Has the Drum Set Evolved to Include Too Many Toms?

Mcjnic

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Two toms ... I played a small jazz (20,12,14f) kit for well over a year as my primary kit. It was so difficult to adjust. I kept hearing things ... trying to express myself ... and I didn't have the sound. I realize my deficiency ... but it felt like I was wrapped up or something. Don't get me wrong ... I can groove on just a doggone set of hats and a pizza box ... that's not what I'm saying.
It's more of a "permanent kit" ... the one that I sit behind day in and day out.
I really prefer to have my high and medium in front of that snare, and my lower voices next to me. It opens up my voice quite a bit.

I will say, I'm in the process of working out the design of a wood timbale for my kit. So there's that.
 

Old Drummer

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Fred preferred a big kit and more toms
I've always loved this drum solo, dance routine, or whatever the heck it is. However, to stick to the subject, I'm pretty sure that a tom or two could be taken away with no loss, while the cowbells, wood block, stick clicks, and tap shoes couldn't.
 

Old Drummer

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I think you have the calender in the wrong decade. There are a handful of people on the forum who still enjoy big setups, but there is currently a very strong bias, particularly by elitists, for 1up/1down, and even occasional argument whether 1 tom (and usually one cymbal) is enough.
You might be right about my calendar mistake.
 

Toast Tee

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Evolution isn't a bad thing. It's just how it goes. The standard kit when I started playing was 13, 14, 16. Also around that time Peart's kit was what just about every rock drummer wanted, so it became much more common to see over the top sized kits.
By the mid/late 90's the "fusion" kits became the standard. 10, 12, 14. I'd say that's still the standard, but lots of drummers are moving either Bonham big, or 1 mount, and 1 floor, with smaller sized toms.
I guess it's all personal preference.
Personally, I practice on a 4 piece 12, 14, and when I have to play, I bring as little as the gig demands.
I think this thread would have been more appropriate in the 80's. Just my view on the topic
 

Old Drummer

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Not to get off track here, but it's not just toms that some are adding. One of my bands plays a handful of Santana tunes, so I've added a pair of timbales to my setup. To echo many others, bring what you need to play to support the music.
I totally love timbales and they're the kind of different addition I like to see, though strangely timbales are kind of toms, just different kinds.
 

Old Drummer

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I think this thread would have been more appropriate in the 80's.
Fair enough. That's when I retired, I didn't pay much attention after that, and odds are that the youtube videos and the like I'm routed to showing the great drummers I missed are dated too. I'd like to see what the kids are playing now.
 

lrod1707

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I totally love timbales and they're the kind of different addition I like to see, though strangely timbales are kind of toms, just different kinds.
I think timbales are a great addition and add new & unique sounds that you normally don't get with toms. I have LP mini timbales on my setup left of the hi hat and love them. They are pretty neat because you can use them as timbales or mini snares. They have a twist throwoff built in:
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rculberson

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It’s not an “evolution”... it’s just a choice. A choice that drummers 50 years ago had, just like it’s a choice that current drummers have. It’s not about laziness or lack or creativity or following trends. It’s a choice, nothing more, nothing less. BTW, 1 up 1 down player here. Why? Because I choose to.
 

jptrickster

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I've always loved this drum solo, dance routine, or whatever the heck it is. However, to stick to the subject, I'm pretty sure that a tom or two could be taken away with no loss, while the cowbells, wood block, stick clicks, and tap shoes couldn't.
The video I posted was to exhibit the want for more drums and more sounds even in 1937. It would've been quite boring if it were just a couple drums.
 

CSR

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The older the drummer and/or the more gigs they play that require a nightly load-in, the fewer the drums and cymbals. The huge sets are usually the realm of basement/garage players, with the exception of professional players with roadies. IMHO.

Most of your audience can’t differentiate between different toms or cymbals.
 

cribbon

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Not to get off track here, but it's not just toms that some are adding. One of my bands plays a handful of Santana tunes, so I've added a pair of timbales to my setup. To echo many others, bring what you need to play to support the music.
I'm a serious fan of timbales and often do what you mention for the same reason - Santana tunes. In addition, on occasion, I'll just use a single timbale instead of a rack tom (tuned down w/ 2-ply head for that "thud")

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cribbon

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Tune-Bot's tuning guide gives a maximum range of about an octave and a half for a maximum of a six-tom setup (and Tune-Bot recommends tuning the six toms a third apart). This though is the range of fundamental pitches, when in reality the overtones are all over the place. This is also striking the drum in the center. If the drum is struck off-center, the fundamental pitch changes. Others' ears are surely better than mine, but I can't hear any significant difference between adjacent thuds this close together.

To the thud issue (which I suspected would rile some people) I like singing and cutting toms too. In fact, I gravitate to 3-4 toms myself in an attempt to get different tom sounds (not just different pitches). But the multi-tom players seem to have toms that deliver the same sound quality, just at different pitches. That can be nice for soloing--it's almost melodic--but 99% of the time strikes me as redundant. I'd be more forgiving if they had some thuds and some singers, for example, mixing it up.
Exactly why I started using timbales in the 70s. I had a Fibes crystalite kit that I had tuned way up but I also needed a low thud. My options were to buy another Fibes floor tom or get a pair of timbales and split them, which is what I decided to do. I put the lower timbale (14) between the hat and my 1st rack tom and tuned it down to a thud that I could easily access with either hand. The higher one I either left at home or put on a snare stand over by the floor tom. This started me on my love affair with timbales that has stuck with me ever since.

