18 inch bass drum, why bother?

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My newest band has a great rehearsal space. It's a detached 3 car garage, with fully stocked commercial beverage coolers, pool table, great PA, monitors, lights, backline, and all kinds of expensive really cool decorations. (Like light bulbs made to look like guitar tubes, and all kinds of other cool stuff musicians go for) It's your ultimate man cave for sure set in a rolling countryside farmland setting. It's just beautiful. The guy has a boatload of dough, he's president of a software company, and I really like him and the band. His wife always has some great food waiting for us when we rehearse, so it's a very pleasant time. All this has nothing to do with the thread though lol.
Anyway, the guy has a Gretsch Catalina Club Elite set there. The 12" rack tom is OK, the 14" floor tom is nice, the snare sounds bad and I'm sorry but I don't know why anyone would like an 18" bass drum. It just has no balls, no volume, and I have to play it twice as hard as I normally do, which kind disrupts me, because I have to put so much more into the pedal. I can't relax when I have to compensate like that. It's very unsatisfying for me, my kick drum is the center of my drumming universe. When it's not cutting it it really affects my drumming mood. There is a big difference between an 18 and a 20. A 20 in my mind is about as small as you can go and still have a real kick drum sound, JMO. I do like a 20" kick drum, it has real bass tones. That 2 inches makes a big difference. I may get a cheap set to leave there, I can't do an 18" bass drum anymore. And the 16's? Fuggetaboutit. I guess this is kind of negative, sorry.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
I'm with you on 16s but I actually really like the sound of an 18" when it's tuned appropriately. I've heard them sound really powerful in all kinds of music. They'll never be the same as a bigger drum but they've got their own interesting quality which I like.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I do realize that there are some who like the 18's. I guess I should apologize, I'm not downing anyone. It doesn't cut it for me though. Perhaps other 18 inch BD's sound better. Maybe if it had a riser it would sound louder/punchier. Give me a 22 or 24. A 26 is a little too much for me, but I'd take that over an 18.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Right, but how does your crotch fit in here?

j/k


Anyhoo, what heads are on it? How's it tuned? I've really heard some monster sounding 18's. I do agree that 16's tend to sound a bit more like toms, but sometimes that's called for.

Anyway, I'd mess around a bit before I'd bring in another kit. Pull out muffling, put on some heads known for deep rumbles, try a heavier beater... Get rid of the hole...
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
There is a substantial difference between an 18 and a 20, usually in a good way for me-- the 18 has a nice blend with the rest of the set. But you should be able to get a decent rock sound out of one if you're miking it-- played acoustically I don't think it can keep up with amplified instruments at a moderately full volume. Really, any other bass drum can't either, but the 18 sounds really weak from the playing position. I also think Catalinas generally sound like crap.
 

Liebe zeit

Silver Member
I also play an 18 in my practice space. It's loads better since I loosened the tension spring and don't have to kick it so damned hard - and it definitely works un-miced with the other instruments. It would also be loads better if it was tuned higher than slack, but I'm not allowed to touch that
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I guess I'm having a hard time understanding how anyone could like that sound. Miced perhaps, but even then, if it's not in the monitor, and I couldn't hear it in the mains, it would still sound too wimpy from the drivers seat. It has a dotted head, and is ported. It needs a full front head, no dotted head on the batter and a riser to get in the ballpark. I need real bass tones, I don't want to struggle to get them, I want them in abundance.
 

dwdrummerky

Senior Member
I used to have a gretsch catalina jazz kit..I could never get the bass drum to sound the way I wanted and concluded it was because the 18" bass drums that I love and am used to hearing are all USA customs, DW's, or other high end drums.

I bought the kit because it looked cool in WMP and I paid $220 dollars for it which is very good. No offense to catalina owners but those drums come nowhere near what I consider a good jazz kit. I tried half a dozen head combos but it would never sound very warm or sweet.

18" bass drums have a place for sure. Personally I enjoy a 20" much more and will most likely never buy another 18". I prefer a lower pitch with a bit more air than an 18 can deliver.
 

