Just as every human learns to walk, so too should every drummer learn how to tighten a double head drum. This is essential information for even the most basic of drummers! Without knowing how to properly tighten two drum heads, you could be opening up a whole world of tone issues and noise problems! If this sounds like you, then sit back and read on, because you're about to learn how to tighten double headed drums.
- Tighten the drum's top head. When tightening a double headed drum, it's always good to start with the top head of the drum, also known as the "beater head." To do this, place the head over the drum and tighten the tension rods with your fingers. Next, tighten the tension rod closest to you about a half turn with your drum key before moving to the exact opposite tension rod on the other side of the drum and doing the same. This is known as the opposite method. Continue doing this, moving around the drum head until all the wrinkles have been smoothed out.
- Seat the head. In order to properly tighten the head, it's important to seat it to make it conform to the contour of your drum. To do this, lightly press down on the center of the new head. If the tone is lower, then it means the drum truly needed to be seated. Tighten the head again using the opposite method from step one.
- Tune the head. The last step in tightening the top head of a double head drum is to make sure that the drum is in tune with itself. To test this, go around the drum like you did when you were tightening the head, only this time you'll want to physically hit the drum near the rim to test the tightness—and therefore pitch—of each tension rod. Loosen the spots that sound high and tighten the spots that sound low until the pitch is uniform all around.
- Repeat each step with the bottom head. Here's the part where this specifically pertains to tightening double headed drums. Before we begin, go back through steps one through three again with the bottom head. Now, because the bottom head of a drum is known as the "resonator head," you have only a few ways you can tune this head in relation to the top head. If you tighten both heads of a double head drum the same, the resulting sound will be of a "pure" tone—without a pitch drop—with a long sustain. If the bottom head is looser than the top, the resulting sound will have a deeper pitch drop with an almost growl like sound and long sustain. A bottom head that is tighter than the top will also produce a growl sound, but with be less sustained compared to the other two methods.
Knowing how to properly tighten double headed drums can open up a world of rich tonal possibilities and lead to a more personalized drum sound. Keep in mind that there is no totally right way to tighten a drum head. Follow these guidelines, but always remember to let your ear be the final judge. After all, it is your drum and your sound!