8. Shell Sizes

Shell diameter

The shell diameter determines the shell tuning. The larger the shell, the deeper its tuning. The size of the individual drums is traditionally indicated in inches (1 inch being 2.54cm). Brand drums are regularly manufactured in increments of 2 inches.

The details

It all starts with the small toms, which are available in the sizes 8",10",12",14" and 16". Intermediate sizes, such as 13" or 11" tom toms are usually available only as special orders in professional series. However, the classic sizes have proven to be particularly useful when putting together a drum set thanks to their homogeneous sound spectrum. Most drummers, be they professionals or beginners, therefore remain loyal fans of the classic sizes.

With floor toms, the range of sizes extends from 14" via 16" and 18" to 20". Complete drum sets or shell sets including a floor tom usually feature a 16" floor tom, less frequently a 14".

Bass drums are available as 16" or 22" drums (though you will sometimes find other, larger, sizes, too).

Snare drums are popular with a 14" diameter. But the snare biz in particular tends to feature more variety nowadays, so that 10" or 13" snares are by no means uncommon.The use of such "effects" snares has grown ever more popular over the past years. They are easily integrated into modern music styles such as hip hop or jungle, either as a main snare or a side snare.

Shell depth

„A shell depth does not influence its sound's resonance and warmth greatly, but it has a profound effect on volume and articulation. Large shell diameters allow deeper tuning.

Larger shell depths increase the volume by immediately affecting the resonance and the basic sound of a shell. A more shallow shell makes the sound shorter, better thanks to its smaller surface (with less material) or volume, respectively, which makes it resonate for a shorter time than a deeper shell would, for example. At the same time, the shorter distance between the batter head and the resonant head ensures a faster reaction time and greater sensitivity for softer beats.

The details

Mostly, the depth of a tom is between 8" and 10", and that of a floor tom between 14" and 16". While tom shells used to be deeper (so-called power toms), most musicians and manufacturers alike prefer shorter models nowadays.

Snare drums show a much greater variety in depths. Piccolo snares have extremely shallow shells and feature a very crisp, attacking sound which is useful especially for funk and electronic music. Rock and pop music profits from deeper shells of about 4.5" to 8". The rule applies here as well: the deeper the drum, the "gutsier" the snare drum. For drummers who play a variety of musical styles and who are looking for a snare drums they can use flexibly, we would recommend a shell depth of 4.5" to 5.5". It's best to just listen to a couple of models and then decide which one best matches your own musical style.

But beware! The deeper the shell, the more sonorous and warmer its sound. But all this must not be confused with how deep you can tune the drum - that depends, as we have seen above, on the drum's diameter!

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