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    Categories: Drums & Percussion

Getting Started With the Best Mounted Toms

The drums are an important part of any band or song. It can be said that the percussion section is the backbone of most modern styles of music.

When you are first starting out, buying the right set of drums may seem daunting. You need to be aware of each drum’s capabilities, its parts, and how it works within the entire set. A mounted tom is a basic necessity for any drum set. It has the same purpose as the floor tom, but it has a higher pitch.

Here are a few tips on what to look for when you are purchasing a mounted tom, and a few reviews to help you get started with your shopping.

Credit: Amazon.com

Top Pick: Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 10×7 Mounted Tom
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Part of Yamaha’s Stage Custom Birch set, the mounted tom is flawless and capable. The sound  is amazing – a good fit no matter what style of music you play. 

After playing the drums for over thirty years, I know exactly what type of sound I want from each of my drums. If you are just starting out, you may not be away of what the best drum configuration is for you, and how each drum’s construction affects how it sounds. The wood that is used and its size will affect the tone you will get. I know from experience, it is important to actually go to a music store and try out the drums, so you can be sure you are getting the right tone and sound that you want. It is also helpful to talk to professional who have been playing awhile and are familiar with the different drums.

Basic Drum Configuration

It is important to know what the basics are when buying a drum kit, so you know how your new mounted tom will fit into your sound.

Snare Drum – The center of the drum kit is the snare drum that gives you a buzzing sound that is made from snares that are located on the drum. Different snare drums will create different sound depths.

Floor Tom – This sits just to the right of most drummers, unless you are left-handed in which case it would sit to the left. These are the lowest tuned drums, and it is often used to play fills or as a small bass drum.

Mounted Tom – The mounted toms have a higher pitch, and they are smaller than the floor toms. Your basic drum kit will have one mounted tom, and you can add as many as your prefer to your kit.

Bass Drum – This is the largest drum you will have in your kit, and it is the lowest sounding drum. It gives your music a heartbeat, and it is struck with a pedal instead of sticks.

Cymbals – Cymbals are used to emphasize beats, and they can be used to give your song a steady beat, or to make major accents while you play. A basic drum kit will have hi-hats and one crash cymbal.

Mounted Tom Size

The standard size of a mounted tom is either 9” x 12” or 10” x 13”, and the drum’s diameter can make a different in the pitch and tone. Remember that the wider the diameter of the drum shell, the longer the note duration and the volume. Shallow drums can give you a lot more articulation, while deeper drums have less rebound when you strike the drum head.

Drumheads

The quality of the drum head really does affect your sound. Drum heads come in two different types – either clear or coated. A coated drum head has less ring and a subtle sound that is great to use with brushes. A clear drum head has a brighter sound that works well most songs. Either type of drum head can be a single or double ply. Single ply drum heads have a lively sound that is good to use with jazz, while double-ply drum heads have a durable and controlled sound that is great for rock music.

Woods for Drum Shells

Each type of wood contributes a different sound to a drum shell. Here is a list of the most commonly used wood for drum shells and the tone you can expect to hear from them.

Maple – This is the most popular wood that gives you a balanced and warm sound, but it is more expensive.

Birch – This is the second most popular wood that gives you a brighter sound than you will get with maple.

Mahogany – A softer wood than maple and birch, mahogany has a rich and deep tone. Watch out for cheap mahogany sets that will actually give you a different tone than you are expecting from a mahogany set.

Poplar – This is less expensive than birch wood, but it has a similar sound to it.

Falkata – A cheaper alternative to maple with a comparable sound.

Basswood – This is wood that is used on less expensive set that has a fairly soft sound.

Construction

How the drum is put together also contributes to what type of sound your drum will have. The thickness and texture of the drum shell also add to the sound, and there is normally between six and nine layers or plies of wood in each drum shell.

If there are six plies, you will have a drum that is more resonate, while shells with nine plies will give you more projection. If you are looking for a higher range shell, buy one that is thicker. If you want a more resonant sound, stick with the thin shells for those basic notes.

The Competition

After hours of testing and research, here's the final competition.

