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Drummers who play with their toms flat?

Peano

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If we stuck to Gene Krupka's set-up, we would have missed a lot of opportunities.

As you can see from this picture of Jack Whites drum set for the Dead Weather, he's hitting downward, so there's no up-and-over the rim.

Lots of drummers set up their drum sets in ways that defy convention because they like it that way. View attachment 550584
I think the OP was referring to rack toms mounted on top of the bass, so the heads are considerably higher than the snare head.
 

Peano

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:rolleyes:

Funny, nothing says "hack amateur" to me more than highly angled toms.
Yeah, like Hal Blaine. What a hack amateur he was!

blaine.jpg
 

wraub

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To me, one of the best things about playing drums is that you can set a kit up for your personal needs, and then, if you need, you can set it up completely differently. An almost infinite array of possibilities exists in any collection of drum/percussion pieces, and almost every drummer has a setup different from almost every other drummer. It's really pretty cool if you think about it.

My drums are slightly angled towards me, and my cymbals are angled and as low as possible, everything is in easy reach. Your drums may be different, and might not suit me.
That's why they're your drums.

Play what works for you.
 

Frank Godiva

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To a degree. My guitars I like low action. And then I grab a buddies and he likes higher action so to a degree. Drums tho are a different animal. I’ve never jumped on someone’s kit and have it even come close to my setup.
Totally agree, but even with different string gauge or action it’s still 6 strings tuned the same way. Yeah there are 5 string guitars and various tunings but there is a standard configuration and tuning.

Drums lack both a standard configuration and a standard tuning.
 

wraub

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To a degree. My guitars I like low action. And then I grab a buddies and he likes higher action so to a degree. Drums tho are a different animal. I’ve never jumped on someone’s kit and have it even come close to my setup.
I've almost never sat behind another drummers kit and thought "This feels right." It's like a window into their consciousness. :D
 

serisys

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For me it's a matter of stick angle being even and controlled to the heads (and cymbals) for the best tonal response. Enough angle and height to make smooth moves around the kit, get a rim shot as easily as a full head stroke, finesse the cymbal or crash it... what ever the moment requires. I have very long legs even though not overly tall (6'-2" in height) - I had to have Ludwig specialize my snare stand for 2 more inches of height on the snare stand and the throne is the tallest they made (in the 60's). And of course with that said, you have to be comfortable for the long 4 hour club gigs back in my day. The 60-90 minute show gigs of today are not so hard on the lower back... but I'm still gigging now after nearly 50 years with a decent lower back yet (same basic kit too). Two pics included - me at 14, and today at 72 (yeah, same Ludwigs and Zildjians with a few updates and adds). And this kit has been on the road plenty over the decades (I'm my only roadie for the most part which is why the kit has survived).
 

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fubar1217

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In '80 I ordered a 22" bass and 6 power toms, top head only (now I know they're "concert toms"). I mounted 12"x10" and 13"x11" on the bass. They had to be tilted, or I literally couldn't reach them. I tilted the other toms similarly, and mounted all cymbals except ride and HH "overhead" ('cus that's what we did). Self taught since '69, I played entirely with my wrists, matched grip, and my L could never really keep up with my R ("if I only had 2 R hands"). I saw Billy Cobham several times, and I wanted to play ride with my L, snare and fills with my R. It wasn't even barely there, forget it. I went to graduate school in '05, worked as a physical therapist till '20. I put my set on shelves in the garage, so I could meet the demands of my job. In PT, I learned a lot about muscles, joints, and "handedness". To help with a medical issue, I retired and began 24/7/365 at home. TV was OK for a week, then I needed something more. Got out the sticks. On the web, I relearned stick technique. I play with my middle and ring fingers. my wrists don't flex, and my thumbs barely move. At first, I couldn't reliably stabilize with my L thumb, and my L middle and ring could barely complete the necessary movement. I literally stick handled 100s of hours on my family room floor, at least 80% focused on only L hand development. I can play L hand rides at least 90% of R. Drug the set out of the garage (much rust). Bought a 24" bass. I had practiced lateral movement of hands on my floor ("drum to drum" movement), and I liked it. I thought "out of the box". I prefer to play down. Put my snare and stool at the high end of comfort zone. I mounted all 6 flat, on the same level, on racks, heads roughly 1" higher than flat snare. I spent time reaching/striking in the air, eyes closed, to see where my hands WANTED to go, and tried to position accordingly. Presently, I have R and L rides, 3 crash and 2 stacks, all flat, a few inches above heads, nothing higher than my elbow, standing. I played this for a while, and absolutely loved it. There was no way I could put a 20" bass in traditional position, let alone 24". I'm concerned that the drum police will lock me up and never let me play again, 'cus....I bought a L hand dbl bass pedal, and put the bass in the L foot position. I play primarily with R foot, but I'm starting to do some 2 foot playing. I know, somehow it seems wrong. I don't care. I can play this arrangement so much better than before. I'm sitting on top, instead of reaching up and out. I can see around me so much better. For the heck of it, I tried to play a bit "old style", with my wrists. It wasn't comfortable at all, and I hit the rims a lot. Maybe it's a difference in hand/wrist technique issue?
I've thought about doing exactly this. Got a "left handed" double kick pedal to put the kick on my left to make room to place the toms low and flat as if using roto-toms. I've just been too lazy to actually set it up....lol.
 

