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

varatrodder

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Well, now I have a third one in my possession (at least temporarily). I'm cleaning up my brother in law's Yamaha kit with a 16x16. I'm going to compare that to the Slingerland and Gretsch and see how it does.
 

JimiAllison

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CHECK OUT THE LEGS! :love10:

:icon_lol: No, not those legs. The Floor tom legs. :wave:
If they are the old style with barely a rubber tip on the end you need to isolate the drum more.
You can test this by holding the drum up by the rim and hitting it. If it sustains/sounds like you want it's not the drum it's the legs.
You will need to either:
a) buy some isolation feet for the legs and replace the originals (keep them if you ever want to resell the drum)
b) find some foam/insulation to set on the floor under the legs to isolate the drum from the floor more.
That’s it! People don’t realize how much floor tom legs kill your floor tom tone and resonance. Pick up some Pearl Air Suspension FT legs (or just the rubber tips).
 

itsjjp

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There is a reason drum makers went to non-square floors, and I would guess that you and I would not like the sound of the guys floors who have been claiming that their square floors sound great. I discovered this from Yamaha regarding their Uber expensive PHX line. I actually drilled 6 additional vent holes into my 16x16 floor, and it made a nice difference. I'm probably going to do 2 more.
Screenshot_20210615-064417_Chrome.jpg
 

RIDDIM

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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
JR Frondelli mentioned the in this forum maybe 10 or so years ago- that's where I got the idea from. Works well for me.
 

jb78

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I wonder if the underlying issue for those struggling with 16x16s is that it simply doesn’t sound or feel like a 14x16, etc.

If you want more resonance and clear tone, I too am a big fan of the Pearl feet. But 16x16s do a specific thing. If the issue is that you just aren’t a fan of that thing, the path of least resistance is probably to abandon the drum for a different size (if that’s an alternative financially).
 

DavedrumsTX

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Typically I don't play square floor toms, and it's been years since I have owned a 16x16 floor tom. But now I find myself with two - a 1970's 3-ply Slingerland and a modern 3-ply Gretsch Broadkaster - and both sound like crap (at least to me). They're just dull and anemic - no fullness, no sustain, no boom.

Both have rounded edges in great condition, both have Ambassadors top and bottom (I've tried an Emperor on top, too). I tried tuning the bottom head up, down, even with the batter - nothing works. What am I doing wrong?
I guess the question is, define terrible. My 16 doesn’t sound great unmiked. When I mic it for recording or live it is amazing. I think it has a lot to do what frequencies we hear.
 

SplineSpider

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If you’re getting a nasty Booouuu type of sound that means one of the heads is too tight or loose in relation to the other drum head. That’s my personal experience with tuning.
Sometimes I have found with the big floor toms that I need the thinnest resonant head possible. put that one on alone at first and tune it to the natural note of the drum. Once you have that one so that you get the most sustain possible and all the lugs in agreement. Then do your batter head. It's surprising how important the resonant head is to your overall tuning. I am sure you already know all of this, if so sorry for the echo chamber.
 

Tommy D

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To those saying it's all a problem with the floor tom legs, no, that's not the problem. Even with air suspension feet, square floor toms do not tune up as easily as shorter floor toms. They still have a greater tendency to to choke, to sound thin, to lack a fundamental tone, etc.

I think the problem is 2 fold. 1) deeper floor toms sit lower to the floor than shorter floor toms. Duh... The problem with this is that it does not give the drum enough space between the reso head and the floor for the sound wave to fully develop before getting absorbed by the floor. 2) Square toms must have some sort of sound wave cancelation thing going on with the width of the drum being equal to the depth. Similar to the floor absorbing the sound wave, the waves inside the drum must be reflecting and bounding off each other in such a way that they are working against each other.
 

angus

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I have owned various kits over the years with different sizes of floor toms. Currently my Pearl Masters Maple Gum kit has a "square" 16x16FT. It's definitely the most challenging drum in the kit - requires work to make sound and feel the way I think a floor tom should. It now feels much closer to where I want than it did at first which reflects both the fact that have learned to dial it in and also probably that I have grown more accustomed to it's natural voice. I do think as a rule of thumb non-square FT's are easier to tune though I think it's an over-simplification to only blame the dimensions as I had a 16x16" Pearl MLX FT some years ago that was a cinch to tune and sounded killer (i think hoops may also be a key variable - my drums have diecast hoops but I think Pearl's Superhoops would work better on the FT).

