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The Ludwig Drum Company put out this basic tuning guide back in the early 70's.

pdfCare & Tuning Of Your Snare Drum

Addendum

Rather than tuning a mylar drumhead by going clockwise around the drum, moving to each adjacent lug, I recommend the following:

Looking at Fig. 3, don't move clockwise (or counterclockwise) around the drum, but rather across the drum. For example, start a point #1, then move to #6. Next go #3, then #8. Following this type of procedure will help insure that the drumhead is seated evenly around drum. With a mylar drumhead, following the "old school" approach laid out in the document would pull the drumhead to one side, and thus not seat evenly along the bearing edge of the shell.

Continuing with the approach I use, a 10-lug drum with mylar drumheads should be tuned using something like this lug order: 1, 6, 3, 8, 5, 10, 7, 2, 9, 4.

An 8-lug drum, with mylar drumheads, should be tuned using something like this lug order: 1, 5, 3, 7, 2, 6, 4, 8.

The idea behind this is that mylar drumheads are thin and will pull to one side if you tune the drum using a clockwise or counterclockwise approach. To prevent this pulling mishap, start with one lug, the move to the lug directly across. Move to another lug by skipping over the adjacent lug from where you just were, tune it, then move directly across. By spreading out the lugs like this you'll be able to seat and tune the drumhead more evenly. Fine tuning can always be done, as needed, moving clockwise, counterclockwise, etc.

If you using calfskin drumheads, you may need to take the same approach as with mylar drumheads. If the calfskin is thick, like that used on Congas, Bongos, etc., you can use the clockwise or counterclockwise tuning approach with any trouble since the hide is able to resist pulling to one side.

The bottom line is to use whatever method works best for you!

For more insight on tuning your drum, check out my article entitled Basic Drumset Tuning.

 

Bart Elliott Bart Elliott is a degreed professional musician and founder of the Drummer Cafe. His 35+ years in the music industry, over 100 albums to his credit, as well as his understanding of contemporary and classical music, makes him a complete and skilled master musician. A highly sought after drummer and percussionist, both live and in the studio, Bart is widely known as a top music educator and gifted teacher, appearing as a guest artist and clinician throughout the USA.