In tensioning the snare drums, start on the batter side, applying tension to one screw and going clockwise around the drum, not across to the opposite rod as some think necessary. Do not turn screw very much at a time and give each screw the same amount of tension, keeping the hoop as even as possible. Test the tension of the head with the forefinger as tightening proceeds. There is no set rule for correct tension. When the batter head is up to playing tension it should give just a little to pressure of the forefinger on the center of the head.
Follow the same procedure in tensioning the snare head, but do not apply as much tension as in the case of the batter head. This is possible on separate tension models only. Test the head tension with the forefinger near the center of the head next to the snares. The head should give freely to this pressure, a little more so than in the case of the batter head.
The tonal crispness of the drum determines the correct tension. Do not tighten the heads until the tone is “glassy” hard nor allow it to be too loose with a resultant “soggy” tone. A little experimenting will help to solve the problem.
More drums are spoiled from loosening the heads too much than from leaving the tension normal. A good rule to follow is to leave the heads alone as much as possible after tensioning. When the weather is damp and rainy it is necessary to add tension to maintain a good tone. When through playing, the drummer must release this extra tension to allow the heads to return to their normal condition, so that when the atmosphere dries, and the heads contract, breakage will not result.
When the drums are not to be used for a few days, loosen the heads a trifle (about one complete revolution of each screw) but not to the point of complete looseness.
Cheap drum heads are a waste of money. Use only the best obtainable.