10 & 12 or 12 & 13 toms


Junior Member
Interested in different experiences/thoughts on 10 & 12 or 12 & 13 up toms. I've seen a lot of people use both, but most kits today are 10 & 12. I grew up on a 12 & 13 but now have a 10 & 12.


Platinum Member
I'm much like yourself. The first kit I owned was a 12/13, but now I own a 10/12.

It's safe to say the 13 used to see a hell of a lot more action than my 10 ever has. Just not a fan of it. Too small for my tastes and I find it requires me to be pretty precise with the tuning or it is prone to choking out. All my other drums have a far wider tuning range.

If I could swap it for a 13 of the same make and colour, I'd do it in a heartbeat without hesitation.


Senior Member
I'm not a fan of having toms 1" apart, because they can sound too similar, and you get more separation with a 2" difference between toms.
My kit is 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 so you can see how I feel about the original question.


Silver Member
For me growing up in the 80s, pretty much 12/13 was the "standard. I like the 10/12 setup, my Ludwig maple kit goes 10/12/14/16 and i like that range. I had 13" toms in other kits and could never get a good sound/range with other toms.


I have a Yammie Stage Custom, 10, 12, 16. After playing it the last year or so, I’d prefer a 12,13,16 set up. To me the 10x7 sounds a little “tin canny” when tuned up to where a drum that size should probably be. I can get a nice sounding lower tuning out of it but it’ll detune quickly and soon sound like I’m playing on a paper bag. I don’t have that problem with the 12x8, and I’m sure I wouldn’t with a 13x(whatever) either.


Senior Member
1" separation isn't enough for me and like others , find a 10 can be a bit wimpy. 12 14 16 is what I've settled on.


Silver Member
I like both. Was bought up with 12/13 But recently have 10/12. Am lucky that two of my kits have 10/12/13 so can pick & choose depending on my mood or, if I am feeling devilish.............. I can use all 3. :D
As most older drummers I grew up with 12/13/16 being standard. Today I am using different combinations, but never two drums only 1" apart. Why? I think it was a matter of fashion to break with the old standard as well as to start using virgin bass drums. At the end of the day, both works well, as long as you are able or willing to find out what the drum needs instead of just forcing any drum into the sound the drummer wants. And to complain if the drum doesn't exactly sound like "the drum I heard on whatever recording".

Nobody expects an 18" bass drum to sound "Bonham-ish", but a 10" tom has to give a big fat sound with a wide tuning range? That's odd!
I always tuned my 10" toms to the point where the drum felt good, and so did I. I own three kits in different combinations, and I really apreciate each of them sounding different. Thus it gives me options to choose from, depending on what the job calls for.

It's ok either way as long as you now what to to, that's my experiece. If you prefer clarity, you may use smaller sizes with a 2" distance, if you want to sound "massive" and fat, you may take bigger drums even if they are close in size.


Platinum Member
If I was playing a 2-up/1-down configuration, I'd got with the 10/12 combo based primarily on easier placement. Since I play one up, one down, I might get the 12/13 so I can choose which rack tom I'd want to use.


Platinum Member
A lot of my gigs are 10 + 14, sometimes I add the 12 to make a five piece kit, especially if I’m playing 70’s covers accurately.

My other kit is 12 + 14, and I find myself tuning the 12 a bit higher, so it ends up sounding very similar to the 10 in the main kit.

(Both kits have 20” bass drums).


Platinum Member
I like the 10, 13, and 16 in. !0 in is about as small and high pitched as you will occasionally need, and the 13 in is just "perfect" (strange being an odd number but I love mine). I like the 3 in interval in sizes something about that even interval appeals to me. You could go the 2in interval 10,12, and 14 but I like more bottom on the floor (and 12 in toms just bore me now I'm hooked on my 13 in).

Darth Vater

Senior Member
For me it depends on the drums. Ludwig Classic Maple? 12-13. Tama SCM and B/B? 10-12. Gretsch Renown? 12-13. Gretsch Brooklyn? 10-12. Sonor Delite? 10-13. Sonor Prolite? 8-10-12. Mapex Saturn 10-12. YMMV


Silver Member
When I'm playing my kit as a 5-piece, I like the fact that I've got 10, 12 and 16 inch toms - the 10 and 12 fit nicely mounted on the kick, and I get the depth I want out of the 16" - it's 14" deep, so it's not too big of a shift from the 12".

When I'm playing it as a 4-piece, it's just 12" and 16", but that's a whole other discussion.


Platinum Member
I’m currently playing 1U/2D 12,14,16, and absolutely love the tone of the 14, so shoving a 13 in between would just complicate tuning. If I was using a 1U/1D I’d be all in with a 13 and 16. I’ve heard the Gretsch Brooklyn 10”. It had none of the chocking or tuning issues I had with my previous set, but I haven’t missed not having it, so haven’t spent the cash.


Senior Member
I use a 2-up offset tom setup, so 10" and 12" toms work perfectly for this. With an offset tom configuration, 12" and 13" toms add 3 more inches to the overall width, which means I'd have to push my hi hats out 3 additional inches. No thanks! Plus, I've never felt that a 1" difference is enough. And unlike some other posters on here, I've never had a problem getting my 10" tom to sound good at any tuning.
I like both. I normally just play a 4-piece, so if a particular kit has 12/13/16, I just use the 13 and 16, or 12 and 16. I do have a new-ish Mapex Mars kit with a 20/10/12/14 configuration. I switched out the stock heads right away to Aquarian Performance II heads on the toms, Evans G1's on reso. The toms sound absolutely amazing and have been the easiest to tune drums that I've ever come across.... I'm able to get a very deep, clear pitch on all of the shells...almost close to 12/14/16-- AB'd with some of my other kits. So, in my case the 10" does not, in any way, sound too high or tinny. It has a beautiful full and deep round tone. The 14" sounds, at the lowest pitch I can tune to, like a 16" on my other kits.

So, I guess it depends on the kit, bearing edges and tuning. I have had some other kits with a 10/12/14 set up and the 10" tom sounded horrible no matter what I did.