Drumkit Material Characteristics

Let's talk about kits and mics, new and old. What are you using? What do you want? What's the difference?

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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby The Tasmanian » Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:50 pm

So If I was looking for an old thin shell kit Gretsch or Ludwig kit - what era/ badge would be best?
Chris - RB - means round badge?

Rick - totally agree on second hand - there must be millions of kits already on this planet - why buy new?
Although I do respect Mr Brady and his way of recycling timber - hats off to the man.
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby ChrisW » Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:55 pm

Yeah, RB means Round Badge.
Very nice sounding drums, not so great for a contemporary rock sound though IMO.
Keystone Ludwig (60's) tend to sound very good indeed. Big rock sound.
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby The Tasmanian » Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:15 pm

Thanks Chris
I'm not crazy about my 70's Premier - looking to replace them with a nice old kit that sings. ( hence my persistent posts re tone/thin shells etc- sorry I'm a dumb guitarist )
New modern decent sounding kits are so easy to find - they are everywhere.
Its so nice to have a drum forum here with expert advice -thanks Rick and Chris and all youz drummers!
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby ChrisW » Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:50 pm

Ludwig are a bit thuddy.
I think you'll want thin maple.
The Gretsch SSB (stop sign badge) certainly sing (1970's onwards).
A lot of studio guys used these (incognito), while endorsing other brands. I think they tend to need a once over from a tech though (to achieve perfect edges, and get rid of any weird rattles).
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby Drumstruck » Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:30 pm

ChrisW wrote:The Gretsch SSB (stop sign badge) certainly sing (1970's onwards).


+ 1 to that - the ones with the "magic" silver sealer go BOOM!!


... though nowadays my wooden a-s are Sleishman and my snare is a hammered brass poingo :-o
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby rick » Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:52 pm

ChrisW wrote:Ludwig are a bit thuddy.
I think you'll want thin maple.
The Gretsch SSB (stop sign badge) certainly sing (1970's onwards).
A lot of studio guys used these (incognito), while endorsing other brands. I think they tend to need a once over from a tech though (to achieve perfect edges, and get rid of any weird rattles).



you see chris w you just earned twice your monthly moderator wage with that post !
three times even :)
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby The Tasmanian » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:39 pm

You guys are awesome -Ive been thinking about this stuff for years!
I'm learning more in depth real stuff about drums /tones.
So - to get more finite here - what is the inter relationship of the drum material used with certain skins chosen?

From all my observations in the studio - most old kits have coated skins - rarely pinstripe/dots/ sometimes clear plastic type skins - and more modern kits the reverse it seems ( a very rough generalization here).
I'm curious about why certain skins may (generally) be chosen to relate to the shell material?

Chris W - you have your 2 fave kits - when you go into a session do you ever change the skins on either kit for a certain style of music - or do the skins talk/relate so much to the drum that you cannot move too far outside of a select type of skins? - or choose a completely different kit.
I'm gonna be an expert by the time you guys tell me all this shit.
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby Lee » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:58 pm

I agree with Chris keep the valuable info rolling guys this is great.
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby Junction » Sat Jul 09, 2011 1:07 am

... maybe a dumb question from a non drummer, but if the wood is reasonably insignificant in the sound of a drum, then why would a cheap ass, thin shell, made in china kit, not be able to sound as good as a big brand high cost kit, if set up well?
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby Ausrock » Sat Jul 09, 2011 1:49 am

The wood species is not insignificant, far from it, however, there are other factors that have a less subtle/more obvious influence on the sound.
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby ChrisW » Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:59 am

Yes I agree ^^

I did agree several posts ago that the wood has an influence. I just think the drummer, the heads, the room and the tuning are more influential. Therefore, you can use and enjoy drums made with sustainable woods, without compromising your professionalism.

In fact there are some cheaply made drums that perform fantastically.
The worst sounding kits most likely have bad edges, are out of round, use cheap adhesives that stifle the tone and employ cheap hardware that rattles and falls apart.
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby ChrisW » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:04 am

The Tasmanian wrote: when you go into a session do you ever change the skins on either kit for a certain style of music - or do the skins talk/relate so much to the drum that you cannot move too far outside of a select type of skins? -


I think a basic drum head can do anything.
The default is a single-ply coated white head. It can sound retro-vintage and super contemporary.
The biggest difference between a contemporary sound and a retro sound is the tuning, and the mics and their placement IMHO.

Once you go beyond the basic, standard heads, some heads do impart a characteristic.
Clear heads tend to sound more smacky, brighter and contemporary to my ears.
Two-ply and oil filled heads are fat and thuddy.
BUt in general I don't need to employ certain heads for certain sounds. You can pretty much do it all with a single-ply coated or clear head.
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby rick » Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:57 am

when i read about
"the edges "
i am presuming that we are taking about the inner edge of the drum ply
that the skin is pushed and tightened over by the hardware rims

does anybody want to clear up what makes an edge "good" so us recording non drummer types can take a look
next time skins or tuning are an issue

does it need to be a minimum contact point like a knife (obviously rounded so it doesnt cut )
or a wide dome .. square or flat ?
and how is it repaired and tweaked to make an old or new kit better again
is it just sanded or put on a lathe and re trued like brakes on your car..?

