Maximising the performance of a tidal turbine array requires the turbine resistance to be ‘tuned’ for a given channel and turbine arrangement. In many cases, tuning the turbines to produce the maximum power coefficient presents too great a resistance to the incoming flow and results in a lower power output. Recent studies have shown that, as compared to using a fixed tuning, considerably more power can be produced by varying the turbine resistance over the tidal cycle. To our knowledge, however, this higher power output has only been demonstrated for highly idealised models, which use an additional drag force or a uniformly porous disc to represent the turbines. In this study, we re-examine these tuning strategies using a more realistic turbine model, which is based on the blockage-corrected blade element momentum theory. We find that, as compared to the idealised actuator disc, the importance of tuning is significantly reduced for the more realistic tidal rotor, and that this is particularly true for rotors with fixed blade pitch. We also find that the maximum amount of power produced by the blade element momentum rotor, averaged over the tidal cycle, is typically 60–70% of that produced by the actuator disc.