Andrew McAuley: I personally tend to gravitate towards jazz-sized shells. Of course different situations will call for different sized shells, but when it comes down to just playing drums and having fun, I find myself drawn to the warm yet pitchy (for lack of a better term) attack of smaller shells. I used to have a 15″ Modern Drum Shop bass drum that boomed for a little guy!
Stĕphen D. Morse: I’ve personally never had a chance to play with Octobans or Deccabons, (which, let me state, that I’d love to own) so this actually is a really hard question.
It also comes down to what is needed within the context of the group or gig.
I guess my typical preference lately is a 10 x 7″ and 12 x 7-1/2″ Rack toms with a 16 x 14″ Floor. It makes for a real sweet Rock/Jazz/Blues hybrid-styled sound, especially combined with my 22 x 18″ bass drum. \m/
Phil Salvatti: For rock situations i have always been into big shells. Standard kit: 26″ bass drum 14 or 16″ rack tom and two big 18″ floors. Big warm low boomy. Anything else, i will back tom sizes down to more standard normal.
Steve McHugh: For years, I have worked with a basic 4 pc. conventional set of 14 x 20″ BD, 8 x 12 & 14 x 14″ toms, and 5-1/2 x 14″ SD. This is really just a matter of practicality: I want something that is easy to move around, and I want something that I can use on anything from a band gig, jazz, church, Broadway show, etc. There most definitely was a time when I enjoyed using bigger shells and a larger set-up, but now, I am perfectly fine with the basics.
Gootch Ibarra: I have played on the fusion style fast tom sizes since they became popular in the mid to late 80s and was a huge fan of the 20″ kick. I utilized the Yamaha Hip Gig concept kit for a while too because it was easy and they actually sounded great. Over the past decade though I have gradually gone back to a standard rock configuration 12 or 13 rack toms two standard floor toms on legs 14 and 16 and 22″ kick this sizing just seems to be more universal these days for the types of musical situations I find myself in. But I think my favorite and most comfortable set up is still 8 10 12 rack toms 14 and 16 floor toms 15″ floor tom on my left 13″ snare and 20″ kick ( fusion style ).
Stephen Silvia: pretty much run of the mill sizes for me …12 , 13 , 16 , 22 … standard depths … i did have a Yamaha Beech Custom for a while .. 12″ rack tom , 14″ floor tom , 20″ bass drum … they were longer depths , i don’t know the exact depths … i wish i still had that drum set …. I also had a Gretsch Catalina in bop sizes .. that setup didn’t work for me at all.
Andrew McAuley: Hmm. Now that I think about it, I guess my shells wouldn’t really be considered jazz sized: 20″ bass, 12″ tom, 14″ snare, 14″ floor tom. I guess I like smaller sized shells, but not quite to the extreme of a bop kit.
Gootch Ibarra: Hey Andrew those are Bop sizes except the kick would be 18″ for a legit bop kit Gretsch Round Badge of course.
Andrew McAuley: Ha! I guess the 20″ bass drum always made the set feel bigger to me. Then again, I went from playing a 15″ bass, 10″ tom, and a 13″ floor (I think), so I guess it makes sense!
Gootch Ibarra: I once took a hip gig jr. into a session and the engineer laughed at me. 10″ rack 13″ floor 16″ kick 12″ snare. Micd it up … no more laughter. Although I will say a 24″ kick moves air in a special way.
Rick Walker: I did a tremendous amount of studio work in the 80’s and 90’s (before personal computers and cheap home studios put an end to most of that world), I started out with custom built drums that I put together with deep 80’s depths (you know: 10 X 10, 12 X 12, 14 X 14, 20 X 18, 22 by 18, etc.) and found that the more sessions I did, the more , one by one, I cut the depths off until the drums were the sizes of 60’s toms (or even shorter).
What I found is that there is much less subsonic multiplication in the shorter shells. Individually, the drums may sound ‘simpler’ and less ‘big’ but in a mix, the fundamental pitch of the toms was far more apparent. If you are doing your homework, frequently, you will tune your toms to the track you are recording. This is so vastly easier with the shorter shell sizes. Also, the envelope of the drums is just a tiny bit shorter and any producer will tell you that to create big drum sounds (or big ‘anything’ sounds) you have to have space around the notes.
So I am a decided short shell depth advocate!