Changing the tonal characteristic of a bass drum?


Platinum Member
Change that reso and either go without a hole or try a 3" hole- I have a feeling you will be surprised at the difference in feel and sound. This should allow you to dial up the batter another 1/4 turn for some more attack without losing the low punch.


Junior Member
It looks like the PS3 did it!

Thanks to those who helped out -I was initially going down the wrong road with the "bearing edge" issue.

A relatively easy fix, thanks to your recommendations.

I tried it with no pillows, 1 pillow, 2 pillows -mind you, they are small pillows -like the kind you find on an airliner.

There is a lot more thud and presence. I'm curious to see if one of those Evans foam rings would even give me a little more. Can't hurt to try, I suppose.

But night and day differnce from where it was!

Thanks again!


Junior Member
Hey Folks!

I'm back. Had a chance to do a little research, but didn't get to spend the time I wanted to. These are my findings:

My findings on the Imperialstar bass drum in question. The reso head is a Remo Weatherking Coated Ambassador Bass head. It has a 6" port and the Tama Imperialstar logo which I'd rather not part with because of the logo. These heads are pretty hard to find (but I will if I have to!!)
The batter head is a Remo Weather King C.S bass drum : controlled sound with the black dot.
On my Starclassic Maple, I have a PS3 Clear which again sounds amazing!!! I don't know what the reso is since it doesn't say anywhere.

But I think this is where I'm going to start on my Imperialstar bass drum: Getting a PS3 like you guys recommended. If it's not enough, I'll also try the emad as well. But start with the PS3 Clear.

Before I forget; my bass drum technique is leaving the heel(s) firmly planted on the bass drum pedals at the fulcrum, and pushing down with the top of my foot. Like a door on a hinge -my heel(s) never leave the floor. The beater in this case, stays on the head until the next attack. . Hope this makes sense. I've been playing this way from the beginning and it works for me.

What do you think?
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Junior Member
Thanks guys.

Some other good points to consider -I never really observed "how" I played. I'll have to give it a whirl this weekend and take note on what I'm actually doing.

I'll report back with all my findings!

Thanks again.

Stay tuned....


Platinum Member
How you play your bass drum will effect how it sounds.

Do you keep the beater against the head after the stroke?

How hard are you impacting the bass drum?...I find that when you play a drum beyond its choking point, larger diameter(14" +) drums do sound a bit flappy to my ear.

Being able to form the sound of a drum by how you play it is a valuable tool.

Off the top of my head, a slappy bass drum means(to me) a loose resonant head...or a dampening due to specific sympathetic resonance.

I counter that by getting the beater off the head as quickly as possible and playing a little lighter to avoid choking out the batter head(then a quick adjustment of the reso head between songs)

BTW, consider trying out a 20" or a 22" bass...easier to get punch while staying out of the low frequencies occupied by bass lines.


Platinum Member
Rehead and retune. Also, try a smaller port if you have to use one at all. 6 is too big in my opinion. When I went to pick up my Starclassic B/B with a 24 the shop had given it, not one but two, 6 chrome Holz. The equivalent of a foot worth of port. Worst kick sound ever. They ruined a perfectly good, and expensive, Tama factory creme colored head.


Junior Member
Good points -thanks again!

No, I changed all the heads on the Imperialstar the minute I got the kit, and have done so on a regular basis since.

Sometimes a manufacture releases a dud, or a defective product. Why wouldn't this be the case with a drumset (drum) as well? I remember reading, or hearing that a drummer got rid of their drumset because they couldn't get it to sound right. They traded for the same brand and model for the same year and it worked. Attributing the flaw in the first kit to some sort of defect. This is definitely universal for guitars and everything else. You go into the store and try it out. If it sounds good, it's good; if it doesn't; it isn't. The name brand across the headstock of the guitar is a good starting point, but ultimately doesn't guarantee anything. Why wouldn't this be the same for a bass drum? But I don't believe in just leaving it there. Open the darn thing up, and figure "why" it doesn't sound good. More than likely, it's operator error in this case.

