[User Tips]   [FAQ's]   [Contact Us]   [Older Systems]   [HOME]


1.Sounding the Drum  2. Set up the drum  3. Reading the Display  4. Practical Tuning
5. Changing Calibration  6. Mounting  7. Overtone Interference   8. Troubleshooting


1. Sounding the Drum When Using Timp-Tuner   For Best Results - use a relatively light repeating tap of the drum with a soft mallet. A repeating tapping of the drumhead (or a soft roll) is preferred, since it excites the fundamental and provides a continuous readout that lets you tune quickly. Strike the drum as lightly as possible -- just firmly enough to cause the note to indicate on the Timp-Tuner™ display.

A single tap on the drum provides only a short-duration readout of the note and intonation, and may introduce or decay into overtones.  The harder you strike it, the greater the chance of reading a strong overtone rather than the fundamental note.

Because the amplitude of the head vibrations decreases (for a given force of striking) as the head is tightened, the drum must generally be struck harder on the higher notes to get an indication on the tuner display.  Also, the better the head is balanced ("in tune with itself") the more sensitive the tuner will appear to be, since the fundamental is cleaner (less peculiar overtones) and stronger.

There is another variation in sensitivity of the tuner that occurs on some notes.  This effect is due to the vibrational modes of the drumhead.  If the area of the drumhead that the pickup is sensing is at (or close to) a vibrational node, the apparent sensitivity will decrease, and, sometimes the note may not register.  If this happens, move to a slightly different striking point on the drumhead.

Note: When you change the pedal position, the counterhoop moves up or down, and with it the Timp-Tuner™.  From time to time the tuner pauses to reset its internal "yardstick" (calibration of distance to the head).  If the tuner fails to read on the first try after making a pedal position change,  this may be due either to a  peculiar ringing of the head or a tuner reset pause.  If this happens, just stop the head vibrations with your hand for a moment, wait about a second, and try again.

Back to Top



2. Set up the Drum   Smooth pedal action, proper retention of pedal position, a smooth kettle lip, and a balanced head -- all contribute to consistent results, best sound from the drum, and best operation of the Timp-Tuner™.  Use the Timp-Tuner™ to set the proper playing range for the drum, and then to balance the head.  You will notice that the better the head is in balance, the more sensitive the Timp-Tuner™ seems to be.  That is because the head rings properly at the fundamental when it is balanced.  (See the Timpani Tips section of the Protune website for drum maintenance and head balancing information.)

Back to Top



3. Reading the Timp-Tuner™ Display  When a note is sounded on the drum, the Timp-Tuner™ display shows the note and the strobe-like bar pattern indicates tuning accuracy.  If the bar pattern appears to be moving upward, the note is sharp.  Downward motion indicates that the note is flat.  The rate of motion of the bar pattern is proportional to the tuning error.  The slower the bar pattern motion appears to be, the closer the note is to proper pitch.  The bar pattern is motionless when the note is exactly on pitch.

When the drum is pitched between adjacent notes, the display may flip from one to another (for instance, from showing a very flat C to showing a very sharp B).

With no note being played the display normally will show the complete set of bars and the note indicator will be blank.  When not displaying a note the display will periodically show a number indicating the calibration setting, as discussed in Section 5 below.  Random drumhead vibrations ("sympathetic" vibrations) may cause a note to indicate on the Timp-Tuner™ display from time to time when the drum is not being sounded.

When not displaying a note, the display will periodically show a number indicating the calibration setting

When Initially turned on, the Timp-Tuner™ display shows the battery condition for about one second before going into normal operation.  The battery condition indication consists of a "B" (for "Battery") being displayed, together with a number of lines in the bar pattern (not moving up or down).  If the full bar pattern is showing, the batteries are like new.  When only a few of the bars are showing, the batteries are low and will need replacement soon.    There is no chance of getting a wrong reading due to low batteries.

