What is your preference: 18 vs 20 kick drum

codydee12

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I am in the process of buying a new kit. I have owned all the standard kick drum sizes ranging from 20 to 26....but never an 18.
I am ordering a classic maple from ludwig and am debating getting an 18 rather than a 20. I loved my downbeat configuring but am intrigued by the 18" kick.
What is your preference? Any reason why?
I would be using this for mainstream music (cover band stuff) primarily along with recording funk/easy listening stuff.
Thanks for your thoughts!
 

toddbishop

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I haven't taken my 20" Gretsch out in about ten years, since I got my first set with an 18. The 18 is just a tighter sound, and can have a low sound if you tune it that way, or a higher sound that blends with the other drums. Also better if you're playing a lot of low to moderate volume acoustic music. An 18" Ludwig should be capable of a reasonably big sound, like my 18" Sonor Phonic, which rocks. For most people the 20 is probably more versatile, for me it's less versatile, because you can't get that higher sound-- 20s always sound kind of doofy in comparison.
 

Fat Drummer

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I'm with RK on this one... I have nothing against an 18", I have used them for several years in pop and commercial cover work, but I do find my 20" much more versatile AND comfortable to play. I don't care for risers so I can't get my beater into the exact sweet spot on the 18" with it flat on the floor and everything becomes a compromise. The 20" works perfectly with none of the struggles and covers the bottom end better to my ear.

What ever you decide I know you will be pleased with new toys, always a fun day! good luck with the search and let us know what you choose.

W
 

felis

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18's are smaller, lighter (usually), slightly quicker to respond, and most that I've had have less volume and projection.
If you use a riser with it, it'll sit the same height as a 20.
If you don't use a riser with it, your beater might hit quite high on the head.
Some people drop the beater, but that throws off my playing.

I've had several of both sizes, but have come to prefer the 20. That's what I would get if I was limited to one bass drum.
 

JDA

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I'd never drop a beater for any bass drum.. (16 convert, 20 RB, 18 USAbk6)

If you can get away with an 18...Do it.
I agree with Todd Bishop there.

Once you get used to an (quality hi quality) 18 putting a 20" up looks feels like a 26".
But you must be sure. You can get away (style,genre) with it. It's High Crime and Misdemeanor.
You're getting away with murder. It's so portable.
figure the rooms and the frequency (of gigs)
Not a big difference (in my) 20 and 18 Gretsch (I was kinda surprised) Both respond sustain/feel/ the same.
It's not a direct comparison because my 18 is modern and my 20 is from 1966. (so the tom mount (my fault) on the 20 is stupid so it gets next to no use (my bad)

Now if it was two brand new 20 and 18 it would be a direct comparison.
But my last choice in acquiring a Kit I wanted an 18 and I got it.
I started on 20s had a few 22s went back to a 20 but when it was time to get that "possibly" last kit 18"er it was 14x18.

And you can always put 3 or 4 toms around it. Like even a 12/13/16/18 or 12/13/14 or 12/13/14/16 or..10/12/14 and 2 or 3 cymbals and a hi hat..
The small bass does not limit what's on top of it and around it.
 
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JimmySticks

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Question, does an 18” BD always need a riser?

(sorry to derail)
 

multijd

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20” is the safe choice but a great 18” will last you a lifetime.
 
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charlesm

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20" for me all around. No, it doesn't do the super-high bop thing, but it gets real close...enough for me. Still a great sound for jazz. There were lots of 20s on all those classic recordings. The 20 does almost anything else you want, too.

That said, part of me would love an 18 as well, just for that specific feel. Not as much low end but more focused and punchy. Very versatile as well, with all the head choices out there.

But I'm fine with my 20s even if I never play an 18. They're just more generally comfy for me than 22s and above.
 

TPC

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Both sizes “sound” fine. You can tune them up, tune them down, no problem. An 18 tuned low and mic’d up can sound BIG if needed.

I prefer 18’s for ergonomic reasons.
 

DanRH

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If I had to choose, 20 all day. Not a fan of small bass drums in general, but 18’s, no.
 

Jazzhead

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You can get away with an 18” bass. I have had 18”, 20” and 22” bass drums, all 14” depth. The sound of 18” wasn’t as full and lively as my 20” or 22” but maybe my tuning was messed up, I think there are many contributing factors. I would pick a 20” over 18” if I played different genres, safer choice , but if I was a strict jazzer, then 18”x14” for sure.

look wise - I always liked 18” bass drums but then I realized there is something really sexy in the looks of 22”x14” bass drums, it’s like a king compared to 20” and 18”.
by the way, I think I read somewhere that Morello once said that you are pretty much playing a floor tom if you are using an 18” bass drum.
 
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pwc1141

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I currently have a relatively new 18 x 14 that came with Evans '56 Calftone heads with their EMAD 2 version as batter. I honestly can't see any genre this could not handle. Plenty of punch but can be tuned to "boom" if needed. I use a pedal riser on it just because it came with one ......and an old style felt beater. At my age, and for what I play, anything bigger and heavier is not warranted.
 

musiqman

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Both the Maple Custom Absolute and PHX 18x14 bass drums have a sub low that I don’t even find on a 22” sometimes. And they are far more easier to travel with.

I have used fhis size from anything from jazz to rock. Both live and in the studio.

So i’ll go 18”,on a riser, with a bomber beater (warm and sub)/plastic beater (punchy), and coated head, with plastic patch.

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felis

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Question, does an 18” BD always need a riser?

(sorry to derail)
If you're curious about it and don't have an 18 - measure from the floor to the beater at your normal playing setup.
Say for example, your beater sits at about 13". Subtract the 9" from the center of an 18" head, and you'll be hitting
at 4" above center. That's about half way between the center and the edge.

Now hit any of your other drums about halfway in from the center to the edge and gradually work your way in to the center.
You'll have less volume and a higher pitch closer to the edge.

For some things, that's exactly what you want, but not for all.
A riser makes a significant difference in the sound, both for increased volume and lower pitch.
But it still won't get you to where the 20 will go.

There's no doubt about it - 18"s are nice and have a lot of benefits.
The only real long term solution is to get both. Start with the one that appeals to you most.
 


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