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How Do I Choose the Best Bass Drum?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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Choose the best bass drum by looking at the wood the drum is made from, the type of drum head on it, and the size of the drum itself. Different kinds of wood have different tonal qualities, so the choice of wood is important when choosing a bass drum. You should also look at the drum head that comes with your drum, with thicker ones providing a more controlled sound and pronounced attack than thinner ones. In general, larger bass drums are more suited to rock and heavy metal music, while smaller drums are better for jazz and blues.

Finding the best bass drum is a very subjective process, so it is generally more important for drummers to choose the drums which most suit their playing style. One factor that has a big effect on the tone and sound produced by the drum is the type of wood used in the shell. The most common bass drum wood is maple, which provides a balanced, if slightly warm tone. Mahogany is another possible wood for a bass drum, which gives a pronounced low-end tone and dampens the highest tones. Oak is better for high end tones, as is birch.

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Different numbers of wooden plies in the bass drum shell can also have an impact on tone. Thicker drum shells, with more wooden plies, have a fatter, low-end tone. Thinner drums, conversely, are better for producing high-end tones and have an increased resonance. Trying out different bass drums can help players decide which thickness of shell to go for.

The thickness of the drum head is also an important factor when choosing a bass drum. Thicker drum heads, including two-ply drum heads, are more effective when tuned to a higher frequency. Thinner drum heads have a slower decay, and have a less pronounced attack. Generally, jazz players prefer a bass drum with a thinner drum head, for the quick response and overall one. Rock players are more likely to choose a thicker drum head, but these preferences can change dependent on the drummer’s personal preference.

Most bass drums measure 22 inches (55.9 centimeters) across, and this is suitable for the majority of players. Choosing bigger drums is generally more suited to rock players, and smaller drums are more suited to jazz and blues players. Very few players vary the size of their bass drum, but drummers looking for the perfect bass drum should consider bigger or smaller drums as an option.

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