On tom angles

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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I know, this is the 'funny' title. But I wanted to point out something legitimate - tilting the toms actually work for me, since I'm shorter than normal.

For years, since I played a regular four-piece, I've always set my single rack tom to a slight angle because I can get it low enough to my snare where it's pretty playable.

But now that I have the big 6-piece Reference Pure kit, I was wondering why I've been feeling even shorter when I play behind that kit. I discovered that I've kept my old tom angle, applied to two toms, and raised them both so they're over the 22" bass drum. What this also did was make me raise up the snare drum about 2 inches, and my throne about two inches, which affected everything else going up about two inches. I suppose if I was 5' 6" this wouldn't be a problem. But it is for me.

So in my 'DOH' moment, I went back to my kid days when my teacher was sitting with me while I set up my drums (which was a 5-piece Slingerland at the time). I remember he had me put the bass drum pedal on the bass drum first, then set up my snare before anything else. He helped me adjust my throne to where I was comfortable, and the snare drum was actually dropped all the way down. That felt comfy. Then he set up my hi-hat stand and we put those cymbals where they were comfortable in relation to the snare and bass drum. THEN we added the toms, and I remember back then, we were at a much more extreme angle then my current "almost Stewart Copeland" tom angles.

I did all of this again, like I've never played a drumset before, and laughed at the re-discovered epiphany. I feel like a dork. I'm no longer trying to sit 'over' the set, but I'm sitting comfortably behind it. Like when you watch Jeff Porcaro play, he's comfortable behind the drums. Stewart Copeland is comfortable over the drums. I had to move away from Stewart (I'm not 6-feet tall anyway) and get closer to Jeff to be comfortable.

Maybe I'll even play better now. Go figure!
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Well that is great Matt !
I think any time a drummer gets a new (different) set of drums that drummer should start with the bass drum and set up each piece one at a time,
just as you described it.

As I recall you play matched grip. Your sticking technique should also influence the angle of your toms. For instance, if the rack toms are at a steep angle
I have a very hard time playing them with my left hand; because I play traditional grip. I can't hit the drum head at the proper angle with my left hand.
And if you set the rack toms at a very steep angle you will be poking the drum head instead of bouncing the stick off the drum head.

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Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Yeah, I play on three different kits. I can see what you are saying. On my two 4 piece kits, I tend to sit over the kits like you were describing. But on my 5 piece Tama with the huge square size toms, I have to sit behind that kit and angle the toms a bit more. I can't really say that I prefer either one, but I can play that 5 piece all night.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Yea, you have to do what works for you. I was told "Dont set them up so they look good to the audience, set them up so you are comfortable"

I am a little guy but as luck would have it I love the punchy sound of the 20" bass drum. I also like to rim shot my toms sometimes so I have them fairly flat. This means I can also have my snare high so its win win for me. Do what you have to do to play as easily as possible.
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Well that is great Matt !
I think any time a drummer gets a new (different) set of drums that drummer should start with the bass drum and set up each piece one at a time,
just as you described it.

As I recall you play matched grip. Your sticking technique should also influence the angle of your toms. For instance, if the rack toms are at a steep angle
I have a very hard time playing them with my left hand; because I play traditional grip. I can't hit the drum head at the proper angle with my left hand.
And if you set the rack toms at a very steep angle you will be poking the drum head instead of bouncing the stick off the drum head.

.
Well, years ago I saw a Chad Wackerman clinic (when he played with Frank Zappa) and he had things angled, yet he played mostly traditional grip then (not sure if he still does) and didn't have a problem with hitting stuff. Steve Gadd also has wings at an angle and plays traditional grip, as did Weckl. What I noticed that those guys do is the drop their left shoulders a bit so their hand can strike the angled snare that's leaning towards them. I'm sure they must visit a chiropractor regularly?
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Yeah, I play on three different kits. I can see what you are saying. On my two 4 piece kits, I tend to sit over the kits like you were describing. But on my 5 piece Tama with the huge square size toms, I have to sit behind that kit and angle the toms a bit more. I can't really say that I prefer either one, but I can play that 5 piece all night.
I'm definitely looking to play that big kit all night comfortably, and I thought there was something wrong and set it back up as a 4-piece to re-think some things. Maybe it's my age talking as well but I think I'm going to let ergonomics win out on this one, too ;)
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Yea, you have to do what works for you. I was told "Dont set them up so they look good to the audience, set them up so you are comfortable"

I am a little guy but as luck would have it I love the punchy sound of the 20" bass drum. I also like to rim shot my toms sometimes so I have them fairly flat. This means I can also have my snare high so its win win for me. Do what you have to do to play as easily as possible.
Over the years I discovered I'm not really hitting the toms with rimshots anymore, and having to play un-mic'd mostly has led me away from smaller bass drums. But I'm sure if I just stuck with a 20, this would not have been an issue and I would've kept the same posture on the kit. However, setting up like this and playing for a few minutes tonight, I felt more comfortable since I'm not sitting so high, and I'm not 'over-reaching' to get to the rack toms, I'm just pushing up and away from the snare to get to the racks now. I like it and will experiment with it a bit more tomorrow.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
And if you set the rack toms at a very steep angle you will be poking the drum head instead of bouncing the stick off the drum head.

