Bass drum differences among brands

AtlantaDrumGuy

DFO Master
Joined
May 10, 2012
Messages
4,743
Reaction score
947
Location
Atlanta, GA
I’ve always felt the bass drum can be quite similar from brand to brand, given same size and setup. The differing factors are more about the choice of toms and snare. What are your thoughts?

So here is my thing. I could take a vintage Rogers 22, a DW maple collectors same size, and high end Pearl. Setup the same, I’m not convinced I’d notice much difference.

bottom line…when it comes to choosing a kit, it’s more about the toms and those differences. Snares I consider a separate category.
 

Houndog

DFO Master
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
5,616
Reaction score
6,025
Location
Oklahoma City
I’ve noticed the bigger difference in bass drums between kits than anything else .

Take a 20” Rogers , those things are legendary.
My 24” Fibes is very different from my Slingerland.
 

bassanddrum84

DFO Veteran
Joined
Jun 16, 2009
Messages
1,692
Reaction score
1,295
I think the difference can be pretty crazy honestly. I had a cheap ocdp 20x20 black oyster a ddrum dominion maple 20x20 a dominion ash 20x20 and a birch 20x20. And they all sounded different. I think my favorite was the ash. The ocdp was horrible no matter what heads.
 

DanRH

Old guy, getting younger
Platinum Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2005
Messages
24,075
Reaction score
6,081
Location
SF Bay Area
Yup. my least favorite bass drums were:
I got nothing out of these drums. Lifeless regardless of tuning, head selection and rooms they were played in)

The old Recoding Customs (new RC's are infinitely better)
C&C Player Date II
Sonor Delite 22 (Maple)

The best IMHO:

Yamaha Absolute Hybrid maple 22
Craviotto Maple (22's and 24's)
Rogers Holiday 20 and 22
Jenkin Martin (any size)
Yamaha Club Custom (any size. I have a 20,22 and 24)
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

DFO Master
Joined
May 10, 2012
Messages
4,743
Reaction score
947
Location
Atlanta, GA
I’m still not fully convinced. It would be interesting to see a shoot out on bass drums. I’m afraid most people will say their favorite is what they own, etc. And that’s still okay. Would love to hear what Whitten says on the subject.
 

fenrir

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2020
Messages
134
Reaction score
185
I mean, if you use a PS3 and shove a pillow inside, then yes, all much of a muchness.

If you use thinner heads and minimal dampening the difference is astounding.
I have three 20"s; Phonic, Lite and Gretsch round badge. All totally different.
 

What It Is

Very well Known Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2015
Messages
669
Reaction score
531
Location
Illinois
Agreed: if you're putting all the laundry in the drum and killing the tone, then they all sound the same. Best bass drums I've played, some owned some backlined, minimal dampening:

14x16 Gretsch USA Custom
20" Rogers (enough said about these, but holy crap!)
20" Ludwig CM (can do anything with that drum)
18x22 Tama Starclassic
14x24 Gretsch Broadkaster
14x28 Slingerland converted marching bass drum
 

Iristone

Very well Known Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2016
Messages
741
Reaction score
340
Location
Beijing
The depth and tuning are paramount, too. No amount of laundry can give a too-loose drum the satisfying short tight 'punch' that a higher-tuned drum achieves with just a felt strip.

My Ludwig Club Date SE bass drum is the best sounding one I've ever played, period.
That said, I've played a cheap no-name (probably poplar) drum on a house kit, and it was tuned higher, too. It sounded 20 times better (and about the same times louder) than a DW house kit tuned loose and flapping, with similar amount of laundry inside!
 

High on Stress

DFO Veteran
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
2,275
Reaction score
772
Location
MPLS
If you’ve simultaneously owned multiple kits, then you know the answer. The bass drums can sound as different, if not more, than the other parts of the kit. Most of my bass drums are set up very similarly and there are definitely big differences. In fact, I’ve been convinced I found a magical head combo, only to find it lackluster when I try to replicate it on another bass drum.
 

ludwigmod72

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2019
Messages
95
Reaction score
135
Guys I’ve owned quite a few kits over the years, mostly Ludwig CM and Yamaha RC. However, my DW SSC Kit with the 22 VLX Kick is a MONSTER!!! PS3 and no muffling. I’ve never had bottom end as big as that. Based on my prior kits, no comparison. I’ve yet to try NC Horizon Maple or Craviotto Diamonds but so far my DW SSC VLX has been the best, and I consider myself pretty darn good at tuning up a kit. Just my 2 cents FWIW.
 

