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Thread: shell wood. why limited?

  1. #1

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    Default shell wood. why limited?

    so ive noticed that there are vary few woods used in drums there are the big ones(mappel birch bubinga mahogony populr), and few others(rose wood bass wood), but i found out old rogers sets used ash. and old rogers sound amazing. well why dont we use other woods, like walnut, or hickory, or pine, aspen. there are thousands of truely beautifull woods out there why dont we use them in drums?
    play till the day i die. it makes more sense that way.

    "You should set up your drums around the toilet. You know you must use it everyday and lets be realistic, nothing better is going on when your sitting on there. Why not take care of business and play the drums." silver dragon sound

  2. #2

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    Default Re: shell wood. why limited?

    Different tonal qualities probably.

    And I, personally, don't believe it changes the sound too much- consistent and well cut bearing edges and heads mak up nearly all of the sound.
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  3. #3

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    Default Re: shell wood. why limited?

    Quote Originally Posted by drummerdavie View Post
    so ive noticed that there are vary few woods used in drums there are the big ones(mappel birch bubinga mahogony populr), and few others(rose wood bass wood), but i found out old rogers sets used ash. and old rogers sound amazing. well why dont we use other woods, like walnut, or hickory, or pine, aspen. there are thousands of truely beautifull woods out there why dont we use them in drums?
    Just a matter of abundance I guess. Walnut is being used more now, both Mapex and Ddrum are using it. Pine and aspen are very soft woods and may not be the best choice for material. Hickory may be cool though! Ddrum is also making some good drums with ash. Yamaha is using oak. I think Rosewood will/is being used much less often because it is a little scarce for mass production, I would guess a rosewood kit would cost you a few fingers and toes. I like what some of the custom manufacturers are doing with OLD woods like 200 year old wine barrels and 700 year old trees out of the Great Lakes. I can't afford any of that, but it's pretty cool!
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  4. #4

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    Default Re: shell wood. why limited?

    That is a good question. Woods have to be considered carefully for their durability as well as timbre qualities. Also, some hard woods do not lend them selves well to carving and shaping. The vintage Rogers that sounded so terrific were most likely the Keller maple shells. Woods like walnut and rosewood are more rare and extremely expensive. Pine would be to soft a wood for drum shells, I would think.
    But, I am not a craftsman. Several years ago, DW went so far as to market a limited edition collection of Lake Superior maple shells and at a price not many drummers could easily afford. While not being the sole indicator of drum quality, the selling price can tell you something about the quality of wood used in the shells. The mgr. at local GC says that he gets asked this a lot...why does one set cost this much while the other set of same manufacturer costs so much more. It's the WOOD, he tells those who ask.
    You asked a very good question, Davey...hope we get some other thoughts posted.

  5. #5

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    Some very good answers here. BTW, Gretsch is now using ash wood in their Catalina series shells, while discontinuing the birch wood.

    There is another issue that accounts for the type of woods used; the grain of the wood. Many drummers buy a kit because of the beautiful grain of the shells (I would be one of those people), so wood type would be important if you are looking for beautiful graining. There are many woods like that, but there are far fewer that have beautiful graining at an affordable price. Luan wood (AKA Philippine Mahogany), for instance, doesn't have a particularly attractive graining, so it is commonly used in cheap kits with a wrap.
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  6. #6

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    Porous woods are more effected by moisture and expand and contract more lending the undesirable shell material when you need a 12" tom to stay 12" all of the time. also some woods don't lend themselves as easily the shell forming process and all. Pine for example is entirely too soft and unstable for a drum shell. It makes beautiful veneers when applied over maple etc. It amazes me as it is, that shells stay formed as they do and shell seems don't move anymore than they do. I am sure it has to do with the way the plys are formed in the shell presses. I am very close friends with a master craftsmen who hand builds fine furniture and cabinets. He is constantly fussing over expansion and contraction issues popping joints and seems. He has learned to compensate for this allot but still contends that wood moves allot with moisture and heat, and it is a difficult medium to stabilize.
    Last edited by backtodrum; 05-07-2008 at 03:40 PM.