SPoratica

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Anyone care to explain the reasoning behind why some drummers play with their rack toms, (or tom) positioned perfectly flat)? Now you have to go up and over in order to hit it, making fast fills almost impossible, and you end up hitting the rim instead. Other than because "it looks cool", I never got it. Same with drummers who sit low so that their knees are higher than their hip, ala Tommy Lee, ouch, death to knees I would think.
At 5' 4" with two 24" bass drums, I have no choice but to play with my toms tilted. It is ergonomically impossible for me to play with flat-mounted toms. I've had 6ft+ drummers ask me why my toms are angled. It's pretty cut and dry... So I can reach them.
 

cruddola

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In that photo though it doesn't seem like SC is sitting up all that high. His thigh isn't exactly parallel to the floor, but neither is it at a really sharp downward angle. Ringo on the other hand is someone who sat REALLY high. I sat up higher too for years, but then I realized that I could have better control with my bass drum (and better tone by not burying the beater) by playing heel down and felt more stable bouncing my left foot on the height when I want to play eighth notes on that by sitting lower. I feel like sitting up high it’s really difficult to be busy with both the hats and bass drum and still not feel wobbly...
Sitting up high on a large diameter stool/throne works for me because I'm able to balance myself by sitting further back on the seat. The edge of the larger-diameter seat is just behind my knees. I can take both feet off the pedals and won't lean forward, backward or to either side. I can bury the beaters into the bass or not without a hitch. A solid foundation without any wobbly at all.

I use a dentist hydraulic lift stool. On it I have custom-made 18 and 20-inch diameter seat pads. I have three stools/thrones and six pads. I used to do four-hour practice sessions without leaving the seat easily. Can still do it at 68 years. Traditional thrones just don't cut it for me. I've had these for almost 40 years. One had its own road case since bought. They weren't cheap, but worth every penny.

I've always stressed the key to drumming is to be comfortable. A 5-thousand-dollar kit and a 100-dollar throne don't cut it with me at all.
 

jakup_martini

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I am one of those weirdos who really prefer my toms flat. There's a few important details that I haven't noticed in the comments yet. I've been seeing this setup for far longer than Travis Barker - back in the 80's Jerry Gaskill of King's X had famously flat toms - Same with Matt Cameron from Soundgarden

  • I'm not tall, and it's definitely not for show - It has to do with a very specific physicality of heavy drummers. I find I can get far more power by swinging down rather than "out" towards a tom that faces me. That's totally specific it my drumming style so it's not that 'this is better' but it's just how I learned to get the sound that I want. I also find that I use more wrist and hands for fast runs when I'm drumming down rather than out as well (again just a preference).
  • Most flat tom setups NEVER put toms over their kick drum. (see picture) and I really prefer to get my ride cymbal much closer to the rest of the set.
  • You don't have to make that big of a jump because a lot of good flat tom setups don't have a huge lateral move to the toms (hence avoiding over the kick placement)

1A381DCD-1B8B-4C40-A22A-83EC7E3A3FEA.JPG

66586449754__A1ADB802-7CA0-4879-8060-1CB487519504.jpg
 

Drum Mer

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Finally found a picture with a good view of my previous kit:
1648063054815.png


Since this picture was taken two years ago, the cymbals have come down a bit too:
1648067580004.png


Im short (only 5,4) and sit at the max of my Roc N Soc at 24” (and have the legs collapsed a bit for 2” extra, so the extended nitro is on its way).

Setting the toms flat and low (as why I prefer no deeper toms than 7”) like this, makes playing so much easier, and does so from a more active body position.
 
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bassanddrum84

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Finally found a picture with a good view of my previous kit:
View attachment 550781

Since this picture was taken two years ago, the cymbals have come down a bit too.

Im short (only 5,4) and sit at the max of my Roc N Soc at 24” (and have the legs collapsed a bit for 2” extra, so the extended nitro is on its way).

Setting the toms flat and low (as why I prefee no deeper toms than 7”) like this, makes playing so much easier, and does so from a more active body position.
Same minus my current gigging kit I think the rack is 12x8. I usually ran with super shallow rack Tom’s. Gorgeous kit by the way
 

McLovin’ me Ludwigs

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This thread reminds me of a lesson I was very fortunate to have with Kenny Washington. During the lesson he said alot.
The type of sticks you use affects your sound.
The angle and height of your ride cymbal affects your sound.
The height and angle of your toms affects your sound.
The height and angle of your snare affects your sound.
The height and distance of your stool from the drums affects your sound.

See a pattern here? Pay attention to your sound. And also orthopedics. Some cats are short mofos like me. 5'6". One of my favorite Seattle drummers is about 6'2", long arms, long legs, etc. His stool is farther behind the drums than mine. Mine is closer, because I like to be able to reach the drums! You dig?

If your rack tom is too sloped you are likely to get a girlie man tone when you hit it at such an obtuse angle. But there are exceptions to the rule. It is never a bad idea to take a lesson with the best playing and teaching drummer you know. Have him or her watch your play your set up and then give you some feedback. Great drummer / teachers are like golf pros. They look at your swing and tell you exactly what your f-ing problem(s) are!

Ya feel me?
CAAAAN YOOUUUU DIIIG IIIIIIIT?!?
The Warriors movie.
 


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