Question About 20" vs 22" Bass Drum

Chunkaway

Silver Member
Let me start off by saying, I grew up playing 22" bass drums, so it is the size I am most familiar/comfortable with. However, when I was taking lessons with my first drum teacher, he had a 20" Gretsch (Stop Sign era) bass drum that sounded like freaking magic. Angels sang when you played that thing, which would explain my soft spot for a 20" bass :) Moving on, I have owned/played bass drums ranging from 16"-26" over the past 30 years, so I am at least a bit familiar with the options typically available.

I really like the ease of transporting a 20" bass and the ability to position my toms/cymbals a bit lower, so I'd like to make that my go-to size. Everything just seems to "fit" a bit better for me, I guess. However, I typically play 22" bass drums (folky, singer/songwriter/alt.country/pop stuff) now because I love the low end that a 22" provides. The 20" drums I have played seem to sit "above" the bass instead of blending in with it. Thus, the band doesn't feel as "locked in" to me.

Has anyone had any issues like this?
Am I imagining the 20" bass drums not sitting well in a mix?
Is there anything I can do to either a.) lower the perceived pitch of a 20" bass or b.) help with the positioning of toms/cymbals with a 22" bass? (My 22" bass drums are virgin and I use a snare stand for them.)
 
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lefty2

Platinum Member
I have used a 20 some but grew up playing a 22 as you have. I had a 20 a few yrs ago and played a few gigs with it. I sold the kit, and really missed the 20 for comfort reasons. I just recently got another 20 only this one is 14X20, and the old one was 18X20. I've played a few gigs with the new one also. I haven't noticed any differences between the sizes as far as gelling with the bass. I still use my 22 with my band, mostly because of the band logo on the kick. I have used my 20 for a couple of rehearsals with my band and four gigs subing with a different band. So I don't have tons of experience with the 20, but everything seems to be just fine for me. I tune it pretty low with some boom (sustain), not a ton though. I have stock PS3 (I think) heads on both sides. The reso has a 4" port hole, with a small amount of 1" foam laying inside the drum, barely touching the heads.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
20" kicks have slightly less volume than 22" kicks, but it's quite subtle.

Using an EMAD2 or Superkick II bass head will make a noticeable difference on a 20" kick compared to a Remo P3. They sound deeper and boomier.
 

Lenkasammy

Active member
I have used a 20 some but grew up playing a 22 as you have. I had a 20 a few yrs ago and played a few gigs with it. I sold the kit, and really missed the 20 for comfort reasons. I just recently got another 20 only this one is 14X20, and the old one was 18X20. I've played a few gigs with the new one also. I haven't noticed any differences between the sizes as far as gelling with the bass. I still use my 22 with my band, mostly because of the band logo on the kick. I have used my 20 for a couple of rehearsals with my band and four gigs subing with a different band. So I don't have tons of experience with the 20, but everything seems to be just fine for me. I tune it pretty low with some boom (sustain), not a ton though. I have stock PS3 (I think) heads on both sides. The reso has a 4" port hole, with a small amount of 1" foam laying inside the drum, barely touching the heads.
+1
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
On my main 20 I’ve changed from a P3 to a P4 which has lowered the pitch nicely. I also have a kickport in the reso which has brought the drum to life, making it louder and punchy with a lower, ‘bigger’ sound. A 22 might give the same sound cheaper and with less tweaking, but the 20 is much easier to fit in the car and under the toms.
 

Chunkaway

Silver Member
20" kicks have slightly less volume than 22" kicks, but it's quite subtle.

Using an EMAD2 or Superkick II bass head will make a noticeable difference on a 20" kick compared to a Remo P3. They sound deeper and boomier.
On my main 20 I’ve changed from a P3 to a P4 which has lowered the pitch nicely. I also have a kickport in the reso which has brought the drum to life, making it louder and punchy with a lower, ‘bigger’ sound. A 22 might give the same sound cheaper and with less tweaking, but the 20 is much easier to fit in the car and under the toms.

Thank you for the responses so far. My issue with using an EMAD or a Superkick is that the drum seems to be MUCH quieter than when I use a Powerstroke 3. (I have never used a Powerstroke 4 or a Kickport, so I can't speak to those things.) I typically play in unmiced or "lightly" miced situations, so I do need some volume out of the bass. Do you guys who use an EMAD or a Superkick not have an issue with volume?
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I think a 20" bass drum that is 18" deep, made out of mahogany would provide a nice low tone. Also rounded over bearing edges would help.

