Drum size thoughts


Junior Member
Hi all - Thinking of getting a new kit and and debating tom drum sizes. I learned on a 12, 13, and 16. I currently have a 10, 12, 14, 16, 18. I’m debating either the 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 again or moving to 8, 10, 12, 14, 16. What is an 8 like? Never had one and they feel really small to me. I mostly play rock and pop. Any experience comments with those sizes would be a lot of help.

Thanks all


Senior Member
I love having an 8" tom on my kit. There's no style of music that it doesn't work for, not in my experience, anyway. It's an extra voice and a force multiplier given how it encourages me to experiment with the tuning of other toms on the kit.

8 inch toms are light and easy to hang off a cymbal stand. They require little room to accommodate. You generally see them offered on higher end kits so theres a bit of pride of ownership in having one, too.


"Uncle Larry"
My opinion: Not a fan of 8" toms. My love for the 10" tom is even fading. The reason is sustain. Both those drums are too small to have any length of note, which is hugely important to me. Unmiced, they just die too quickly, that's the dealbreaker. 12/13/16 for me for the foreseeable future.

If they aren't leaving the house then it doesn't matter and get whatever makes you happiest. If you are gigging and you are miced up then have at it with the small drums as well. But if you are gigging them unmiced, 8 and even 10" toms just die off too quick to my ear. But you may like that.


Senior Member
Love both drum sizes 8” and 18”. I would be comparing total package prices with each tom size, then price individually as add ons in same sizes.
You don’t want to miss an opportunity for a larger shell in package that’s decently priced that will cost $400 + individually. Smaller toms are usually cheaper if added on.


Platinum Member
I think it depends on how many toms you want. If you want some big prog rock multi tom set up going smaller is the way to go. If you're going with two or even three up maximum I think 10" is as small as I'd want to go.

Right now I'm having a blast on a 10-13-16 set up. For me a 13" is really important because if I'm only using one high tom a 13" is as small as I want to go. Depending on the line and brand of drums you're looking at for this new kit it may be worth considering just getting everything you think you may want and have a shell bank to pull from. If you're undecided now it might be nice to have whatever you may want later in case there are changes/discontinuations in the future. I had a Mapex Meridian kit and I ended up selling it because I wanted add-ons I couldn't get after they dropped the line.


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I have 8, 10, 12, 14, with my Gretsch Renown,
and the 8 does a lot of resting and is preparing for retirement.

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Higher in pitch and don't sustain a long(though there are exceptions)?

It's a simple question really. You have a 10". Do you see yourself using something you can bring above that pitch?

You can't really generalize any more about tom sizes than what brand and model of drums someone shoud be using. There are many ways to incorporate different sizes into a kit. There are no rules. You can have a 4 or 5-piece with big drums and an 8" somewhere for effect, too.

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Get all of them and find out if you like it. I think Vinnie Colaiuta uses 8/10/12/14/16, plus a big 18 by his hi-hat. Maybe you could do the same - then test out what you like best and then have options as to what you'd use. That's not a bad position to be in, eh?


Silver Member
8, especially shallow 8" toms, are interesting as effect tom, high pitch and relatively dry, a bit like a snare drum with snare disengaged. I won't see the use in most of the music I play because it sounds more like percussion than drum, though I used one once on a lend kit, for an 80's style tom row, à la Iron Maiden.
To my personal taste and use, 10x8 would be the minimal all around size. But I'm Like Uncle Larry, stuck to the very classic 12 13 16 conf. which blends nicely with the other instruments and has a longer sustain.
Unmicked, those size sound good even if 12 13 sound too close for some.
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I have a 22/8/10/12/14/16 kit, and it's my biggest kit that I use mainly for rock stuff.
Not that I don't like the sound of an 8" tom, but it lives in its case most of the time. There is just no useful application where I need to use it, but it's always one more part to lug around. Musically, there is still enough you can do with 4 toms. Ok, if I had to play "In the Air tonight", I would probably take it with me, haha :)

Darth Vater

Senior Member
I have an 8". I think it's cool as heck. Probably best, if you're gigging with it, to have some sort of mic'ing going on, say at least an overhead.

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I would buy the larger size toms. Then I would buy a 10" and 8" cheapo tom. Like an SPL tom for like $20.
Try them out and see if I like the smaller, higher tone drums. And see how they fit in with the sound of my larger toms.

Personally, unless I'm doing lots of solos, I would not need an 8" or 10" tom.



Well-known member
I personally think for the music you are playing the bigger the better. However I play an 8,10,12,14,16 rig and like it for gospel and r and b and it is unique. But find your own sound and what you think is the best, is.


Platinum Member
A number of people who have the Renown/Catalina 8/10/12/16/22 setups place the 8 and 10 to the left of the hat on a separate stand, and set up the 12/16/22 as a normal 4 piece. The 8/10 do a great job as aux percussion pieces (Think faux latin or bongo's and that kind of stuff).

As far as having an 8" on top of the kit... I set it up for a bit but found I never used it. It simply never fit my genre.


Senior Member
Just as important...what kit are you looking to get? The make/model kit would definitely influence my decision.

Only the mid to high level kits are worth getting an 8" tom IMO. I doubt an 8" Pearl Export would have enough tone for it to be worth it.

I've always thought it would be fun to try a 2 up 1 down config with 8" and 10" rack toms, 14" floor.


Platinum Member
I currently have a 10, 12, 14, 16, 18. I’m debating either the 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 again or moving to 8, 10, 12, 14, 16.
Is the 14 you're thinking of getting a rack tom, or a floor tom? If it's a floor, then I'd go with the 8" .... so you're three up, two down.