22 bass drum depth

sillypilot

Junior Member
Hi all - I’ve seen a bunch of threads on the difference between a 22x16 vs a 22x18 and something doesn’t seem right. It feels like most people prefer the 16, but the 18 seems to have more body and detailed sound than a 16. I don’t hear the boom on my 18 that many talk about, but I hear lack of fullness on my 16. What are you opinions?my experience tells me the opposite of what I’ve read.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
If we're to just talk about the numbers, then what you say is supposed to happen, should be happening. I've played several depths of 22 - 12", 14", 16", and currently own an 18x22 Pearl Reference, and all of them were made to sound relatively good. But the numbers don't take into account whether or not you're using the same heads on each depth, what materials were used, what bearing edges they have - there are a lot of variables. Of course, if you spend upwards of $1300 on a bass drum, it should be able to do everything you ask it to. I've been pleasantly surprised to get a relatively cheap $200 14x22 bass drum that sounded great no matter what I did to it. But on my 18", I can make it boom by tuning, or make it tight. So my opinion is to keep experimenting and really learn how to get sounds out of your drums. I'm guessing you haven't been at this game for as long as some of us here?

Back in my day (we used to walk to school in the snow with no shoes) I think my only head choices as a kid was coated ambassadors or black dots. Self-muffling heads were still about ten years off. So I must've spent hours trying felt strips, cutting holes for pillows, playing it wide-open.....but my material choices were slim. Maybe you need the right head combination? On my 18x22 Reference kick, I'm using a PowerStroke 3 on the batter side and a calfskin PS3 on the front as well wide open and the drum sings but also slams really well. When I have to mic up, I swap out the front head with a ported PS3 and put the DW hourglass pillow in there and it converts to nice low-end thump for most music.

But I really think people prefer the 16" or shorter depth more because it's easier to get in the back of a car. I have to case my 18 so it rides in the back of the truck. But my huge 14x26 bass drum fits nicely inside the passenger section of my quad cab!
 
I remeber one of Rick Beato's videos how to make your bass drum sound big, where he explains why 14" bass drums probably sound bigger according to his experience than deeper drums.
I never liked deep cannon style bass drums myself, and everything over 16" just adds mass you have to lug around without benefit.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
22x14 is the answer, most versatile for the amount of sounds you can get. Feels better too. NEver mind easy of transport and not worrying about losing the skin on your knuckles everytime you go through a doorway!

You're not shifting any amount of unsecessary air either like you have to with deeper bass drums although I had a 22x18 that had a real nice punchy thud with ps3 heads and a port in the reso.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I don’t hear the boom on my 18 that many talk about, but I hear lack of fullness on my 16. What are you opinions?my experience tells me the opposite of what I’ve read.
As Bo said, there are lots of variables here.

What kind of kick drums are you listening to or playing? For example, a Ludwig Maple Classic is going to be different experience than on something like a Sound Percussion.

Heads and muffling are huge factors. Emads on the batter with a little muffling on the reso go a long way with me. If you are using crummy heads, you can only go so far with your sound.

What kind of room are you in? Does the room "sound" good?

Size is a big factor; however, there are many more to consider as well.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
I never gave it much thought. I get great punch & tone from my 22x18 bubinga starclassic, so I don’t mess with it.

However, some players here say they prefer a shorter kick. It sounds better, easier to transport, etc.

My question is: why do drum manufacturers make them in that size?

I contend it has to do with the sonics, not the looks. If we consider snare drums, they come in a wide variety of dimensions, from 10” diameter to 15”, from 3” depth to 14”. They don’t make that kind of variety for looks.

What about toms? I’ve never played a kit with “power tom” sizes, but I’m inclined to believe manufacturers are getting big sounds from the current range of sizes. If not, then power tom sizes will return in the future.
 

CompactDrums

Silver Member
22X14 is by far the easiest to get a deep satisfying and punchy note out of without having to spend hours tuning and tweaking.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
All the depths have their individual charms. I like them all. The short ones punch fast, the deep ones have a longer note with a little more something something behind it.

If I had a gun to my head and had to settle on one depth, I'd have to go with the 14" depth.

It was THE standard size for how many years?
 
why do drum manufacturers make them in that size?
Much of what drum manufacturers do is to bring out new stuff that "drastically changes everything" in order to keep their businees running. It all has to do with fashion. For instance it is totally senseless to sell virgin bass drums by meanings of good drum sound, but it helped the manufacturers creating new needs.

