Proportional tom sizes?

cutaway79

Silver Member
I'm currently planning a new custom kit, and I was curious if anyone has made/played a kit where all the toms/floor toms were proportionally equal. Here's what I mean...

The tom size I find to be the most pleasing to my ears in any kit, in most cases, is a 12x8 (depth is 2/3 of the diameter) - tone, decay, ease of tuning, amount of overtones, etc. So, if I were to use the same proportions for all my toms, would they all exhibit similar characteristics, just in a deeper/higher voice (hope that makes sense)? 10x6.66, 12x8, 13x8.66, 14x9.33, 15x10, 16x10.66. I suppose I should mention that all shells will be free-floating, so there will be no lugs or brackets attached to the shell influencing the sound. The only thing touching the shells will be the heads.

It may be a wacky/stupid idea. I just always find deep floor toms to be more finicky, and tend to need more attention when tuning. So I'm just tossing around ideas.
 
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bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
In theory, yes, the drums should show similar characteristics to each other. But apart from the sizes, the shell thickness would have to be proportional to really home in on comparable sound qualities. Pearl did this about 20 years ago regarding the thickness, and I think they still offer a series like that. But the tom dimensions don't have the same diameter-depth ratios.

But, it's also the same theory that suggests a tom's volume determines the ideal note it should make. We know that's not completely true, as a tom can be tuned to a range of pleasing, seemingly optimal sounds. Then again, you have Remo saying that the sound comes from the head, and DW saying that the shell's resonance (when struck) determines "the note it wants to make."

And the weight of the stick also determines how much of the fundamental note is heard.

Good thing you're not attaching hardware, that's another can of sonic worms. And don't get me started on edges, plies, or wood type.

There are many aspects besides size that affect a drum's sound.

Bermuda
 

cutaway79

Silver Member
In theory, yes, the drums should show similar characteristics to each other. But apart from the sizes, the shell thickness would have to be proportional to really home in on comparable sound qualities. Pearl did this about 20 years ago regarding the thickness, and I think they still offer a series like that. But the tom dimensions don't have the same diameter-depth ratios.

But, it's also the same theory that suggests a tom's volume determines the ideal note it should make. We know that's not completely true, as a tom can be tuned to a range of pleasing, seemingly optimal sounds. Then again, you have Remo saying that the sound comes from the head, and DW saying that the shell's resonance (when struck) determines "the note it wants to make."

And the weight of the stick also determines how much of the fundamental note is heard.

Good thing you're not attaching hardware, that's another can of sonic worms. And don't get me started on edges, plies, or wood type.

There are many aspects besides size that affect a drum's sound.

Bermuda
Thanks for the detailed reply! I hadn't even considered shell thickness. They're going to be Oriollo aluminum shells, so the thickness and edges will all be the same (AFAIK), and the shells should be pretty consistent.
 

williamsbclontz

Silver Member
I have a yamaha rc kit with a 12x10, 15x13 and 18x16 sizes. And just a 22 by 14 kick. Some guys say they like the looks of the kit and others say they don't but I enjoy it

So far I love the kit, and I think all the drums fit well together. I think you hear more of a significant difference in floor tom depths, at least in my opinion. But in all honesty if most of us were blindfolded it'd probably be pretty hard to pick out slightly deeper drums over slightly shallower ones

But I did it, and I wouldn't trade my kit for anything, so go for it if that's what you want to do
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
That kit sounds like a great idea. I’ll be really curious to hear how it sounds. And I think your idea is actually pretty solid—you’ll never need to use moongel on your 16” floor tom, and the set will be lighter and easier to move, as well.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Disagree on the 10 x 6.66 tom. I have a 10 x 7 which would work better as a 10 x 8 IMO. The note is not as long or big as I would prefer.

I am inclined to think that the desirable qualities of your 12 x 8...if you try to transpose the ratios to other drums...It won't make a difference. They won't take on magical properties. They will go boom. Just my opinion. I wouldn't go shorter than 8" on tom depth, or have the depth being larger than the diameter of the drum. I have a 10 x 9 DW tom that makes a great sound for a 10" drum.

One thing I have learned to trust is traditional sizes and depths. They have a proven track record. They probably did the R&D for shell depth 100 years ago.

I'm pretty sure there aren't many traditional sized toms with less than 8" depth. Don't discount tradition.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
My Pork Pie USA custom kit was the first drum set that I played that actually felt like one instrument.

10x8
12x10
14x12
16x14

22x18 kick

In addition to the sized being proportional, they increase the number of plies the bigger the drum. I love those drums.
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
I like the concept of trying to make all the drums in a set have similar characteristics and I think it's a good idea if that's the goal.

My experience wants all my drums to sound different from each other.
I tend to tune rack toms further away in tone from each other because I want the reason for additional toms to be their uniqueness.

I'm also accustomed to using a 16x17 floor, so I have a general preference for more lower overtones on larger drums.
 

Gottliver

Senior Member
My Pork Pie USA custom kit was the first drum set that I played that actually felt like one instrument.

10x8
12x10
14x12
16x14

22x18 kick

In addition to the sized being proportional, they increase the number of plies the bigger the drum. I love those drums.
Those aren’t proportional as the OP is defining it.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Those aren’t proportional as the OP is defining it.
I know. I was just commenting on what was currently available that may address this concern:

...if I were to use the same proportions for all my toms, would they all exhibit similar characteristics, just in a deeper/higher voice (hope that makes sense)?

