to try it yet lol. I sure as hell hope so though lol.
 

lrod1707

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I just got a Drum Dial as an early birthday gift and used it today. I only tuned the rack tom, set it to 75 for both batter and reso. Even though the tension is supposed to be the same on the hoops at every rod, it didn't feel like the force I exerted with the tuning key was the exact same at every rod to get them there. It was mostly even but for one or two it was more, and for one or two, way less (as in almost none at all). Correct me if I'm wrong but that sounds like an imperfection somewhere (heads, hoops, bearing edge, lugs, etc.). I haven't had a chance to hear it yet though. My two year old son would've thought it was time to drum and it breaks daddy's heart to say "no" to that :-( So, I'll give it a test spin later.

Anyway, what are the thoughts from some of you vets out there? Uneven angular force on the tension rods = imperfection somewhere in the drum?
As Jazzdrumguy suggested, tap each lug after you get everything to 75. The drum dial takes some practice and patience to use. I use it every time I tune and I get good results. Now keep in mind that the number you tune to is not perfect. After dialing in your tension on each lug, you need to sit and tap each lug to get the same note sound all the way around. That takes patience and practice. I don't believe though that I've ever had what's happened to you. I'm pretty sure that the tension is pretty even after dialing in every lug. Also make sure that you calibrate the unit before you start:
Also, if you use different types/ply heads for the batters and resos, the tension you feel might be slightly different. Try it on different drums, I don't believe you would have a defect on all the drums, maybe it's just one.
This is how I do it:
1. I take the drum off of it's mount and put it on the carpet (I sit on the carpet when I do it)
2. I fully loosen every lug and then i finger tighten all of them (I start with the reso head)
3. In a clockwise pattern, I turn each tension rod 1 full turn
4. Now I place the drum dial on each lug and I start tightening one by one in a star pattern (little by little on each lug till they all reach the desired tension. You might have to do the star pattern a few times)
5. Now I tap each lug with my finger and fine tune all of them to the same note sound, that's it!
It work's well for me, try it out and see if you get a different result!
By the way, I tune my resos tighter than my batters but that's personal preference.
I know a lot of the guys use the tunebot because it's note specific and faster but my ears can hear the notes and I patiently do drum by drum. I actually find it very relaxing to sit in a quiet room and do this. My drumset sits in the same room always so the need to pull off each drum is not a big deal for me, and I have a big set.
I hope this helps!
LRod
 

Ptrick

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Been using the drum dial for years. On some drums, the amount you turn will not be the same. It could be edges, hoops, or even the head. But it’s not a big deal. If the tension reading on the dial is equal all the way around, it should be in tune.

On some snares, I’ve had to get a couple of the tightscrews for certain lugs that are always at less tension, so they don’t back out.

I find it best to tune with two drum keys across from each other on the drum after getting finger tight. Go similar number of turns, maybe 1/4 to half turn at a time for a tom, more for a snare. Check the tension, adjust the problem lugs, then keep going up. Once I’m in the ballpark note I’m looking for, I’ll double check each lugs pitch and do any fine tuning. Have yet to have a drum sound bad at a nice even tension.
 

lrod1707

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I find it best to tune with two drum keys across from each other on the drum after getting finger tight. Go similar number of turns, maybe 1/4 to half turn at a time for a tom, more for a snare. Check the tension, adjust the problem lugs, then keep going up. Have yet to have a drum sound bad at a nice even tension.
That's a great idea about using 2 drum keys, I'm gonna try that the next time I tune. I never thought of that. I love my drum dial! Before I had a drum dial, I could never figure out a starting point for tuning.
 

bellbrass

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I have learned a lot about tuning over the last few years. I now own 2 Drum Dials (analog & electronic) and I always use them to tune.
A few things I learned along the way:
  • The apparent resistance of the tension rod in the lug does not correlate to the tension at that lug. This is especially true with vintage drum kits. Trust the Drum Dial reading, not the feeling of the tension rod.
  • Different heads and different drum brands will give you wide variability. You need to find your ideal tuning according to each drum and head selection, and record the setting. I recently installed Kangaroo and calf heads on my practice kit, and the settings changed completely due to the shallow head collars.
  • I have found the best sound from toms to be when the tension is the same, top and bottom. You may prefer one side to tension higher than the other.
  • Use the dial every time you play - I have found that various gadgets to prevent detuning do not work consistently (Index Tension rods, nylon detuning-preventers, even specialized tuning rods that supposedly will not detune....all have failed, to a degree).
  • Make sure you use the spacer and tune each lug using that same gap.
 

amosguy

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I have learned a lot about tuning over the last few years. I now own 2 Drum Dials (analog & electronic) and I always use them to tune.
A few things I learned along the way:
  • The apparent resistance of the tension rod in the lug does not correlate to the tension at that lug. This is especially true with vintage drum kits. Trust the Drum Dial reading, not the feeling of the tension rod.
Simple physics. Rod tension is the friction between the rod and the lug. As stated, it has nothing to do with the tension of the head at that lug. This is the reason I cannot see using one of the tension rod torque measuring devices. Lube one of the lugs and the same torque will mean different head tension.
 