For a long time shells had standard depth without variations. Then Sonor came up with the Signature series in the 80ies (square shells) and power shells shortly after. Then power shells dominated the next century, and floor toms were frowned. Then they went back to standard sizes for a while. After that Tama came up with Hyper Drive toms and cannon deep, almost square bass drums. That again lastet a little while, after which unexpectately standard sized drums won the race. ;)
In the last couple of years many companies sold vintage style drums with 14" deep bass drums, leaving out suspension mounts and all that neat modern stuff. To be continued...

Overlooking half a century of drum history, I can tell that there wasn't a big turning point in drum industry, where all of a sudden drumsound made a big step like Neil Armstrong on the moon. Good drums will sound good, no matter how deep they are, as well as good drummers sound good on almost everything.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
Much of what drum manufacturers do is to bring out new stuff that "drastically changes everything" in order to keep their businees running. It all has to do with fashion. For instance it is totally senseless to sell virgin bass drums by meanings of good drum sound, but it helped the manufacturers creating new needs.

For a long time shells had standard depth without variations. Then Sonor came up with the Signature series in the 80ies (square shells) and power shells shortly after. Then power shells dominated the next century, and floor toms were frowned. Then they went back to standard sizes for a while. After that Tama came up with Hyper Drive toms and cannon deep, almost square bass drums. That again lastet a little while, after which unexpectately standard sized drums won the race. ;)
In the last couple of years many companies sold vintage style drums with 14" deep bass drums, leaving out suspension mounts and all that neat modern stuff. To be continued...

Overlooking half a century of drum history, I can tell that there wasn't a big turning point in drum industry, where all of a sudden drumsound made a big step like Neil Armstrong on the moon. Good drums will sound good, no matter how deep they are, as well as good drummers sound good on almost everything.
I’m doubting that fashion has more to drum design than sonics, but you may be right.

Tama and Pearl make nothing but drums and percussion instruments. Yamaha, although a large conglomerate of manufacturers, has highly skilled people making drums (and some of the finest pianos available). It’s a stretch, for me, to think that people in these companies will let a drum go out the door that sounds inferior but looks “stylish”.

When including Gretsch, DW and Ludwig in this comparison, we see that they, too, have made deep bass drums. Did Gretsch ever make power toms? I don’t think so. DW? Ludwig? I don’t know. Maybe someone here knows.

On the topic of power toms, in my experience, a larger shell is louder. Diameter affect pitch, depth affects loudness. Toms are now designed in smaller depths because if loudness is needed in a venue, mics & PA systems provide it. Loudness is never needed in a studio.

In an interview with Steve Smith (on one of his DVDs maybe?), he laments how hard he used to hit his drums when in Journey, when he should’ve relied on the FOH for loudness.

In a workshop with Kenny Aronoff, I asked him about his red Tama kit with power toms that he used in John Mellencamp’s band, he said that’s what they made at the time (1980s) and he loved their sound. Mellencamp hated them cuz they were so loud and resonated so much. When Aronoff played at Obama’s 2008 inauguration (he was the music director), Mellencamp visited him backstage before the event and told him not to use any of “those giant toms” on his tune. (Mellencamp also told Aronoff, “I made you”, but that’s a different story).

But I totally understand the portability of a smaller drum. Back in the last century, when jazz was exploding in popularity in post-WWII USA, drummers needed their kit to fit into the car trunk. Sizes were smaller simply for this function.

We’d all like to walk into a venue with two bags in each hand and one over the shoulder and be done with load-in.
 
When including Gretsch, DW and Ludwig in this comparison, we see that they, too, have made deep bass drums. Did Gretsch ever make power toms? I don’t think so. DW? Ludwig? I don’t know.
Ludwig did for sure throughout the eighties and nineties, DW is probably too new on the market, they startet to build drums in that era. But I might have seen early DW kits with Keller shells having deeper toms as well. Gretsch had the Power Grand Prix series including power sizes.
I don't want to state that every drum sounds identical, and my statement was intended to be a little provocative. And I hope that drum manufacturers always have a good sound in mind ;)

But at the end of the day, drums have become fairly perfected over the last 10 decades, and efforts to establish new sizes are at least partially driven by economic considerations. Nevertheless so called standard sized toms and bass drums seem to be the best compromize between sound, volume and portability.