  7. #7

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    what if now thins is just thinking crazy they were used as plys inbetween another ply. like in the reference series ware they mix woods and got beautifull sounding drums. what if they had a center ply of paine between a ply of bubinga and mapple? what would happen any idea?
    play till the day i die. it makes more sense that way.

    "You should set up your drums around the toilet. You know you must use it everyday and lets be realistic, nothing better is going on when your sitting on there. Why not take care of business and play the drums." silver dragon sound

  8. #8

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    I don't know what it would sound like, I can't imagine why it would not work. Less expensive drums use different plys of luan and other type woods. Tama superstars are nice sounding drums and use birch and bass wood plys in their shells. Wood type definitely makes some difference in the way drums sound but there are shells that are made of press board that a lot of people thought sounded good. Remo shells were manufactured that way among others and they sounded OK. So I have come to the conclusion over the years that there is a lot of variables at play in shell composition and that it truly is not an exact science by any stretch of the imagination...

  9. #9

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    I agree with drummerdavie in that experimenting with new kinds of wood will bring about new, more unique sounds to drumming as a whole today in this modern environment and would really look into experimentation with different shell construction; but at the end of the day, I don't care what my kit sounds like so long as it makes me happy to play. I could make a kit out of trashcans and pie lids, using dead cats for skins (but I won't) and if it made me happy to play, I wouldn't mind, although it would sound like I was just beating a thick rug repeatedly.
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  10. #10

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    Default Re: shell wood. why limited?

    I would imagine some woods are not used because they are very difficult to shape and work. Some manufacturing techniques may not work, some types of wood might also not be as durable as the common woods used and wouldn't be able to cope with stress and strain when transporting and playing kits. You could get awesome sounds out of different woods though.

  11. #11

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    This is become a very interesting discussion...good for, Davey, for initiating it. Pine, being a soft wood, would not be a choice for any ply in drum shell construction simply, I believe because it would not last for any significant length of time. Woods such as Maple, Beech. Oak, Bubinga etc. have very distinctive tone qualities. As single ply drum shells, they can be quite expensive, especially if steam bent into shape. One way of cost containment has been to couple plies of various woods. Ludwig drums of the early 1960's offered the classic outfit made of 3 ply shells...maple/poplar/mahogany while still marketing the Super Classic collection of 100% maple shells, at a higher cost. Interestingly enough, it's the 3-ply construction that is now being sought after by serious drummers and collectors. The sound is hard to beat..I know, because I own and play a set. I think that the most honest answer to the question of wood shells is going to be demonstrated by the final cost of the product, first and then by its quality.

  12. #12

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    Default Re: shell wood. why limited?

    Fiacovoz are you shells painted white inside?

  13. #13

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    ok so ive got this old walnut jewlry box with a drum head for a lid, i made in shop class, and just beat on it with one of my sticks and it sounds vary nice, it has a vary good low warm sound, but if it was put into proper construction i dont know how much different it would sound from maple. maybe this requires some expirimentation, if i can figgure out how to build a drum so that it could be played, (and if ive got the money to play with) i may have to try makeing a mix wood snare drum out of maple walnut and ash. and maybe one out of straght walnut. fully rounded bareing edges of course.
    play till the day i die. it makes more sense that way.

    "You should set up your drums around the toilet. You know you must use it everyday and lets be realistic, nothing better is going on when your sitting on there. Why not take care of business and play the drums." silver dragon sound

  14. #14

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    Default Re: shell wood. why limited?

    Quote Originally Posted by backtodrum View Post
    Fiacovoz are you shells painted white inside?
    Yes, they are painted white on the inside. According to the serial numbers, they were made between January and March 1964.

  15. #15

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    Default Re: shell wood. why limited?

