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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, October 22, 2012


Palen Music Center is dedicated to helping children experience excellence, personal growth, and joy through involvement in music. We carry out this mission by supporting area band directors through weekly service, support, educational programs, and quality products. This weekly Quick Note newsletter strives to highlight topics that are immediately helpful in the classroom. Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


Looking for help on a particular topic? Be sure to check out our Quick Note Catalog of back issues!

Adjusting and Tuning Timpani

Many school districts are Still using what we would call "vintage" timpani and have problems keeping the tuning pedals adjusted or even keeping the timpani in tune. Here are a few steps that may help you:


Be sure the timpani are tuned to the proper fundamental pitch for the size of timpani. Most of the time the reason the pedals wont work is because of the tuning of the drum, not the spring tension on the pedal. A 32″ drum should be tuned to C, 29" to E, 26″ to A, and a 23" to D. This is always done with the pedal held to its lowest pitch adjustment. For convenience you may get away with tuning the timpani a 1/2 step either way and still eliminate pedal problems. Be sure timpani are tuned to these fundamental pitches and are also in tune with themselves by using equal tension from tuning lug to tuning lug.


The adjustment knob on most timpani is usually located just ahead of the pedal. In the case of Yamaha timpani the adjustment may be located directly under the heel of the pedal and will require a drum key, timpani tuning key, or a small adjustable wrench. If the toe of the pedal will not stay down when pushed to the highest pitch of the timpani, turn the knob ( or other adjustment) clockwise a 1/2 turn at a time until the pedal stays at the highest pitch. If the heel of the pedal will not stay back to the lowest pitch of the timpani, turn the knob (or other adjustment) counter-clockwise 1/2 turn at a time until the pedal stays at the lowest pitch.

It is helpful to check the timpani fundamental pitch from time to time as timpani heads stretch out because of constant tuning or moving the timpani to other locations. By following these steps you should eliminate most mechanical problems with your timpani.

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center Representative


Can we assist you with anything?  Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.


Springfield Bob Hopkins, Wayne Blades, Jason Moore, Mike Steffen, AAron Bryan (417) 882-7000
Columbia Chuck Appleton and Rob Goade (573) 256-5555
Liberty Ken Crisp, John Bell, and Victoria Clymore (816) 792-8301
Joplin AAron Bryan (417) 781-3100
Broken Arrow Jeff Lawless and Mary Ann French (918) 286-1555


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