The origins of the Timpani
Types of timpani


Each tuning bolt is tightened by hand to achieve the desired pitch.



The pitch of the drum is changed by rotating the tuning handle. Since the handle must be rotated manually when the player wants to change the pitch, this type of timpani is not suitable for music requiring instantaneous pitch changes or glissandos.


Pedal balancing spring-type:

This type of timpani is suitable for more advanced performance, including glissandos. As the tension of the pedal spring and head is balanced, the pitch can be maintained, even when the player releases their foot from the pedal.

Pedal balancing spring-type

Pedal lock-type:

There are two kinds of locking mechanisms to maintain tension in the head, ratchet and clutch, and sometimes a handle used for fine-tuning the pitch.

Pedal lock-type

The two pedal systems used in pedal timpani are the locking system and the balanced action system.
There are two kinds of locking mechanisms, ratchet and clutch. The position of the pedal is mechanically locked with very little slippage, making it the choice of professional performers such as those playing in orchestras.

The advantage of balanced action systems, which are often used in schools and brass bands, is that they are easy to operate. There is no locking mechanism, and the pitch can be changed quickly just by moving the pedal up and down, for seamless adjustment anywhere. This is very useful when playing pieces that require frequent changes in pitch.

Timpani with lock

Timpani with lock

Handle for fine-tuning

Handle for fine-tuning

Balanced action pedal-easy to operate

Balanced action pedal-easy to operate

There are various shapes of timpani, such as a cambered type with a flat bottom like a pot, and a parabolic type that is nearly hemispherical.

Two types of kettles: European and American