#1
Right me and my brother are at a disagreement here, he thinks that the drum shell makes more of a difference when it comes to overall sound, but I think it's more to do with the drum head.

So to settle this argument, who is right??
#2
Drum shell makes more difference.

Crap wood for a drum shell with a brand new drum head is still gonna sound bad compared to a good quality drum shell with a crap Drum head.

Its like if you put lipstick on a pig, its still a pig.
#3
but... if u put a pig on lipstick the only thing left will be the pig...
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#5
Quote by Gryphon999
but... if u put a pig on lipstick the only thing left will be the pig...


And so the thread goes from drums, to bacon.

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#6
I think it's 6 of one and half dozen of the other. Both have a very large effect on tone and some shells simply can't be mixed with some heads. When you buy your kit you have to know what type of resonance and natural EQ you want. Next you get heads that complement the tone of your shells. The heads change your tone just as much as the shells but because we are stuck with the shells and heads get replaced a couple times a year we tend to think of the shells as being more important. So the difference they make vs their importance are two different arguments. They are equaly significant in tone but it's more important to get your shells right the 1st time than it is to get your heads right.
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#8
I disagree with most of the above. Most people haven't the faintest clue about tuning, phase differences, application, acoustics, dampening., bearing edge.

ANY drum kit sounds good to me with the right tuning and head choice. They all sound different.

At the end of the day, all a shell is (mostly in the mid to professional range) is a sheet of ply wood, bent round and glued with a scarf joint into a cylinder. The more plies, the more glue. Cheap drum kits are made the same, perhaps with slightly more porous wood. How the head is stretched across the shell and tuned affects the sound the most. I could go into how pitch in relation can make different sounds.

My last point is that a good drummer on a bad kit will still sound good.
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#9
Sorry nick, but your knowledge of drums, and how they work, is pretty low. For one thing, how perouse the wood is has nothing to do with the value. You failed to acknowledge the face that different types and of wood have completely different resonate properties and the number of layers in the ply changes the resonance as well. Last thing you didn't acknowledge is that the method in which they laminate the wood completely changes the tone of the shells.

You really know verry verry VERRY little about drum shells and shouldn't be saying negative things about people that disagree with you.

I actually agree with most of what you said, I just don't agree with your reasoning.
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#10
They're equally important. For fundamental pitch, resonance and basically tonal qualities. It goes to the shell. But for tuning, attack and decay and overall sound. It's the head. So it goes either way.

Subjectively, it's more likely the heads that make a difference to the sound. I'm not sure if I'm understanding OP's question, but if you were to take two shells exactly the same and put different heads on, they'd sound vastly different.
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Quote by jambi_mantra
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#11
Quote by CorduroyEW
Sorry nick, but your knowledge of drums, and how they work, is pretty low. For one thing, how perouse the wood is has nothing to do with the value. You failed to acknowledge the face that different types and of wood have completely different resonate properties and the number of layers in the ply changes the resonance as well. Last thing you didn't acknowledge is that the method in which they laminate the wood completely changes the tone of the shells.

You really know verry verry VERRY little about drum shells and shouldn't be saying negative things about people that disagree with you.

I actually agree with most of what you said, I just don't agree with your reasoning.



Nah mate, my knowledge is VERY wide on drums. Been playing close to 15 years, I'm actually a drum educator and recording engineer at a jazz academy in victorias NE. Anyway, I find it offensive you saying I know little, I know a lot.. I just choose to cut out the crap.. You neglected to mention to angle of the bearing edge, being either 60, 45, 30.. round profile, back cut?.. lacquer on the interior ply, core plies, shell hardware, mounting systems and hoop choice.. etc.

At the end of the day the physics of a drum, lets say toms, is a specific volume of air in say a 12" tom is going to be about 350 cubic inches, thats a lot of air to push, but regardless so long as the cylinders inside surface is smooth and true, the overall sound you will hear is the drums heads resonating together after a stick strike. The energy that goes into either the head, or shell depends on the edge. A sharper edge will translate into more energy being in the heads, a softer or fatter edge will soak up the energy and translate to a warmer sound as the shell steals of the vibration.

