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  #1  
Old 09-28-2017, 07:56 AM
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Default Toms that cut through

I have always noticed that live one of the thing's that gets lost the most sound wise on the drum set is the toms. Meaning in very loud setting's. This even happens a lot when the toms are mic'd. So I've been experimenting with different head combo's and what not to see how I can make them cut through and still sound good with body, presence, punch and sustain.

At the moment I'm using the toms in a concert style with a clear Emperor on the top with no head on the bottom on both my toms. Pretty interesting sound. It's pretty loud and most certainly punchy and surprisingly it has a lot of sustain.

What are your thoughts on the best head combo's, or single head setup's, to cut through with great tone, sustain and punch?
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Old 09-28-2017, 08:20 AM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

What I have found is; using a 10 mil single ply clear batter head with a 10 mil single ply clear reso head gives me the loudest drum possible. Tune them up fairly high and they will be loud and the sound will carry out to the audience just fine. I have found that I don't really love the sound of my toms from behind the kit. But I love the sound of them from out in the audience. I am of course talking about playing rock and roll with a loud band and no mics on the drums.

If you have mics on the toms and a good sound person, you can tune them for punchy with less sustain.


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Old 09-28-2017, 09:44 AM
williamsbclontz williamsbclontz is offline
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

I've had that problem a lot. The bands I play with usually play pretty loud, so even when the toms are miced it'll still be hard to hear the toms. What I've had to do in the past is in sound checks I'd play lighter on the toms to kind of trick the sound guy and then he'd make the tom mics a little hotter, but that's not really a good fix lol. I think the problem is that guitar and bass players don't usually play as loud as they do live in sound checks. Shouldn't matter what heads you use, or what drums you play, if the toms are miced as long as you talk with the sound guy about it and make the toms mics louder you should be good.
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Old 09-28-2017, 11:22 AM
Wave Deckel Wave Deckel is offline
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

My take would be: Not using concert Toms first and foremost.

What I would take: A well made tom in tadtitional sizes (like e.g. 12x8 or 12x9) with a tad thicker shell (7+mm), maybe with reinforcement rings (adds attack). Top and bottom head: Clear Ambassador, tuned medium high (lower tuned tom don't cut through as much as slightly higher tuned toms), top and bottom head tuned to same pitch. That will give you plenty of boom and cutting.
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Old 09-28-2017, 12:07 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

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Originally Posted by Hollywood Jim View Post
Tune them up fairly high and they will be loud and the sound will carry out to the audience just fine. I have found that I don't really love the sound of my toms from behind the kit. .
What Jim said. The drums sound very different 10' out in front of the kit than they do from the throne. if they are tuned too low, they get muddy sounding and don't have their own sound space or projection. OP didn't say what kind of music you are playing, but that could be a factor as well. I personally wouldn't go without reso heads on, if you move the drums around much, the bearing edges are going to get wrecked. I saw it on lots of kits in the mid 80's where people had done that. tune them up higher than you think, and get a friend to drum while you stand out front.
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Old 09-28-2017, 12:42 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

Big birch drums tuned high with clear single ply skin. As it's been written above, from the drummre seat, the sound isn't pleasant, but 5 meters away it's great.
I wouldn't go with concert tom or Hyperdrive style toms. They do cut but don't have body.
Maybe the old Remo CS skin would do too ?

About the mount, I found out (on my Premier), that contrary to what I thought, my tom sounded better on the BD tom mount than on a separate stand. So I got back to that set up : Better sustain (the Signia mount isn't really like rim's and may choke) and more body.

Last edited by Tamaefx; 09-28-2017 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 09-28-2017, 01:48 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

Birch drums with Evans EC2 heads on a 45 degree bearing edge. Something with about 5 - 7mm shell would suffice.

Rototoms are also a good option for extra attack but very little sustain. Still, mic them up and that matters little.

I would also work on the drummers mix. If you get that right then the toms will cut as much as you want them to. My preference for drummer mix is lots of kick and snare, medium toms and fairly low overheads.

