Frequently Asked Questions about concert coms
What are concert toms?
They are single-headed toms, originally named "melodic toms" and used in orchestral work. Concert was synonymous with an orchestral performance, and evidence shows that Ludwig was the first to use the term "concert toms" in 1959 when they published their 1960 catalog.
How did they become part of a drum kit?
It would be impossible to discuss concert toms without citing Hal Blaine for bringing them to the pop/rock music world's attention. Hal originally used timbales in his early studio work, and loved the sound of a single-headed tom. In 1968, he commissioned a set of custom fiberglass shells, which were made by Allen Blaemire. Hal's drum tech, Rick Faucher, modified two movie studio cinema stands with crossbars to mount the toms. The bars were the same length, so there are 4 small toms - 6, 8, 10 & 12" - on one stand, but only three - 13, 14 & 16" - could fit on the other. Hal was a Ludwig endorser at the time, and the company adopted his idea, adding a full set of eight toms to a kit, and in 1971 the Octa-Plus was born. Other drum companies followed suit, and by the mid '70s, every major manufacturer was offering kits with a variety of concert tom configurations (see CATALOG KITS.)
When was the first use of concert toms on a pop/rock recording?
"The Snake" by Al Wilson featured Hal Blaine using his so-called "monster kit" for the first time. It was released August 6, 1968.
What heads sound best on concert toms?
As with any drum, head choice is a personal preference, and the difference between heads is especially apparent on a single-headed drum. A 1-ply clear head can sound very papery, while a 2-ply coated head will have a deeper punch. The Evans Hydraulic heads of the '70s and '80s were popular for their controlled sound in the studio, but as production values and music styles evolved to a more natural drum sound, the oil-filled heads soon fell out of favor. Today's Hydraulics are a bit more lively than their predecessors, and yield a nice, round punch.
What's the best way to mic my concert toms?
Because a single-headed tom is naturally drier than a double-headed tom, miking from the top tends to accentuate the short decay. Likewise, miking them all the way up inside the drum results in a compressed, boingy sound. The preferred method for the most body and resonance is to mic from the bottom, pointed into the shell towards the batter, and positioned about even with the bottom edge of the shell. Combined with room mics and overheads, this will give the right balance of attack, punch, and decay.
Where can I hear some good recordings featuring concert toms?
Search YouTube for the following:
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Suggestions, corrections or additons? Please email Bermuda!