Bretton

Silver Member
you mentioned the really nice PA, throw a Mic on it, and crank up the low end. I'd also look into some different heads, a riser, maybe a kickport? (do those actually work?)
 

inneedofgrace

Platinum Member
Wow Larry - you just described my situation. Our practice space is on the second floor of the guitar player's house. And he has the same exact Gretsch kit, and I've had the same reaction ever since I started playing the kit. I don't like it one bit. I don't like playing a 4-piece (I play a 5-piece in my other band and 6 or 7-piece during gigs) kit. I don't like the bass drum because it's wimpy, I don't like the snare, and the rest is okay. I cringe when I have to use this kit for recording.

HOWEVER......before he bought this kit, I had to lug MY kit up to his second floor every time we would rehearse or jam, and it was an awful and time consuming experience! So, I'm not going to look this gift horse in the mouth. I'll just keep playing it and keep my mouth shut. LOL

AND it makes me appreciate my PDP X-7 kit that much more when we play out. :)
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
my 18 sounds thunderous and loud enough to push this bluesy rock outfit....this is the only band I use this kit with outside of jazz dates.

of course my 20 sounds bigger....but I do like what the 18 gives me

through some decent speakers you can hear it pushing air here
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=3383971752618
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Well, it's not my place, not my drums, and I probably wouldn't want to make an issue of it. I try to be a problem solver not a problem creator. I try to be upbeat, no issues, with a can do attitude. They are not affected by the bass drum tone, it's all in my own head, it's the way I feel while playing it. I don't want to make an issue of anything, it's not that important to them. It's just rehearsal anyway. I'll just bring a bigger kick drum, there's loads of space there.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Sorry, I agree with Larry. It doesn't matter what kind of tuning or heads. Physics is physics. Bigger will just sound bigger. That's why I'm back on 22 inch bass drums. You basically have more voices coming out of it. It's more satisfying and you get enough low to qualify as a bass drum. If you mic up, that's one thing. But now you'd be carrying your own sound system which defeats the purpose of a smaller kit anyway.
 

Bruce M. Thomson

Gold Member
I played a Gretsch kit from the late 70's with an 18" bass drum and it was killer; I have also once played the kit you are speaking of and it was not the same; one thing for sure if the stock heads are on I would consider replacing them with either the Evans Emad or a Remo Powerstroke 3 on the batter side and matching resonate. I am not suggesting this is the solution and perhaps it already has the heads you prefer but I have found that it is generally a quick fix for drums and with proper tuning can make the difference. Sounds like the only thing missing from that set up are the dancing girls, environment is so critical to the enjoyment isn't it.
Speaking of rooms I have also found that where they are in the room will greatly affect the sound and if that is all it might be that would be even a simpler fix for you. At any rate congratulations on finding such a sweet spot.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
my 18 sounds thunderous and loud enough to push this bluesy rock outfit....this is the only band I use this kit with outside of jazz dates.

of course my 20 sounds bigger....but I do like what the 18 gives me

through some decent speakers you can hear it pushing air here
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=3383971752618
Disagree Anthony. Seriously, I can barely hear your kick, I have to struggle to pick it out, and I don't feel it at all. I hear your snare, cymbals, and the toms when you use them, but the bass is missing from the mix to my ear, in a big way too.. I need way more than that I guess.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
Disagree Anthony. seriously, I can barely hear your kick and don't feel it at all. I hear your snare ,cymbals, and the toms when you use them, but the bass is missing from the mix to my ear, in a big way too.. I need way more than that I guess.
really?

it's pounding through my speakers as we speak

I feel you though....a bigger kick will always push more air

I just love carrying a small kit after years of lugging a 22" kick around
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
I have a Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz kit, and I really like it. I would not play the bass drum without a riser on the back because the bass drum beater would not hit in the best spot to get the best bass from it. The riser that came with mine is OK, but I bought the Gibraltar riser because it seems sturdier.

I do not use the snare, but the rest of the drums sound great. I have been playing drum set since about 1970, and I have owned over a dozen kits. I know what good drums sound like. I have played blues-rock and instrumental rock with this set, and I received nice feedback about how they sounded from people in the audience. I find that my 18" bass drum sounds punchy and does not compete with the bass guitar, occupying the sonic space just above it.