Compression also helps increase attack if done properly
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Old 09-28-2017, 03:33 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

I had this problem at church with my Pork Pie USA customs. What I needed specifically was something with a lot of cut and tone, but something that wouldn't sustain for days. While my coated ambassadors sounded great in a rock band setting, both mic'ed and not, my toms simply got "lost" in the mix. There was not enough attack to cut through 2-3 guitar players, a piano, a keyboard (playing "pad" patches), a bass player, in addition to a performance track and a boatload of singers with mics in their hands.

After doing way too much research and ended up going with the Aquarian Studio X, a single-ply clear head with a built-in "studio ring." They have the cut needed and they are super-durable. They last about a year on that set. Each week, we have three Sunday morning services, a long Wednesday night practice, plus lessons and extra practice through the week between about 5 different people. To be honest, I don't like the way they sound up close, either in front or behind the kit; however, they sound like freakin' thunder in the house, and that's all that matters (Audix drum mics). I wear IEM's, so I don't hear them anyways.

With that said, I'm going to go with Pinstripes next time so the sound guys don't have to gate them as much. I'm assuming the plastic-y, non-coated heads will still have enough cut and body, and I don't think the Pinstripes of yesteryear are the same as they are today. I swear they sound better today than they did in the 80s, but it's probably just my ears changing or something. I have a set on my Ludwig Centennials and they are perfect for those drums. They have great attack, warmth, and body, and sound good live (mic'ed or unmic'ed) and in the studio.

Anyways, I like the idea of tricking the sound guy too. Play lighter during sound check and then play louder during the show.
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Old 09-28-2017, 03:37 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

Something you might want to try -- I don't think the problem is the volume, especially since you're talked about using mics.

We perceive drums that have more high frequencies in their sound (like with shells made of very hard exotic woods or using thick rerings to add mass to the edges) as having more "attack." In other words, that initial high-frequency sound at the beginning of the note makes the definition of the note clearer. (Part of the reason snare drums generally seem to be louder than toms, even though the toms may be larger and deeper that the snare.) When a drum doesn't "cut through," it's usually because its midrange sound is getting lost in the mix with all the other midrange sounds from the rest of the band -- in the midrange area, you're competing with guitars, keyboards, even vocals.

So it might be worth trying coated batter heads on your toms. It would shorten the notes slightly, but it could give you more stick definition, which will sound like attack and might cut through a little better.
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Old 09-28-2017, 04:03 PM
LeftySlammer92 LeftySlammer92 is offline
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

One thing I would try is using some moongels on a single ply head and tuning them a little higher than you normally would. Not a jazz tuning mind you, but if you tune them low and beefy, maybe just come up a little bit more. I find medium-medium high tunings to work the best live. They may sound a little high to you, but out front, you'll hear punch, definition and still have enough low-end
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Old 09-28-2017, 04:36 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

Remo Ambassadors, wide-open. A Billy Cobham tuning cuts better than a normal rock/funk tuning-- medium-highish top, medium-lowish bottom, something like that. You'll definitely be the only person you know using that sound. If you get really desperate, buy fiberglass drums, or some Vistalites. Play the toms loud.
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Old 09-28-2017, 04:58 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

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Originally Posted by toddbishop View Post
Remo Ambassadors, wide-open. A Billy Cobham tuning cuts better than a normal rock/funk tuning-- medium-highish top, medium-lowish bottom, something like that. You'll definitely be the only person you know using that sound. If you get really desperate, buy fiberglass drums, or some Vistalites. Play the toms loud.
I was going to suggest this very thing. Even though people used to loose tunings don't love the sound, tuning the batter tighter than the reso does tend to increase definition and articulation.

And this is from a guy who almost always used to tune the batter a minor third or a fifth lower than the reso. Still do, sometimes. Just depends on what you need.
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  #13  
Old 09-28-2017, 05:08 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

You need a Tom to cut through?

Look no further:

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Old 09-28-2017, 06:08 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

Un-mic'ed- tune 'em up higher than you normally would.

Mic'ed- loose, baggy, and get the sound guy to put some gated recerb on thdm and bring them way.up invthe mix- BOOM!
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  #15  
Old 09-28-2017, 06:13 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

Oak toms would certainly be "louder"

I can actually "hear" the oak component in my Keystone.

Yamaha Oak Customs might be the loudest drums I've ever played. Delightful kit.
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Old 09-29-2017, 04:19 AM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

As others have said, toms often seem quiet because people use thick ass heads, tune them low as shit, and muffle them. And its not like one of the above, its all the above. That will not project at all.