InstrumentRatingCurrent Pricing
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch
Great drum for both beginners and professionalsOut of stock
DW Performance Series Tom
Performance Series Tom has a beautiful warm sound that projects with a deep, punchy basic tone
Yamaha Live Custom Oak Tom
Yamaha Oak Tom is the YESS (Yamaha Enhanced Sustain System) that is normally only found on their high-end drumsOut of stock
Ludwig Legacy Classic Liverpool 4 Tom
Features the traditional “Keystone” badges, plus the Classic Ludwig mini-lugsOut of stock
Natal Drums Ash Series Tom Tom
Has extra power with a short resonance and brief sustain.Out of stock
Yamaha Absolute Hybrid Maple
Optimized 45-degree bearing edge to give the drum tonal balance$111.64
Pearl Reference Tom Drum
Has a mix of bearing edges that are task-specificOut of stock
GMS Special Edition Rack Tom
Provide a variety of tonal ranges
Tama Superstar Hyper-Drive SK Tom
Hyper-Drive Tom has a short depth that gives it an improved attack, fast responseOut of stock
Trick Drums All3 Tom Drum
Easy to tune

Top Pick: Yamaha Stage Custom Birch

Credit: Amazon.com

A part of the much celebrated Yamaha Stage Custom series is the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch drum that was redesigned for 2014. Even though the Stage Custom series was already thought to be one of the best drums sets in its category, Yamaha gave the new Stage Custom Birch quite a few major upgrades.

These 10” x 7” shells were upgraded with a similar thicker ply idea that they used on their Live Custom drums, and they also took the bearing edges and rounded them more for a shell to head connection that usually gives you a fatter sound. Plus, they have used the Absolute-style lug in the shell that was normally found on the higher-end kits in Yamaha’s collections.

Die-cast claws, a ten-lug snare drum, new tom depths, new bass drum spurs, a gorgeous badge, and a new color option of Pure White. This is a great drum for both beginners and professionals since the Stage Custom Birch gives the customer a great value for some high-end quality. It also has the YESS Mounting system, and is especially affordable.

Current Amazon.com price: Out of stock

Pros:

  • Nice sounding drum, well-constructed
  • Great quality drum for the price
  • Very affordable with a nice tone

Cons:

  • Yamaha changed the raven black finish, it now has a green tint, so it does not match other older Yamaha drums with the raven black finish

Runner Up: DW Performance Series Tom

The DW Performance Series Tom feature the F.A.S.T. sized tom shells that are enhanced for superb performance in the recording studio or performing on stage. The Performance Series Tom has a beautiful warm sound that projects with a deep, punchy basic tone.

The bearing edges are precision cut at 45 inches, and it comes with one of DW’s gorgeous high-gloss lacquer finishes. It also includes Remo heads and lower-mass turret lugs on a premium DW drum.

Pros:

  • Great price point for the build
  • Responsive, sensitive, and has a huge tone
  • Has a big sound that is a perfect addition to your kit

Cons:

  • A little on the expensive side

Other Mounted Toms to Consider:

Yamaha Live Custom Oak Tom

Credit: Amazon.com

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The Yamaha Live Custom Oak Tom not only gives you an excellent attack plus a powerful sound, but it has very impressive looks. The Oak Tom takes after its siblings the maple, birch, and beech drum series. The Oak has shown great potential as drum shell material since it is attractively grained giving the hardwood a stunning appearance. The 13” x 9” tom has solid basics that give you a really powerful sound, and it has character that gives it a great seat in the unique shell size roster.

The Yamaha Air Seal system is the reason we are seeing oak used as a drum shell for the first time. This system gives us a process that produced the birch and maple series, and it is used again to produce a perfectly round shell that features a consistent thickness with super strength. These are six-ply tom shells that give you the concrete basics along with a strong sound.

The YESS (Yamaha Enhanced Sustain System) is normally only found on their high-end drums. This mounting system is found on each of the Oak Custom drums. It has a rod clamp system that lets you fasten a drum to the tom holder without using the hole in the shell to pass the rod through. The YESS clamp fastens to nodal point of the shell with two bolts that lets the shell freely vibrate and the shell’s sustain and dynamic range isn’t degraded. The nodal point is found on the shell where there is the less vibration that lets the mount then has little effect on the shell’s resonance.

The Yamaha Oak Tom also comes with Remo heads, and the 13 x 9 in. is available for Out of stock.

Pros:
• Excellent in clubs and large venues
• Quality build with a fat sound
• Plenty of low mids with a good pitch spread between the 12, 13 and 16
Cons:
• A little on the expensive side

Ludwig Legacy Classic Liverpool 4 Tom

Credit: Amazon.com

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Ludwig is proud to announce their return of one of their classic sets. The Legacy Classic Liverpool 4 series drums are a reissue of that classic set that was used by tons of famous drummers back in the day. Included in the series is a 13″ x 9″ tom drum that bears an accurate reproduction of the initial “Oyster Black” pearl finish including the classic tom bracket and lugs.