One issue a lot of drummers talk about is the difference between birch and maple, and will agree there is a subtle difference. To my ears, maple has a slightly warmer attack and a dip in the sustain and release. Birch, in fact almost every birch kit I've played has a fast attack and a smoothish sustain and release depending on tuning. For the most part, this is because birch, although believed to be in superior is actually a far denser wood than maple in its structure. Of course, take into account Birch and Maple are varying in breed depending on the continent. Asia and its warmer climates mean that wood grows very fast, so trees tend to not harden like they would in a colder climates of Canada or northern Europe. Most quality wood comes from these areas.

However for the most part, we are talking about drum kits that we can afford and play in a gigging situation. 9 times out of 10 its usually a Pearl Export, or Tama of sorts. Both of these kits especially pre 2000 are made from cheaper fast growing woods, typically with a vertical grain (especially the pearls) with a rough looking finish. This is Luan, its a very common wood in asia. Its pretty soft and splinters easy, in every definition, its cheap plywood like you would make a skate ramp or board up a window with. Ply wood, if made right with quality resin and steam bent or heated into shape can be barely indistinguishable from say quality maple or birch if covered in a fancy veneer, typically birch as its easier to paint and has a prettier grain. Depending on the quality of the edges, you will have a strong round shell that will work great.

Now, fast-forward to 2010 and kits are now using "basswood" (as most guitars too) which is a very soft fast growing tree from asia known as lime tree. It's easy to cut, glue and make anything out of as its very soft but still has a tight grain. A few kits that are made from basswood include Mapex Horizon, V series, the old Marsand M pro series, Sonor 501, 3001, 507 etc, Pearl VLX, VSX, Tama Superstar, Imperial Star, Rockstar, I could go on. Interestingly, the Pearl Vision, one of the best selling kits out there is made of 90% bass wood (in the VLX, VSX now discontinued) with a birch vaneer on the interior and exterior for aesthetic reasons. I have owned a VLX and I have to say it was a nice kit, but the previous owner had destroyed the bearing edges from using his drum key to tune up. It's true you will dent any kit doing this, but those basswood shells were like honey combe, I could push my thumb nail with little effort into the shell. I sold them within a month.

My current kit is a Pearl Session SMX, 6mm shells, 7 ply. Now take into consideration that if you have a kit with a 6mm shell and say 9 plies, chances are they will be thin slivers of wood and a LOT of glue. An example being Sonors shell design. A thick shell and few plies might mean that the wood will be thicker with lesser amount of glue. This will increase the attack, but cut on the projection from the shell, particularly from the sides of the shell. Also its worth noting that plies doesn't always mean how many plies of wood, but how many layers to the shell. This might include the plies of glue. Every 6 plies of wood will have 5 plies, or coatings of glue. Making a 11 ply shell!

Pearl claim to use SST to heat the glue and melt it into the grain of the wood. The truth is most manufacturers do this anyway, excpet they dont feel the need to mention it as its a given. It's a bit like saying "Superior Vulcansing technology" on the side walls of your car tyre of choice.

That aside, my SMX it one of the nicest kits I've heard, considering its the same shell as the current Masters MCX just a different badge and flanged hoops not diecast. I don't consider cast hoops and ugrade in anycase.

Any questions on particular kits, feel free to ask.
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#12
Quote by Niiko
They're equally important. For fundamental pitch, resonance and basically tonal qualities. It goes to the shell. But for tuning, attack and decay and overall sound. It's the head. So it goes either way.

Subjectively, it's more likely the heads that make a difference to the sound. I'm not sure if I'm understanding OP's question, but if you were to take two shells exactly the same and put different heads on, they'd sound vastly different.


If the tuning was identical and the room, 90% of the time, Yes.

However such heads like the Pinstripe and Emperor from remo prove otherwise. Theres even a video showing this, although the guys tuning is less than perfect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xajDHptQYa8
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#13
Quote by nick dixon
If the tuning was identical and the room, 90% of the time, Yes.

