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rack tom
decent sound
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Tom Toms - How To Make Them Sound Great
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Are you one of those drummers who can’t get a decent sound from your toms no matter how hard you try? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are a lot of drummer’s on the live music scene who do not know how to get the best sound out of their toms. Having great sounding toms will compliment your playing greatly.

Firstly, let’s look at some of the reasons why drummers have bad sound toms:

  • Tuning out of the drums range – A lot of drummers will try to tune their tom out of the drums range, meaning that they either tune the drum too high or too low in relation to the size of the drum.

  • Drum Heads – Another big factor is the drum heads, many drummers use the wrong type of heads, or have old worn heads on their drums which go out of tune very quickly and sound plain bad.

  • Wrong Tuning Combination – What I mean by this is that a lot of drummers tune the batter and resonant (top and bottom) too far away from each other. This can lead to far too many strange sounding overtones and will generally make the drum sound bad.

  • Dry Drums – Pretty much self explanatory, the drum sounds very dry and has a lot of overtones that ring out long after the drum has been struck. Generally caused by using old(especially single ply) heads, or tuning the drums too high.

Okay, so maybe you can see where you are going wrong, now let’s look at some solutions:

  • Tune within the drums range – To do this you will need to go through some trial and error, and ultimately it will come down to what you personally think sound the best, but try not to tune a big drum too high (for example trying to make a floor tom sound as high as a rack tom) and vice-versa for small drums, try not to tune them too low. Each drum has a pitch level that suits it, and will sound best at this level. Try and find this point for all of your toms.

  • Drum Heads – I know that replacing heads can become expensive, especially if you have a lot of drums, but if you don’t replace your heads often enough (after two or three months at the most), they will go out of tune quicker, dry up and just reduce sound quality. Try not to keep the same head on for too long.
  • Another suggestion I am going to offer is to use two ply heads. Two ply heads are basically heads with two layers. They generally sound deeper and produce less sustain than single ply heads. Personally I would recommend using two ply heads on toms.
  • Tuning Combination – Try not to tune the batter and resonant too far apart pitch-wise. Yes, you can tune the drums to different pitches, but just don’t make it a massive gap between the two. The strange sounding overtones produced are enough reason to not do this.

  • Dampen your drums – Basically drum dampening refers to giving your drum a “damp sound” which means no long ringing overtones and little sustain. Dampening your drums can do wonders for sound quality, I would recommend looking into drum dampening as it really helps to increase sound quality.

I have outlined some factors that contribute to how your toms sound. Ultimately it will come down to some trial and error but don’t be discouraged, follow these tips and your toms should start sounding better. Make an effort to tune your drums well and also look at dampening your drums and you will see some results.


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