I guess my short answer is yes, and the OP wouldn't even need to do any sort of special order anything.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I look at the 12 x 8 as 4 inches less in one direction, so applying the same math, drums would be, 10 x 6, 13 x 9, 16 x 12, 14 x 10. You can apply math in many ways depending on your mood or wishes. Or volume of a cylinder, Volume = 3.14 x radius squared x height.
 

cutaway79

Silver Member
If you're going for ideally-equal sizes, Would drumhead thickness also effect this?
Just like the shell thickness Bermuda mentioned, it could. I typically use Ambassador over Ambassador (clear, coated, or smooth white depending on the kit) on my toms.
 

mesazoo

Member
I know. I was just commenting on what was currently available that may address this concern:

...if I were to use the same proportions for all my toms, would they all exhibit similar characteristics, just in a deeper/higher voice (hope that makes sense)?

I guess my short answer is yes, and the OP wouldn't even need to do any sort of special order anything.
Since he is ordering Oriollo it will be a special order no matter what.
 

cutaway79

Silver Member
Disagree on the 10 x 6.66 tom. I have a 10 x 7 which would work better as a 10 x 8 IMO. The note is not as long or big as I would prefer.

I am inclined to think that the desirable qualities of your 12 x 8...if you try to transpose the ratios to other drums...It won't make a difference. They won't take on magical properties. They will go boom. Just my opinion. I wouldn't go shorter than 8" on tom depth, or have the depth being larger than the diameter of the drum. I have a 10 x 9 DW tom that makes a great sound for a 10" drum.

One thing I have learned to trust is traditional sizes and depths. They have a proven track record. They probably did the R&D for shell depth 100 years ago.

I'm pretty sure there aren't many traditional sized toms with less than 8" depth. Don't discount tradition.
For what it's worth, Yamaha makes 10x7.5 and 10x7 toms in their upper lines. And Pearl Session Studio Select comes with a 10x7... Off the top of my head.

Something about the 10"... In theory, the resonance and length/quality of the note will likely (again, in theory) be better/longer/fuller on a free-floating drum than one with 12 lugs (and possibly a mounting bracket) bolted onto it. Though your point is definitely one to consider.

My main concern is with the bigger/deeper drums. The hardware I'm using is by Page drums. It's all cable tension, so both heads tune at the same time. I have a maple version (had two, but sold one), and it sounds great. But the (14x14 and 14x12) floor toms are definitely my least favorite (still doesn't sound bad though). My thinking is... With "regular" sized, lugged floor toms, some issues can be tuned out of the drum by tightening up the bottom head. Whereas, I've noticed that most 12x8 toms tend to sound nice with both heads tuned the same (as well as at alternate tunings). So I was thinking shallower depths might give the floor toms similar tuning characteristics as the 12", and make them more receptive to the "even" tuning... Hope that made sense.

I get what you're saying about tradition. At the same time, think of how wacky/different the world would be if we all hung onto every tradition that comes our way. I mean, following the traditions of long ago, there shouldn't be any metal or plastic on your drums (including heads). No ply shells. Non-wooden shells would be right out. Nothing would be made by machine... Having said that, I don't typically cling too tightly to tradition. Which is why I'm making a free-floating, steel-cable-tensioned, aluminum drum set to begin with ;-).
 
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cutaway79

Silver Member
I like the concept of trying to make all the drums in a set have similar characteristics and I think it's a good idea if that's the goal.

My experience wants all my drums to sound different from each other.
I tend to tune rack toms further away in tone from each other because I want the reason for additional toms to be their uniqueness.
See, I'm the opposite... I want my toms/floor toms to be like notes on a guitar... All basically higher and lower versions of the same general sound. Though I likely wouldn't try for actual notes, necessarily. I just like the idea of having that consistency across the toms. Especially at times when I'm only using two toms (12/15 or 12/16)... The rack tom, when tuned to it's optimum spot, has a nice clear tone. But the floor tom, when tuned similarly (as these drums will be, due to the cable tensioning), is rumbly, and less "tamed".

Basically, I'm trying to see if I can alter the shells/dimensions to make up for the limits of this tuning system. And before anybody jumps in with "so use regular lugs and you won't have to think about it" posts... I don't want to use regular lugs. I have a regular kit already. The point of this kit is to be super easy for gigging, since I do a good amount of it. Aluminum shells and "lugs", no lug screws/washers/gaskets, and Gauger alloy RIMS to keep the weight down. And the single tension tuning system to make tuning up extra easy when the guitarists won't shut the hell up. If this doesn't work out well, I will have regular lugs put on the shells. But I really want to try to make this work first.
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
You're looking at snare drum stye decay with those depths.

There's nothing technically wrong with that formula. Keith Moon used three 14 x 10 toms for many years and it worked well for him.
 

cutaway79

Silver Member
You're looking at snare drum stye decay with those depths.

There's nothing technically wrong with that formula. Keith Moon used three 14 x 10 toms for many years and it worked well for him.
I feel like snare drum decay would be a lot shorter because of the much thinner reso head, combined with the uneven bottom bearing edge (snare bed).

The resonance/decay seems to be great on 12x8 and 13x9 toms. Not snare-like at all to me. I'm curious as to how it translates to floor tom sizes - 15" and 16" - and if I should expect similar tonal qualities from the larger sizes, or if it's an entirely different type of flying altogether.
 
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