My 16x16 floor tom sounds terrible. What am I doing wrong?

JDA

DFO Star
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
24,294
Reaction score
13,259
Location
Jeannette, Pa.
There's a thread on 12x15's...
it's not the diameter; it's the depth

(no need for a fifteen if you shorten up a 14) my opinion)

an 11X14 (I guess the 'true' DW Fast tom)
looks funny : ) on 3 legs

12X14 (jazz) is enough clowning around : )

and 14X16 is popular with touring (cough Clutch) bands..
 

Markkuliini

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
3,096
Reaction score
2,134
Location
Sweden/Finland
Have you gotten good results in that same room before with floor toms? Some rooms can be really tricky when it comes to floor toms and bass drums sounding good.
 

varatrodder

Very well Known Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
Messages
739
Reaction score
905
it's not the diameter; it's the depth
Have you gotten good results in that same room before with floor toms? Some rooms can be really tricky when it comes to floor toms and bass drums sounding good.
I've played 14x16 and 12x14 for at least the past 10 years, so it's been a while since I've had to deal with a square floor tom. I'm pretty sure it's the depth of the drum that I don't like. I set up my 12x14 floor tom next to the 16x16's in the same room, and it just sounded so much better.

I thought about having the Gretsch cut down, but I think I'm just going to sell it instead. I only bought it because it's vintage champagne sparkle and matches a Gretsch bass drum I have.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JDA

Philaiy9

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2018
Messages
108
Reaction score
57
With rounded edges I find I have to tune toms a very particular way. I end up cranking the bottom head and tuning the batter to taste. The tight bottom head helps the sound project, especially at lower tunings. This video is a great start (I still reference the pitches for the bottom heads almost every time I tune my Ludwigs):

 

BennyK

DFO Star
Platinum Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2008
Messages
16,001
Reaction score
3,382
Tune your 16x16 to where you feel it sounds the best , then tune the rest of your kit to it accordingly . Usually the floor tom is last on the list - looser , and if it isn't , for whatever reason compatible to that low because of edges or whatever , you'll be chasing your tail trying to make it " fit in " . Sometimes a certain head combo will work on a stinker that doesn't on your other toms . Don't be concerned about that . I'm skeptical about the one size fits all approach . Yes no maybe .
 
Last edited:

varatrodder

Very well Known Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
Messages
739
Reaction score
905
Thanks everyone for all the input. At this point I've tried coated Ambassadors and Emperors on the top, and coated and clear Ambassadors on the bottom. Seems like cranking up the bottom higher than I normally would is helping. I really just think I'm not used to the sound of a square floor tom. Might be time to go back to a shallower drum.
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2010
Messages
1,118
Reaction score
1,276
Location
NY-NJ
I had a hard time with a 16x16 a while back. A great drummer told me to try a black dot on the bottom, I did. Now all of my floor toms (no matter of genre that they are being used for, or tuning, or what head is on top, clear, coated, vintage amb, fiberskyn) have a black dot on the bottom. Remember, Remo calls Black Dot's CS for "Controlled Sound." 'Nuff said. PERFECT!

12x14, 14x16 and 13x15 are MUCH easier to tune, and more user friendly (and just look more "traditional.") Maybe that tuning ease is why so many companies seem to have gone to 13x14 as a standard floor tom size (on legs,) who knows. Contrarily, I think the 10x14 is one of the toughest (and most useless tom sizes EVER, for many reasons.) But 12x14 is pretty great, something happens with those two extra inches.... I also know that Vinnie used to use a 12x14 (on a stand) and a 16x16 on his (amazing sounding, and well "tweaked") blond Gretsch kit, maybe that's why.

But once you get the deeper floor toms dialed in (with my Black Dot trick, and bring the bottom head up a little higher than you would think, for projection) they will sound fantastic, at any tuning.

