Small bass drum driving me nuts

I have an 18x16 Starclassic bass drum I can’t dial in. I’ve tried an Emad, Superkick, and Powerstroke 3 on the batter side and a ported and unported head on the reso side. It’s too boomy with no muffling. As soon as I add enough muffling to tone it done, it sounds like cardboard. I’m after a nice thud. Would a coated better help? Other suggestions?
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
If you’re not normally mic’d up, I would say by the time the sound gets to the audience, they won’t hear the ring because the drum is small. “Thud” isn’t something I associate with small jazz bass drums anyway so I wonder if you’re using the right tool for the job? Even when Erskine used an 18” with Jaco’s big band, you can hear a slight amount of ring and I think back then he was wide open with a pinstripe batter and a non-ported front - he was going for definition that Wayne Shorter hipped him to when they played in Weather Report. Thud for me happens on bigger bass drums.
 
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Morrisman

Platinum Member
Emad2 or PS4 batter (twin-ply) plus a thickish reso like a Fiberskyn.

Tune lowish, and don’t bury the bass drum beater into the head - let it rebound like a big floor tom.
 

A J

Well-known member
There's no such thing as "too boomy". I just tune my kick drum boomy. Once the marshals are cranked, that "boomy" sound changes into a deep, heavenly thud that reaches into your inner soul.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
My 18x16 with an unported head is a beastly boom machine.
The vibes went through the whole set for what seemed like a long time.
A port tamed it down quite a bit, as did an emad with the wider ring.
I might put the unported head back on though. That boom was magnificent, and I'm missing it a bit.
If you had the same proportions on a 24" bass drum, it would be about 21.5" deep.

If you are serious about wanting a solid thud from that size bass drum though, try a hydraulic batter head.
It's a laughing matter here, but I had one on an 18x14 a while back and it's like a kick in the chest if you have your set facing a wall.
How it would sound in a gig situation might be a different matter though - it's possible it could sound like mud from a distance.
I'm talking about from the player's perspective.
 
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Mr Farkle

Well-known member
I have two cheap kits with 18” bass drums. One always sounds great and the other one I struggle to get a sound that I like. The one that always sounds great has a riser. I haven’t taken the time to swap it to see if that’s the difference.
 

roncadillac

Member
I post this same statement so often I might as well start copying and pasting it haha:
Every 16-18" bass drum I've ever owned has had an eq4/PS3 style reso (meaning single ply with floating edge ring) with a small 4" +/- port tuned medium high and either an emad with the small ring or an eq4/PS3 style batter (single ply with floating edge ring) depending on if I want a more open boomy drum or a more controlled punchy drum. No other muffling, pillow, laundry, tape, etc.. run that sucker wide open. I also do not use risers, even on my 16's. This combo is so fool proof for me that I can literally re-head the batter and reso both and be within 95% of my preferred tuning/sound in less then ten minutes. I can get anything from a soft jazz boom to a tight clicky punch. I always get compliments on my bass drum sound from band members, sound guys, and audience.

Not to sound snarky but maybe you just don't enjoy the sound of a small bass drum?
 

bongoman

Junior Member
For me, the boom is exactly what I like from a smaller bass, and I have mine dialed in for maximum deep boom. I agree with the post saying maybe a smaller bass isn’t suited to a dry thud unless you are willing to sacrifice the “body” or “heft” of the tone.
 

Supernoodle

Senior Member
My lightweight gigging kit has a 16" bass drum which I've been playing at home during covid. It is minimally muffled and unported. While it's possible to get a decent sound that way, it is so much harder to play with clarity due to the rebound (and you can't mash the beater).

Just been back to the studio with a full size ported and muffled kick and it was wow time... so much easier!
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
.....Not to sound snarky but maybe you just don't enjoy the sound of a small bass drum?

