Super deep kick drums are popular these days, and for good reason. They look super cool.  And, the cool-looking, huge kick drum must sound good too, right? Well, no.  Extra deep kicks actually don’t sound good at all.

It makes a lot of sense, although the situation is the opposite of what you might first think. The resonant head is on the drum to do one job: resonate. And, the closer you put that head to the attack head, the more it will do it’s job to resonate sympathetically with your hits. Therefore, a deep kick drum, although appearing huge, actually sounds quite thin… because of the simple logic that the deep kick puts your res head further away from the attack head, and so it resonates less. Ironically then, the thin kick ends up sounding huge, and the deep kick sounds thin. This makes sense with the course of drum-making history, as early kick drums began with 10″-12″ depths, and have only exceeded 18″ in depth over the last decade. It turns out that the highly sought-after vintage kicks that everybody wants in the studio are ALWAYS 14″ depth, maximum.

This was all just logical theory to me before last week, though. For the Sanoski sessions, I brought the Bill Mike kick drum (14×24) and a different acrylic kick that I was borrowing (20×20). We tried the 20×20 first, and then the 14×24… and it was no contest. Now, of course the winning kick was bigger in diameter, which is the biggest factor… so I suppose one could say that it wasn’t a fair shoot-out. But still, I’ve heard great sounding 20-diameter bass drums before, and for the record, the 20×20 didn’t just lose in the comparison, it really didn’t sound good in the studio AT ALL.

I think a case can be made, however, for the deep kick drum in a live setting. There are plenty of ways to make ANY kick drum sound great in a live performance, and the deep kicks do look REALLY cool… so there you go.

SUMMARY: Super deep kick drums don’t sound nearly as great as they look.