However such heads like the Pinstripe and Emperor from remo prove otherwise. Theres even a video showing this, although the guys tuning is less than perfect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xajDHptQYa8



Dude there's a huge difference there, you might not be able to hear it but it's there. I think the tuning is fine. The only thing that's the same is the ringing overtones coming from the shell and reso head combined.

Though having said that, I agree with what you said about maple. My Stagg Jia maple has an incredibly well rounded and smooth attack to it, it's a very warm sound.

Also, what's your thoughts on drums with heavier hardware (Lugs, rims etc..) attached? I've found that there's not as much resonance but the drums sound more focused with greater attack.
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Quote by jambi_mantra
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Last edited by Niiko at Sep 27, 2011,
#14
Nah, there really isn't any difference. The change in tuning would make more difference. Something like the difference between an ambassador and emperor would be more obvious.

Hardware has a big affect on the sound. Although subtle, rims mounts etc make little difference to the resonance as you're adding mass that wouldnt be there otherwise. The most resonant toms I've heard are that on a mapex with the ITS mounts like the M series and Saturn. Pearls optimounts are rock solid, but it adds a rounded attack to the sound, even with coated ambassadors.

How you mount the drum will change the sound a lot. If you have pearl style tubes, try sliding them up and down until you find the sound you want. Typically the further down you put the drum on the post, the more SUSTAIN you get. There is also a difference between resonance and sustain. Bob Gatzen has videos on this on youtube.

We then get into the realms of finding out which fudimental pitches will excite a drum the most. There isn't just one note, there are many. It's bullshit to say "my 10" tom is a C" infact, its many notes are there. When you hone in on a note thats when you start tuning.
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#15
There's a pretty noticeable difference. And I'm even skeptical about why there's an internal mic directly under the batter head, because all that's really being picked up is the attack from that head and very little, if anything, from the reso side.

The Pinstripe has more of an attack, it's sharper and more focused. Whereas the Emperor seems warmer and more rounded. That's a pretty noticeable difference, you can even hear it in the side by side section. The tuning is the same, but the overall sound has that noticeable difference.
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Quote by jambi_mantra
They let black people on Fox now?

They also let white people into the KFC and the NBA now.
#16
Nick I didn't do an itemized list of everything of didn't address because I wanted to save you some embarrassment about how incredibly wrong you were.

As somebody that makes musical instruments for a living, I know that your experience as a drummer doesn't translate to an understanding of how your instrument works. I'm not going to get into a pissing match about how long we have been playing or who we have been playing with but I can point out that I was playing drums before you were born.

You are stating opinions as facts. You are also stating many facts that are completely wrong. You probably know a lot about drums but what you think you know about shells is wrong and if you don't belive me, strike up some conversations with people that build drums for a living.
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#17
okay, if you say you're right.. go have a wank or something, I'm right lol

I'm waiting for the list. You should probably accept I know what I'm talking about, or do I have to give these guys a lesson on how to wind pickups too?
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Last edited by nick dixon at Sep 28, 2011,
#18
Fine, because this thread is about shells vs heads I’m not going to get into the gritty details of hardware, mounting styles, and hoops though. I’m just going to talk about the things I feel make the shells just as important as the heads and give a bit of insight about wood types and construction methods. Rather than use lots of technical terms that beginners don’t understand I’m going to keep this as simple as possible.

I think the most important aspect of a drum shell is the bearing edge. This is where the head meets the shell and is therefore essential in ones ability to actually tune the drum. Cheap drums tend to use a nice layer of veneer on the inside and outside of the drum but in the middle layers there tend to be a lot of gaps due to the cheap ply. These gaps can make the bearing edge inconsistent and it can make a drum impossible to tune simply because the inconsistent edge means inconsistent pressure against the head.

So Nick, you say that all you have to do is get it in tune… Well… What if that’s not possible because your drum has an inconsistent bearing edge.

