18 inch bass drum, why bother?

rain dog

Member
mine is 22" and sometimes is a bit underwhelming. i like the idea of a small bass drum but they just don't have the thump IMHO. i had a 24" that sounded great but made it tough to get to the toms and cymbals.
 

TomH

Junior Member
Bass drums are a bit like the low strings of a piano. A 9 foot concert grand's low string has more tension and resonance than a 5 foot 4 inch piano's low string. The result is the larger string puts out far more acoustic energy for a given hit (the larger sound board has the same impact). A 16" or 18" bass drum must be tuned higher to get decent acoustic output and accordingly can interfere with the notes of the bass, unless played lightly by the player. If pitched lower, in the range of say a 22" bass, the sound will have much less acoustic output. If you mike the bass, it can sound huge.
 

TomH

Junior Member
I am curious, what heads do players use on the batter and resonant side of an 18" bass that play both jazz and top 40?
 

jimb

Member
Have to say I agree with the OP. Slightly off thread but my current band rehearse in a school music room with a nice sounding but beat up old Pearl Export with toms at wacky angles, wobbly hardware the lot.....Two sessions of that and out came the key and tools to remove a tom and move the one remaining in closer....no way could I play that thing to my best ability, don't reckon they had been moved in decades, man were they stuck.
As was said the guitar player doesn't have to play an unplayable guitar so y shld we play unplayable drums.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
If an 18” floor tom can sound like thunder, why can’t it sound like a bass drum? Tom sizes would matter, but it’s still a kit.

I went to a garage party once where the drummer rocked an unmic’d 16” bass drum.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I've got two kits with 18" kicks. My RMV's are 18, 12, 14. My Yamaha's (9000's) are 18, 12, 16. The RMV bass drum lives on a riser, and has WAY more punch than the Yamaha. So I think, for starters .... if you're asking your 18 to sub. for a 20 or 22, in a given role, you need to get it up off the floor. Otherwise, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I've got two kits with 18" kicks. My RMV's are 18, 12, 14. My Yamaha's (9000's) are 18, 12, 16. The RMV bass drum lives on a riser, and has WAY more punch than the Yamaha. So I think, for starters .... if you're asking your 18 to sub. for a 20 or 22, in a given role, you need to get it up off the floor. Otherwise, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.
I know I responded to this thread years ago, and my attitude hasn't really changed on it. I'm still not a fan of the tiny bass drum. But when I look at a 18x14, and then a 20x14, and put them in the backseat of my car, the difference in space the 20" takes up over the 18" is negligible. So in a practical sense, Max Roach wasn't saving all that much space when he said he used the 18" because they had to get all their gear and luggage in the station wagon when they were on the road. He could have gotten away with the 20" if he wanted to, and then the 18" bass drum would never have taken off with people. Jimmy Cobb even wouldn't go smaller than a 20" bass drum, because you need the extra body the 20" gives (it actually sounds like a bass drum) - and he played soft behind Sarah Vaughn! So it's still the old "it's the drummer" that defines the sound up on stage, and not the correct-looking stuff. I think Louie just always used 24" bass drums for everything.

So use whatever you want, just know why you're using it, and be prepared for it to disappoint every now and then when you stay small.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I used to think !8' bass drums were useless but this one will change all that! .....from !8' to 26" it will stand toe to toe .
Beautiful Craviottos. Bet they sound fantastic.

Back to the ol' dead thread topic, I just don't understand people who say you can't hear an 18" bass drum. I used to be the host drummer for an open jam, and I'd often take my little Tama bop kit rather than the Classic Maples. I didn't mind leaving the Silverstars in the trunk of the car, so it was convenient. Anyway, I've had the opportunity to hear both the 24" Ludwig and the 18" Tama in the exact same situation, same stage, etc. I've heard countless drummers play my little Tama 18" bass drum (birch, on a riser, with unported PS3 heads) and it was always easy to hear. This was an unmiced situation, playing with electric guitars, bass, horns, keyboards, and whatever else anyone cared to bring. Hearing it simply wasn't an issue. In fact, I had one guitarist comment that it was amazing how much thump that tiny bass drum had.

The 24 sounds lower, of course, but the 18 has a punch of it's own.
 

