Shopping for a used mid-price kit: When did this fad for deep bass drums start?

Bad Tempered Clavier

Silver Member
Currently looking for a smallish mid-price kit for rehearsal and small venues. It seems that increasingly (in the UK at least) the majority of used kits from recent times that I come across have what I consider to be very deep bass drums: i.e. 18" or even 20" deep.

Ideally, I'd like a shell pack that is 10X8, 12X9, 14X14, and 20X16 - or even 20X14. Limited space in my house/car is one deciding factor, but I'd also like the smaller sized bass drum because of weight considerations. I know we're not talking about a lot of weight - but it all adds up.

Now most kits I'm talking about with the smaller sized toms seem to come with those exact sizes yet invariably have either a 20X18 or 22X18 bass drum. In fact, a quick look at Premier's website shows that below their top-priced range almost all their bass drums (except for bop kits etc) are 18" deep. Mid-range Mapex bass drums are all enormous and the new Sonor Select Force "Studio" set has a bass drum that is 20X17.5 which I've never heard of before. I was interested to see that the Pearl Export is back after several years, and guess what? A choice between 20X18 or 22X18.

When did 18" become a standard bass drum depth for off-the-shelf kits? Obviously if I order something specially from a dealer then I'll have more choice but in the used market I'm somewhat at the mercy of current fashion. Are drummers these days trying to over-compensate for something? Do we really need an 18" or 20" Bass Phallus thrusting into the audience?
 

Axe

Senior Member
I feel your pain!

Ive been debating between getting a new Ludwig Keystone or CM kit...leaning towards the Keystone, but I want a 14x22 kick. Cant get one, they have a 14x24 avialable though.
 

xsarith

Senior Member
I personally blame the teenage rock and metal drummers, not all of them, plus they'll be other factors too.

The reason I say this cause of marketing, to a lot of teenage drummers who play rock a metal think the bigger the better, plus the 'demands' of rock 'require' these sizes, I personally think they don't require this. Anyway because of these two factors the most popular genre 'needs' these sizes and mid range kits are aimed at teenagers so because of this drum manufactures produce drums for maximum profit, after all they are a business.

This is of course my view on it all.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Yeah, not a fan of the deep kicks, myself. I'd say good marketing, how they sound from the drivers seat on a showroom floor, and the law of increasing returns is how we arrived at this sorry state.

Be that as it may, you can always buy the kit you want with the deep kick and then have it cut down. I was one of those susceptible to the hype when they were a relatively new thing and played my 22x18 for over 10 years before getting hip to the idea that shorter sounds closer to what I like, so I had it cut down to a 22x14. Not a very expensive modification and totally worth it, IMO. If you have a choice between 18 and 20" deep, take the 20" as it will give you more room to work with when cutting it down.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
18" deep bass drums came into popularity in the early-mid 90's.

My Premier Signia has 18" deep bass drums, purchased new in 1994.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
.... If you have a choice between 18 and 20" deep, take the 20" as it will give you more room to work with when cutting it down.

If you have a choice between 18 and 20" deep, take the 20" as you can make two 10" deep kicks out of it that will rock. Seriously - LOL

(extra hardware needed)
 

Sjogras

Silver Member
If you have a choice between 18 and 20" deep, take the 20" as you can make two 10" deep kicks out of it that will rock. Seriously - LOL

(extra hardware needed)
What about cutting it at 3/4, a 22"x15" bassdrum, leaving you a shell for a 22"x5" snare!
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
What about cutting it at 3/4, a 22"x15" bassdrum, leaving you a shell for a 22"x5" snare!

LOL - now you're talkin'.

Gonna' have a hard time finding 22" long snares though. There's got to be a workaround though, right?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I personally blame the teenage rock and metal drummers, not all of them, plus they'll be other factors too.
I think the primary cause is an attempt to replicate the low punch of today's recordings. The problem is, those lows don't come from the drums. They're a product of the studio (and FOH) and are derived from EQ, and more often, synthesized/filtered samples that are layered with the acoustic kick, or simply replace it. So on the majority of gigs, such deep kicks just get lost, because tuning them into a (supposed) lower range doesn't come across well.

For me, 16" is plenty deep, and I have a 16x20" Keystone (oak) that's really nice. But my best sounding kicks are 14" deep. :)

I think a survey of established pros will show that 16" or shallower are preferred kick sizes. I'm not talking about a flavor-of-the-month guy playing ddrum or SJC, I mean Vinnie, Keltner, JR, etc.

Bermuda
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I have tried many deep bass drums and I see no merit to anything over 16 inches.
Aside from the round bearing edges, and the cherry/gumwood shells, one of the factors that compelled me to buy my 2012 Club Date kit was the 14 inch deep bass drum.
I passed up many kits because I didn't want an 18" or 20" deep bass.
14 inch bass drums do seem to be coming back in style as of late though.
 
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makinao

Silver Member
So what is the difference in the sound between 18" and over depths and 16" and under? I've played kicks besides my own 22x14 in gigs/clubs. But between all the junk stuffed into them, worn out heads, and the rushed setup, I never had enough time to notice the difference.

