The floor tom is in! The deep sounding three-legged membranophone has been a standard part of the drum set for decades, but these days the low tones of the floor tom can also be heard emanating from elsewhere in a worship band.
A double-headed floor tom is commonly used, but a large single-headed concert tomtom or a Brazilian Surdo will also work in a worship band setting. Choose a drum that can be tuned to a low pitch–nothing smaller that a 14”x14” instrument. A thick head will help to achieve a dark tone with low sustain.
Most floor toms are equipped with adjustable legs designed to accommodate a seated player. Generally, these legs will not raise the drum up to a proper height for a standing percussionist, and many snare drum stands will not allow for a 16” drum. Avoid stooping over to play your tom licks and invest in a Hamilton KB275 Drum Stand with a basket that will expand to hold an 18” drum. The Street Can from LP is another solution. Available in three sizes, these single-headed, metal-shell drums feature extra-long legs. Retrofitting your tom with the Pearl 27” Extra Long Floor Tom Legs is another height-increasing option.
Keep your stick bag stocked with a wide assortment of sticks, mallets, bundled rods, and brushes to expand the floor tomʼs timbres.
- A standard drum stick will be the go-to for a great deal of your tom work. I prefer a concert model (such as a Vic Firth SD 1) or a heavy marching stick for a dark sound.
- Brushes and bundled rods should be in your arsenal of implements. A cajon brush will provide both a brush attack and some low end boom. Phat Broomz from Innovative Percussion live in my mallet case.
- The Vic Firth SD12 Swizzle G (or a similar combo stick) provides a standard bead and a hard felt head on the other end.
- A concert bass drum mallet on the floor tom can deliver a bunch of boom. Listen to the tone of the drum on this version of “Oceans” by Hillsong United:
Dive into exploring various ways to weave the floor tom into the sound of your worship band. Here are a few examples to get you started and inspire your creativity. Thicken up the texture by playing in unison rhythm with a tom groove from the drum set.
Check out the floor tom foursome playing the main groove on “Be Lifted Higher” from Gateway Worship:
Cadence grooves are used frequently in modern worship music. While the drum set lays down a street beat rhythm, try out an old-school tenor drum part on the floor tom.
Add an intensity building stream of sixteenths or thirty-seconds to a “build section” in a song.
There is an example at 2:21 of this video for “You Donʼt Miss A Thing” from Bethel Music:
Don’t expect the engineer or producer to feature your floor tom. No worries – the low frequency drumming can sit back in the mix and still contribute a helpful amount of punch and pulsation.