The Legacy Classic tom bears the same well-known reinforced 3 ply Ludwig drum shell that was a standard in much of the popular music in the 20th Century. Utilizing the same methods that Ludwig has used for decades, the Legacy Class Tom is made from the best cuts of hand chosen hardwoods. The core of the tom is a 1/8” single ply of the finest poplar to create resonance and warmth. Both inner and outer 1/16” plies are made from the finest maple that is cross-laminated to the core to create a fabulous mix of clarity and power.

This is an established design that is enhanced with another single ply of 1/4” maple reinforcement hoops, and the bearing edges are classic-cut rounded to give you huge lows, and a distinct cut for any type of music. The outside gets a treatment of durable lacquer finish, and it also features the traditional “Keystone” badges, plus the Classic Ludwig mini-lugs. This fabulous tom is available for Out of stock.

Pros:
• Has great lows and projects well
• Looks awesome, great finish
• Great reproduction, can feel the history

Cons:
• A lot more expensive than other toms on the market

Natal Drums Ash Series Tom Tom

Credit: Amazon.com

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The Natal Drums Ash Series Tom Tom is a great way to increase your stage presence with an eruption of attack and high-end punch. The Natal Ash Series is part of a unique product line that offers drums with professional features that both a professional and a serious drum hobbyist will appreciate.

The Ash Series is made with straight grained wood that is flexible but durable. Ash is used as an inner ply, and the composite laminate gives you a really responsive shell that has a versatile tone, but surprises you with a rich attack. This tom has extra power with a short resonance and brief sustain.

The punch and projection of this 6 ply shell will impress you. All of the Ash shells have the special PVC and PET wraps, and they have 2.3 mm triple-flanged hoops, plus Natal “Sun” branded rounded lugs. The Natal Drums Ash Series Tom Tom is available at a very affordable Out of stock.

Pros:
• Punch bright, great for jazz clubs
• Great deal, decent quality
• Bright drums that can cut through
Cons:
• No sustain, poor tone

Yamaha Absolute Hybrid Maple Hanging 13 x 9 Tom

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The Yamaha Absolute Hybrid Maple Tom features an articulate hybrid shell that first focused on the sound when they were designing it. They wanted a drum that would easily respond to a drummer’s softest tap or to the hardest of hitters. The drum was created to not only respond to your slightest emotion, but also to be durable and beautiful to look at.

Yamaha collaborated with several artists over three years to work on the development of this drum. They borrowed the hybrid shell technology from their flagship PHX Series. This design has a core ply of wenge that is native to Africa, and it is extremely hard and heavy. Wenge is placed in between maple plies that are known for a clear tone. What they created is a hybrid that gives you a rich and clear drum tone across the entire dynamic range.

The Yamaha Absolute Hybrid has an optimized 45-degree bearing edge to give the drum tonal balance. It is another Yamaha drum to use the YESS III Mount System, and it features vent holes, hook lugs, and an inner vintage natural finish. The Yamaha Absolute Hybrid features aluminum die-cast hoops that give you a tight sound with great decay and attack. This tom is available for $111.64.

Pros:
• Great natural finish on the inside of the drum
• Great clear tone that looks great too
• Very responsive and durable

Cons:
• A little on the expensive side

Pearl Reference Tom Drum

Credit: Amazon.com

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The Pearl Reference Tom Drum has a mix of bearing edges that are task-specific, and it uses three different kinds of wood that have been proven through time including maple, birch, and African mahogany. Shells have long used maple as a traditional shell material since it has a well-balanced and smooth tone that is ideal for a 12” tom.

Since the Reference Series 12” toms are made entirely of maple, they are the only shell in the series that is made one type of wood. To make sure they get the most response, all toms that are 13” or smaller have 45-degree bearing edges that are rounded, and they are concentrated for shell to head contact that enhances their frequencies in the mid to high range.

In the 13” tom or larger shells, Pearl adds mahogany to the inner plies that maximize its low frequencies, and it also highlights the warmth that is found in maple wood. Pearl uses a completely rounded bearing edge in toms that have a 14” diameter or larger to enhance the frequencies in the low to mid-range. The Pearl Reference Tom is available for Out of stock.

Pros:
• Maple wood gives them a nice warm tone
• Sound is simply stunning
• Great for professional and for recording

Cons:
• A little on the expensive side

GMS Special Edition Rack Tom

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GMS Special Edition drums are a well-built set of drums. Constructed of a select 8 ply North American Maple, the GMS Special Edition Tom has no thickness gradation in its shell. GMS chose to go with thicker shells after doing extensive research and finding that they have a better performance.

Reinforcement hoops are not needed as the thicker shells also provide great vibrations in any dynamic situation with almost no distortion. These are thin drum shells that provide a variety of tonal ranges, but are not too thick that it raises your frequency to a high pitch. The seam construction has staggering preventing the ply seams to line up to one another which is a unique part of the tom’s structure. The drum is also made even sturdier by the cross-laminating process.

