Turn down the snare drum and get a drum tuning key. Start by setting the resonant drumhead of the highest tom. Squeeze each pull tab with your fingers in a star shape to the maximum (pull tab and opposite pull tab) in a clockwise direction. Depending on the drumhead models used, press the center strongly with your palm to crack the glue of the drumhead's strapping. Tighten the tie rods with your fingers, still in a star shape.

Take the key. Turn half a turn on the first bar to start. Go to the opposite bar and do the same. The purpose of star tuning is to ensure that the tension is the same on all the tie rods and that the drumhead hugs the barrel evenly. The drumhead banding should be parallel to the chamfer. Depending on the desired pitch, make 1, 1-1/2 or 2 turns of the keys on each tie rod (always in star pattern).

Check if the tension of each tie is the same by tapping (with your finger or a drumstick) at 3cm from the edge. There should be no ripple in the sound, each tie should have the same pitch. Pay particular attention to the tuning of the drumhead, it will have a crucial role on the projection and sustain (length of the note) of the final sound. Do the same with the drumhead.

The tension of the drumhead will influence the pitch of the note, the tension of the resonant skin will influence the sustain. To summarize, here is the result according to the tension of the 2 drumheads: Tuned at the same pitch: optimal sound and sustain

  • - Resonance drumhead tuned higher: shorter note length.
  • - Lower tuned drumhead: increased sustain and bass.

Do the same for each tom. It's up to you to experiment!