    Quote Originally Posted by drummerdavie View Post
    ok so ive got this old walnut jewlry box with a drum head for a lid, i made in shop class, and just beat on it with one of my sticks and it sounds vary nice, it has a vary good low warm sound, but if it was put into proper construction i dont know how much different it would sound from maple. maybe this requires some expirimentation, if i can figgure out how to build a drum so that it could be played, (and if ive got the money to play with) i may have to try makeing a mix wood snare drum out of maple walnut and ash. and maybe one out of straght walnut. fully rounded bareing edges of course.
    O.K. Davie...you have some ambition. And an interesting project as well.

  16. #16

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    Pine can be a very robust wood if manufactured right. All wood goes through some kind of chemical treatment. Pine is a soft wood to be sure. However considering how soft it is I would love to hear how it would sound on a kit. With being such a soft wood I bet you could get some really warm sounds.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiacovaz View Post
    Yes, they are painted white on the inside. According to the serial numbers, they were made between January and March 1964.
    The reason I asked was because the ludwig shell of that era were sometimes made of what ever wood was available because of the Ringo rush that he caused when sales exploded. They were always wrapped on the outside and painted on the inside. So it is possible that your kit has shells made of different type woods and inner plys from each other. This would further the thought that, do we as drummers place too much emphasis on the wood type used to make the shell as opposed to other things that make the drum sound as it does? It causes me to wonder.

  18. #18

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    I think it's more for looks and all in the mind then anything. Tune any kit properly with some good heads. blind fold a drummer and start playing some cheap kits and expensive kits chances are there will not be much difference.

    A few months back a survey was done on wine. Expensive and and really cheap wine was used. They put false prices in front of each wine. They was shocked to find out that price effected people perception of the taste. Cheap wine which was given a high price did better in the taste tests then the expensive wine with cheap prices placed in front of them. They even managed to fool a few so called experts in the taste test.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by backtodrum View Post
    The reason I asked was because the ludwig shell of that era were sometimes made of what ever wood was available because of the Ringo rush that he caused when sales exploded. They were always wrapped on the outside and painted on the inside. So it is possible that your kit has shells made of different type woods and inner plys from each other. This would further the thought that, do we as drummers place too much emphasis on the wood type used to make the shell as opposed to other things that make the drum sound as it does? It causes me to wonder.
    Well, that's an interesting theory. However, I did some checking and learned that the Ludwig company had plenty of drum shells in all sizes on hand at that time. This explains why some drums were date stamped on the inside and some weren't. Also, there have been some discrepencies with dates and serial numbers. As Bill Ludwig II explained it, the onset of orders brought about the Beatle craze was the reason for the apparent mix up with serial numbers and not because of any lack of drums. The cause of all this was actually a "Perfect Storm," of sorts. In January 1964, the American Insurance industry insisted that all manufactured item, including drums, carry serial numbers that would identify them. This became the law and at the exact time of the Beatle Invasion in Feb. of 1964. The explosion in business that Ludwig experienced could not keep up fast enough with tagging each drum. Consequently, serious attentention to sequential numbering in sync with manufacturing was not a concern...only manufacturing the drums, as always, was the only concern. The only wood that was used, other than all maple, was poplar and mohagony plied together with maple to make the 3-ply Classic collection. Now, I don't know for certain but I think I had been told at one time that the Classic shells were white-washed to distinguish them from the clear maple shells of the Super Classic collection.