I'm going to try retuning the heads, and then replacing them next!

Thanks again!

You guys are great!


Platinum Member
I actually have not tried different head combos -didn't even occur to me...Brilliant!!
Yeah, put the brakes on changing the bearing edges, for now.​
Read up on different heads, and what the manufactures design them to do. You mentioned you play The Police. The Imperialstar was the kit Stewart Copeland played, live ... and he endorses Remo heads.​
Original live kit set-up (1984)
Tama Imperial Star Mahogany Drums (9-ply) and Paiste Cymbals:
Drums - Midnight Blue
10x8" Rack Tom
12x8" Rack Tom
13x9" Rack Tom
16x16" Floor Tom
14x5" Pearl Jupiter Snare
22x14" Bass Drum
20x16" Tama Gong Drum
Tama Octobans Low Pitch (x4)​
Knowing what heads produce what results, it's all a matter of experience. Ambassador is a very popular reso. head. With an Ambassador batter, you're gonna have an open drum sound (might explain the pillows). And if that's too much (too open) for you, maybe a Powerstroke 3 batter, would be better (sticking with Remo). Or Pinstripe. Finding the right head combo .... takes time (and money). If you know any other drummers, check out their choices. Nothing like hearing another drum set live, to give you an idea of what to use/what not to use.​


Platinum Member
Trying to get a really low pitch from the drum throne runs counter to getting a solid sound in the room. Tuning a batter JAW makes for more of a dead slap sound. There is attack, but no tone. Tune it up a little and go out in front of the kit and see what it sounds like before and after. You'll be surprised.


Platinum Member
Are the heads as old as the rest of it? Gotta change em asap if so and make a smaller hole or none in the reso head.

Start at JAW for both heads and tune the batter up until it feels good (maybe less than 1/2 turn) by going 1/8 turn at a time and playing it for a while. Then, after thats good, play with the reso the same way.


Junior Member

Great responses here, gentlemen. Thanks for your input -why can't the guitar player forums act in kind (another subject....).

Ok, I see I have a lot of homework to do. Namely, starting from scratch and seeing what can be done. And leaving the bearing edge issue as a last resort. I'll probably get a good peak when I take the whole thing apart. From what I remember, they were moderately sharp edges, but maybe not quite as high as 45 -I don't remember.

The drums are at my rehearsal space, and I won't get there till a little later on in the week. I'll post my findings then.

But to answer some of these very excellent questions:

I actually have not tried different head combos -didn't even occur to me...Brilliant!!

If I remember correctly, I have a Remo Weatherking coated Ambassador on both the resonant and beater heads. I have a 6" hole cut in the resonant head at about the 5 o' clock position with one of those Aquarian reinforcement ports for the mic.
I tried tuning the resonant to just above wrinkle, and higher. I even tried leaving the resonant head off for a while but these things didn't seem to change anything. I left the pillows in and took them out. It was more controlled with the pillows, without the pillows it was a louder slap/pop sound. -No thud whatsoever.

The beater head was tuned to just above wrinkle as well. It seems to me that that's where I get the lowest perceivable pitch. Anything higher than this is just approximating the floor tom -got one of those!

As far as the sound anomaly is concerned, I can definitely hear it from the playing position. But I had my guitar player take the seat for a while and pump the bass drum pedal, while I stood from his position next to the bassist. There was slightly more definition in low end due to the low frequency wave having a chance to develop given my distance to the bass drum from where I normally am. But again, not enough to make any discernible difference.

The hardware on this thing is over 30 years old, but i don't think that would factor into this other than that for recording, and eliminating rattles and squeaks. Yes, it's all functional and there aren't any broken components that would throw anything out of "balance" as far as I can tell.

I use a pair of Tama Iron Cobra power glides with the beaters that came with them. They still look like they're in decent shape where there is plenty of felt left. I have not tried using a different beater pair.

I have not tried the Drum tuning bible -time to study!!! Emads and Powerstrokes, etc.

Unless I've forgotten anything, I can't think of anything else.