To each his/her own and all of that, but right now I am loving my 18" bass drum.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
My newest band has a great rehearsal space. It's a detached 3 car garage, with fully stocked commercial beverage coolers, pool table, great PA, monitors, lights, backline, and all kinds of expensive really cool decorations. (Like light bulbs made to look like guitar tubes, and all kinds of other cool stuff musicians go for) It's your ultimate man cave for sure set in a rolling countryside farmland setting. It's just beautiful. The guy has a boatload of dough, he's president of a software company, and I really like him and the band. His wife always has some great food waiting for us when we rehearse, so it's a very pleasant time. All this has nothing to do with the thread though lol.
Anyway, the guy has a Gretsch Catalina Club Elite set there. The 12" rack tom is OK, the 14" floor tom is nice, the snare sounds bad and I'm sorry but I don't know why anyone would like an 18" bass drum. It just has no balls, no volume, and I have to play it twice as hard as I normally do, which kind disrupts me, because I have to put so much more into the pedal. I can't relax when I have to compensate like that. It's very unsatisfying for me, my kick drum is the center of my drumming universe. When it's not cutting it it really affects my drumming mood. There is a big difference between an 18 and a 20. A 20 in my mind is about as small as you can go and still have a real kick drum sound, JMO. I do like a 20" kick drum, it has real bass tones. That 2 inches makes a big difference. I may get a cheap set to leave there, I can't do an 18" bass drum anymore. And the 16's? Fuggetaboutit. I guess this is kind of negative, sorry.
The main advantage of a smaller bass drum is that it allows you to play more quietly. Everyone except a drummer thinks that's a good thing. I have played almost 30 years, never on anything larger than a 20, and I have never, ever heard anyone ask a drummer to play louder, and often just the opposite.

I've played on kits with 24 and larger bass drums and they just sound flabby and boomy, like they are too hard to tune. Depth also matters. I play and 18 by 18 drum made of very hard wood. I have thick, loose heads. The drum has lots of chomp - a good balance between attack, resonance, richness and focus. If the drum needs to be louder, then I can mic it.
 
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plangentmusic

Guest
I had a 22"for most things and an 18" for jazz gigs but found the 18" worked just fine for pretty much everything -- even better for recordings. And when miced, it was PLENTY powerful. I sold the 22".

However, if I were to do it all over again, I might go with a 20".
 

Bruce M. Thomson

Gold Member
I played a Gretsch kit from the late 70's with an 18" bass drum and it was killer; I have also once played the kit you are speaking of and it was not the same; one thing for sure if the stock heads are on I would consider replacing them with either the Evans Emad or a Remo Powerstroke 3 on the batter side and matching resonate. I am not suggesting this is the solution and perhaps it already has the heads you prefer but I have found that it is generally a quick fix for drums and with proper tuning can make the difference. Sounds like the only thing missing from that set up are the dancing girls, environment is so critical to the enjoyment isn't it.
Speaking of rooms I have also found that where they are in the room will greatly affect the sound and if that is all it might be that would be even a simpler fix for you. At any rate congratulations on finding such a sweet spot.
I just thought of something else, from personal experiance. I have been rehearsing in a fairly large room and at fist I was kicking at what I perceived to be the right volume but upon listening to the floor recordings it was much louder; I have been practicing getting a cleaner sound from the bass drum and started hitting them lighter and more precise (avoiding burying the beater in to the head) and they come out much better sounding. The point I'm making is that perhaps it is just your perception that it is not loud enough, the boom afterall comes out the front. I was in the home audio business for 18 years and a good example of what I am talking about are woofers; it is a common misconception that large woofers give you better sounding bass. Wrong, once you get past 12" the cone moves more slugglishily and you get distortion and boominess, most high quality speakers will have nothing larger than a 10' driver, the cabnate itself is what produces the bottom end and in drums that is still true as well but the tuning, heads and placement will produce interesting results. Again, you don't want to go to a lot of trouble so why not get the best you can out of the drum. I hope this is helpful.

Cheers
 
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