Or is it can of worms ?

probably should be a new thread .. but lets see
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby rick » Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:11 pm

btw i am loving the last couple of months where i am not the final word on very much on the forum
and at all in this section
i like very much the opportunity to learn and wonder
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby The Tasmanian » Sat Jul 09, 2011 1:44 pm

I think Mr Sleishman has a machine that does the rounding - mates of mine have done it in the past and raved about how much better the kits sounded after the machining process
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby ChrisW » Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:14 pm

Yes.
You can have both razor sharp edges, and rounder edges.
The contemporary sound is more the sharp edge, the vintage sound is facilitated by having rounder edges.
I'm faaaar from the expert on edges.
I know the top players in The States have all their edges checked and refined, even on brand new kits.
I'm more of an accepting whatever comes kind of guy.
Essentially, the better the edge the more accurate and well tuned your drum is going to sound.
To fix an edge you have to remove the top layer, sometimes by a tiny, tiny amount. So with already good edges this isn't an issue at all. If your edge is significantly damaged it can mean more needs to come off, and then your shell becomes a bit shorter, and your tuning lugs may be too long.
So it's really hard to fix major damage, unless you are going to redrill your lug boxes etc....
I think it's true to say edges can be dodgy on new kits due to factory short cuts and bad workmanship. Edges on older drums can be damaged over time, especially if the kit has been used with bottom heads removed etc....
So in short, it's not something I personally sweat about too much, but conversely, many of the top players routinely have their edges checked and perfected from time to time.
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby danander11 » Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:22 pm

As a matter of info... I believe the Pearl Reference kits all come with varying edges.. their logic, (if I recall correctly), is that the larger diameter shells benefit from rounder bearing edges.. They are an interesting kit.. 8 and 10" shells are primarily birch, 12" is primarily maple, with 45 degree edges, and 14" and up go to a primarily mahogany shell with round edges..

I've never owned or really played a set of these, but what banging away I did they sounded good. I guess it's the kit for someone who wants a bit of everything all in one go..
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby Ausrock » Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:46 pm

There is no definitive profile for bearing edges, they can be "anything" so long as it works for that particular drum.

Don Sleishman has/had a jig that allows him to cut the inner and outer edges in one process, it isn't anything mysterious or special (Don has shown it to me), BUT it creates a profile that works extrememly well for their free floating system. Other shells benefit from a symetrical (or some variant) of a 45deg profile.
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby Matthew Dawson » Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:49 pm

I purchased a hand made Aussie Brady kit in 1991. The kick and toms were made from pressure bent (not steam bent apparently) jarrah ply. They were pretty thin, but very hard. The snare was 14" x 6" 'block' snare made from solid sheoak. Sheoak is really hard timber. The 'block' method is like the way you make a wine barrell. A whole lot of little (about 25 mm wide) blocks/strips of wood are glued together to form the shell. The shell is about 16mm thick.

I could never get the jarrah drums to sound any good ... I think that was more a result of my lack of skill than the drums though.

The snare is truly a beautiful looking [b]and [/b]sounding thing.

I kept the snare and sold the rest. I still have it ... I love it!
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby Ausrock » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:20 am

Matthew Dawson wrote:I purchased a hand made Aussie Brady kit in 1991. The kick and toms were made from pressure bent (not steam bent apparently) jarrah ply.


When making ply shells it's not uncommon to apply pressure to force the plies into the mould wall so I suspect the term "pressure bent" may have been a marketing ploy. Steam bending only applies to a single thick plank of timber.

Matthew Dawson wrote:The snare was 14" x 6" 'block' snare made from solid sheoak. Sheoak is really hard timber. The 'block' method is like the way you make a wine barrell. A whole lot of little (about 25 mm wide) blocks/strips of wood are glued together to form the shell. The shell is about 16mm thick.


"Block" construction (which looks similar to brickwork) is more commonly known in pro woodturning circles as "segmented" construction, NOT to be confused with "stave" construction which is how wine barrels are made and is more common in drum making.
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Re: Drumkit Material Characteristics

Postby Drumstruck » Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:19 am

on bearing edges - "that great Gretsch sound" reputedly comes from their 30 degree bearing edges e.g. http://www.gretschdrums.com/?fa=drums&sid=565

Another technique used by Gretsch (and earlier Premier + some others) was to undersize the shells slightly which makes the gap between the bearing edge and the rim greater - ala timpani - I suspect that this enhances the extra boom and more distinct note.

45 degree is probably the "norm" for most other manufacturers and there are plenty of kits that sound good with this design..... and some companies (e.g. Brady) do reverse bearing edges which effectively makes the diameter of the skin slightly smaller and may be one of the reasons for Brady's bright sound .....

Interesting comments about Jarrah - this timber is one of my favourites - very bright and crisp but also having a lot of depth - would love a Brady kit - so many kits, so little space and time.....
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