Whether you are tuning a drum or changing from an old, worn out skin to a new one, knowing how to tighten a drum skin is an important part of drum maintenance. When replacing a drum skin, you must tighten the skin to produce a resonant sound, then adjust the tightness until the drum produces the desired tone. Whenever the drum is set up, you should check the tone of the drum and tighten or loosen the drum skin to ensure the right sound.
To tighten a drum skin, you will need:
- Drum key
- Drumstick for tuning
- Tuner if desired
- Tighten the nuts that hold the drum skin in place. Drum skins are held in place by nuts that can be loosened or tightened. In many cases, the nuts can be adjusted by hand, but you might wish to use a drum key. When tightening the drum skin on typical snares, toms or a kick drum, tighten nuts that are opposite each other across the surface of the drum as you proceed around the drum's circumference. This will ensure even tension across the full drum head. For drums such as a bongo or bodhran that have heads made from natural skins, proceed in sequence around the rim rather than tightening opposing nuts.
- Adjust the drum's sound. The drum should produce the same tone on all areas of the surface of the drum skin. Compare the tones along the edges of the drum, a few inches in from the nuts, and adjust until the tone is the same all the way around the drum.
- Loosen the drum skin slightly after performances. Leaving the skins slightly loose while the drum is not being used will increase the life of the drum skins. This is particularly important for natural skin drums.
Knowing how to tighten a drum skin will help you ensure you are getting the best sound out of your drums. It will also help you take better care of your drums, to get the maximum life out of your drum skins.