P.S. I looked at the specs of Yamaha marching gear, and on the top line MB-8200 Series Bass Drum, everything under 30" has 14" depths. 30"and 32" are 16" deep. I wonder .......
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
When did 18" become a standard bass drum depth for off-the-shelf kits? Obviously if I order something specially from a dealer then I'll have more choice but in the used market I'm somewhat at the mercy of current fashion. Are drummers these days trying to over-compensate for something? Do we really need an 18" or 20" Bass Phallus thrusting into the audience?
Not sure about the 18" depth, but I do know Ludwig began offering the 16" depth in the 1980 catalog, and it still took a while for that depth to take off, but when it did - it went! I think seeing Jeff Porcaro in Pearl ads with his 16x22 bass drum and deep toms did it to everybody!

I also feel your pain. I do not relate to anything deeper than 16". I had an 18" and I hated it. It's like manufacturers forgot that the drummers who support their companies (i.e., "the rest of us") need to be able to fit onto postage-stamp-sized band stands, and a deep bass drum makes everything worse. 14" is perfect! This is why I've been leaning on vintage drums lately. Even Gretsch Broadway drums, nice as they are, I'll never get into because I don't think a shallow bass drum is part of that line!
 

slowrocker

Silver Member
Lol, my bass is 22" deep. I love it. It brings out a sound I don't hear from other bass drums. It does have some downside though, but I like it.
 

Bad Tempered Clavier

Silver Member
the most popular genre 'needs' these sizes and mid range kits are aimed at teenagers so because of this drum manufactures produce drums for maximum profit, after all they are a business.
I guess that makes sense, but surely it would be in the manufacturers' interests to try and flog shorter bass drums to the kids - seeing as they use less materials? If "teenagers" want a BIG BASS SOUND then I could understand 24" or even 26" bass drums being popular, but I hardly ever see them.

I was one of those susceptible to the hype when they were a relatively new thing and played my 22x18 for over 10 years before getting hip to the idea that shorter sounds closer to what I like, so I had it cut down to a 22x14. Not a very expensive modification and totally worth it, IMO. If you have a choice between 18 and 20" deep, take the 20" as it will give you more room to work with when cutting it down.
Tempting, but I lack the tools/skill to do it myself and I'm betting the money I would spend on someone else doing a decent enough job would probably pay for a higher-end bass drum (if you get my meaning).

I think the primary cause is an attempt to replicate the low punch of today's recordings. The problem is, those lows don't come from the drums. They're a product of the studio (and FOH) and are derived from EQ, and more often, synthesized/filtered samples that are layered with the acoustic kick, or simply replace it. So on the majority of gigs, such deep kicks just get lost, because tuning them into a (supposed) lower range doesn't come across well [. . .] I think a survey of established pros will show that 16" or shallower are preferred kick sizes. I'm not talking about a flavor-of-the-month guy playing ddrum or SJC, I mean Vinnie, Keltner, JR, etc.
Yeah, I think you're right - which also begs the question why these deep bass drums are paired with smaller sized toms? I mean if people are (erroneously) trying to get a big deep sound from a 20X18 bass drum then why have titchy little high-pitched toms - the whole point of which are to cut through the rest of the band anyway?

Funny you should mention John Robinson, because you reminded me of an interview he did for the Spike Lee Bad 25 film about the recording of the album where he describes exactly the sort of thing you're talking about. As I recall it was something about Quincy Jones putting the drums on a hollow stage in the studio and that was the thing that gave them the sound they wanted (or something like that).

one of the factors that compelled me to buy my 2012 Club Date kit was the 14 inch deep bass drum.
I remember you recommending those to me before. I have kept an eye out for them, but they don't seem to be big on the 2nd hand market over here and full (new) price is a bit much for my budget. They do look nice though - shame they don't do a 10" tom for those kits (I believe).

It's like manufacturers forgot that the drummers who support their companies (i.e., "the rest of us") need to be able to fit onto postage-stamp-sized band stands, and a deep bass drum makes everything worse.
Absolutely. In fact, wasn't it Porcaro who popularised the rack? I know his kit wasn't exactly huge compared to, say, Alex Van Halen but I think it was Walter Becker who said something about "New York Drummers" turning up to Steely Dan recording sessions with just a trap case and a snare drum and "L.A. Drummers" (i.e. Porcaro) turning up with a couple of trucks.

Anything easier to fit onto a stage . . . into a car . . . through a doorway, for heaven's sake, would be most welcome.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Yeah? You don't think it was this dude? Ha ha! Dig those spurs way out on the ends!

Not sure about the mic placement, but what the hell do I know?
That's right. I forgot about that guy. But I think Jeff was really the one who made it possible for the rest of us. It was pretty obvious to everyone that no one was ever going to replicate Alex's kit!
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Anything easier to fit onto a stage . . . into a car . . . through a doorway, for heaven's sake, would be most welcome.
Again, everything old is new again! Your standard 5-piece of 14x22, 8x12, 9x13, 16x16 and snare is that size for a reason. That's why it's standard!
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Ive never even play a kick under 18" lol. Every kit i have owned has been 18". I font really see a problem with it.
Play a 14" to check the difference for yourself. Some people don't mind deeper drums while others prefer them, but either way, they don't play or sound the same as a shallower drum. Neither the increased footprint nor the awkwardness of moving one has driven my particular dislike of the deeper drums; it's all that extra air volume inside the drum and the distance between heads slowing the response down that I'd rather not contend with.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I mean if people are (erroneously) trying to get a big deep sound from a 20X18 bass drum then why have titchy little high-pitched toms - the whole point of which are to cut through the rest of the band anyway?
The more experienced drummers know that this is a fairly incongruous set-up. Fortunately, the companies are once again offering a number of configurations, substitutions, or simply making separate drums easier to order.

Look for some nice options from Ludwig soon. :)

Bermuda
 
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