Location of tom seems to affect the sound

EricT43

Senior Member
This might sound strange, but I want to see if anyone else experienced this. I've been experimenting with different setups with my Sonor SQ1 kit. For a while I was using 10 and 12 rack toms over the bass drum. Now I keep the 12 nearly above the center of the kick, and the 10 to the left, that just feels comfortable to me. I've had issues with my 12 tom sounding kind of dead. I thought it was a tuning issue, because if I tuned it up higher, it would start to sing again.

Recently I got a 13 tom to go with the kit, and I was playing it in front of my snare as a 4-pc setup with the 16 floor tom. It sounds great, lots of body, good resonance, but well-controlled, that's why I wanted birch in the first place. Then I thought, let's try 12 and 13 rack toms together, like everyone used to do. So I moved my 13 tom where my 12 used to be and it sounded like crap. Same tuning, just a different position. I tried raising the tom a couple of inches to give it more room to breathe, but it doesn't help much. If I move it back to in front of my snare, it sounds good again.

Am I losing it? Does my room have a dead spot, or is proximity of the reso head to the kick drum the real problem here? I've never run into this problem with other drums.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Am I losing it?
That's a distinct possibility. Kidding, of course.

Do you detect this effect only in one room? If you haven't tried the setup elsewhere, do so just to register the results.

The difference could very well be in your head. That doesn't mean you're losing it -- just that a self-fulfilling prophecy may be at work. Perhaps you've trained yourself to expect a given defect, so now you're hearing it whether it's objectively present or not. The mind can cause trouble.
 
D

Deleted member 525878

Guest
Interesting; there are so many variables involved here!
How are your toms mounted? Bass drum, stands, combination?
Have you fully investigated adjustments with the tom suspension system(s) if you have them?
Are your heads tuned evenly and in good condition?
 

TJK

Well-known member
You’re not nuts, generally My 10 will ring for days No matter the tuning and the 12 is fairly dead unless I really dial it in. They are mounted on bass drum. The position in the room can make or break the sound as well as the size of the room. I have always had this problem and I have been playing 40 years. It can be a head problem as well
Ps I have no problems with the 14 and 16 ft, they ring forever
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
Sound travels in waves. Move the source and the waves travel distance either shortens or lengthens depending on proximity. Due to movement of source and varying length of the aural waves to your ear there is an audible difference in the tone and resonance. This is the primary reason your drums sound different when you hear them sitting on the throne (not toilet) and siting in front as member of the audience. Therefore the difference you hear may or may not translate as variance to the audience. I suggest you place your drums in a way they sound good to you, because the audience only hears, thump, bump, boom, bop, thumpity thump thump, clang. AND unless they play drums, they can't tell which drum makes which sound, or a wooden from metal snare drum, a zildjian K from an okidokey cymbal.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
You need to isolate variables, to test whether it is the 12 tom itself or if its where/how you are mounting it.
Take each 10, 12, 13 on its own, hung from your hand (no mount). How does it sound?
Mount them each on the kit in the same spot. How do they sound?
This will tell you if its the drum or the location.
If you tune the 12 tom higher and it sounds good, maybe you are just tuning it too far below the sweet spot for this drum.
Nearly every other drummer's kit I've ever sat at I have often found the toms tuned low for my ears.
 
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DrumDoug

Senior Member
There are several threads on here about middle toms sounding dead. A search might give you more answers.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I suggest you place your drums in a way they sound good to you, because the audience only hears, thump, bump, boom, bop, thumpity thump thump, clang. AND unless they play drums, they can't tell which drum makes which sound, or a wooden from metal snare drum, a zildjian K from an okidokey cymbal.
Timeless truth. If Socrates had been a drummer, he would have bellowed the above text through the streets of Athens.
 

Ruok

Silver Member
When I first bought my Remo MasterEdge kit, I started to tune them individually and then place them in position.
I tuned the floor tom to my liking, I put it in position and it sounded totally different, and not very good.
I took it away from the kit again and played it. It sounded great again.

I used to love moving my kit around my home music room from time to time, simply because the acoustics change when placements change.
Sometimes it sounds like I was using a completely different kit. It can be a pain in the neck to deal with at times, but this fact can also be a blessing.
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Try this:

Get the tom sounding dead. Sit in the throne and play the dead sounding tom. Dead, right? Now move your head closer or farther from the dead drum and hit it again. All the time, for me, it's the position of my head. The drum sounds fine if I move my head. So is this a drum problem or a hearing anomaly? I'm going with the hearing anomaly. This only happens to a 12" tom on a 2 up config with the 12" tom to my right.

I believe where I put my head is naturally at the trough of the wavelength from the 12" tom. Because moving my head....the sound gets fuller. That adds up in my mind.