TMe

Senior Member
My 18" projects well. I suspect that's because the shell is thinner than most bass drum shells, and I play it wide open, snapping the beater off the head instead of burying it.

A 16" or 18" bass drum must be tuned higher to get decent acoustic output and accordingly can interfere with the notes of the bass, unless played lightly by the player.
I guess it depends on the bass player. I find the larger kick drums get lost in the mix, buried under the bass, whereas my smaller kick punches through a lot better. Our bassist's sound tends to be a bit overwhelming, so if I were playing with a bass that didn't sound like a foghorn, that might change.

In small bars, with small sound systems, it seems easier to get a good sound from a smaller kick than a larger kick. I have no idea why that's the case, or if it's just my ears that make it seem so.
 

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
I'll paraphrase a quote I read on here that said, "an 18" kick drum isn't a kick, it's a FOOT TOM!"

I've used one for small room gigs, but never got the tone right. Sold it right away and went to a cajon with a pedal for those jobs.
A 20-incher is really best for any small-to-medium sized gigs (as well as recording). I've learned engineers LOVE the 20" kick as they can dial them in just perfect.

18" toms are for the really low end for guys like me with a 1-up/2-down set up.
 

Vandalay

Member
I've also found the difference between 18 & 20 inch kicks to be negligible, it's depth that eats up space more that width, Tama has a version of the Superstar classic with a 20x10 kick.
 

jimb

Member
Had an 18x16 BD for a while but changed it for a 20x14 which seems a bit better, punchier plus easy to load etc.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
My 18" Premier APK Birch bass drum was perfect for indoor group rehearsals where volume and space were a concern.
I never mic'd it up would feel confident using it as such in a small gig setting (for the blues style music I was playing at that time).
 

GeorgiaPhil

Member
I use a 20 on my main kit, it definitely does not have the natural power that a 22 has, but any decent sound man can beef it up and get the sound you need out of it. I also like that it's a tidbit punchier. I would imagine that should be true for a 18 as well, seems like a 16 would be a stretch though.
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
I picked up a cheap Sonor 16 inch kik just for the portability factor. Sounds ok for light jamming. Totally worth it for the convenience.
 

Sonorfan

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.
Well I switched to a Sonor Safari kit 5 years ago. It has an 18in kick and it has plenary of volume. I did change the batter head to a Remo Pin Stripe and that made a big difference volume wise. The only concern with the smaller diameter I had was the bounce back of the beater which made it hard to do a feathered stroke for Jazz. I believed the cause was no air hole in the shell so I cut a 2in port into the reso head and cured the problem. I should point out that the Safari kick although on 18in in diameter is typical of Sonor.. it’s as heavy as my old 20in Yamaha and the woods they use certainly give it a big sound. The Yamaha was Luan Magogany whereas the Sonor uses select hardwoods.. looks like Asian Birch ? In fact in a small venue I had to muffle the batter head. One Jazz group I play with really cranks out the volume and unmuffled and without miking I’m easily heard. I’m not and expert but I’m guessing the shell thickness, wood used and overall weight of the drum plays a factor. Just sayin ...
 

Sonorfan

Member
Well I switched to a Sonor Safari kit 5 years ago. It has an 18in kick and it has plenary of volume. I did change the batter head to a Remo Pin Stripe and that made a big difference volume wise. The only concern with the smaller diameter I had was the bounce back of the beater which made it hard to do a feathered stroke for Jazz. I believed the cause was no air hole in the shell so I cut a 2in port into the reso head and cured the problem. I should point out that the Safari kick although on 18in in diameter is typical of Sonor.. it’s as heavy as my old 20in Yamaha and the woods they use certainly give it a big sound. The Yamaha was Luan Magogany whereas the Sonor uses select hardwoods.. looks like Asian Birch ? In fact in a small venue I had to muffle the batter head. One Jazz group I play with really cranks out the volume and unmuffled and without miking I’m easily heard. I’m not and expert but I’m guessing the shell thickness, wood used and overall weight of the drum plays a factor. Just sayin ...
Oops I’m talking about the Sonor Player Kit with 18in kick. The Safari has a 16in.. I own one of those as well and changing batter head and porting reso improved its volume as well. I do mike it if I use it for Rock.
 
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