Standard Drum Tuning
The best place to start is tuning the bass drum to a low E1 note to match the standard tuning of guitars and basses and establish the low point of the sound. Bands that play exclusively in alternate tunings like drop-D or C# may benefit from a lower alternate tuning relative to those root notes.
Floor Tom = E2 – Tune the floor tom to the same note as the bass drum (E), but one octave higher. If you have a second floor tom, tune it a 3rd (G#) or 5th (B) down from the first Floor Tom.
Rack Tom(s) = G#, B, D# – Depending on the number of Rack Toms, tune RT1 up a 3rd from E (G#), RT2 up a 5th from the E (B), and RT3 up a 7th from the E (D#).
Snare Drum = E3 – Tune the Snare to the same note as the Floor Tom (E), but one octave higher, and 2 octaves higher than the bass drum.
Tuning in the Studio: In the studio, any engineer worth their paycheck will have the kit tuned to the key of the song being recorded. Following the same intervals described above, players can match their kit to any key, greatly improving the overtones and resonance because all of the instruments are in tune with each other. When you hear a piano or guitar that’s out of tune, it’s pretty obvious. The same concept applies to drums, although drums are a bit more subtle in that area.