MSG
 
Last edited:

Tommy D

DFO Veteran
Joined
Apr 4, 2015
Messages
1,864
Reaction score
887
Location
Chicago, IL, USA
Square floor toms are a PITA to tune if you are used to the shallower floor toms. I have found tuning both heads to the same pitch gives you a starting point to work with. Then work on bringing up or down each head individually and see if it makes it sound better. I find its just a lot of trial and error with square floor toms. In the end I dont find them appreciably better sounding than the shallower floor toms, so I try not to buy them any more.
 

underratedcowbell

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
231
Reaction score
231
Location
Lisbon, Portugal
All my floor toms are square sizes and I have no trouble at all to get them to sound full and resonant; I cannot say the same with shallower floor toms, so I guess it's just a matter of taste! I usually start by tuning both heads to the same pitch and work my way around untill I find the sweet spot! I usually have the bottom head higher than the batter head about 1 to 1,5 full turns in the drum key and I put 2 or 3 cotton balls inside the drum. Someone mentioned iso feet and they really work. They can turn a somehow anemic floor tom into a full resonant beast...and they're so cheap (at leat the ones by Gibraltar).
 

Tdipaul

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2014
Messages
144
Reaction score
235
Location
NJ
Maybe 1 or more of your rods/lugs have excessive friction and it is not as tight as you think, and thus throwing things off.

I dont mean to pimp it, but a Drum Dial would find the offending lug(s) and show it in the form of a lower reading than the others.

It can also give hints that something is wrong with the bearing edge and/or hoop. If you have a reading of 75 on lug A, a reading of 75 on lug C, and a reading of 75 on lug B but this rod is much looser or tighter than A and C hints something is wrong in this vicinity.
 

Browny

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2017
Messages
441
Reaction score
375
Location
Melbourne
I’ve got two floors, both 16x16s and I’m happy with both.

A ~47 Slingerland, classic fit ambassadors, coated over clear. It has straight legs and was lifeless before adding the Pearl ISO feet.

A ~80 Yamaha 5000, white suede emperor over clear ambassador, just has the regular bent legs and feet.

Both have the top tuned a little higher than the bottom. Just gotta find a sweet spot where the top and bottom heads individually want to live, with that slight difference between the two heads where they respond with each other, then dial them in (up or down) to reign in the frequencies/tones that you don’t want to hear.

The difference between each head is probably different on both drums, I’m not really looking for particular notes but rather how they interact with each other and the drum itself.

Outcome seems to be fairly similar for both, albeit with the tone/characteristics of each drum (and heads) being apparent.

That’s my take anyway.
 

cruddola

Very well Known Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2016
Messages
842
Reaction score
792
Location
usa
I have what most older drummers here will agree are some of the toughest drums to tune. But when you hit their sweet-spots they're absolute thunderous and killer on a stage. Hair-bands loved them for that very reason. I have my re-ringed and tone-controlled Imperialstars of the late '70s and early '80s. ( Lotta you younger drummers weren't even skid-marks on your daddy's bed-sheets yet.) 8,10,12,13,14, &15 rack toms. Included are the 16X16, 18X18 and 20X20 floor toms. Psuedo-mahogany Imperialstars have a limited tuning range compared to my 1991 Yamaha Rock Tour Customs. I drum and record in my living room. Anyhow, I had a similar tough (and expensive) adventure getting the sounds I wanted from those Imperialstars. Tried all kinds of skins. I not only installed Coated on top and Clear Ambassadors on the reso side, I also went tighter on top and suspended them those floor toms off the floor. That's where the great 1st Generation Yamaha HexRack system came in. I inverted the floor toms to take advantage of using two of their three leg mounts to suspend them off the HexRack. I even suspended the 14X20, 14X22, 14X24 or 14X26-inch bass drums off the stinking floor by inverting them and using their spur-mounts on the HexRack. Perfect! I'd like to see a garbage-Gibralter rack handle that! Anyhow, I got what I was looking for in terms of their tuning. Never thought lighter skins would do the trick and getting them off the floor. Pretty sure everybody's results will vary.
 