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Ickybaby

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The "drumset" has waxed and waned over the years in regards to tom-toms and other conTRAPtions. Sonny Greer had a fairly large kit, Ray Bauduc used several toms often, Viola Smith....Louie B! All that was well before Hal crafted the "Monster". Look at modern days adverts...it's mainly 4pc (well really 3pc) kits. Multi-tom kits are either passe or cutting edge now.... I can't remember.

So subjective. I use whatever I feel the music calls for. If/When I get feedback, I adjust accordingly. Now, what "I" feel "the music calls for" and what you feel "the music calls for", could be vastly different. The bottom line is that the music leader of any given situation is the final call on "what the music calls for". I think the most important thing to being a good drummer (or any instrumentalist/vocalist) is to be able to take direction and have a vast vocabulary so you can "flesh out" the music director's vision aurally. To me, this means having a large arsenal to pull from. Also for me, frankly, the more I have, the more expressive I have the potential to be.

Did Neil Peart play for the music? I believe Neil Peart is the Neil Peart we all know and (love or hate) largely in part because Geddy and Alex liked the busy drumming. If they hadn't, and wanted a groove oriented player...or a guy that swings...well they would have gone that way (and maybe hired Purdie)…. But that's not how it happened. Similarly with Ringo....we have the recordings we have, we hear the parts we hear, they are familiar we (a great many of us but not all) love them...we say they are perfect...HE PLAYED FOR THE MUSIC!!!!!.... but does that mean that 50 other drummers takes on the songs wouldn't have worked? Was what Ringo played the only possible combination of stickings to properly propel the Mop Tops to the top O' the charts? If Pete had taken a couple lessons and wasn't so pretty...maybe he could have played exactly for the music.

Much like the exact number of licks to reach the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop....the world may never know.
 

Pounder

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The music you’re playing will dictate the setup, by and large. With the advent of electronics, the biggest innovations have come with how acoustic drums are being utilized with the electronics in setups. Also drumsets in general are more specialized. I’m seeing more basic kit setups along with specific cymbal setups, all with an aim towards specialization according to whatever style the music is being played.

When you do a job, as an electrician, you don’t bring un-necessary tools with you. Same thing with drummers and drum sets, although the visual aspect of a tom-heavy set of drums is part of the presentation—it isn’t completely sound, it’s also image that matters in today’s music to an extent.

By your line of reasoning a drummer ought to have a cowbell insted of an extra tom, even though they have no musical reason to even bring the cowbell to the gig (no cowbell on the songs. ) The music dictates what the drummer brings, and the image the artist is intending to project (the appearance of the drums) this is an esthetic decision, while you’re just speaking of ergonomics. I actually didn’t read much in your post about the music or its requirements, and that should really be the primary factor in a setup. The visual aspect (looking cool) is arguably an important factor in live drumming. People go to SEE and hear the band. Thats a huge factor, but having room for something isn’t a reeason to include it, it has to follow the function of the music and visuals first and foremost. Even if 2 toms “thud” with very little difference, shouldn’t the artist be free to determine what subtleties he/she will place in it? Let’s not forget music and drumming is an artistic functional expression as well as a practical space-related consideration.

Perhaps a cover-band drummer would want to be more general and economic/ergonomic in the setup chosen. And, I’m seeing easily just as many simple 3-4 piece drum setups as ever before for many live bands I see. Whereas how one sets up their drums in the studio is going to be a function of what they’re aims are in the studio. It may be different, because you have the luxury of not having to cart them around etc.

It’s a subject worth exploring though, thanks for starting the topic. I’m just saying variety of sounds (bongos, cowbells) may not be the aim: It may more be what sounds I need and where do I need to place them according to the music I’m playing?
 

Treviso1

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I don't know, I rather like these two drum sets pictured quite a bit. They were the source of many hours of drooling over pictures when I was a kid. I think that drummers today are essentially all playing the same kit. I can't think of anyone playing a really interesting drum set these days outside of Simon Phillips and Danny Carey (and of course, a few others...but they come to mind).
 

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Toast Tee

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It’s not an “evolution”... it’s just a choice. A choice that drummers 50 years ago had, just like it’s a choice that current drummers have. It’s not about laziness or lack or creativity or following trends. It’s a choice, nothing more, nothing less. BTW, 1 up 1 down player here. Why? Because I choose to.
I agree it is a choice. I chose to carry the bare minimum I needed to play the gig.
As for the evolution, there definitely has been one, especially for beginner drummers, and what era they began playing. I didn't have much money, and really didn't know any better.
If like me, you began playing in the 80's, and used 2 years of paper route $ to buy a kit, the choices were very limited, so I got a cheap, yet serviceable kit (Tama Swingstar). The industry standards are dictated by what was being played at the time. The choice i had was 13,14,16 inch toms.
By the 2000's, the standard 4, or 5 peice kit would have been 10,12,14 inch toms.
By that time, and some experience, yes it becomes a choice.
1 up, 1 down here too, unless the gig calls for more, or rarely less.
In a lot of cases, the configuration lots of people use is often influenced by the drummer's influences at the time.
When I watch old videos of drummers from 60', and prior, most were using the same configuration I use today.
Neil Peart, was I giant influence on many drummers configurations from the late 70's until mid 80's.
It's almost like fashion in a way.
 


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