If the Timp-Tuner™ display is completely blank it generally indicates that power is off.  (Auto Off, batteries dead or not installed, or the power switch was not pressed).  If all characters of the display are showing (possibly with some flickering), the internal computer chip must be reset.  This is done by turning the switch off for a few seconds and then on again.

Back to Top



4. Practical Tuning  The sensitivity of the tuner to error (flat or sharp) is often greater than the resolution of the tuning mechanism of a drum.  Strive for approximately correct tuning by trying to minimize the bar pattern motion up or down.  With practice, the player will get used to the pedal and find it easier to achieve precise tuning and fast and accurate changes.  As with everything else in music, it takes practice.

Back to Top



5. Calibration Setting    Whenever the Timp-Tuner™ is turned on, it automatically starts at the previously set calibration.  The calibration is indicated by a number that shows on the display from time to time (when not registering a note being played).  The number "0" indicates A-440 calibration, and that is the calibration that is preset at the factory.  If changed by the user, the new calibration setting will be retained even after the unit is turned off, and it is indicated by a number as noted below.

The calibration setting may be changed by the black pushbutton switch near the bottom left of the display.  Presets are provided up to A-445 and down to A-436.  To set to a different calibration, wait for a moment when there is no note or calibration display registering and then press and hold the black pushbutton.  You will see the numbers "1" "2" "3" ..etc.  being displayed in sequence, meaning:

"1" = A-441
"2" = A-442
"3" = A-443
"4" = A-444
"5" = A-445

         Still holding the button down, the numbers will then sequence down ("4" "3" "2"....) through "0" (meaning A-440) and then indicate:

"9" = A-439
"8" = A-438
"7" = A-437
"6" = A-436

Continuing to hold the button down, the numbers then increase again ("7" "8" "9" "0" "1" ....etc).

Taking your finger off the set button stops the sequence and the tuner is calibrated to the last indicated preset.  That number will then show on the display from time to time (when not registering a note being played) to remind you of the calibration setting.

Back to Top



6. Mounting to the drum  Timp-Tuner™ must be positioned opposite the player's striking point.  This maximizes the tuner's ability to register the fundamental of the note being sounded.  The unit will appear to be less sensitive if it is mounted too far from the position diagonally opposite the striking point.

To sense the head vibrations properly, the Timp-Tuner™ must be firmly mounted.  Timp-Tuner™ cannot be hand held.  Any motion of the sensing head causes a loss of apparent sensitivity, or a failure to register anything at all.

The Timp-Tuner™ adjustable mount fits the counterhoop (outer tensioning ring) of virtually all commonly-sold drums.  If you have problems firmly mounting your Timp-Tuner™ to your drum, please contact us.

As an alternate to mounting the tuner to the counterhoop, it may be mounted to the shaft of a music stand tripod.  We can provide an adapter that will fit it to an inexpensive folding music stand.  (The music stand tripod and vertical shaft are used for this, not the music shelf.)  This mounting allows the Timp-Tuner™ to be used with drums that have chain-type lug adjusters which interfere with normal mounting.  It also allows use of the Timp-Tuner™ with drums that tune by means of rotating the kettle.  The music-stand shaft mount is also useful if a single Timp-Tuner™ is being moved from drum to drum.

The Regular Timp-Tuner™ mount does not have to be reset every time the unit is mounted (on the same type of drum).  You can leave the strap locked in place.  To remove the Timp-Tuner™ with the strap locked, disengage the metal cIip from the head (inner) edge of the counterhoop, and then disengage the hook from the outer edge of the counterhoop.  For a fast remount, reverse the process.  This is a handy and fast method if you are using one Timp-Tuner™ for setting up several drums of the same type.  This can be done from the player's normal position -- no need to go behind the drum.

While we do not recommend it, a fast way of temporarily holding the Timp-Tuner™ to the counterhoop is to engage only the metal clip on the inner edge, and then apply some thumb pressure against the clip to hold the unit firmly against the counterhoop while it is being used.  The advantage of this method is that it can be done from the player's normal position.  The disadvantage is that there is an increased possibility of dropping the unit, which is not at all desireable.

