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Thread: Getting the most from a cheap kit???

  1. #1

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    Default Getting the most from a cheap kit???

    I bought a Sound Percussion kit off Craigslist for $125 and have been playing it for two years. I'm 47 years-old, lack the talent to ever play in a band, and will have two kids going off to college in a couple of years. Thus, my wife doesn't see the need to spend money on a new kit...

    All I've done so far is install new batter heads (Evans Onyx on the toms, Evans Power Center on the snare, and a Remo PowerStroke III on the bass). What are my options to improve the sound at this point? Is it worth replacing the original (i.e., cheap) resonant heads?

    What about refinishing the drum edges? I have a woodshop and have entertained the idea of building a new kit, either from scratch or using Keller shells. I can tell by running my fingers around the edges that the number of imperfections is significant. Would I be chasing ghosts trying to upgrade the fit and finish of a cheap shell?

    Thanks!

    Rich

  2. #2

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    I think reso heads would be in order. I've heard many cheap drums with far less than perfect edges, sound pretty darnd good. I would try single ply. G1 or Ambassadors. They will make a difference. Even the good brand resos, need to be replaced(or will make a difference anyway) after a few years. You'll get good enough to play in a band too. Just play and have fun. Bands will come in time.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by rowsc View Post
    I'm 47 years-old, lack the talent to ever play in a band
    Ha you haven't seen some of the bands that I've seen.

    Can you keep a steady beat? Play along with songs on the radio. When that feels comfortable then try playing with other musicians.

    Drumheads need to be changed once or twice a year. A good hi hat is nice to have. Tambourine on the hi hat stand, wood block and cowbell. Got brushes? I don't think that you need high priced gear to play in a band.

    Welcome to the forum.
    Last edited by 8beat; 02-03-2014 at 04:45 AM.

  4. #4

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    I have put a few layers of tung oil inside a cheaper drum shell in the past and it really gets rid of some unwanted overtones. If your SP kit has those annoying overtones an I suspect it does maybe you can try that. I just did one drum at a time. I put layer on and let it dry for 12+ hrs before putting 2nd coat on.

    Makes the inside of the drums looks fantastic too. I even spray painted the inside of a Bass drum with silver spray paint, has the same affect as tung oil but does not look nearly as good.
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  5. #5

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    If you just want a nice warm tone in your basement, try some evans hydraulics they work wonders on a cheap kit, and for the snare an evans hd dry. Some decent cymbals a nice pedal and hat stand and youll have a decent sounding kit.

  6. #6

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    ^ What he said.
    "...it's the Paradigm Of The Cosmos!" Stewart Copeland on Youtube

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  7. #7

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    The few cheap SP kits Ive played all sounded pretty good. Good heads ( batter and reso) plus good tuning is 95% of it. I have an old $30 Pearl Maxwin kit with cheap Luan shells that I fixed up last year. The shells were warped and the bearing edges were pretty beat up. They sounded like complete garbage. I used a piece of plate glass with sandpaper on it to get the edges back to being reasonably flat and then hand sanded the inside bearing edge bevel and outside radius back into shape. This was nowhere near comparable to a professional job, but, With all new heads and lots of tuning, the kit sounds fantastic.

    If the shells aren't too warped or out of round, then usually a VERY light rub down on the bearing edge with very fine grit paper is all you really need. Just enough to help smooth it out so the head can float easily across the edge. I always wipe the bearing edge with a little wax before I put the head on. 99% of the nasty overtones can be tuned out if you spend enough time messing with it. I agree with the Evans hydraulic heads. I've also had good luck with Remo Pinstripes on cheap drums. Any head designed to help control overtones would be a good choice.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  8. #8

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    Sorry, just noticed you already have new batter heads, LOL. I would replace the reso heads if they are real old. But first, how experienced are you at tuning?
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  9. #9

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    You really haven't mentioned what specifically the problem with the kit is. Is it that there is overtones? Ringing? Dead sounding? To much reverberation? All of these things can be fixed with finer tuning and/or muffling. If this is mostly the problem, I would go in that direction rather than re cutting the bearing edges. New reso heads, although reasonably important, isn't a fix all solution. If you want to make your own kit, go for it. But this could be as much and probably more costly than just getting another kit, depending on the kit. Good luck and welcome to the best drumming chat site on the net.
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  10. #10

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    Thanks for the feedback!