Rick

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I’ve never used a drum dial or tension watch, but I definitely agree with getting the pitch exact st each lug. I believe that’s the intent of measuring the tension. It makes more sense to me that if it’s pitch you’re after then that would be the better thing to measure. I use the Tunebot and have been very happy with it. Like someone else said about the drum dial, there is a bit of a learning curve in using the Tunebot too. What I found when I first got the Tunebot is that my ears were pretty good and I could already get the lugs VERY close in pitch just listening to it. But then when I fine tune it with the Tunebot, it is a little more precise and the drum then sounds even better to my ear. It’s kinda like that one slide at the optometrist’s office where everything comes into focus the best.

Anyway, I know that doesn’t really help you with the drum dial, other than the idea of matching pitch at the lugs... so sorry for the diversion. :)
 

bellbrass

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Simple physics. Rod tension is the friction between the rod and the lug. As stated, it has nothing to do with the tension of the head at that lug. This is the reason I cannot see using one of the tension rod torque measuring devices. Lube one of the lugs and the same torque will mean different head tension.
Yes, I agree 100%. Tension rod-based tuning devices do not work. But...I had to learn by trial and error what everyone else here already knows about that. I still get tripped up sometimes... "Wow, it seems really tight there....how can it be a loose tension?"
 

Fifty9Dunes

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I've gotten pretty ok at tuning by ear over the years, but what the DD does for me is helps identify issues when I can't get something "just right"...in a recent example, seeing uneven readings on one side of a snare alluded to a slightly bent rim not really visible to the naked eye.
 

RyanR

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They're like memory seats for a car. They won't tune your drums for you, but they'll get you to a tuning you already know and like. Super handy. I find mine indispensable. Very handy when you show up early for a gig and need to tune up without disturbing the patrons when it's still the dining hours. I'm also of the camp that the DD will help calibrate your ears so you can tune better.

You do need to place the DD down carefully and consistently to get repeatable measurements. A lot of people just drop the thing on the drum and get upset when the readings are a scattershot.

-Ryan
 

cworrick

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I have learned a lot about tuning over the last few years. I now own 2 Drum Dials (analog & electronic) and I always use them to tune.
A few things I learned along the way:
  • The apparent resistance of the tension rod in the lug does not correlate to the tension at that lug. This is especially true with vintage drum kits. Trust the Drum Dial reading, not the feeling of the tension rod.
Simple physics. Rod tension is the friction between the rod and the lug. As stated, it has nothing to do with the tension of the head at that lug. This is the reason I cannot see using one of the tension rod torque measuring devices. Lube one of the lugs and the same torque will mean different head tension.
Yes, I agree 100%. Tension rod-based tuning devices do not work. But...I had to learn by trial and error what everyone else here already knows about that. I still get tripped up sometimes... "Wow, it seems really tight there....how can it be a loose tension?"

One little bur on a tension rod/lug nut, or even just getting a little dust in them will make a big difference in the resistance of turning the tension rod. Trust the DD and your ears.
 

tommykat1

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I swear by my Drum Dial.

Yes, your rims, tensioners, lug bosses and/or bearing edges may not be perfect, thus some of the tensioners will screw in with less frictional feedback than others. I have a nearly new Gretsch Renown kit and those die cast hoops are not perfect. Thus, the tensioners vary in tightness.

Once you get past this and learn to trust your DD settings, you'll be a convert. I tune my kit with the DD and don't even bother tapping the heads before I leave the house. At the gig, the drums are always just where I want them.
 

bellbrass

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I swear by my Drum Dial.
Once you get past this and learn to trust your DD settings, you'll be a convert. I tune my kit with the DD and don't even bother tapping the heads before I leave the house. At the gig, the drums are always just where I want them.
^^^^This. Same for me.
 

bellbrass

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They're like memory seats for a car. Very handy when you show up early for a gig and need to tune up without disturbing the patrons when it's still the dining hours. I'm also of the camp that the DD will help calibrate your ears so you can tune better.
-Ryan
Very good points.
 

tommykat1

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I have learned a lot about tuning over the last few years. I now own 2 Drum Dials (analog & electronic) and I always use them to tune.
A few things I learned along the way:
  • The apparent resistance of the tension rod in the lug does not correlate to the tension at that lug. This is especially true with vintage drum kits. Trust the Drum Dial reading, not the feeling of the tension rod.
  • Different heads and different drum brands will give you wide variability. You need to find your ideal tuning according to each drum and head selection, and record the setting. I recently installed Kangaroo and calf heads on my practice kit, and the settings changed completely due to the shallow head collars.
  • I have found the best sound from toms to be when the tension is the same, top and bottom. You may prefer one side to tension higher than the other.
  • Use the dial every time you play - I have found that various gadgets to prevent detuning do not work consistently (Index Tension rods, nylon detuning-preventers, even specialized tuning rods that supposedly will not detune....all have failed, to a degree).
  • Make sure you use the spacer and tune each lug using that same gap.
This.
 

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