What is the best floor tom size, and why?

laea7777

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Thanks for all of the thoughtful replies. I'm mostly trying to talk myself out of buying a 16" (depth) x 18" (diameter) that I don't need. I mostly want it to emulate a timpani and/or pow wow type sound with the timpani mallets. I already have a 13x14 and a 14x16 and I like them both and they're basically good enough for this purpose.

I would like to be able to tune them to either a perfect fourth apart or a tri-tone apart. The two that I have sit comfortably closer to a major third apart; if I tune the big one low and the small one high, I can get a perfect fourth, but not quite a tri-tone. I'm hoping that the 16x18 and 14x16 would sit right between a perfect fourth and a tri-tone, since the ratio between the volumes is bigger than the ratio between the volumes of the 13x14 and 14x16 (1.446 versus 1.306). It's the volume of the bigger one divided by the volume of the smaller one that I'm talking about.
{\displaystyle V=\pi r^{2}h}


I sort of wish I had gotten a 16x16 instead of 14x16, and that would probably tune with the 13x14 the way I want it (a volume ratio of 1.493); also, many people seem to agree that 16x16 is the most standard and/or versatile. But, now I also just want the bigger deeper boom of the 16x18 and hope that the volume ratio is big enough between it and the 14x16. Then, I might try mounting the 13x14 as a rack tom.

I know this is very cerebral and totally a 'first world problem', especially considering that I'm not even gigging on drum set right now. I did use them with timpani mallets for drum rolls to introduce my piano students for my recent piano recital, of course while wearing a wolfman mask. I appreciate any input. Thanks.
 

HowardW

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I ordered my Gretsch Brooklyn with both 14x14 and 16x16 floor toms. In the past I've owned DW Performance and vintage Ludwig and Slingerland 14x14 floor toms. I've played with heads and tuning, but I've never gotten a 14" floor tom to give me the sound that I like. So for me, I'll stay with 16" floor toms.

As far as 14x16 vs 16x16, I've never found a significant difference. My (sold) DW was 14x16 and my Precision Drum is 14x16; my Gretsch Brooklyn and my three vintage kits all have 16x16 floor toms. They all sound good!
 

1988fxlr

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Thanks for all of the thoughtful replies. I'm mostly trying to talk myself out of buying a 16" (depth) x 18" (diameter) that I don't need. I mostly want it to emulate a timpani and/or pow wow type sound with the timpani mallets. I already have a 13x14 and a 14x16 and I like them both and they're basically good enough for this purpose.

I would like to be able to tune them to either a perfect fourth apart or a tri-tone apart. The two that I have sit comfortably closer to a major third apart; if I tune the big one low and the small one high, I can get a perfect fourth, but not quite a tri-tone. I'm hoping that the 16x18 and 14x16 would sit right between a perfect fourth and a tri-tone, since the ratio between the volumes is bigger than the ratio between the volumes of the 13x14 and 14x16 (1.446 versus 1.306). It's the volume of the bigger one divided by the volume of the smaller one that I'm talking about.
{\displaystyle V=\pi r^{2}h}


I sort of wish I had gotten a 16x16 instead of 14x16, and that would probably tune with the 13x14 the way I want it (a volume ratio of 1.493); also, many people seem to agree that 16x16 is the most standard and/or versatile. But, now I also just want the bigger deeper boom of the 16x18 and hope that the volume ratio is big enough between it and the 14x16. Then, I might try mounting the 13x14 as a rack tom.

I know this is very cerebral and totally a 'first world problem', especially considering that I'm not even gigging on drum set right now. I did use them with timpani mallets for drum rolls to introduce my piano students for my recent piano recital, of course while wearing a wolfman mask. I appreciate any input. Thanks.
I’m not going to pretend I followed much of the math or music theory stuff in there, but I do have and love my 16x18”. That being said If your hoping to emulate timpani sounds I think you’ll be dissapointed, the response will be far more in line with a bass drum or tom. If you want to fake a timpani vibe maybe try out a bigger timbale
 

Ptrick

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15x13 (diameter x depth). I agree, Goldilocks size for a single FT is 15. Used when I only use one FT. Otherwise I use 14/16. 18 to me is more of a specialty sound, and such a pain to transport, just not worth it (for me).
 

peter

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I think Ludwig makes, or made, a 15” floor tom.
Yes, 15" floors are available on custom Ludwig Classic Maple, and Legacy Maple.

Almost all drum companies will do it, if you're willing to pay them enough.

Too bad the general drumming public can't get over their phobia of odd-diameter shells lol.
 

Sequimite

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I played a 12 rack with 14 and 16 floors for many years, then I just stopped taking the 16. My '65 Slingerland 14x14 works where other ones sometimes don't. I got that sound again in a stave sapelle 14 x14 and my Milestone 16 x 14 kills, but in most all-maple sets I need a 15 or 16 for my bottom tom.

I'll say 14x14 is my preference.
 

Jazzhead

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I want to say it should be 15” but I have never played one. I don’t like 14” floor toms, I want my floor tom to be larger than a 14” snare. I have a 16”x15” and it can get really low but I always wonder how a 20/15/12 kit would sound like, it is probably the setup that will tune easily and cover all grounds!
but who makes a 20/15/12 if not special ordered. This will also make a great nesting kit to save space.
 

Browny

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16x16. It's the classic floor tom. Has presence, is a strong low voice. Can be deep and thuddy or have a bit of air to it, whatever.

3 of my kits have had one, the 40s Radio Kings, the '80ish Tama Superstar and the '80ish Yamaha 5000.

I haven't owned one, but like the idea of a 16x15 or 16x14, being a little shorter than the diameter to speak a touch faster and if it turns out they are easier to tune. Not that I've really had issues with the 16x16, but I guess it's hard to know without trying it.

I had a kit with a 14x12 as the only floor (was a hanging drum but I drilled it for legs) and always found it a little lacking, especially next to a 22. The 14x14 works in the typical downbeat configuration, smaller bass and the 12 up top, but for me that outfit's got a bit of it's own vibe about it.

So yeah, the big ol' 16. Erry day.
 

CaptainCrunch

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I have 3 (I think?) Gretsch 15x15. They're not 14's, and they're not 16's, but I also haven't thrown the rest of the floor toms in the garbage to make room. They're just another sound.
 

halldorl

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If I had to live with just one floor tom it would be a 16”. I seem to like a 16” x 15” the best.
 

Iristone

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One: 16" x 16"
Two: maybe add a 12" x 15" hanging floor tom in the future; a la the large concert tom of Phil Collins; or maybe another 16" x 16" and tune them apart
 


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