    I'm still learning about tuning. When I first started playing I had my drum teacher over and he helped me set up the kit (he used to be a Gretsch rep and plays professionally). I'm thinking it is about time to have him over again, but am thinking I should replace anything that needs replaced before I pay him for an hour of his time.

    I've picked up a bit of hardware along the way. I have Sabian AA hats and medium crash (albeit key holed), an XS20 ride, and the crash that came with the kit (sounds like a decent china cymbal). I've got a really nice Gibraltar pedal, HD hi hat and cymbal stands, and a motorcycle throne.

    I can keep the beat with most of the songs I like, but am not very good at fills. It's funny, even when I screw up and stop my arms my foot keeps going right along. I guess that is a good sign.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolvie56 View Post
    You really haven't mentioned what specifically the problem with the kit is. Is it that there is overtones? Ringing? Dead sounding? To much reverberation?
    My instructor has a Gretsch Catalina Birch kit that has a powerful crack that I love. Mine is all over the place. The snare is flat, the bass is dead, and the toms ring without much attack. Being relatively new to drumming, I'm still confused about the value of reso heads. Logic says they should last forever since you never hit them. But I took "The Physics of Sound" for my college science credit and remember the prof saying that drums were the most complicated instrument because there are so many factors involved. It sounds like it would be good to spend $40 on a couple of reso heads and invite my instructor over to help tune what I have.

  12. #12

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    welcome to the forum

    consider a second hand shell pack for an upgrade rather than trying to (put make up on a pig) upgrade that kit ..heads are fine but once you start swapping out hardware and finish you will soon see dollar signs in the same ball park as a intermediate shell pack, that kit is a great beginner kit don't get me wrong, only issue is you cant be a beginner forever

  13. #13

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    If you've got a woodshop and are skilled enough, I'd say recutting the edges would at the very least be a fun project. It may very well help your drums out a little. I saw someone mentioned tung oil. I'm a huge fan of a few coats of tung oil on the insides of shells and on the edges. Definitely get those resonant heads changed out as well.

    All those changes might be enough to keep you content for a while. Probably long enough to sneakily build a Keller kit without the Mrs. getting keen to your scheme.
    "Life is backwards. Happiness isn't something you seek, it's something that finds you when you are doing the right thing." - Zone47

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by quikstang2 View Post
    If you've got a woodshop and are skilled enough, I'd say recutting the edges would at the very least be a fun project. It may very well help your drums out a little. I saw someone mentioned tung oil. I'm a huge fan of a few coats of tung oil on the insides of shells and on the edges. Definitely get those resonant heads changed out as well.

    All those changes might be enough to keep you content for a while. Probably long enough to sneakily build a Keller kit without the Mrs. getting keen to your scheme.
    i'm interested in trying the tung oil. would you recommend it on poplar shells? and what do you use to apply it?

    thanks :D

    honestly i'm probably going to try to recut my bearing edges as well sometime down the road. they are BEAT UP from when i had no idea what i was doing way back when i got this kit
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  15. #15

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    I can attest to the fact that, even starting with a $30 set of shells, by the time you buy new heads, replace some hardware like assorted memory locks and clamps and buy even basic refinishing supplies, you'll have as much (or more ) money in the cheap shells as if you would just go out and buy a good used set of intermediate/semi-pro shells.
    I guess it's just like building custom cars; you'll never get the monetary value out. But for me, it's more about the fun of creating (kinda like being a musician, LOL). If all you're after is just a better sound, then upgrading shells would be the best move. If you like building and messing around with stuff, then you'll have to accept that it will be a poor investment from a value standpoint, and just consider it as money spent on a fun hobby. I will warn you, however, that it is EXTREMELY addicting. Once you start messing around with building/re-finishing old drums, you'll be hooked. You'll be buying and dragging home old kits and have plans for every piece. The surgeon general should make them put a warning sticker on all drums; "Warning: Building drums can be hazardous to your bank account and marriage. Drums are not a safe alternative to Classic Cars or Guitars".
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by rallydrummer View Post
    i'm interested in trying the tung oil. would you recommend it on poplar shells? and what do you use to apply it?