High on Stress

DFO Veteran
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
2,275
Reaction score
772
Location
MPLS
I think part of the surprising differences in bass drums (surprising because almost all of us are muffling the bass drum to an extent much farther than we would with any of the other drums) might just come down to the size of the drum. While it’s generally true that most drums can be made to sound pretty good unless they are defective, I’m guessing many of us have come across a dog somewhere: nothing seems to be wrong with it, it’s in round, heads and other components are in order but just sounds lifeless. Could just be the organic and thus variable nature of wood, who knows? But when that dead sounding drum is the biggest drum, it might be more noticeable than say a small tom or a snare tuned up high.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

DFO Master
Joined
May 10, 2012
Messages
4,743
Reaction score
947
Location
Atlanta, GA
I’m more of “put a pillow” or blanket in the bass drum guy. I can’t stand a wide open bass drum unless it’s my 18”. And even then, it takes a lot of getting used to. I subscribe to the Jeff Porcaro style of bass drum…blanket and a big ol’ port. My favorite is the front head off, but I don’t always do that. That feels best to me.
 

hsosdrum

DFO Veteran
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
1,891
Reaction score
3,249
It's nearly impossible for me to compare bass drums because I've only owned 4 drumsets over the last 50 years — one with 24" bass drums, one with 26" bass drums and two with 22" bass drums. The only ones muffled the same way and wearing the same heads (Fiberskyn PS3) are my Ludwig Legacy Maples (22s) and my Ludwig Classics (26s). Needless to say, those bass drums do NOT sound the same.

The Gretsch USA kit I played between 1985 and 1990 also had 22" bass drums, but wore coated Ambs or Fiberskyn II heads (very different from the current Fiberskyns). PS3 had yet to be invented so I was using felt strips for muffling. Comparing the sound of those BDs to the sound of my Legacy Maple 22s would involve way too many variables (starting with a 30-year span of time) to be a valid comparison of only the drums themselves.
 

marc3k

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2020
Messages
432
Reaction score
358
The first time I played my 60s Ludwig Super Classic bass drum after playing on a Pearl Export for a year, I was literally blown away by the sound. I cannot believe that the whole difference was caused by the head or the tuning, since I used to put a lot of laundry into the bass drum.
 

Heavy Beech

Active Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2020
Messages
39
Reaction score
47
A killer sounding bass drum always gets my attention first and it’s , to me anyway, the foundation of the sound of your kit. Not that the other drums “aren’t important “ , as they most certainly are , but if you have a great combination of snare/ tom sounds , and the bass drum is lacking ? It’s just super noticeable .

Best sounding bass drums for me that I’ve played , and own, are 24” Sonor Phonic , 26” Sonor SQ2 , and a 22” SonorLite.
Few Others I’ve played and/ or heard that were noticeably good were a Ludwig Classic Maple , Sonor Designer Maple, a Yamaha Oak Custom ( first generation ) and Gretsch Brooklyn .

Fully agree that if you stuff that bass drum with big pillows , or thick blanket , or use an extra large port in reso, you will lose a lot of tone and resonance - and that can create a “ sameness” in the sound regardless of manufacturer .
Experimenting with tuning , and diff head combinations , possibly Using just something minimally like a dw or Evans pillow , will get that tone of the shell happening and letting it breathe . Even going with felt strip on reso and batter offers amazing results .

Have a friend who bought a late 80s Recording Custom. That kit had the original stock head which had a larger cut out in reso , it was kinda standard on them back then; he wasnt happy with the bass drum as much as toms .. we got new heads going on: Evans EQ4 clear batter and did a white Evans EQ3 reso head ( No port) , just a small evans eq pillow laying inside , and that drum really opened up in tone for him, from players perspective and out front .
 
Last edited:

Seb77

DFO Master
Joined
Apr 11, 2013
Messages
3,628
Reaction score
2,289
Location
Germany
Big differences. I would say sometimes even more noticeable with a port. Cheap drums can benefit a lot from a complete front head. With better drums the shell resonates even with port and padding. You need to compare same size, depth and setup though.
 

Topsy Turvy

Very well Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Messages
1,085
Reaction score
515
Location
United States
Yup. my least favorite bass drums were:
I got nothing out of these drums. Lifeless regardless of tuning, head selection and rooms they were played in)

The old Recoding Customs (new RC's are infinitely better)
C&C Player Date II
Sonor Delite 22 (Maple)

The best IMHO:

Yamaha Absolute Hybrid maple 22
Craviotto Maple (22's and 24's)
Rogers Holiday 20 and 22
Jenkin Martin (any size)
Yamaha Club Custom (any size. I have a 20,22 and 24)
Wow, really surprised to see C&C in there. I played my 22” today and it sounds great. I do agree the Rogers 20” is fantastic sounding.

Best:
Ayotte - fantastic and phenomenal in every venue I used it in
Vintage Ludwig - this is really about one particular drum, not all of them
C&C 12th and Vine
Rogers - vintage
Ludwig Legacy
Gretsch Brooklyn

Worst:
Yamaha Recording Custom - absolutely the worst bass drum I have ever played..hands down
Gretsch USA Custom - all mids, all the time
Gretsch Catalina - Ugh, very little presence or punch
Yamaha Club Custom - very little presence. I loved the toms but the bass is why I sold this set.
 
Last edited:

AtlantaDrumGuy

DFO Master
Joined
May 10, 2012
Messages
4,743
Reaction score
947
Location
Atlanta, GA
I suppose there’s more to it then. I see that Kenny Aronoff often uses a big old Ludwig bass drum in the studio along with the Tama toms. I think the 3 ply Ludwigs have something special going there.
 


Top