  20. #20

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    redwood trees....lol

  21. #21

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    My wife just bought a piano, and it was interesting to note that there was a $1000 difference between the standard wood and the mahogany finish.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiacovaz View Post
    Well, that's an interesting theory. However, I did some checking and learned that the Ludwig company had plenty of drum shells in all sizes on hand at that time. This explains why some drums were date stamped on the inside and some weren't. Also, there have been some discrepencies with dates and serial numbers. As Bill Ludwig II explained it, the onset of orders brought about the Beatle craze was the reason for the apparent mix up with serial numbers and not because of any lack of drums. The cause of all this was actually a "Perfect Storm," of sorts. In January 1964, the American Insurance industry insisted that all manufactured item, including drums, carry serial numbers that would identify them. This became the law and at the exact time of the Beatle Invasion in Feb. of 1964. The explosion in business that Ludwig experienced could not keep up fast enough with tagging each drum. Consequently, serious attentention to sequential numbering in sync with manufacturing was not a concern...only manufacturing the drums, as always, was the only concern. The only wood that was used, other than all maple, was poplar and mohagony plied together with maple to make the 3-ply Classic collection. Now, I don't know for certain but I think I had been told at one time that the Classic shells were white-washed to distinguish them from the clear maple shells of the Super Classic collection.
    HOLA COMO ESTAS FIAVOCAZ*FRANK*CREATIVE ARTISTIC ARTIST DRUMMER (CAT) THATS GREAT INFO *My 1964 RIGO LUDWIG CLASSICS ARE MAPLE & I LOVE THE TONES & THE HOT FINISH & the Action****I know that My 2007 MAPEX SATURNS are MAPLE & WALNUT( 6 )PLYS (4 )MAPLE &( 2 )WALNUT *ALL the HOT DRUM COMPANYS are really MAKEING VERY (HOT) TAMBORES (DRUMS) they have to somuch COMPETITION within the DRUMIING BIZ*& ENTERTAINMENT WORLD *GRACIAS
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  23. #23

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    BTD...your theory really got me to thinking. I did a "Google" search on the wood used to manufacture Ludwig drums. Today, the company is located in Monroe, NC. The "Legacy", Ludwig's reissue of the 1960's "Classic" collection, is made of the same 3-ply shell construction..Poplar, from Italy; Birch from Finland and Maple from the american midwest. As you know, there are a lot of "Hits" with google. I didn't find anything that specifically discussed the white interiors of the drum shells. As I mentioned previously, it may have been to distingush one collection from the other...Classics; Super classics; Downbeat; Festival; Club Date. It may have also been because other manufacturers painted their interiors...grey and silver. Your point about how much stock we, as drummers, put into the type of wood is interesting. I do agree with you that there are many factors that help to improve a drums tone but, I will have to side with those who place the kind and quality of wood used as the foremost consideration. Maple is different in sound and attack than Birch, Oak, Beech etc. If the wood really didn't matter, then why produce drums that are so expensive because of the wood? It wouldn't make sense.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiacovaz View Post
    BTD...your theory really got me to thinking. I did a "Google" search on the wood used to manufacture Ludwig drums. Today, the company is located in Monroe, NC. The "Legacy", Ludwig's reissue of the 1960's "Classic" collection, is made of the same 3-ply shell construction..Poplar, from Italy; Birch from Finland and Maple from the american midwest. As you know, there are a lot of "Hits" with google. I didn't find anything that specifically discussed the white interiors of the drum shells. As I mentioned previously, it may have been to distingush one collection from the other...Classics; Super classics; Downbeat; Festival; Club Date. It may have also been because other manufacturers painted their interiors...grey and silver. Your point about how much stock we, as drummers, put into the type of wood is interesting. I do agree with you that there are many factors that help to improve a drums tone but, I will have to side with those who place the kind and quality of wood used as the foremost consideration. Maple is different in sound and attack than Birch, Oak, Beech etc. If the wood really didn't matter, then why produce drums that are so expensive because of the wood? It wouldn't make sense.
    HOLA COMO ESTAS FIACOVAZ *FRANK CREATIVE aRTISTIC ARTIST DRUMMER (CAT) THATS A FACT *GREAT WORK with your INFO MI AMIGO**GRACIAS

  25. #25

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    Default Re: shell wood. why limited?

    I trust that you would know fiacovoz, that is why I posed the question about the Ludwig's. I read that somewhere on another forum about the white washed interiors and the wood thing. But that was all it was, was a thread on a forum. I didn't research it out myself. They are all pretty heavy Ludwig guys so I figured they knew what they were talking about. Thanks for clearing that up for me. There is so much misinformation on the forums you really have to be careful!

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