Last edited:

Tommy D

DFO Veteran
Joined
Apr 4, 2015
Messages
1,864
Reaction score
887
Location
Chicago, IL, USA
Well, this seems to be the problem with square floor toms. There is no sure way to make them sound good. With the 2" shorter floor toms you can tune them similarly to your rack toms. Most people, for near field listening (ie: drummer's perspective), tune their batter head for attack and feel and the reso head for tone. This usually results in a looser batter with tighter reso. And the drums sing with this tuning (in the near field). This same tuning method works on the shallower floor toms and they can be thunderous. But you throw in a square floor tom and a sure fire way to tune it gets thrown out the window. The drums can sound flabby, papery, boingy, dead and everything in between. Then randomly, one day, you make some tweaks and the drum starts to sound good but it's tonality never matches your rack toms. There is still something a bit off about them.
 

Targalx

DFO Veteran
Joined
Jan 22, 2017
Messages
1,653
Reaction score
1,420
Location
Los Angeles
To those of you saying square floor toms are hard/impossible to tune, what are you playing? I have no difference in issues tuning my square vs. shallow floor toms. I don’t believe a square floor tom is any more difficult than a shallow one. They’re both temperamental at times. They’re both easy at times. I’ve been tuning drums for decades, and one isn’t worse than other.
 

Tommy D

DFO Veteran
Joined
Apr 4, 2015
Messages
1,864
Reaction score
887
Location
Chicago, IL, USA
To those of you saying square floor toms are hard/impossible to tune, what are you playing? I have no difference in issues tuning my square vs. shallow floor toms. I don’t believe a square floor tom is any more difficult than a shallow one. They’re both temperamental at times. They’re both easy at times. I’ve been tuning drums for decades, and one isn’t worse than other.
My Mapex Saturn III has square floor toms. My Pearl Reference Pure had square floor toms. Both were very finicky to tune and in the end they just sound okay. My PDP Concept Birch and Concept Maple short floor toms tune super easy. My Crush Limited Reserve Mahogany has shorter floor toms and they tune easily and sound great. And with the square floor toms really only sounding okay at one tuning, it doesn't give them much versatility for tuning higher or lower. The shorter floor toms can move up or down pretty easily.
 

JDA

DFO Star
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
24,294
Reaction score
13,259
Location
Jeannette, Pa.
jump from floor toms to bass drums and it's (issues) the same

18X18, 20X20 22X22 Bass
vs 14X18 14X20 14X22
etc

to go back and figure out why 16X16 was chosen or even 20 deep X 16 head floor toms (In Premier's case)

The 9X13 was supposedly because of a "Hat Box" size..

Why 16X16
no one has ever said.

SOME Believe it was to cover (hide) the Dress Shoes (or not) of a Drummer

(Just made that one up : )
 

Squirrel Man

DFO Veteran
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
Messages
2,023
Reaction score
2,496
I have two square 16's. The decade maple rings like a church bell, opposite "problem" I guess, I use e-rings and coated reso's to calm it down.

The roadshow which is poplar I think actually sounds better than the decade, it doesn't resonate nearly as much.
 

jptrickster

DFO Star
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2006
Messages
10,458
Reaction score
4,361
Location
Fairfield County
Can’t say I’ve ever had a bad sounding 16 well maybe one that had horrible edges was tough to tune. Slingerland and Gretsch like to be tuned in the medium range more so than say Ludwig or Rogers which can tune down and sing well at sub bass notes.
 

Seb77

DFO Master
Joined
Apr 11, 2013
Messages
3,309
Reaction score
1,974
Location
Germany
Hold it up by your hand w/o legs on it to see if the legs are the cuplrit. Next, move to another room. Only then, change the tuning, then maybe the heads.
I think any drum should sound good with any kind of medium single-ply head top and bottom.
With square sizes, once you get up to a certain tension, identical pitch/tension top and bottom might choke the drum.

I agree "fast" sizes on all toms make a lot of sense; one of the original reasons for square size floor toms might have been - stability! Lower center of gravity.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JDA

JDA

DFO Star
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
24,294
Reaction score
13,259
Location
Jeannette, Pa.
last 16X16 I had was a Torodor /(pearl) and it killed;
the other is a RB Red glass Gretsch and it transitioned to Bass drum (tho can be switched back
I got nothing against 16X16s
(in percussion) everything's a target
 


Top