Back to Top



7.  Overtone Interference    The vibrational characteristics of the kettle drum head are quite different from the classical example of a vibrating string or column of air.  The actual fundamental vibrational mode, that of the entire head surface rising and falling as one, is extremely weak.  The result is that overtones are sometimes so much stronger than the fundamental that the Timp-Tuner™ may register a strong overtone rather than the weak fundamental, or, in certain instances, fail to register any note.    This effect can be minimized by proper head balancing, which serves to maximize the ringing of the fundamental (and first harmonic -- which is the same note) and reduces peculiar higher overtones.  (That's why the drum sounds better when the head is balanced.)

Back to Top



8. Troubleshooting


A. Unit turns on but does not register any notes.

Possible Cause and Correction

  Timp-Tuner™ not securely mounted.  Please note: the unit cannot be hand held.  Make sure that it is securely mounted to the drum, positioned approximately opposite the normal striking position.

  Improper sounding (striking) method.  Use a repeated light tap-tap-tap with a soft mallet.  Sharp single taps decay too rapidly and do not have sufficient sustained fundamental.

   Test the Timp-Tuner™.  Try the same unit on a different drum. If it still does not work, return it for repair.

   If the unit works on a different drum, then, for some reason, the drum that is giving trouble is sounding with abnormal overtone content or is not ringing with a good fundamental.  Set the correct playing range and balance the head.  Make sure that the lip around the kettle (that the head must slide over as the tension is changed) is smooth.  If it is not smooth, the head balance can change every time the tension is changed.

Back to top of page

B. Unit does not turn on.
(No characters at all appear
on the display display)

    No Batteries installed, or dead batteries.

    Batteries inserted improperly.  See diagram molded into the base of the battery holder.  Note that two of the batteries are inserted in one direction, and the middle battery is inserted in the opposite direction.

    Poor battery contacts.  Make sure the contact ends of the battery and the metallic contacts in the battery compartment are clean (shiny).  Remove any tarnish or corrosion with pencil eraser, and then wipe off any particulate debris).

    Make sure that the battery holder's spring contacts are properly contacting the central metal end of the battery.

   The voltage at the circuit board can be checked with a voltmeter at the two solder pads where the two wires  from the battery compartment are connected.  There should be at least 3.2 volts present at these pads.  (Normal, with a fresh set of batteries, is about 4.5 volts.)

   If there are good batteries, installed properly, and the unit still does not turn on, return it for repair.

Back to top of page

C. Poor Sensitivity

  Timp-Tuner™ not securely mounted.  Please note: the unit cannot be hand held.  Make sure that it is firmly mounted to the drum, positioned approximately opposite the normal striking position.

  Improper sounding (striking) method.  Use a repeated light tap-tap-tap with a soft mallet.  Sharp single taps decay too rapidly and do not have sufficient sustained fundamental.

   Improper mounting position.   Timp-Tuner™ should be mounted approximately opposite the normal striking point.

   Drum Characteristics.  On some drums, some notes just don't ring right, and the Timp-Tuner™ cannot discern the fundamental.  When this happens, it may help to try a somewhat different striking point for tuning that particular note.

   Surrounding Sound.  While the Timp-Tuner™ only responds to the drumhead vibrations, the drumhead will vibrate sympathetically with other sounds.  When tuning in a noisy environment, you most likely will have to tap the head a bit harder than you would in a quiet room.

Back to top of page

D. Overtones

The timpani sound is typically rich in overtones and weak in the fundamental.  From time to time the Timp-Tuner™ may register an overtone. This effect can be minimized by use of proper striking technique (for tuning, a light tap-tap-tap), good setup of the drum and balance of the head, and, in some instances, a small change in the striking point on the head for tuning that particular note.

Back to top of page

Copyright 2014,     All Rights Reserved