Until I find out differently, physical proximity of my head is what I determined was the culprit.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
It's the drum's proximity to the centre of your bass drum. Certain drums / tunings will react differently, or almost not at all, but it's the centreing of your drum with the arc of the bass drum shell that's the root issue. It's completely normal for other drums to be less affected.

I could go into detail on this, but it's of little practical value.

Try different tunings in the same position. Tightening the reso whilst reducing tension on the batter to maintain pitch is a good starting point. Whilst increasing the tension difference between batter & reso will usually reduce head sustain, it may just give you what you want.

To confirm the affect on this drum, hold it by hand, then whilst striking it, move it slowly to either side and see if & by how much the delivery changes. Bear in mind delivery will vary hugely depending on listening position.

Andy.
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
One thing to consider if it hasn't already been mentioned is the fact that you are hearing your drums from your position behind the kit. When you play live in front of people, it is likely they will hear your tom in a very different way than you do sitting behind the kit. I actually wouldn't spend too much time stressing about it since it cleary does seem to be a positional issue rather than an issue with the drum itself.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
Some mounting systems choke toms if the drums are not mounted "just so". I love Yamaha's YESS system for its ability to position toms exactly where I want them but if the 12" tom isn't positioned perfectly on the hex rod, it sounds as dead as a doornail. This has been the rule on all 4 of my Yamaha kits.

I've played several Sonor kits but I can't remember what mounting system they use. If it's anything like Yamaha's, the position of the toms relative to each other and their position on the mounting arms makes a huge difference.
 
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C.M. Jones

Well-known member
One thing to consider if it hasn't already been mentioned is the fact that you are hearing your drums from your position behind the kit. When you play live in front of people, it is likely they will hear your tom in a very different way than you do sitting behind the kit. I actually wouldn't spend too much time stressing about it since it clearly does seem to be a positional issue rather than an issue with the drum itself.
Yes, the time spent "stressing about it" is almost invariably more of an evil than the technical shortcomings that create the concern. Many of our tonal worries are drowned out, or at least neutralized, in real-world application.
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
Yes, the time spent "stressing about it" is almost invariably more of an evil than the technical shortcomings that create the concern. Many of our tonal worries are drowned out, or at least neutralized, in real-world application.
So true. But I admit that I had not taken into account the impact that different mounting systems have on the sound of a tom. I play Slingerlands, Stage Band with a Super Set-O-Matic mount on the bass drum. I have never had any issues with this particular mount either effecting the sound of the drums or in allowing me to perfect the exact location I want my toms. It is truly a great mounting set up. But I now realize that some are less than ideal and can greatly impact tom sound.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
It's the drum's proximity to the centre of your bass drum. Certain drums / tunings will react differently, or almost not at all, but it's the centreing of your drum with the arc of the bass drum shell that's the root issue. It's completely normal for other drums to be less affected.

I could go into detail on this, but it's of little practical value.

Try different tunings in the same position. Tightening the reso whilst reducing tension on the batter to maintain pitch is a good starting point. Whilst increasing the tension difference between batter & reso will usually reduce head sustain, it may just give you what you want.

To confirm the affect on this drum, hold it by hand, then whilst striking it, move it slowly to either side and see if & by how much the delivery changes. Bear in mind delivery will vary hugely depending on listening position.

Andy.
^^^^ This. If you really want the tom centered over the bass drum, try raising it an inch or two. If you can get more distance between the bottom head and the bass drum shell, that should eliminate the problem. Or reposition the tom so it's more off to the side.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
So true. But I admit that I had not taken into account the impact that different mounting systems have on the sound of a tom. I play Slingerlands, Stage Band with a Super Set-O-Matic mount on the bass drum. I have never had any issues with this particular mount either effecting the sound of the drums or in allowing me to perfect the exact location I want my toms. It is truly a great mounting set up. But I now realize that some are less than ideal and can greatly impact tom sound.
I know what you mean. I play my mounted tom in a snare stand and can detect slight differences in sound depending upon how the tom rests in the basket, as well as the tightness of basket itself. I wouldn't say I've ever been alarmed by the variations, however. Personality is a big factor in that sense. The definition of "small stuff" versus "big stuff" is proportionate to the mindset of each drummer.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
Bear in mind delivery will vary hugely depending on listening position.
Exactly. Do a little research into nodes and anti-nodes. How things sound depend on distance and frequency. If you were to measure the frequency response of your drum at one point and then back up 6” you would get a different reading and move another 6“ and get another one again as you move from node to anti-node. Some harmonics will get stronger and some will get weaker.

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KamaK

Platinum Member
Am I losing it? Does my room have a dead spot, or is proximity of the reso head to the kick drum the real problem here? I've never run into this problem with other drums.
As pointed out above, it is all about the position of the sound source, the position of the listener (or mic), the shape of the room, and other obstacles within the room.

There are no solutions, only mitigations.
 
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