Port hole necessary in this scenario?


Senior Member
Question - imagine you’re considering a port hole for your bass drum. Now imagine the same bass drum has a rack tom mount, but has NO rack toms in it. So there are 2 holes on the top of the bass drum. Wouldn’t air escape through those holes essentially the same as a port hole (aware of the fact they’re in different places, but...). If one has a bass drum with a rack tom mount and no rack toms, would a port hole in the reso head be redundant, or affect the sound at all? Does the empty rack tom mount affect the sound? Thanks for your help.


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I'm no scientist, well I really am, but part of the ported head is the affect of the hole on the head and resonance. I'm sure some air will escape from the tom mount but not at the same amount or direction.


"Uncle Larry"
Kumu drums have ported shells. I want to say you can adjust the port size but don't quote me on that.

I don't know if they would sound identical, a ported shell vs a ported head. I would think that the air going out the ported reso head would still move the head more than the air going out the shell, but I'm just spitballing.

Whether anyone could hear the difference...that's the question.

You could record it with a full front head and keep the tom tree holes open

Then record it with a ported head and the tom tree holes sealed airtight somehow.

Then listen back and see if you can hear the difference.

Hollywood Jim I think it was...he rigged something where he was able to screw shut his ported reso head. Best of both worlds with a painless transition.


Platinum Member
Yes you two empty tom out holes will let air out, though not as much as with a ported bass drum head.
The main purpose of a port in front is not 'to let air out', but to place a microphone. Many like the feel it gives letting all that air out. Personally I prefer having more rebound with unported, but its personal taste.


Silver Member
I have thought the same on one of my former kit. Unported head and open tom mount. I didn’t like at all, the feel was not the same as a ported head : rebound and strange sustain.
Note : the bass drum was empty, with PS3 front / batter. I ported the front (4”) after a while.
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Senior Member
Anyone else out there with open tom mounts, and compared the differences between ported vs non-ported resos?


Staff member
Anyone else out there with open tom mounts, and compared the differences between ported vs non-ported resos?
The sonic differences between ported vs. non ported head will remain the same, but with a non ported head, the tom mount holes will reduce rebound and quicken the response a little.


Senior Member
Would a smaller port be a good choice, based on the air escaping through the tom mounts? Like a 3” port instead of 4”?


First off all, it's worth asking yourself why you're considering porting the front head. As many have said here, the original idea was to be able to insert a microphone - the fact that the port doubled as an air vent is a realisation that came later. Do you actually not like the sound you have now? You could maybe find an old head and cut a port in it to experiment with - try permutations of blocking/unblocking the port and blocking/unblocking the tom holes.

The port is traditionally offset from the centre because that's where people wanted to put microphones. If you want a really interesting effect, try porting a head in the exact centre. It works like a cross between a dumbek, a bass speaker port and a low organ pipe, with air being forced out directly opposite the beater impact zone, like an 'air cannon'. Sounds particularly good on smaller bass drums.


Senior Member
I bought an old kit with old heads and it’s unported. I was curious whether it would be worth porting or not, before cutting a hole to see the difference in sound. I will probably do that since I am considering getting all new heads anyway. I wanted to see what I should do when I put the new heads on. It sounds somewhat “boomy” now. Not sure if I’d prefer a more attacking sound (which I would get with a port).


Platinum Member
I you play the bass drum by ‘burying’ the beater, ie. you leave the pedal firmly on the head for a while after each stroke, then a port will reduce the rebound so you don't get a series of small bounces or flutters after each note.

Regarding the question, the tom holes might be equivalent to a one inch port. Also, they are probably tubular holes with a depth of an inch or two, compared to a hole in a drumhead which is flat, so they will restrict or delay the air movement even more.