    thanks :D

    honestly i'm probably going to try to recut my bearing edges as well sometime down the road. they are BEAT UP from when i had no idea what i was doing way back when i got this kit
    Personally, I think it would be excellent on poplar. Poplar is really not a bad tone wood, and the Tung oil will seal the wood and give it the sound qualities of a more dense wood. It will be brighter and probably have more ring. I would use a satin or low gloss and just apply it with an old rag.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by N2Bluz View Post
    Personally, I think it would be excellent on poplar. Poplar is really not a bad tone wood, and the Tung oil will seal the wood and give it the sound qualities of a more dense wood. It will be brighter and probably have more ring. I would use a satin or low gloss and just apply it with an old rag.
    i found the same thing. i thought poplar just wasn't gonna sound good but with proper tuning it really does! i think i'm gonna give the oil a try. those sound like the quailties i'm trying to bring out in the sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by N2Bluz View Post
    The surgeon general should make them put a warning sticker on all drums; "Warning: Building drums can be hazardous to your bank account and marriage. Drums are not a safe alternative to Classic Cars or Guitars".
    thats funny because i have a car hobby and a drum hobby... lol ...and a motorcycle hobby... haha yeah i'm broke
    Last edited by rallydrummer; 02-04-2014 at 05:32 PM.
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  18. #18

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    Default Re: Getting the most from a cheap kit???

    Quote Originally Posted by N2Bluz View Post
    I can attest to the fact that, even starting with a $30 set of shells, by the time you buy new heads, replace some hardware like assorted memory locks and clamps and buy even basic refinishing supplies, you'll have as much (or more ) money in the cheap shells as if you would just go out and buy a good used set of intermediate/semi-pro shells.
    Either you're paying too much for drum heads, or you find killer deals on intermediate kits.

    Quote Originally Posted by rallydrummer View Post
    i'm interested in trying the tung oil. would you recommend it on poplar shells? and what do you use to apply it?

    thanks :D

    honestly i'm probably going to try to recut my bearing edges as well sometime down the road. they are BEAT UP from when i had no idea what i was doing way back when i got this kit
    I've used it on basswood and "philipine mahogany" (a.k.a. luan), so yes, I'd use it on poplar. I used it on a maple snare drum once too. The wood grain will pop a little more, and the sound will smooth out. I think what it does is seal up the wood (obviously) but in a way that mimics a more dense wood (like maple or walnut or anything more dense than poplar). I found I could tune the drums slightly lower, and they gained some resonance. I was sold on it after that.

    I'd recut those edges first as you'd have to reapply the tung oil after you cut them, if you waited on that.

    I've read, and therefore used, two different methods. Both require pure tung oil (got mine at a wood working store), clean t-shirt rags, and 0000 steel wool.
    -disassemble the shells (if it unbolts, take it off)
    -as a precaution I put masking tape on the outside of the shell over all the holes and along the finish line at the edges
    -wipe down the shell interiors and edges with the steel wool
    -after this I used a lightly damp rag, or paper towel, to clean the surface (a tack cloth is probably better) then let it dry
    -put on some rubber gloves, preferably slightly thicker ones
    -soak the t-shirt cloth in tung oil and wipe it over the interior surface and edges. You'll see where it has soaked in as you go. I usually start and finish at the air vent, for reference.
    -let it dry (I forget the exact time, but it ended up being a full day for my daily schedule)
    -apply another coat of oil
    -let it dry
    -apply another coat of oil
    -let it dry
    -clean and reassemble the drums

    The other version I had read/used said to use the steel wool between each coating as well. I did it after the first coat, but not after the second. The next set I tung oiled I only used the steel wool before the first coat.
    "Life is backwards. Happiness isn't something you seek, it's something that finds you when you are doing the right thing." - Zone47

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by quikstang2 View Post
    Either you're paying too much for drum heads, or you find killer deals on intermediate kits.


