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A floor tom is a double-headed tom-tom drum usually equipped with legs (usually three) mounted along the side, though they are quite often attached to a cymbal stand by using a drum clamp.
Not all drum kits include floor toms, but when used they are almost always the largest and lowest tuned tomtoms in the kit.So By far the most common size for a floor tom is 16x16, that is 16" in depth and 16" in diameter. In almost all student kits that feature a floor tom, this is the size. Other common sizes are 14x14 for some jazz kits, and 16x18 (16" deep and 18" in diameter) which is the most common size for a second floor tom, tuned below the 16x16.
Floor toms can be of one of two designs. Quite simply, floor toms with legs and 'floating' floor toms; usually attached to either a drum rack or a cymbal stand by means of a clamp. It is uncommon to see a floor tom at 16x16 using the 'floating' system however, and is more commonly seen on 'fusion' or jazz setups whereby the floor tom is of a 14 inch diameter. Using a 'floating' system can be a convenience or an inconvenience depending on the individual setup and therefore neither system is considered objectively 'better'.
The floor tom was popularised by Gene Krupa in the 1950s, using a 16x16. At first he placed it between his two bass drums, on the far side of his snare drum, but quickly moved it to its now traditional position to the right of his right leg. A second 16x18 floor tom, to the right of the 16x16, appeared in the late 1960s and was popularised as part of the extended kits used by progressive rock bands in the 1970s.
The floor tom is also used as a small bass drum by some (mostly jazz) drummers. In that case it is mounted horizontally on a specially designed rack system.
Categories: Drums | Drum kit components