Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Automatic, hands-free drum tuner

Technology #m09-007

Drum tuning involves the manual adjustment of the drum membrane by adjusting each drum head lug individually until the membrane produces the desired pitch with uniform resonant properties. Tuning a drum by hand is tedious and requires a moderate amount of expertise to do accurately. This technology is an electromechanical device for automatically tuning a drum tom according to user specifications. Without any manual input from the user other than the desired pitch of the drum, stepper motors precisely actuate the drum head lugs while piezoelectric sensors measure vibrational modes for rapid, accurate tuning of the drums. Using this device, a large number of drums can be repeatedly tuned to the same frequency with minimal input from the user.

Rapid and accurate automatic drum tuning which can be used to repeatedly tune a large number of drums to the same frequency

The technology works by first clearing the drum head by measuring the drum head’s first four fundamental modes and adjusting the tension rods in the drum for uniform response in the drum’s membrane. The device then adjusts the drum head lugs simultaneously to tune the drum to the desired frequency. The entire device can be mounted as a single, convenient package including mechanisms for striking the drum and processors for performing the fast Fourier transform based tuning algorithm. Accurate and efficient beginning-to-end drum tuning can be achieved with minimal user interaction.

The ability of the technology to automatically tune drums has been demonstrated with a proof-of-concept prototype.

Lead Inventor:

Vishal Kumar


  • Automatic, hands-free drum tuner
  • Precision drum frequency control for musicians and studio professionals
  • Proprietary tuning algorithms could be adapted to other musical instrument tuning devices


  • Requires little user input
  • Unlike existing drum tuners that adjust membrane tension without adjusting the drumhead lugs, this device simultaneously adjusts the drumhead lugs after optimizing the membrane tension
  • Precisely and repeatedly tunes drums to precise tones
  • Can tune multiple drums to the same pitch
  • Can tune drums quickly and efficiently using fast signal analysis and stepper motor technology

Patent Information:

Patent Issued (US 8,283,544)

Tech Ventures Reference: M09-007