Small bass drums are highly useful tools to have. Whether you’re a drummer wanting a more compact setup or a guitarist who wants to play a kick drum when performing live, converting a floor tom into a bass drum is one of the best ways of getting the small bass drum that you need.
It may seem like a daunting task that requires some hefty DIY skills. I’m here to tell you that it’s a lot easier than you think it is, especially since many drum companies have ready-made conversion kits for you to use.
A conversion kit provides all the necessary parts for you to change your floor tom into a bass drum. The things you need are a bass drum riser and legs for the tom to rest on. Those are the only two things needed for an easy conversion. However, there are a few more steps that I suggest you take which we’ll get into a bit later.
One of my favorite conversion kits is the one from Gibraltar. Gibraltar is a drum hardware company that has you covered in every area of gear for the drums. This particular kit is very sturdy and works with most floor toms that are between 14 to 18 inches.
The kit comes with legs and a riser. It also comes with a tom mount that is incredibly handy when you want to attach a rack tom to your converted floor tom.
Most conversion kits work exactly the same way as the Gibraltar one. Whether you’re using it or any other kit, the steps to converting your floor tom will stay the same.
The first thing you need to do is attach the two legs that will elevate the floor tom off the ground at the back. It’s important that you do this step first because it will establish where you can attach the base drum riser afterward.
Attach the legs at opposite sides of the floor tom and face them towards the ground. Make sure that they’re pointing away from the resonant head of the tom. If they’re facing the wrong way, the bass drum pedal will end up hitting the resonant head and the sound won’t be great.
You can store your standard floor tom legs away somewhere safe as you won’t be needing them as long as you’re using the tom as a bass drum.
Bass Drum Riser
The next step is to attach the bass drum riser. The point of a bass drum riser is to elevate the front of the floor tom so that a connected pedal will connect with the center of the drum head when you play it.
If you don’t have a riser, the beater will strike too high up on the head, especially if you’re using a 14” tom. Risers tend to swivel around when you’re playing, so make sure you screw it on very tightly.
At this stage, the floor tom has been converted and you’re ready to start playing. However, it’s not going to sound like a bass drum yet. You need to deepen the sound somehow and the best way to do that is to use appropriate drum heads.
I’ve found that the best solution for this is to use an Evans EMAD for the batter head of the floor tom. The EMAD is typically a bass drum head, but the company makes smaller versions of them that will fit on floor toms.
You should also consider changing the resonant head. You don’t need to swap it out completely but cutting a hole in it will allow you to mic the converted bass drum up when doing live performances.
Tom Mount and Wrap Up
If you’re using the Gibraltar conversion kit, the final step is to attach the tom mount to the top of the floor tom. You simply need to screw it onto the rim of the floor tom.
If you don’t have a tom mount to attach to the converted bass drum, you could either use a snare stand to hold a rack tom or you could mount the rack tom to a cymbal stand.
I’ve found that having a converted bass drum is great for when I need to play gigs in small venues. Using an appropriate drum head makes it sound like a strong bass drum.