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).CHECK OUT THE LEGS!
No, not those legs. The Floor tom legs.
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.
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.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.
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.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?
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.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.
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).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've had that happen with a whole kit! They sound ok-ish/good from behind the kit, but great miked up and recorded.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 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.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.