Today I am seriously considering removing the resonant heads from my drums. Back in the 1970’s drummers like Peter Criss used no bottom heads to create a signature sound. In the 1980’s Phil Collins perfected that sound. For years studio legend Hal Blain recorded some of the biggest hits of all time on a single-headed kit. Even today Taylor Hawkins and Adrian Young employ drum sets made entirely out of concert toms.
The idea of single-headed toms is nothing new. Slingerland was selling them back in the early 1960’s. The long concert toms called octobans were introduced in the 1980’s. Still, a minority of drummers seemed to use them. There’s just something about that open-endedness that you get from a drum with only a batter side. It takes the thump out and raises the overall pitch. Single-headed toms also tend to be louder and have more of an attack. Some believe it also makes the drums easier to tune as you are only concerned with the top head. Actual concert toms offer a more direct sound and are able to create a defined pitch. This is why they work well for concert band and orchestral settings where they are grouped in sets of 4-8.
Back when I was a teenager I removed all of the resonant heads (including the bass drum) for school performances as the drums were never mic’d. I also played snare in the drum line but had to switch to quads for a national marching band competition in Nashville. I remember loving the projection. I got the same feeling playing concert toms in our percussion ensemble. Over the last few years I’ve played on an acrylic Ludwig Blue Vistalite (pictured above) with The Drowning and the booming sound of those drums are unlike any other.
I do have some concern about leaving the remaining bottom lugs on. Roger Taylor liked the look of double headed toms, but the sound of single heads, so he cut away most of the resonant head, and left just enough to hold the counter hoop, so the bottom rim would stay in place . Some manufactures mount a thin metal collar that runs along the bottom edge to give it more of a finished look. I play a PDP kit and would likely leave the bottom lugs on as they reinforce my custom wrap.
Over the course of writing this post I have decided to go ahead and try it. Perhaps I will make a short “Before and After” video to compare. What do you think? Stay tuned…