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Tensioning Pattern for Tuning

Tensioning Patterns

Mike Radcliffe 

Most drums have 6,8,or 10 lugs. The pattern can work for any of these. Just always start at the same lug.  (Write the following numbers on the drum head next to the tension rods. If you have coated heads, do this with a pencil on the head, itself. If you have clear heads, do this on the head with a sharpie marker. If you don't want to write on the heads (give me a break!) draw a circle on a piece of paper and use it, instead.) 

You tighten using the following pattern: Position the drum so you have lugs at 12:00 and 6:00. It doesn't matter where the other lugs are, this is just for a starting reference.

a.     Start at the lug in the 12:00 position and label it, 1. Go to the lug directly across from it (at 6:00) and label it, 2.

b.    Then, go clockwise to the next (adjacent) lug and label it, 3.

c.    Then, go to the lug directly across from number three and label it, 4.

d.    Then go clockwise to the next (adjacent) lug and label it, 5. Then, go to the lug directly across from number five and label it, 6.

7.    Get it?

With some drums, you will be finished. For drums with more lugs, just go further until you run out. For the rare, small, drum with five lugs, use a star pattern. 

Now you know the pattern for tightening and loosening a drum head. While this is only necessary during the seating process, it's also good technique to use any time you are tuning.  The following diagrams show other patterns which can be used to get even tension when tightening a drumhead. 


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