There's always that too. Not a lot of info on the OP's previous sets.
If someone is used to the sound of a bigger bass drum, a smaller one might not sit right for them.
18's seem to be a love it or hate it type thing.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I have an 18x16 Starclassic bass drum I can’t dial in. I’ve tried an Emad, Superkick, and Powerstroke 3 on the batter side and a ported and unported head on the reso side. It’s too boomy with no muffling. As soon as I add enough muffling to tone it done, it sounds like cardboard. I’m after a nice thud. Would a coated better help? Other suggestions?
If by "add enough muffling" you're putting stuff inside the bass drum .... I wouldn't do that. Or at least not yet. I've got a Yamaha SC 18x15 and an RMV 18x16, and I'm running Superkick II's batter on both. On the reso, I'm using the Yamaha and RMV version of a P3. Since you say you have both a Superkick and a P3 in your assortment ..... try that combo. Also maybe try the Emad/P3 combo.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I also don't believe you should muffle that drum beyond the built in rings on the heads. On my 18X14, I prefer PS3-type heads. I have the batter fairly loose, and the reso quite high. The highly tuned reso shortens the note, yet doesn't suck all the tone out of the drum. It avoids the cardboard sound.

I've used this set-up as the host drummer for jam nights, and I can tell you, that little 18 speaks very nicely amid guitars, bass, and assorted other instruments. I've gotten many compliments on the sound and surprising punch it delivers.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
I have an 18x16 Starclassic bass drum I can’t dial in. I’ve tried an Emad, Superkick, and Powerstroke 3 on the batter side and a ported and unported head on the reso side. It’s too boomy with no muffling. As soon as I add enough muffling to tone it done, it sounds like cardboard. I’m after a nice thud. Would a coated better help? Other suggestions?
Record you playing the kit just practicing by yourself. Get the recording device well away from kit and do minimal closed hi hat and snare. Emphasize kick drum. See what it sounds like.
 

moxman

Silver Member
I've heard many good small kick drums.. usually Sonors. Check out how they suspend them off the floor.. For heads I'd use either Remo Powerstroke or Aquarian SuperKick with little muffling.. like a small strip of foam across the bottom just touching the heads (ala Russell Kunkel)
I've never had any luck with Emads.. they are dead to me Lol. But I know some drummers make them work.
Also in different rooms/ acoustics.. it may sound completely different.
If you are after a thunk.. and compact kit.. I've heard a kick that was pretty good at that size - but the drummer took the front head off and put a pillow in it. Not my style but it kind of worked..
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Other suggestions?

I've had an 18" kick drum, and nothing I did made it sound any better. I tried the "lifter" thing so the pedal hits it dead center. I tried different heads and muffling techniques. While it sounded fine out front, it sounded bad in the cockpit, so I got rid of it.

My advice for making an 18" kick drum sound better? Buy a 20" x 14" kick drum.

To my ears there is a significant difference in the sound and feel between an 18" and a 20" kick. I've said it a million times on here, but to my ears, there is something about that 2" threshold that really makes a big difference.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
It may be that 16" depth along with 18" diameter is just something you can not 100% overcome. It's sorta like a can barrel the sound is traveling 16" in an 18" cylinder. That configuration = naturally boomy. My 18x14 DW isn't boomy at all, and neither is my 20x12 DW FF. Maybe you cannot overcome physics and get the exact sound you want with that kick. It either booms or is dull as cardboard. You may need a different size kick for your sound.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I’ve heard lots of 16 in basses sound great but when I started looking at bop kits with 18 in kick there was only a few that sounded good to my ears- which I was surprised thinking all would sound way better. I discovered I like 16 and 24 in bass drums and that covers about any venues-so in my search for the Holy Grail I discovered I already have them.

I’m not one for internal muffling- mainly just something light to touch either or both heads. So , quite by accident, I found that the light translucent wrapping paper works great. I take about 12-20 sheets and fold like a lil blanket that lightly rest on either head. I’ve always believed a single ply reso head makes most boom
So I’ll rest paper on reso head in that case.

One experimental thread on here mentioned taking off half the tension rods- works great on both my 16 in kicks- I thought it was crazy. Finger tighten the tension rods both batter and reso and try that - should have little boom and be super punch .You may want to tighten up reso to add some boom more likely. It’s funny trying to eliminate certain nuisance drum buzzes, boom, overtones, etc. If you rid all of it then it doesn’t sound like a drum- you got cardboard. I think is acoustic/our hearing interplay sometimes in we think 🤔 it sounds off behind kit- but it’s fine.
 
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