I never compared my 22x14 Sonor directly to my DC 22x18 to tell which one sounds bigger. And I wouldn't expect a clear result since both drums are differen in terms of wood, edge, weight and heads. Both offer more than enough punch and low end with only sparse dampening.

Another thing not being mentioned yet, more important than the sound of a single bass drum is how it blends with the rest of the instruments. Both bass drums sound nice together with the rest of the kit, and that's what counts imho.
 

theseer2

Junior Member
I have a 26 x 14 and 22 x 18 Ludwig Maples, and a Ludwig 16 x 14 - all very different, all are good, I choose what fits the music. None are versatile for the variety of styles I like to play.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
Isn't 14" depth bass drum simply a legacy of the marching band ? The bass was this depth because it was made to be carried and played in front of the drummer ? So, far from any sound consideration, it was just the larger depth that could be played as a marching bass drummer ? Just a though.
 
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Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Isn't 14" depth bass drum simply a legacy of the marching band ? The bass was this depth because it was made to be carried and played in front of the drummer ? So, far from any sound consideration, it was just the larger depth that could be played as a marching bass drummer ? Just a though.
I don’t think it would be that hard to play a marching bass that was 16” deep. You’d just need to use a rotating forearm technique instead of a wrist up-down technique. That’s probably irrelevant, though. I really don’t think kick drums are based off marching basses. I think they diverged pretty early on and were on parallel but separate development tracks.
 
So I cut down my bass drum today, from 22x18 to 22x14. It's a Ludwig Accent CS Custom, so Birch wood and low enough value that I wasn't ruining a nice drum.

Did a 45 degree bearing edge like the original bearing edge, although I gave a very slight roundover on the outside (similar to a Mapex). To the naked eye the old and new bearing edges look the same.

The result is certainly interesting. The bass drum is a lot more reactice to how I play it, like burying the beater vs bouncing it off actually makes a difference now. Where there used to be a flat thud, there is now a warm punch.

I didn't lose any low end, in fact it seems to fill up the room better now. Though I've got the feeling that once mic'd it won't rumble the subs as much.

It's still early and I haven't had the chance to experiment with tuning, and I've only experienced the difference from the throne's point of view, but I'm happy with the results. It looks much better IMHO, but that's just me. I can totally see why 22x18 would work better in a hard rock or metal context.
 

gish

Senior Member
SnickSoumd, would you mind posting back here with any additional thoughts as you play around with the drum more? I’m considering cutting down my 18x22 Starclassic B/B but am on the fence since I do like the sound of the drum as is. Want to cut down for portability/space saving reasons, and like the idea of getting more punch. Any additional input you have would be helpful.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
To address an earlier point, while I don’t think any manufacturer deliberately turns/turned a blind eye to a sub standard sounding product just because it looked fashionable, I do believe that being in fashion does help a product to sell and that change isn’t simply done for for change’s sake but sometimes it’s done to create a need that people never knew they had, or to accentuate a small benefit to a higher importance in the eyes of the buyer.
My first kit in the early 80s was 12”, 13”, 16” and 22”x14”. I’d been looking at used kits from the 70s and their sizes were the same. When I next bought a kit in the mid 2000s that “standard” had changed to 10”and 12” and mounted “floor Toms” of 14” diameter (previously unheard of) could justifiably be called the norm as could 18” bass drum depth. I’ve heard it said that Dave Weckl’s influence was behind this. Fast forward a few years and the mounted “floor Tom” is a rarity. Power Toms that I love the look of as someone who’s formative years and musical taste was the 80s and Heavy Metal are pretty much a memory. I recently had a Power Tom kit, it was a bit harder to tune but it wasn’t a bad kit by any stretch of the imagination.
Ultimately with a bit of effort we can get any drum to sound similiar enough to a similarly sized drum for the changing “fashions” not to matter too much. Yes, if I could get a 12” and 13” Tom set up I would, but the 10” and 12” isn’t so far away that it’s worth me losing sleep over so I don’t. And it’s why when I bought my latest kit and the bass drum was 16” deep as opposed to my preferred 14” I didn’t over worry about it because I knew an emad on the batter and a towel on the front head would solve any issues. And if I wanted it wide open, whip the emad and towel off, add a bit of tension to the lugs and presto.
 

Groov-E

Silver Member
A drummer will make any drum work in any given situation.

My only request for bass drums is that they be heavy enough not to creep away but not too heavy to haul around.

If that means adding a few inches, so be it, heads and tuning will do the rest.
 
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