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Not necessarily true - If your hand is low enough you can still play flat against the head or hit rimshots. The real difference would be the backswing and rebound, because the stick will make contact pointing slightly up instead of level or slightly downwards. But the impact on the drum head should be the same.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Not necessarily true - If your hand is low enough you can still play flat against the head or hit rimshots. The real difference would be the backswing and rebound, because the stick will make contact pointing slightly up instead of level or slightly downwards. But the impact on the drum head should be the same.
Well, you are correct. However as we speak about tom angles we never clearly explain what exact angles we are talking about. Getting my left hand "low enough" is the problem. I have to raise my left arm up and then rotate my wrist to play. So on an angled rack tom, my left stick is coming down at a different angle than my right stick comes down. Anyhow! here is what I'm referring to:

This is how my toms are set up. They are at the maximum angle I can stand. A steeper angle than this is not OK for me.





Last week I played on a drum set at a jam. The toms were like this. This is too steep of an angle for me.





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Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
What I noticed that those guys do is the drop their left shoulders a bit so their hand can strike the angled snare that's leaning towards them. I'm sure they must visit a chiropractor regularly?
Watch out, Les Ismore said the same thing a while back and got roasted for it.
;)
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
I was told "Dont set them up so they look good to the audience, set them up so you are comfortable"
I've always wanted to play with the toms flat/horizontal because it just look cool and I think the drummer must be a badass to be able to play them like that.

I am a little guy but as luck would have it I love the punchy sound of the 20" bass drum.
I'm a big guy and a 20" kick puts them perfect for me.
 

No Me Metro

Member
I just wanted to say thank you. You inspired me to look at my 4 piece with the thought of sitting over vs. sitting behind.

My high tom was at a flat angle. I think I was sitting over the kit. Just to try a different approach, I readjusted it to a sharper angle. I liked the new feel of sitting behind the kit, so I will give it a chance for a while.
 

Mendozart

Platinum Member
My Blaemire shell bank includes 20", 22", and 24" bass drums. When going two-up between the 22 and 24, I actually have two different double tom holders that I use. The 24" one is set up with more angle, obviously. I've never hesitated to set them up differently, to make them comfortable for me to play them. This has actually helped me for the rare times when I play back line, where I don't even adjust anything, but the throne height.
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I just wanted to say thank you. You inspired me to look at my 4 piece with the thought of sitting over vs. sitting behind.

My high tom was at a flat angle. I think I was sitting over the kit. Just to try a different approach, I readjusted it to a sharper angle. I liked the new feel of sitting behind the kit, so I will give it a chance for a while.
You're welcome. I tend to bring up things not discussed much ;)

I got a longer chance to experiment today and I think I may go to more of an angle on the rack toms, almost like Tony Williams - I'm short enough it may feel normal to me. Or I may push the rack toms farther away from me by about two inches. It's just so weird going from one rack tom, where that rack tom is basically just three inches above my snare, to two rack toms, making my 8x12 tom close to 10 inches higher than where the head used to be. I'm sure I'll get used to it, or I may realize that having two rack toms is just vanity speaking and will go back to my 4-piece kit.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Set the drums up in a configuration that works for you.
Drum kits are personal instruments.
Every drummer is different.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I got a longer chance to experiment today and I think I may go to more of an angle on the rack toms, almost like Tony Williams -
A good way to find a middle ground is to give the extremes a try. It's a philosophy that seems to apply to drums.
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Set the drums up in a configuration that works for you.
Drum kits are personal instruments.
Every drummer is different.
I know. I thought I had already done that and settled into a way to play. Maybe I'm getting smaller as I get older. Like I'm shrinking.
 

No Me Metro

Member
You're welcome. I tend to bring up things not discussed much ;)

... I may realize that having two rack toms is just vanity speaking and will go back to my 4-piece kit.
Some things just never occurred to me with respect to drumming because I'm still new, so I'm glad to read about different themes/perspectives.

BTW, I started with 2 up, 1 down, but then I realized I didn't need 2 up. The 4 piece kit is the right size for me.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
For me it is all about wrist angle. I want my wrists to be as straight as possible.

In fact correct positioning for just about any musical instrument revolves around wrist angle.

I know there are a lot of low slinging guitar and electric bass musicians out there but they are putting undue tension on tendons at ligaments which will eventually cause hand issues.
 
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