One ply heads like the ambassadors give the most volume, and tune those suckers up for some projection. Alternatively, if you insist on having lower tuned toms, believe it or not, I found taking an unmuffled two ply head (like an Emperor) and tuning that *high* can give you more projection than tuning an Ambassador down to a similar pitch.
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:27 AM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

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Originally Posted by whiteknightx View Post
if they are tuned too low, they get muddy sounding and don't have their own sound space or projection. OP didn't say what kind of music you are playing, but that could be a factor as well.
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Originally Posted by Seafroggys View Post
As others have said, toms often seem quiet because people use thick ass heads, tune them low as shit, and muffle them. And its not like one of the above, its all the above. That will not project at all.
Yup.

Miced up, I think concert toms aren't a terrible idea - and you can combat the bearing edge thing by porting your reso head, cutting out a bunch of it, or using a mesh head for the reso. But low tom tunings and live mixes are natural enemies.

One other thing is that I find people don't necessarily hit toms as hard as they do snares, or yknow, if you're playing rimshots on snare you're getting more volume by default than toms. So if you DO find your toms are getting lost a bit, try putting a little more velocity into them!
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:45 AM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

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Originally Posted by porter View Post
Yup.

Miced up, I think concert toms aren't a terrible idea - and you can combat the bearing edge thing by porting your reso head, cutting out a bunch of it, or using a mesh head for the reso. But low tom tunings and live mixes are natural enemies.

One other thing is that I find people don't necessarily hit toms as hard as they do snares, or yknow, if you're playing rimshots on snare you're getting more volume by default than toms. So if you DO find your toms are getting lost a bit, try putting a little more velocity into them!
Remember Phil Collins! A great concert tom sound with the mic up inside the drum. Also remember John Panazzo of Styx back in the 80s (before he passed away) ported his tom reso heads and the engineer stuck the mic up inside and that sound really worked.

One way or another, concert toms will come back around ;)

But I do agree with ambassador-weight heads tuned up - just check out drum recordings made during the Motown era, or the stuff the 60s - all drums had jazz tunings and sounded like drums.
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Old 09-29-2017, 10:46 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

Yeah, concert toms can often be a mic's friend because they tend to emphasize attack. The sustain profile is quite different, and less prone to the issue of low tuned mic'd toms where the mic is picking up a crapload of the heads' excess resonance because they're so low.
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Old 09-30-2017, 10:51 AM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

I have clear Remo Emperors on my toms tuned up higher then I normally do. I have the bottom heads cut out so I can keep the bottom hoops on to protect the shells.

I think the concert style toms have a cool sound. Even unmiced they are louder and punchy but they still have tone and sustain. I've not heard them miced up or with someone else playing them while I stand out front (miced or unmiced). So I'm only getting the sound from my perspective from behind the kit unmiced. But, the last show I did with my band I was told by the guitar player that my toms cut through more then usual. And I was not miced at that gig.
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Old 10-02-2017, 11:37 AM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

so isn't it about time that all drums offer a mic inside them?

From what I'm reading here, concert toms have a better attack and project better whereas "normal" toms have better tone and sustain.

Does this then mean that for the best sound, normal 2 headed toms should have mics mounted on the inside?

With the price you pay for a few bits of wood and metal, shouldn't this be a given?

Obviously people will say it will affect the resonance, but only very slightly if at all.
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Old 10-03-2017, 03:33 AM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

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Originally Posted by JohnoWorld View Post
With the price you pay for a few bits of wood and metal, shouldn't this be a given?

Obviously people will say it will affect the resonance, but only very slightly if at all.
Internal mics sound just... weird on two headed toms. Bizarre color. Also, they take up a LOT of internal space on rack toms.
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Old 10-03-2017, 04:48 AM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

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From what I'm reading here, concert toms have a better attack and project better whereas "normal" toms have better tone and sustain.
Check out the tom sound on Gino Vannelli's "Brother to Brother" and "Nightwalker" records. The toms had the bottom heads removed for both of them. They were miced from below/inside.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhouvZmyst0

https://youtu.be/9_skjtBh0ek

https://youtu.be/n7RFUCs2e7M

More great concert tom recordings:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isYdNlnfpjg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUBB-3JXWnQ

Last edited by drumming sort of person; 10-03-2017 at 05:01 AM.
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Old 10-03-2017, 05:34 AM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB_RPa6P6MA
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:06 AM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

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Originally Posted by drumming sort of person View Post
I don't think this shows the real difference between concert toms and two headed toms. The microphone was on the batter head.
And the difference in projection would not be noticed unless the drums were recorded from further away, like in a bigger room.

