The care and feeding of concert toms


Storing and transporting your toms

I know the bag and case companies will hate me for saying this, but everyone already knows: concert toms nest! What that means is, if you have 8 toms, the 4 smaller toms will nest inside of the 4 larger toms, so that only 4 bags or cases are needed... not 8 (sorry Gator, Protection Racket, SKB, Humes & Berg, et al.) But nesting a drum inside another can result in scratching the inside of the larger drum (or 'nester'), so a little protection is necessary. Of course you could simply wrap the smaller drum (or 'nestee') in sheets or blankets. However, sheets are too thin, and blankets are too expensive and add weight. Besides, it's just embrarrassing when unpacking in front of other players.

Here's an effective, slick, easy-to-make, and extremely inexpensive solution: use "Landau pad" ¼" foam. It should be available at any upholstery shop, comes in black or white, 60" wide, and a 2yd length is enough to pad 4 large toms with foam to spare for another project. Cost: around $20. Measuring and cutting should take maybe an hour, and I've already calculated the dimensions for you. Four large, standard concert toms are 9x13", 10x14", 12x15" and 14x16", and the foam for the interior of these drums should be cut to 9x38¼", 10x42½", 12x45½", and 14x48½". If your toms are deeper or shallower, adjust the height (smaller dimension) accordingly. Depending on the thickness of the shell and size of interior screws, you may need to trim the length for the best fit, but these lengths will give you enough to work with.

You'll also want to cut foam circles to lay against the head (so the nestee doesn't damage the head) in the following diameters: 12", 13", 14", and 15" (you can use cymbals in those sizes as cutting guides.) Each round pad fits in the tom that's 1" larger (12" goes into the 13" tom, etc.)

See the diagram below for a suggested pattern, using a 60x72" piece of foam. You'll need a straight edge as a cutting guide (metal ruler or level will work,) a sharp box cutter or single-edge razor blade, and a surface to cut on (don't ruin that nice coffee table!) A large piece of cardboard will work, just don't cut too deep (the foam should cut in one pass without much pressure.)

Insert the shell liner first, then the pad, then the drum! (14" and 8" showm)

More tips coming soon!