    I've used it on basswood and "philipine mahogany" (a.k.a. luan), so yes, I'd use it on poplar. I used it on a maple snare drum once too. The wood grain will pop a little more, and the sound will smooth out. I think what it does is seal up the wood (obviously) but in a way that mimics a more dense wood (like maple or walnut or anything more dense than poplar). I found I could tune the drums slightly lower, and they gained some resonance. I was sold on it after that.

    I'd recut those edges first as you'd have to reapply the tung oil after you cut them, if you waited on that.

    I've read, and therefore used, two different methods. Both require pure tung oil (got mine at a wood working store), clean t-shirt rags, and 0000 steel wool.
    -disassemble the shells (if it unbolts, take it off)
    -as a precaution I put masking tape on the outside of the shell over all the holes and along the finish line at the edges
    -wipe down the shell interiors and edges with the steel wool
    -after this I used a lightly damp rag, or paper towel, to clean the surface (a tack cloth is probably better) then let it dry
    -put on some rubber gloves, preferably slightly thicker ones
    -soak the t-shirt cloth in tung oil and wipe it over the interior surface and edges. You'll see where it has soaked in as you go. I usually start and finish at the air vent, for reference.
    -let it dry (I forget the exact time, but it ended up being a full day for my daily schedule)
    -apply another coat of oil
    -let it dry
    -apply another coat of oil
    -let it dry
    -clean and reassemble the drums

    The other version I had read/used said to use the steel wool between each coating as well. I did it after the first coat, but not after the second. The next set I tung oiled I only used the steel wool before the first coat.
    wow thanks!

    yeah i was thinking about cutting the edges first. i might just try to get a slab of granite and sand the edges back flat at least. they are dented from being hit but the dents arent extremely deep. i dont think i really NEED to re-cut the edge, but i'll have to see how they look after i sand them.
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  20. #20

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    Default Re: Getting the most from a cheap kit???

    Since someone brought up cars and addiction, check out my article in the Rocky Mountain Region of the Porsche Club of America's September 2013 magazine (pages 24-25).

    rmr.pca.org/newsletters/sept_2013.pdf‎

    I have a history of spending money I don't have on a never ending project

    My plan this weekend is to break out the tung oil

  21. #21

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    No problem. Keep us posted on your work, and results.
    "Life is backwards. Happiness isn't something you seek, it's something that finds you when you are doing the right thing." - Zone47

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by quikstang2 View Post
    No problem. Keep us posted on your work, and results.
    i will. i might rebuild the entire kit and rewrap the drums, we will see how it goes. itll be like one or two drums at a time because i want to keep my kit playable. luckily i have a "spare" bass drum haha because my kit came as a double bass kit but i only use one :D
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  23. #23

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    Sounds like a good drum to experiment with, just in case things go awry.

    If your wraps are not bubbled or warped, I'd suggest one of those thin film vinyl wraps that go over the existing ones. They're much less expensive and things can get ugly when you pull a wrap off a drum shell.
    "Life is backwards. Happiness isn't something you seek, it's something that finds you when you are doing the right thing." - Zone47

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by quikstang2 View Post
    Sounds like a good drum to experiment with, just in case things go awry.

    If your wraps are not bubbled or warped, I'd suggest one of those thin film vinyl wraps that go over the existing ones. They're much less expensive and things can get ugly when you pull a wrap off a drum shell.
    i just looked around at drum wraps and it all seems to be the thick wrap. i'd be very interested in the vinyl wrap because my current wraps are perfect and everything i found is about as expensive as buying a shell pack lol
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    14" Zildjian Constantinople hats
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    18" Zildjian Constantinople riveted ride/crash
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  25. #25

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    I've used adhesive backed vinyl (like automotive grade 3M) before. It came out excellent on a 10" Tom. If your experienced with the stuff and remove all the hardware (lugs, mounts & air grommets) it's pretty easy. It's dirt cheap if you buy it on-line in a 24" wide roll, and you can choose from hundreds of colors & designs (like carbon fiber). Best part is, you can go right over the existing wrap, and if you don't like it or mess up, just peel it back off.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

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