.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Let me start off by saying, I grew up with playing 22" bass drums, so it is the size I am most familiar/comfortable with. However, when I was taking lessons with my first drum teacher, he had a 20" Gretsch (Stop Sign era) bass drum that sounded like freaking magic. Angels sang when you played that thing, which would explain my soft spot for a 20" bass :) Moving on, I have owned/played bass drums ranging from 16"-26" over the past 30 years, so I am at least a bit familiar with the options typically available.

I really like the ease of transporting a 20" bass and the ability to position my toms/cymbals a bit lower, so I'd like to make that my go-to size. Everything just seems to "fit" a bit better for me, I guess. However, I typically play 22" bass drums (folky, singer/songwriter/alt.country/pop stuff) now because I love the low end that a 22" provides. The 20" drums I have played seem to sit "above" the bass instead of blending in with it. Thus, the band doesn't feel as "locked in" to me.

Has anyone had any issues like this?
Am I imagining the 20" bass drums not sitting well in a mix?
Is there anything I can do to either a.) lower the perceived pitch of a 20" bass or b.) help with the positioning of toms/cymbals with a 22" bass? (My 22" bass drums are virgin and I use a snare stand for them.
20's sound just fine.

You are over thinking this. You can tune a 20 just as low. The low end is still there. You may not "feel" it as much from the kit but if you put a mic in there the front of house would have no idea the difference.

Heck. I can record on an 18 and make it sound like a bass cannon. the biggest difference with the smaller 18 is that the volume isn't there. It sure was amazing for transport, and the punch was fantastic. I had a bop kit and the 16 was starting to lack some boom and volume, but once again, with a mic could still sound pretty good. It was no 20/22 though.


I have one of each. Both are enjoyable. You will have no problem with a mix.
 

Chunkaway

Silver Member
D
20's sound just fine.

You are over thinking this. You can tune a 20 just as low. The low end is still there. You may not "feel" it as much from the kit but if you put a mic in there the front of house would have no idea the difference.

Heck. I can record on an 18 and make it sound like a bass cannon. the biggest difference with the smaller 18 is that the volume isn't there. It sure was amazing for transport, and the punch was fantastic. I had a bop kit and the 16 was starting to lack some boom and volume, but once again, with a mic could still sound pretty good. It was no 20/22 though.


I have one of each. Both are enjoyable. You will have no problem with a mix.
I actually agree with you...if the drum is miced. I am currently playing mostly unmiced situations, which is where I am having my issues.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I can relate to this alot. Played a 22" x 18" kick for many years and moved to a 20" x 14" kick due to portability and every place I play right now is always cramped.

In regards to your situation, my initial thought is why don't you try to find a Gretsch stop-sign-era 20" kick?

But before your do that, I'd suggest getting an Emad for the batter and tune it low. Right now, I'm running my Classic Maple 20x14 with an Emad and a coated, ported reso. I'm thinking about doing the pillow thing again just to see how it sounds.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Regarding unmiced - my drum is 20 x 16 thick birch, and it sounded great mic’d but weak unmic’d until I got the kickport. I was starting to think about replacing the kit, but with the port I could use it unmic’d and get the solid, loud sound I was missing. Still going strong ten years later.
 

donzo74

Junior Member
I used to use my 20x16 MCA exclusively with one group playing blues and classic rock. The guitar player loved the way it sat in the mix and he was a serious audiophile. I tuned it low but we mic'd it so volume wasn't an issue. That particular drum has always worked well for me in orchestral situations, as well. It works well unmic'd in that setting.

Currently set up with Evans EMAD2 batter and Aquarian Regulator reso with Evans EQ pad just leaning on the batter head.
 
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IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
Thank you for the responses so far. My issue with using an EMAD or a Superkick is that the drum seems to be MUCH quieter than when I use a Powerstroke 3. (I have never used a Powerstroke 4 or a Kickport, so I can't speak to those things.) I typically play in unmiced or "lightly" miced situations, so I do need some volume out of the bass. Do you guys who use an EMAD or a Superkick not have an issue with volume?
HOLD ON. I might know what you're talking about now. Are you talking about the volume of the bass drum TO YOU? Because what you hear and what the audience hears are two separate things.

If I had to guess, it seems like the Powerstroke 3 gives YOU better feedback because it retains the high-end frequencies of the bass drum better. The EMAD2 and Superkick II eliminate most of the high end overtones and frequencies...giving you the perception that the bass drum isn't loud enough.

If that's the case, there is one fix that will allow you to use an EMAD/Superkick. Get a Gibraltar Impact Pad for the beater area. It has a click sound for those that want a clicky sound, but it's not overbearing. It should be enough to give you a more tactile feel whenever you hit it.
 

