though i personally am a big fan of pretty big kits (my kit was originally an 8 piece), i understand why a lot of drummers dont like them:

1) theyre not necessary
2) theyre spacious
3) having a smaller kit sometimes promotes more creative beats and fills
4) theyre easier to transport

personally, my favorite setup is the classic 5-piece: 1 kick, snare, 2 mounted toms, and a floor tom, all in a small semi-circle setup. no gap between any of the toms

once again, i understand the appeal of smaller kits for many reasons, but why have so many drummers either chosen or downsized to that dinky little 4-piece that i see so much these days? i mean, even i downsized my kit from a double kick 8-piece to a single-kick 6 piece, but id never go less than a 5 piece

is 3 toms really too much for these people? im sure something like my original 5 toms would be lol, but why do they physically limit themselves so much?

Edit: sorry in advance, i know im a tad biased on this subject, but im more curious than anything
Last edited by pAWNlol at Sep 13, 2013,
I gig with a 3-piece kit (Snare, Floor Tom, Kick), and my home kit is either a 4 piece (1 rack, 1 floor) or at largest 1 up 2 down, so I hope I can answer your question

A big reason, as you say, is spacial issues, which also equates to the fact that, the smaller the kit, the easier it is to gig with. For example, I can fit my gig kick in the boot of a small hatchback (done it with a freind's Toyota Aygo) and be able to take a passenger (me, in this case) and can fit it on the back seats of a larger car without using the boot at all (BMW 5 series saloon), whereas even with a 2 up 1 down 5-piece it wouldn't all fit.

I think another reason for the 4-piece is that most 5-piece kits available are 10", 12", 14" toms, and many (including myself) hate the 10" toms as they feel they're too small, and so too high pitched and quiet. Also by not having the 2 rack toms you have the option to move your ride pretty much over the bass drum, giving yourself really easy access to it, which is especially useful if you use it for crashing as well (again, as I do).

As you also mention, a pro of using the small kit is the chance to practice being more creative and maximising what you have, as since you have a weird division (e.g. 1 bar/ 4 beats to fill but with only 3 drums), it forces you to think outside the box a bit as you can't just play 2 straight 8th notes on each drum and be done with it, so you play in groups of 6, say, or leave some rests.

Hope this clears something up, I think you knew most of the points yourself haha
Last edited by Lordyboy at Sep 14, 2013,
I play a four piece set and occasionally add some roto toms to the set-up (Just for fun, I don't put them in my band's music). Same setup no matter what genre I'm playing: Classic Rock, Metal, Jazz, Blues, Alternative, Metalcore.
My reasons for the smaller kit don't lie in the cost of maintenance or the convenience of transportation, I just don't really need any more toms. I can think of a few covers I jam on myself and maybe a part or two in one of my band's songs I could add a third tom, but it isn't really enough to warrant it. If I have more drums I'll feel obligated to hit them and it never really works well for me.
i should have been more specific lol. on a local level, i totally get that theyd be easier for you to transport. but i dont understand why famous drummers downsize to that 4-piece? they already have entire vehicles and crews dedicated to transporting them, so why not stick with the kits they had already. its not like they suddenly couldnt carry their 1st mounted tom anymore
I use kick, snare, rack tom and floor tom. The only time I've ever used two rack toms is for reggae, tune one right up. I really have no use for a second tom, and I'm sure there are plenty of other people like that. I mean sure, I could have a second tom set up, but I'd rather have my ride over my kick.

I do use a second snare though, a piccolo. I find that much more useful than a second tom.
I think it really depends on the genre. Guys like Nikko and Danny Carey haven't downsized at all. Most of the metal guys are still using the double bass 8 peice kits. I actually cant think of any drummers who have downsized thier kits. With the virgin bass drums becoming more previlent guys are opting for the more traditional 1 up 2 down look.
I think the reason most 'famous drummers' use who use a 4-piece either do so because the genre they play in doesn't require any more (e.g. in Pop-punk), or because they're most used to that config (see previous reasons as to why they'd pick that). I guess also it comes down to the fact that a huge 8-piece kit would look ridiculous in certain settings (pop-punk example again).

I also think there has recently been more of a movement towards Bonham-esque styles, and again he generally used the 1 up 2 down config, and so people are kind of following that I guess.
Not me! If I can't fit my 9pc Pearl masters with 24's. I don't play there. It's all mounted on a huge icon rack so setup is really a breeze. Just mount the 12 or so cymbals, toms, throw the kick drums down and I'm done. I like the ability to roll the toms without the same exact sound every single time. Or hit a different cymbal to add a different sound. Nothing worse than a drummer with two cymbals. Ask a guitar player to take three strings off his guitar and say "that's all you need." I play guitar in a band now and the more drums and cymbals a drummer has, the more full and exciting it sounds.
I love all 5 (sold a couple) of my Carvin X-100b's.
Quote by pAWNlol

3) having a smaller kit sometimes promotes more creative beats and fills

No. This is a myth, pure and simple. Having a smaller kit NEVER promotes more creative drumming. Artistic ability lies in the artist, not his tools.

As for the whole idea of "downsizing." If the person plays good, interesting stuff, who gives a damn what size the kit he's playing is? Sure, there is a certain visual impact to a drum kit with 2 bass drums and a shitload of tom toms, but in certain genres... where long, technical, and frequent drum fills aren't a necessity... it's just pointless to have one. I play a double bass drum kit and it serves me pretty well, but I wouldn't dream of hauling the whole thing with me if i'm just getting together with a couple friends to play some old punk rock tunes.