Platinum Member
PowerStroke and EMAD are pretty different heads. The EQ3 is more like the PS. I have had a couple of drums where the EMAD sounded good, but mostly I either cut the ring down really small or take it out entirely. Especially if you want a low pitch. The large ring EMAD is more for that higher pitch thud since it's fairly damped and seems to force the pitch up the more damping you use.

If you want more of the old school thud, you probably want to use the old school damping method of felt strips on undamped heads. Both sides, and probably without a port for initial tries. The thud comes from a moderate pitch and the attack damping of the felt. As opposed to the resonance damping of heads like the EMAD or SuperKick.


Platinum Member
you say you have mostly "slap" right now. to me that suggests mostly attack, less resonance. so batter is too low. are you at JAW, is so, tune it higher
to get more resonance - tune up your reso, and no pillows, no port.
also for the sound you are wanting i can strongly recommend Remo PS3 or EMAD.
changing the bearing edge is far more drastic of all the options


Platinum Member
I have 4 kicks with Emads and they all have the low thud you are after (I think) although the sound is different for each drum/wood/bearing edge. Stock reso heads, DW felt beaters and 4" ports.

I usually start by tuning both heads just above wrinkle and then dial the batter up in 1/8 turn increments over a week or so (with a new drum kit I have never played- this is usually in concert with tuning the rest of the kit so too many changes can make you crazy and I am in no rush) to get a sound/feel I like. Then play with the reso head if you like or feel like you want to.

No muffling except the foam ring on the emad. I do like to do the seating/initial tightening of the batter head with the foam ring out of the head though so you can hear the head resonate and it usually sounds better when the ring goes in.

It would help if you had a sound file you liked for us so we could get a sense of what you after since the bands you listed all have different sounds.

keep it simple

Platinum Member
What head combos have you tried? What didn't you like about each? Perhaps we can glean more from this.
Have you tried everything else? You mentioned heads and muffling, but what about different beaters, front head, and port hole modifications. Also are you talking about the sound from the driver's seat, out front, or mic'd?

Have you read the Drum Tuning Bible (google it)? It describes the effects of a lot of these options, plus has tips for achieving different sounds.
Good questions already raised, & most valid areas for research, but I'll deal directly with the bearing edge issue in isolation.

What bearing edge profiles do you have already? This is an essential piece of information to establish what, if any, room there is for augmentation. A sound dominated by attack would usually indicate a fairly sharp edge, all other elements being equal. Rounding the batter edge will achieve two things;

1/ a degree of head sustain reduction
2/ deliver greater direct excitement of the shell

The latter only makes a difference if the shell is so constructed to benefit from that input. Any benefit in altering the reso edge depends on the above.


Platinum Member
Have you tried everything else? You mentioned heads and muffling, but what about different beaters, front head, and port hole modifications. Also are you talking about the sound from the driver's seat, out front, or mic'd?

Have you read the Drum Tuning Bible (google it)? It describes the effects of a lot of these options, plus has tips for achieving different sounds.


Platinum Member
What head combos have you tried? What didn't you like about each? Perhaps we can glean more from this.


Junior Member

I figured this would be the place to start. I've read up a little on bearing edge with respect to sustain and attack, but I'm also wondering if it has any bearing on tonal characteristics.

This is my issue:

I have an older, late 70's Tama Imperialstar kit. It's has a great sound until I get to the bass drum. I've never really been satisfied with the sound of it. I've replaced the heads, tried different ones, tuning, removing the pillows, etc. And I'm beginning to feel that it has something to do more with the drum itself rather than what's attached to it. I've heard about the bearing edge issue, and am wondering if that can come into play. There's a drum shop down the road from where I live that can shave the bearing edge -if it may make a difference. However, I don't want to remove any material unless I feel that it's a step in the right direction. Thought would ask here.

I'm looking for low-end thud and definition and right now I have more of a slap.

BTW. My style of drumming -if it's important- is 70's - 80's rock. Rush, The Police, King Crimson, Yes, Led Zeppelin (I think you get the picture).

Any input is greatly appreciated!