Someone ought to buy this poor drummer a real snare drum.


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Old 10-03-2017, 06:36 AM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

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Originally Posted by Hollywood Jim View Post
I don't think this shows the real difference between concert toms and two headed toms. The microphone was on the batter head.

I think the difference between them was interesting. I actually like the sound better with the hole in the bottom head. But it would be nice to hear a real comparison between a double headed tom and a REAL concert tom.

Check out what Canopus does to their concert toms: http://canopusdrums.com/en/product/single-head-tom-tom/

Quote:
A reinforcement of extra thickness was introduced to compensate for the mass of the head and lugs, and the results were again improved.

The sound energy generated from the head collected in the shell to circulate as vibration energy.
The extra mass of the reinforcement produced a reasonable resistance in the airflow of the tom.
This was a significant improvement, but more work needed to be done.

While the thick reinforcement controlled the unwanted crevice noise, the structural shortcomings created poor sound projection and short sustain.
The solution to these disappointing characteristics was found by making an oblique cut in the reinforcement to allow smoother airflow and proper balance in the sound.

To deal with the unbalanced structure of the single-headed tom, Canopus intentionally created an unbalanced shell specification. The result is clear attack, exceptional dynamic range, broad frequency response, and proper sustain without any crevice noise.
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Old 10-03-2017, 11:23 AM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

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Originally Posted by drumming sort of person View Post
I think the difference between them was interesting. I actually like the sound better with the hole in the bottom head. But it would be nice to hear a real comparison between a double headed tom and a REAL concert tom.

Check out what Canopus does to their concert toms: http://canopusdrums.com/en/product/single-head-tom-tom/
I really wish they would make an entire hollowed log Zelkova drum set, like their snares. I'd LOVE to hear that.
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Old 10-03-2017, 02:53 PM
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I really wish they would make an entire hollowed log Zelkova drum set, like their snares. I'd LOVE to hear that.
That's an interesting article by Canopus there. Maybe it just needed someone to work with it rather than just dismissing it as many do. I do like the sound of concert toms, they make much more sense in my situation, they do look a bit pony though.

I wouldn't love to hear a full solid kit myself. They'd make it with a rounded edge, which I hate. I'd like to see a boutique kit with sharp edges for a change, so it can be used in every situation, not just one or two.

I just think ply can't be beaten really. We all get told solid wood is better, I don't think it matters at all, because they always change the bearing edge to "accentuate" the sound.

Unless lording it over your contemporaries is one of your pursuits, I'd forget about a full solid kit :-D
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Old 10-03-2017, 03:23 PM
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Default Re: Toms that cut through

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Originally Posted by JohnoWorld View Post
That's an interesting article by Canopus there. Maybe it just needed someone to work with it rather than just dismissing it as many do. I do like the sound of concert toms, they make much more sense in my situation, they do look a bit pony though.

I wouldn't love to hear a full solid kit myself. They'd make it with a rounded edge, which I hate. I'd like to see a boutique kit with sharp edges for a change, so it can be used in every situation, not just one or two.

I just think ply can't be beaten really. We all get told solid wood is better, I don't think it matters at all, because they always change the bearing edge to "accentuate" the sound.

Unless lording it over your contemporaries is one of your pursuits, I'd forget about a full solid kit :-D
The Zelkova snare has a very sharp 60 degree edge, why would they make a tom with a rounded edge? It would kill what little resonance they naturally have.
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Old 10-03-2017, 05:38 PM
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The Zelkova snare has a very sharp 60 degree edge, why would they make a tom with a rounded edge? It would kill what little resonance they naturally have.
ah OK, never played one myself, just that most "woody" kits are made with a rounded edge to accentuate the tone. I'm sure others have done it somewhere but it was so labour intensive and the sound was just not worth it.

Completely OT anyhoo
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