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Tom sizes

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  • Tom sizes

    Here's a question I've been meaning to ask for a long time.
    I once read a thing one of the "masters" said... (can't remember who ) about tom sizes... basically it was that if you want optimal tuning, you need to have the same size gap between each of your toms, ie 10",12",14" etc... or 9, 11, 13... you get the pic... Personally Ive never owned any monster kits but I could never get a good global sound from my 12",13",and 16" toms. Does it mean that the 13 should be a 14? Any thoughts?

  • #2
    Yes and No

    It's all about the intervals. Sometimes drummers try to tune a 13 inch tom tom like it was a 14 inch tom tom because the interval between the 13 and the 16 is too large. Know what I mean?
    The 12 inch sounds perfect. The 13 inch, perhaps too. But then there is that large gap to the 16 inch.
    Now, when you use the 13 inch as a 14 inch then the 13 inch tom tom can (not always) start to sound flat. That's because the simple fact that it is lower tuned than its own possibilities. Realize that every drum sounds best on a few tunings. See below. So: in theory a 10-12-14-16 may have the best intervals. Some drummers even prefer a 10-13-16 inch set for this.

    Good drums, made of good wood, will have a broad tuning range which makes it possible to tune the 13 a bit downward and the 16 a bit upward without making them sound flat.

    Every drumshell has it own ideal pitch on wich it sounds best. You can find this pitch by taking a naked shell (....) and tap against this with a mallet. It is possible that a 12, 13 and 16 inch range of tom toms form a perfect set. And a 12-14-16 set not.
    So: no you can't only look at the sizes on paper. You will have to listen to the drums.

    In fact lot of what I wrote before is the DrumWorkshop story from which I always say that
    a. I don't believe they match every single drum they sell
    b the pitch from a naked shell is affected when you put hardware (back) on it

    Conclusion (agian) is: go and listen yourself !!


    • #3
      Tom size

      Classic drumsets from the '60's had 8X12 and 9X13 rack toms and a 16X16 and/or 16X18 floor tom. Are you talking standard sizes or "power toms"? I heard Dennis Chambers say at a clinic that he disliked power toms (possibly for this reason) and sticks with "standard" size drums.


      • #4
        I don't have any problems with a big difference between the 13" and 16", but more that the 12" and 13" allmost sound the same.

        If I had to play a four piece kit, I'd probably buy 10" and 12" toms and a 15" floortom.
        Music was my first love...


        • #5
          Odds or evens?

          I hear you, bro. The 12, 13, 16 configuration is dookie. Like they said, intervals = melodic, and common increments make for even intervals.

          I used to play 10, 12, 13, 16, & 18 toms together with 6, 8, and 10 rotos on the side, and always wished the damned 13 was a 14. Never could get that interval just how I wanted it.

          The kit I just built is a 4-piece, and is using a 13 rack tom & 16 floor tom. I'll be adding a 10-inch rack tom soon, which'll give me a nice, big 3-inch interval between drums. Of course, I'm S.O.L. if I wanna add another, and will have to retool & create a 12 AND 14 to keep it even, while trashing the 13. More likely, I'm gonna be keeping it to no more than 5 pieces.

          Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.


          • #6
            Originally posted by c. jude
            Danny, you can always add 11-1/2 in. and 14-1/2 in. toms can't you?
            Yeah, I was secretly planning on it, but now that you've said it, you'll demand credit & royalties if I do...

            I'm actually thinking of, down the road a bit, building a little more flexibility into this kit. I'm thinking of adding:

            - 16" or 18" kick, maybe 14" deep

            - 8" tom, along with the 10" I already have planned

            I figure that, depending on the situation, I could run an 8/10/13/16(kick) tiny 5-piece, a 10/13/16(kick) REALLY tiny 4-piece, my present 13/16/20 4-piece, a 10/13/16/20 5-piece, or even an 8/10/13/16/20 6-piece. Add 12-inch soprano snare, and I'll be set for just about any style or venue.

            Then, of course, I'll need some new hi-hats, like the12 or 13-inch Mastersounds, for those light & quiet gigs, and, and, and....

            Man, building your own sure opens up the possibilites!!!

            Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.


            • #7
              Originally posted by MPCman
              I don't have any problems with a big difference between the 13" and 16", but more that the 12" and 13" allmost sound the same.
              That's what I was talking about, too. As a result of this you're going to tune down the 13 inch which isn't always the best solution. Etc...

              Originally posted by rsanto
              Are you talking standard sizes or "power toms"?
              Both. No difference. The depth only adds some depth or extra power, but to all of them...


              • #8
                IMHO, the name of the game is contrast. But not too much. In toms and also cymbals. I remember the days of the Ludwig Octo-Plus (sp?) with small intervals between the pitches of the many toms. Just to play a fill with some contrastingly pitched toms may require jumping back and forth a distance of 3 feet or more! But hey, in 1980 everybody wanted to have a set like Peart. (Still do!)

                Now, I have also realized that having two crashes that sound very similar is not the best choice. This was an 80's thing. In short, you are an artist, and you should have a 'palette' of contrasting sounds. This makes the music more interesting.

                So contrast in sizes is good, and sticking to an approximate sizing difference, say 2", is a good idea.
                :D I just love to play drums!!!:D


                • #9
                  Whoa, man!!!! Playing that kit would require that you be in shape, if you used it all. WOW, that's intense. Not exactly the type of set you'd see Murph and the Magictones using in the Ramada to do Neil Diamond covers.
                  :D I just love to play drums!!!:D


                  • #10
                    We have people to do the tuning, teardown, and setup. I can't bear the thought of perspiring (Said in my best Thurston Howell voice).
                    :D I just love to play drums!!!:D