Echoing sone of the comments above I think that isolation feet do generally help, but my FT legs came with Pearl's "Air Suspension" feet so that wasn't a tweak I could add. However I did swap to Gauger's "Flex Tips" which have yielded a noticeable further improvement over the Pearl isolation feet.

I also got improvements from the old cotton wall balls loose in the drum - about 4 "teased apart" - they act like a subtle gate on the lower head. I like the idea above of trying a Remo CS head instead - intuitively makes sense - I'll try that.

Overall I'd echo what has been said above. i.e. my experience is that square FT's generally have a sound/feel that is more different from rack toms. i.e. shorter floor toms sound and feel more consistent with rack toms. Both have their place. Honestly if I were buying a kit that wasn't a pre-configured shell pack I'd probably go 16x14", but my tweaks have got me to a point now where I'm actually starting to better appreciate the 16x16's way of doing things.
 

Cauldronics

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What's weird to me is I played my 16x16 last night and it sounded better than ever. Maybe the heads finally worked in just enough or the temperature and humidity were just right. The same heads have been on it for months, though.

Not complaining.
 

varatrodder

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I wonder if the underlying issue for those struggling with 16x16s is that it simply doesn’t sound or feel like a 14x16, etc.
I think that's where I am. I have played 14x16 and 12x14 for the past 10 years, and I can get those dialed in immediately with no muffling or anything. I always use suspension feet (which really do help).

The Gretsch is going up on the for-sale block. I only bought it for the color anyway.
 

wayne

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If you have cast hoops you may want to try tf. They open the sound up on the bigger boys.
 

JohnnyVibesAZ

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I don't like the sound of ANY square size drums, let alone, floor toms. My favorite size is a 14x16. Bobby Columby of Blood, Sweat, & Tears, always took the bottom heads off his floor toms, because the bottom heads made them "dead drums". A long time ago, I cut a 5" hole right in the middle of the bottom head of my 16x16 Slingy floor tom, and I thought it gave the drum some "punch".
 
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Cauldronics

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I guess the question is, define terrible. My 16 doesn’t sound great unmiked. When I mic it for recording or live it is amazing. I think it has a lot to do what frequencies we hear.
I've had that happen with a whole kit! They sound ok-ish/good from behind the kit, but great miked up and recorded.

The question in that is why would I want to keep playing a kit that sounds mediocre from the throne? Once you find another kit that sounds better from your seat, I don't see a reason to keep the other one. I've yet to meet a kit that sounds great from the seat that doesn't also do the same with mics on it.
 

richiegarcia4

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Lots of good advice here. I had a 16x16 70's Vistalite that was driving me crazy. Two things solved it:
-tuning the bottom head high enough to cancel some of that sustain
-realizing that the only time the overtones bugged me was when I was playing alone. With the band, everything sounded great.
 

Cauldronics

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To those saying it's all a problem with the floor tom legs, no, that's not the problem. Even with air suspension feet, square floor toms do not tune up as easily as shorter floor toms. They still have a greater tendency to to choke, to sound thin, to lack a fundamental tone, etc.

I think the problem is 2 fold. 1) deeper floor toms sit lower to the floor than shorter floor toms. Duh... The problem with this is that it does not give the drum enough space between the reso head and the floor for the sound wave to fully develop before getting absorbed by the floor. 2) Square toms must have some sort of sound wave cancelation thing going on with the width of the drum being equal to the depth. Similar to the floor absorbing the sound wave, the waves inside the drum must be reflecting and bounding off each other in such a way that they are working against each other.
I agree that a deep drum's proximity to the floor can greatly affect its tone. I've heard it so many times when I lift a 18 or 16 off the ground by the rim and give it a hit. The drum just opens up like a giant rack tom would sound.

The trouble is, it's difficult or impossible to mount a deep floor tom in a practical position for the kit. Hence, many of us get that ugly "bonk" or "bouuu" from a lack of pressure to disperse under the drum.

Although they're not deep drums, when I had my Yamaha 16x14 and 14x12 hanging on their standard mounts, they sounded more open and true than they did on baskets and cradles. I didn't like tom wobble when they were hanging, but they sounded better that way. Yamaha must've known that in the design.

All of this being said, not every square drum is a problem drum. I've had many that defy these laws, and many that adhere to them.
 

MaskingApathy

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I usually tune my toms bottom head a major 3rd higher than the top head (that's what works well on my current kit at least), wouldn't that work on a 16x16 too?
 


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