The bearing edges angle and placement also has an effect on tuning stability. If your edge hits the head at the too close to the collar then that can cause the head to stick when you tune it. Bob Gatzen (sp???) talks a lot about reverse lug tuning and this is something you have to do a lot more when the edge is to close to the collar. When the edge of the drum is pushed against the flat surface of the head tuning becomes much easier and the range of notes you can tune to are increased. This too is something you failed to acknowledge when you said the shells were not important.

Another important thing about the bearing edge is how much of it actually hits the drum head. Too much can cause tuning difficulty as well as a harsh rattling sound. Too little and the edge can deform under the tension of the head. This is why most companies simply use a 45 degree angle and round off the top. This is actually something we have to deal with on guitars too. On acoustic guitars if we make the bevel on the nut too pointed it chips and sound bad and if it’s too flat you get tuning instability and buzzing.

Moving on to material quality. This has nothing to do with how porous the wood is or where the wood was grown. The more consistent the laminated layers are, the more consistent the resonate tones of the drum will be. When you have poor quality shells with large gaps of air and glue in the middle laminate areas you can end up with a drum shell that is out of tune with it’s self. This will be noticeable when recording and will often times be noticeable live too but it will be harder to pick out when playing live. You see, drums don’t just make 1 tone when you hit them. The heads make several tones as does the shell. You need all these tones to work together. The primary tone of the drum will be coming from your head but if the shell isn’t in tune with it’s self then the contrasting tones, although subtle, can make the drum sound bad no matter what head you put on it.

Now types of material. The most common materials for trap sets are birch, maple, African mahogany, lauan, and poplar. Hand drums like djembe and bongos are made from many other materials such as various types of oak and lenka but lets not get into that. Poplar is what is traditionally used in cheap drum sets because it grows fast and comes from all around the world. It’s an ugly wood which means it usually gets covered with vinyl and vinyl dampens tone making the drum sound worse that it needs to. I’ve seen people pull the vinyl off their poplar kits and lacquer them and they sounded similar to birch. Sometimes “budget” birch and maple drums will use poplar for the inside layers and birch or maple for the outside and then they will advertise the shells as birch or maple. Because poplars tone is so similar they do tend to get away with it.

Lauan is the cheap alternative to mahogany and it’s both ugly, which means they cover it in vinyl, and it has a muddy muffled tone. It’s not a good tonewood and even with a good drum head, the shells made from lauan sound so muddled that you can’t usually get a defined tone from these drums. Lauan comes mostly from asia which puts it in close proximity to the people making cheap kits which is part of the reason it’s popular. It also grows very quickly.

African mahogany comes from the African continent, not Canada or Europe like you said, and has a dark punchy sound just like you would expect from a mahogany guitar. It’s one of the most porous woods used for drums yet, it’s every bit as expensive as maple and birch. So porous doesn’t mean cheap.

Birch gives you a nice punchy low, reduced mids, and a nice snap in the high end. Birch drums tuned exactly the same as Lauan and Mahogany will sound completely different due to the natural eq of the drums. The boutique drum makers I know use birch that is grown in the USA and NOT in Canada or Europe. I don’t know where the bigger companies get their tonewood from.

Maple is similar to birch but with less top end. Usually they use soft maple but it’s not uncoomon for them to use a layer of hard maple so that you can get nice effects like birds eye. The maple can come from the Northern USA or Southern Canada. The colder the temp the slower the wood grows causing it to be more dense, however, this does not effect how porous the wood is. The denser and harder the maple, the better top end you get from the drum.

Now keep in mind that the type of wood is all about the overtones given off by the drum and not the primary note which the drum makes. So it’s all about the musical colour and expression when you are picking out the right shells. These subtle musical overtones can make a drummer sound good or bad depending on their playing style. It’s not just about being in tune.

