Taiko Tuning – Thank You Asano Taiko US!

Many thanks to Katsuji Asano and Asano Taiko US for re-tuning the heads on my Odaiko.  Taiko tuning is quite a lot of work.  It involves removing all the tacks and using ropes to stretch the hide over the shell.  After the hide settles, the tacks are hammered back into place.  Aside from being time and labor-intensive, it also requires a lot of skill.  I am very fortunate to have a support network in the US to maintain the instruments I need.

Things to Think About When Tuning Taiko

Some types of taiko are tuned with ropes or bolts.  These taiko can be tuned relatively easily.  On the other hand, the tuning of a taiko with tacked heads is fixed.  Once the tacks are in place, the tuning cannot be changed.  Therefore, it’s really important to think ahead when tuning taiko with tacked heads.

In my case, I play live (both indoors and outdoors) and I record.  One day I might need a low booming sound, but the next day I’ll need something super articulate.  It’s impossible to anticipate what Odaiko sound I’ll need for the next project.  To accommodate a wide range of projects, I had each head tuned differently.  This gives me a higher pitched head and a lower pitched head.

It’s also important to know the characteristics of your drum.  My drum is made of a single log, as opposed to multiple staves.  Drums made from a single log are more durable, allowing a thick hide to be stretched tightly.  This gives me a nice long tone, lots of articulation, and a wide range of pitch and dynamics.  The drum that I play is a huge part of my sound.

Think… But Don’t Overthink

That being said, the pitch of a taiko is going to fluctuate.  For example, the drums will drop in pitch under humid conditions.  For this reason, it doesn’t make sense to tune your drums to a specific note or frequency.  The tuning of your drums is important, but not something to obsess over.  At the end of the day, it’s your musicianship and technique that have the biggest impact on your performance.

Yasuo Asano demonstrates the drum tuning process (1:33)

Before Re-tuning

This is what the drum sounded like brand new.