Drum kits have the potential to have a lot of customization. You can buy a standard 5-piece kit and decide that you want to add on certain things. You could also add an extra rack tom or some auxiliary percussion like a wood block or cowbell to your existing setup, if needed.
Now, if you buy an extra tom, you’re going to need something to hold it up and fit into your setup. This is where tom mounts come in.
A lot of companies sell tom mounting hardware that you can purchase separately, making it easy to add on some extra things to your setup.
Here is my list of some of the best tom mounting systems out there.
Best Tom Mounting Systems
The ATLAS Arch Rail Mount is a unique innovation from Ludwig that attaches onto a kick drum and allows you to mount a single rack tom to it.
It has adjustable screws that allow the mechanism to fit onto any kick drum that holds its lugs down with 2 screws, meaning this piece of hardware isn’t limited to just Ludwig drum kits.
It attaches to the top of the kick drum instead of the rim, allowing the tom to sing and resonate more, thanks to the 3 points of suspension.
This is a great tool for virgin kick drums. The drum will keep a full tone, since nothing is drilled inside of it, and you’ll have the rack tom mounted directly on top of it. A lot of drummers prefer this to having the toms mounted onto cymbal stands.
This piece of hardware is very heavy duty, meaning it’s quite bulky and will add a lot of weight to your hardware bag when traveling with your drum kit. So, it may not be the best option if you gig frequently.
2. DW SM-992
The DW SM-992 is a double-tom support clamp that connects to a cymbal stand. DW is a company that is known for making high quality drums and hardware and the SM-992 definitely adds to that reputation.
It’s able to mount 2 rack toms or any sort of auxiliary percussion. This support clamp is built like a tank, making it extremely sturdy. Rack toms that mount to it will be held in place very tightly and will not wobble much, depending on the weight of the cymbal stand.
The ball-in-socket “L” arms allow you to position your toms in a bunch of different ways, allowing you to be very comfortable in your setup.
The mounting “L” arms are quite thick and won’t cater to all drums from companies other than DW. So, it’s important to check the sizes of your tom clamps before getting one of these DW SM-992s.
The Pearl ISS Tom Mount attaches to the hoop of a drum, allowing you to mount rack toms that are 12 to 16” to it. I’m a huge fan of Pearl hardware, and this is the mounting system that they use on most of their drum kits.
This clamp is smooth, easy to use, and very durable. It has a lot of different uses, as long as you have a tom arm from Pearl that can connect to it. Because you need this tom arm, the ISS Tom Mount doesn’t work with products that aren’t from Pearl. This limits its uses. However, it’s one of the best things if you have a Pearl kit.
It also works in conjunction with Pearl’s JG16 hardware kit to convert a floor tom into a kick drum. You have to buy the JG16 kit separately, but you can’t use it without the ISS Tom Mount.
Having a floor tom as a kick drum is seriously useful for playing in small clubs where you’re limited for space. It’s also great for solo guitarists who like to play a small kick drum.
Overall, the ISS Tom Mount is a really sturdy tom mounting option for Pearl toms.
Gibraltar is a company that is purely dedicated to producing hardware for drums. They have everything you can think of when it comes to hardware and sell it at mostly affordable prices.
The SC-STL4 tom mount is a piece of hardware that mounts onto a drum shell, allowing you to then mount the shell onto a rack tom mount. This isn’t the mount for a tom, but rather a tool that enables you to attach the tom to a mount. It can also be used to attach legs to a floor tom.
It’s a really handy tool to have lying around, especially since it has a memory lock for fast setups. It can be used to restore drum shells or build a new drum kit. It will allow the shell to connect to most “L” rods (9.5mm - 12.7mm).
These Gibraltar Tom Mounts can get quite pricey, considering the fact that you’ll need a few of them to attach to drum shells.
Bass Drum vs Cymbal Stands
A great debate that takes place in the drum community is whether you should mount your rack toms to the bass drum or to cymbal stands. Some people will argue that mounting a tom to the bass drum will kill a bit of the bass drum’s tone.
The truth is that it depends on how the company designed the bass drum. Some mounting systems are designed in clever ways that stop the toms from interfering with the bass drum. Other tom mounts are drilled into the bass drum, affecting the tone slightly.
Mounting the toms to cymbal stands often gives you more flexibility to position them comfortably, which many drummers love. Other drummers prefer mounting the toms to the bass drum because it’s more convenient.
It’s important to decide which way of mounting you prefer because it will directly impact what tom mounting system you should go for.
Not all rack toms are designed the same. Some rack toms have arms that need to connect to the tom mounts while other rack toms simply attach to them with no extra hardware. A good example of drums that have arms would be any drum kit from Pearl.
If you’re looking for a tom mount for your Pearl drums, you’d need to get one that can support the tom arm that your Pearl tom has. If you don’t already have an arm, you’d need to get one as well as the Pearl Tom Mount.
Some companies have designs on their toms that are a bit more universal, so most tom mounting systems would work with them. You just need to check if that’s the case before making a purchase that may not end up working.
A great alternative to mounting the toms on the bass drum or cymbal stands is to use a rack. Drum racks are used as sturdy structures that will hold the cymbals as well as drums.
Racks make it very easy to add drums to your setup. The size of the rack will determine how many drums you can add.
The biggest drum setups in the world make excellent uses of racks to support all the drums. Most tom mounting systems would be able to easily attach to a rack, giving you ways of mounting the toms to it.
One of my favorite drum racks is the Gibraltar GCS-450C. It’s a curved chrome rack that has excellent build quality and allows you to have a fairly large drum setup.
When looking for tom mounting systems, you can often kill two birds with one stone by using multi-clamps. These will allow you to mount more than one thing with one clamp. So, you could mount a tom as well as a cymbal arm, saving you from having to use a dedicated cymbal stand.
Multi-clamps are great for mounting smaller cymbals. Small cymbals don’t need as much sturdy reinforcement as larger ones do, so the multi clamp gives you a great platform to work from.
Multi-clamps sometimes offer great convenience. This Pearl multi clamp is a good way of getting past the Pearl tom arm situation. You can clamp it onto a cymbal stand and then connect a Pearl tom arm to it, giving you a makeshift tom mounting system.
Tom mounts give you endless possibilities. I bet we all wonder how many tom mounts Terry Bozzio has on his 50+ drum setup. You can use tom mounts to add extra toms, percussion or even electronics to your kit setup.
It’s a good idea as a drummer to have some spare tom mounts lying around. You never know when you might need them. It’s also important that before you buy a tom mount, you make sure that it will be compatible with the equipment that you have.
So, go and turn your 4-piece kit into a 10-piece with some cymbal stands and extra tom mounts.