Other single-headed drums


   Chico Hamilton had Gretsch build him a kit without bottom tom heads well before full concert tom sets became popular in the '70s.

Source: "Gretsch Drums" by Chet Falzerano
(Hal Leonard, 1995)

   The Trixon Speedfire kit was perhaps the earliest use of multiple mounted single-headed toms, c1957. For some reason, they were arranged opposite the traditional left-to-right, hi-to-lo sizes... unless you happened to play left-handed! The "elipsoid" shaped bass drum had a divider inside, and the flat-bottom hoop allowed two pedals to be attached, each playing a separate 'chamber' of the kick and producing two different sounds.
   It wouldn't be fair to talk about single-headed toms without acknowledging Roto-Toms. Here's Jon Farriss (INXS) with his.
   The ultimate Roto-Tom kit!
   Ludwig, Combo I
Marble Cortex

Although not strictly a concert tom kit, this was Ludwig's US-made budget kit with lightweight hardware, an Acrolite snare, and using plastic lugs on the kick and single-headed toms. List price in 1978 was $825. Tom sizes are 8x12 and 16x16".

Source: Ludwig Catalog CV200M778

   Slingerland, Modern Combo
Blue Ripple Pearl

These single headed toms "telescope inside each other for easy carrying and compact storage. Perfect for the jobbing drummer." Tom sizes are 9x10, 9x13 and 14x16".

Source: Slingerland catalog 67


   Ludwig, Standard S-340
(a/k/a the "Single Six")

Blue Mist

Ludwig introduced a nesting kit as part of their Standard series. Unlike the Slingerland Modern Combo kit, this bass drum was also single headed, so all of the toms could nest inside. One cool feature was the use of matching wrap on the inside of the shells, which made for a stunning look from the audience (and probably a scratchy look from the hardware of the nested drums!) The tom sizes are 5½x8, 5x12, 5x13 and 11x16".

The 1968 list price on this kit - with Paiste Ludwig/Standard cymbals shown - was $594.50. In addition, the Standard series sported mostly proprietary wraps, including various colors of Astro (Satin Flame,) Mist (a fine sparkle,) and Strata (a modified Oyster finish.)

Source: Ludwig Standard Catalog LS-1-CV 61568150

   Tama invented the Octobans in the late-'70s. These cousins to the concert tom are 6" in diameter, and come in varying lengths; the deeper the length, the lower the resulting pitch. Several companies also make Octobans, some keeping the now-generic name, and others seeking their own identity such as Pearl's Quarter Toms, DW's Rata Toms, and ddrum's Deccabons.


   Part timbale, part concert tom, DW's Piccolo Toms are steel shelled, 2½" deep toms, available in 8, 10 and 12" diameters. Terry Bozzio's monster kit, the S.S. Bozzio, has fourteen 2x8" wooden Piccolo Toms.


   John Grey, Broadway Super #9051
Turquoise Glitter

British drummaker John Grey & Sons offered a few kits "designed for the drummer requiring professional quality equipment on a limited budget."

   Pearl Rhythm Traveler Portable Drum Kit
Jet Black

Designed as a lightweight, portable kit, the Rhythm Traveler was available in a few configurations. They initially came with mesh heads for quiet practicing, but those were later replaced with plastic heads and removable rubber pads.

   Maxwin Funky 405 Outfit
Jet Black

Maxwin was an early budget line of Pearl. In the description of this kit, the toms are listed as "w/o Bottom Head" instead of single-headed or concert toms.

   Tama Silverstar Cocktail-Jam Kit
Chameleon Sparkle

In 2014, Tama introduced this portable kit, featuring single-headed bass drum and toms.

   A lovingly restored 1965 Walberg & Auge kit!

Photo: Jeremy Esposito,

   2017: Pork Pie's single headed "stow & go" kit!

Photo: Bill Detamore, Head Hog at Pork Pie Percussion

   Sugar Percussion - Concert Kit

A compelling single-headed kit with thick but warm shells. These were shown at NAMM, January, 2018.

Photo: Sugar Percussion

   In 2020, A&F Drum Co. dabbled in single-headed toms.

Photo courtesy of A&F Drum Co and Boston Drum Center