Chunkaway

Silver Member
HOLD ON. I might know what you're talking about now. Are you talking about the volume of the bass drum TO YOU? Because what you hear and what the audience hears are two separate things.

If I had to guess, it seems like the Powerstroke 3 gives YOU better feedback because it retains the high-end frequencies of the bass drum better. The EMAD2 and Superkick II eliminate most of the high end overtones and frequencies...giving you the perception that the bass drum isn't loud enough.

If that's the case, there is one fix that will allow you to use an EMAD/Superkick. Get a Gibraltar Impact Pad for the beater area. It has a click sound for those that want a clicky sound, but it's not overbearing. It should be enough to give you a more tactile feel whenever you hit it.
Yes, that is exactly correct. My perception is that the 20" bass isn't loud enough. Now you got me thinking, and I actually haven't asked the band about the volume issue. I need to do that.

The impact patch is a good idea. I do have an Evans patch on the drum now, but it is really just for longevity of the head, as it does not really provide a click sound. Thank you for the suggestion.
 

Chunkaway

Silver Member
I used to use my 20x16 MCA exclusively with one group playing blues and classic rock. The guitar player loved the way it sat in the mix and he was a serious audiophile. I tuned it low but we mic'd it so volume wasn't an issue. That particular drum has always worked well for me in orchestral situations, as well. It works well unmic'd in that setting.

Currently set up with Evans EMAD2 batter and Aquarian Regulator reso with Evans EQ pad just leaning on the batter head.
Just curious, but how low are you tuning it? Finger tight? Wrinkled head tight? Or something beyond those?
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
I'm looking at my 20" kick drum and how low I have my tom and thinking there's no way a 22" would ever work for me. Plus that's a lot more weight to haul to and from gigs.

I tune my 20x16 low but no wrinkles. Much more than finger tight. Low but the bolts are tightened.

I went with a PS 3 after many years using a SuperKick. Drum sounds brighter now and more musical. I like feedback from pedal better, too. It's louder with PS3.
 
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Chunkaway

Silver Member
I'm looking at my 20" kick drum and how low I have my tom and thinking there's no way a 22" would ever work for me. Plus that's a lot more weight to haul to and from gigs.

I tune my 20x16 low but no wrinkles. Not finger tight. Low but the bolts are tightened.

I went with a PS 3 after many years using a SuperKick. Drum sounds brighter now and more musical. I like feedback from pedal better, too. It's louder with PS3.
Yeah, I have been playing a PS3 for the past 10 years or so, simply because I feel like I have more ability to control the volume/tone from behind the kit. I find that EMADs and Superkicks give me one sound. Granted, that sound is a nice, fat "thump" but there are times when it would be nice to have something else.

The tom/cymbal positioning is really what is driving this desire to switch over to a 20". I am 5'10" (178cms for the rest of the world) and while it is fine to play with a 22" and have the tom positioned above the bass, it simply feels better and more comfortable when I am able to position it lower, as is possible with a 20" bass drum. I also am able to lower my crash and ride a bit more, which I like. I feel faster, more in control, etc... when things are set a bit lower.
 

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
Is there anything I can do to either a.) lower the perceived pitch of a 20" bass or b.) help with the positioning of toms/cymbals with a 22" bass? (My 22" bass drums are virgin and I use a snare stand for them.)
You may consider trying a Solomon Lo-Freq Sub Mic with your 20" bass drum reso head if you have an extra channel on the mixer board. Blend it in with your bass drum dynamic mic and see if that accomplishes what you're after.
 

Chunkaway

Silver Member
You may consider trying a Solomon Lo-Freq Sub Mic with your 20" bass drum reso head if you have an extra channel on the mixer board. Blend it in with your bass drum dynamic mic and see if that accomplishes what you're after.
For miced situations that would be a great idea. The problem is most of my current gigs are unmiced or "lightly" miced situations.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
I think you need to get someone to play the kit with you standing in front of it to get a good perspective. The band would complain if they couldn't hear it. a 20 is loud enough. For the benefits like hauling gear and tom placement i rarely bring my 22 to gigs.

That being said, I have always enjoyed a punchy kick with nice attack but still goes boom. I tune it low, port it, often have a kickport/pillow in it. At the end of the day it's your decision. You sound like you want to use the 22 to me. I do love the sound of my 22 on the reference kit, but it seems much bigger and my tom placement changes. Playing on an 18 was a dream when I could mic it. It was easy to boost the low end, the response was insane, my toms were low, and it was punchy as can be.
 
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