The Bass Drum is the largest of the drums used in the orchestra, measuring about from 28 up to 40 inches across the diameter of its surface. The drum itself is a giant round cylinder with skin stretched over both openings. Like the triangle, it is not tuned to specific pitch.

The tone of the Bass Drum is very low and deep, especially when played with a soft beater (stick). If the player strikes the drumhead hard enough, the sound can be loud and thundering. A softer strike can be quiet and almost unheard, but you can always feel the vibrations.

The bass drum is primarily used to keep a pulse in music in march-style music. In other musical styles, the bass drum is used often to give a certain moment a feeling of impact. In an orchestra, the drum is suspended by a stand. In marching band, the bass drum hangs from a harness that the player wears while marching.