What is the concept behind this type setup?


Senior Member
Notably the front cover page of drummerworld website recently of Ed Shaughnessy
Rack tom toms setup in reverse order (bigger and deeper tom followed by the smaller shallower one left to right)

Because for a second i thought he was a lefty but he isnt

I have seen setups like this before time to time but never bothered to find out why they do it. Its definitely unconventional and while "preference of style" reasoning may work, i wondered if anyone can elaborate what the advantage specifically to playing with this setup would be

Appreciated in advance



Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I'm guessing, since I never tried it that way, the left hand tom is basically a one-up set, where the second tom is not used as frequently. At one time I had mine in a 10, 12, 8 left to right set just to experiment.


Platinum Member
I had a 14 on my left followed by 10,8,12 and 16 on the right a few times. I used to play quads and quints back in the day I'm marching band, so the setup wasn't all that unfamiliar. It makes for some interesting fills and experimentation, but if you're not playing original tunes, it can trip you up. Was pretty fun though...


Platinum Member
I would consider doing it because the spot in front of the snare drum is kind of favored-- you're going to be playing the tom tom on the left a lot. So if I were using 10 and 12" toms, and I don't want to hear the 10" drum going pew pew all night, I might consider switching them (actually I would just leave the 10 at home). Other people might be trying to get away from always playing their fills high-to-low, I don't know.

Out Of Warranty

Senior Member
There's this old saying "if your bored or in a rut, move your kit around."

I have a 12 and 13 on top and once in a while I'll swap them. It's a fun exercise. One thing it does is it allows me to go right on the 12, left on the 13 and then right on the FT without crossing sticks.


Silver Member
I did that to try out, for the exact same purpose (12 10 instead of 10 12) and finally went back to off set positionning on a separate stand : that way the 12 is in front and "correct" order is maintained when you want to do a classic roll down on the toms.


Senior Member
I wonder about this as well. Saw a famous drum set [belonging to Jimmy Chamberlin] a few years back, which seems to fit this description, and took a photo with it.

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Out Of Warranty

Senior Member
I did that to try out, for the exact same purpose (12 10 instead of 10 12) and finally went back to off set positionning on a separate stand : that way the 12 is in front and "correct" order is maintained when you want to do a classic roll down on the toms.
I also have two down, a 14 and 16. So, with the 12 on the right, I can roll down from 12 to 14 to 16.


Senior Member
BJ Wilson of Procol Harum(remember those guys?) used that set up. I don't think he did many "roll downs" for their music back(or was is Bach) in the day.


Senior Member
Yea i get the fact that maybe the grooves/fills u mainly engage in if they involve a lotta 6 stroke roll with a dominant tom of choice (left tom) to lead the first stroke, id want that bread and butter choice to be the 12, not 10.

But in that case, why not just go with a 4 piece configuration of snare one up one down..


Platinum Member
Kenny Aronoff does this too. Here's what he had to say:

Basically, I used four toms in the studio, but John Mellencamp wanted me to have a one up, one down type of look. I did that, but I snuck another floor tom behind the first floor tom, so he couldn't see it from the stage. He wanted it to look like a traditional 4-piece kit. What happened is that I just was missing the pitch. I eventually convinced him I could put the other tom back up, but the 12" tom was the most important one, so I liked it being right in front of the snare drum. So instead of putting the 10" there, and instead of going 12", 13", I just decided to go 12", 10". It just became my thing.

from: http://www.tama.com/artist/tama_interview.php?interview_id=28



Platinum Member
I believe both Bernard Purdie and Jimi Chamberlain (Smashing Pumpkins) use a setup where the rack toms descend in size.


Platinum Member
Billy Cobham talked about moving his drums into different positions to break him of cliche playing.
I believe Bruford had a similar approach.
So nothing new ,just another idea to add some creativty to the mix.

Personally going from a large kit to a smaller one does it for me.

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Doesn't really matter.

Sometimes it's so your fills sound diferent.

Maybe you mainly want a typical 4-piece and the small tom is the add-on that doesn't get played as much

Gadd's done it, too. Frequently.


Platinum Member
The purpose is largely to stop just doing rolls down the toms and to force yourself to start thinking in terms of what sounds you want (high, medium, low, whatever), and then use the sticking necessary to produce the result desired.

It does make some sense in that, if you're right handed, your first tom in on your right instead of your left.

i experimented with it here and there. And I quite liked how it forced me to think about sticking and such. But it came too awkward to play songs I already knew that I was used to playing without having to "think' too much about how it went. So it's always been short lived experiments.


I played toms descending for a while. It was strictly so I had to practise left hand lead more often.


Platinum Member
I go back and forth between hi-med-lo to med-hi-lo because I like the different feel when I do multi tom things.
I also like to have the smaller tom near the ride because I can get it closer, and since I have a tendency to accidentally hit cymbals, it cleans up my style a little bit.

But the thing I really like is when recording, with the stereo field, you get the higher tom in the middle and the middle tom to the side, so whether the idea is for the drum panning to be from the drummer perspective or the audience perspective, it sort of splits the difference and makes a less "typical" and predictable imaging.

*And I do also like to copy Mr.Purdie a little bit — or a lot...