The GMS Drum Co., is an ingenious company that creates functional products. The GMS Drum Co. makes awesome looking, yet functional, products for drummers. GMS has created the “SE” (Special Edition) lug that gives you similar resonance and musical quality to its forerunner, the “Grand Master lug.” It also features a similar swivel nut, but it redirects shell stress by tightening the lug casing on the bottom instead of the top. This not only contributes to the quality of the sound, but also makes it visually appealing as well.

Its 45-degree cut bearing edges are on the inside of the shell, plus a shallower 45 degree counter cut is used on the outside with a bearing edge that is gradated around the set. Basically, there are sharper edges on the smaller toms and rounder edges on the larger toms. Their unique process boosts the drums’ sustain and attack, and it gives it a lot of low-end punch. Each of the toms has Evans coated G1 top with G1 clear bottoms with 2.3 mm steel triple flanged hoops.

The GMS Suspension System was created to make sure your toms are mounted securely, and to give you the most resonance. It secures the drum by using two tension rods on the top, and a clip on the bottom hoop. The drum is allowed to hang with a bottom clip housing rubber bumper mounted, and the clip does not choke the drum by being too rigid. It has a sleek profile that makes it very pleasing to the eye.

The GMS Special Edition drums are hand sanded so that the paint will adhere better and, after an application of primer, they are sanded again and then painted. After they dry, GMS sands them again until they are as smooth as glass. They are then buffed until they have an unrivaled mirror-like finish. The Special Edition tom is available in the mid $400 range.

Pros:
• Beautiful finish, like glass
• Great range of tones
• Awesome sustain, really sturdy and durable shell

Cons:
• A little on the expensive side

Tama Superstar Hyper-Drive SK Tom

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The Tama Hyper-Drive Tom has a specific and ideal mix of traditional and modern drum sizes that give you clarity, flexibility, and visibility while you perform. An all birch shell gives this tom huge character and lush resonance. This 14” x 8” tom uses a 6 ply shell that concentrates on the shape of the bearing edge and on the shell molding.

The Hyper-Drive Tom has a short depth that gives it an improved attack, fast response, and a punchy sound. It also lets you place your rack toms in a lower position if you prefer that gives you more access to your toms.

All of the Tama Superstar rack toms are outfitted with the Star-Cast Mounting System that is reminiscent to the Starclassic drums. The Star-Cast Mounting System give you complete isolation of your tom and restricted resonance from your shell. There is no adverse effect on your tuning or any complex head changes that you would find is suspension designs that are less advanced.

All the hardware on the shell has the Black Nickel Plated finish that gives the drum a high-quality appearance. It also comes with similar zinc die-cast hoops that you saw on the Starclassic drums. These die-cast hoops make tuning easier and more consistent, plus they give you resonant and clear high, a crisp attach, and really strong rim shots.

Created for the Superstar series, the Sound Bridge high-tension, low-mass lugs are similar to regular high-tension lugs. They offset the batter side and bottom side head tension, plus it will lessen the stress on the shell, and it will give you a lot more protection when you are transporting the drum to gigs. The Yamaha SuperStart Hyper Drive also come with Power Craft II drum heads guarantees an awesome sound immediately.

Pros:
• Great sound with a huge tone
• Very responsive and versatile
• Great looking and sounding drum for the price
Cons:
• Poor quality drum heads

Trick Drums All3 Tom Drum

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The Trick Drums ALL3 Tom Drum was formed with a special resonant alloy called AL13. This material is unique to Trick, and it is certified from a mill that ensures the same thickness and hardness of all the Truck drum shells to 1/8″ or 3.175mm. This special resonant alloy gives you durability, resonance, pureness of tone, and a performance level that is standard with every drum Trick makes. Their design is simply to use the natural law of physics that lets their drums reach their full resonance potential.

The Trick AL13 Tom Drum has 45-degree bearing edges that are lathe-cut, tuning lugs that are solid machined aluminum, electro finishes, and precision snare beds. This helps to make the drums extremely sensitive and fast tuning. The Trick Drum ALL3 is available in the low $500 price range.

Pros:
• Easy to tune
• Surprising projection, perfect for all types of music
• Great for taking out on gigs

Cons:
• A little on the expensive side

Penni :Hi! I'm Penni. I've been obsessed with playing and teaching music since I was 10 years old. I've had hundreds of students over the years who have at some point asked for my advice on what to buy to support their learning. When you buy certain products from some of the sites which we link to, Hear the Music Play receives a commission that supports our work.Here is an explanation of what we do and how to support our work.