Next lets talk about drum depth. Deeper drums have a lower internal resonance. It is important to tune your drum head so that it works with the internal resonance of the drum rather than against it. This means that if you have a shallow 13” top you might not be able to tune it to the same notes as a deep 13” tom. If they are tuned to the same exact pitch it’s possible that one of the drums could be out of tune with it’s self making it sound bad. So not only do you need to focus on type of materials and quality of lamination but you also have to consider what notes you want to tune your drums to.
Deeper drums also give you more projection and volume. If you need to have a gentle sound then you don’t want to get deep drums and if you need to play loud and have the tone reach a crowd over the top of a metal band then deeper drums are the way to go.

The depth of the drums does not have a huge effect on the actual top and bottom end that the drum can be tuned to. This is determined by the drums radius. Larger radius means the drum tunes to lower notes. It works kind of like a scale on a guitar. A bass uses a long scale to get defined low notes and if you try and tune it to the pitch of a guitar you are going to break something. If you try and tune your high tom to the same pitch as your floor tom it’s gonna sound floppy just like a guitar sounds if it’s tuned an octave too low.


Number of laminates and thickness of shells will help determine how much engery is lost through the sides of the drums. Losing energy through the sides of the drums makes the tone from the wood stand out more but takes away punch and volume. If you want punch and volume then you have to use thicker materials and/or more layers. If you want musical overtones you go for the thinner drums.

I could keep going but I really don’t feel like it. This are all important factors in the shells of a drum and they all have dramatic impact on the overall tone of a drumset. To say that they don’t effect the drums tone, as you did, is simply wrong. How important these factors are is debatable but I feel they are very important. I also feel proper tuning and finding the right heads for your kit is very important.
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#19
Corduroy, am I right in assuming African Mahogany is also called Bubinga? Or is that a different type of wood?
Neo Evil11
Quote by jambi_mantra
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They also let white people into the KFC and the NBA now.
#20
Nope, but bubinga is often times called African Rosewood although, technically, bubinga isn't a rosewood. Then again, African Mahogany isn't technically mahogany either.
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#21
you should read my post again, it's pretty much the same without the buzz words.

Mahogany is a generalization of woods. As is birch, maple, poplar. A good hard wood is a good hard wood!
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#22
Quote by nick dixon
you should read my post again, it's pretty much the same without the buzz words.

Mahogany is a generalization of woods. As is birch, maple, poplar. A good hard wood is a good hard wood!


Well no, not really. Corduroy just goes into a lot of detail whereas quite alot of your post is fairly irrelevant and parts of it being hearsay.

Especially the part about porous woods not being a quality wood.
Neo Evil11
Quote by jambi_mantra
They let black people on Fox now?

They also let white people into the KFC and the NBA now.
#23
Quote by Niiko
Well no, not really. Corduroy just goes into a lot of detail whereas quite alot of your post is fairly irrelevant and parts of it being hearsay.

Especially the part about porous woods not being a quality wood.


In which case, refer to my first post.
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#24
Quote by nick dixon
In which case, refer to my first post.


Looking at it, what about it? You've basically skipped over and generalized shell construction, and on top of that made the comment that more porous woods are using in cheaper drum kits?
Neo Evil11
Quote by jambi_mantra
They let black people on Fox now?

They also let white people into the KFC and the NBA now.
#25
I think heads makes a bigger difference, in my findings I've seen that any drum with new heads/tuning sunds good.
#26
Thank you.. Yes, a majority of kits sound better with new heads. Cheap kits are made from more porous wood, it's a figure of speech. Doesn't mean its going to leak. I actually prefer the sound of basswood over maple and birch. Basswood actually sounds a quite lot like mahogany kits of years gone by.

Ludwig superclassics, as far as I'm aware were 3 plies of maple, poplar and mahogany.
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#27
Nick, what do you think makes a word "porous" because I'm not sure if you understand. Some of the most expensive kits I've ever used were made from mahogany, which is pretty porous. Some of the cheapest were poplar, which is not very porous.

Porous is not a figure of "speech" it's a characteristic which some woods have and some don't. It's actually a technical term. The names of wood types like birch, and maple and not really generalizations either. Sometimes we get generic terms, like African Mahogany, which is used to describe the qualities of a specific type of wood, but thats not the same as a generalization. A generalization would be saying something like "all maple sounds the same" where a generic term would be saying "rock maple" or "sugar maple" which are what the public tends to call a specific type of wood with of the species acer saccharum.
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#28
Thanks for the conformation. If I ever need info on specific wood types, I will be sure to drop you an email buddy. Sorry for any inconvenience on your behalf.
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#29
Nick, for what it's worth, I think you are a better drummer than I am. I know that you know about drumming and I don't want to take away from that. I know lots of technical stuff that many people don't know. I don't even think you are wrong about the "importance" question. I view it as 50 50 but that is my opinion. My issue was simply how you disregarded the fact that bad shells do have a major impact on tone no matter what heads you put on them.
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#30
It depends on what you regard as bad. To me, something that is bad is a kit, or guitar that has soft diecast parts that fail during a gig, or just poor QC. I had a mapex pro m, which, although isn't considered a 'pro' kit, had WAX filler inside the snare drum to fill where the drill bit hat ripped out a chunk of wood. If they had done a smaller pilot hole, or even had a sharp drill bit so the weren't pressing so hard it probably wouldn't have.

I'm not saying all bad shells sound good, I'm saying they can with correct head choice, tuning, environment and of course who's playing they can. Too many variables.

To asume that high quality shells, say a Pearl reference is going to sound good is anything but the truth. What makes me laugh even more is drummers will insist on buying 'pre muffled' heads like evans EC2 or Pinstripes to cover up what they consider as 'bad' overtones, which are infact what makes the drum project.

Now something like a cajun will sound great in the right hands... it's a bloody box!!
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#31
I would call shells "bad" if they can't be properly tuned. When the overtones of the drum are out of tune with themselves then your drum will sound out of tune even when you have the head in tune. If the bearing edge is inconsistent you might not be able to keep the head in tune with it's self. This makes for a bad shell.

I also see some shells as being bad for a specific person even if they are great drums. When I was doing Latin percussion in a band, the person playing trap set was using a very nice mapex set that sounded great for metal but we played blues and the drums never matched with the band. My set, however, was on old pearl set which used shallow shells made of poplar and they sounded great for our music. His kit was built to higher spec with nicer materials but it just didn't sound right for our band. My kit was a cheap kit with original 60's (crap) hardware and it sounded great for what we did.

So it's not just about quality, but also about getting the wright tools for the job. It's important to have the right shells but the heads have a greater overall impact on tone.
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#32
Hmmm... I see two people not just getting into a debate over something, but also coming to... resolution? Bravo, guys! It's not often two people who are dead-set on their opinions actually decide to agree to disagree on something Also, this thread helps me a lot, as I am trying to soak up everything I can about instrument construction and how it affects tone

Thanks Cord and Nick!
Then there's this band called Slice The Cake...

Bunch of faggots putting random riffs together and calling it "progressive" deathcore.
Stupid name.
Probably picked "for teh lulz"

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#33
he started it... *grumpy face*
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#34
Quote by Nathy137
Right me and my brother are at a disagreement here, he thinks that the drum shell makes more of a difference when it comes to overall sound, but I think it's more to do with the drum head.

So to settle this argument, who is right??


Both of you are correct. The shell plays a big part because of the material the shell is made of, the dimensions of the shell, bearing edge and finish on the outside. Even the way you mount your toms will affect the sound.

The heads play an equal part because of single ply or double ply heads, coated or clear, damping dots in the center of the head or damping rings and finally the tension of the head. The tighter the head, the higher the pitch. The looser the head, the lower the pitch.

All these factors on both sides of the fence play a ginormous part in getting the sound that YOU want. Drums are considered to be non-harmonic instruments meaning that that are not usually tuned to a specific pitch, such as the low E string on a guitar.
#35
I tune my kits toms 4th apart by tuning both batter and resonant minor 3rd lower than the pitch I want overall. Works everytime.
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