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Drum Forums => Drum Forum - Drum Talk - Drum Techniques => Topic started by: KenSanders on January 20, 2011, 10:51:31 PM

Title: Mixing the shell types in our drum sets.
Post by: KenSanders on January 20, 2011, 10:51:31 PM
It is not unusual for drummers to use a snare drum with a shell made of a different material than the other drums in his set.  We all realize that snare drum sizes and shell materials can greatly impact the sounds the snare drum can produce.  But it seems that same obvious concept has not been applied.....at least not to any great extent....to the other drums in our kit.

Most drummers I have been around have bass drum(s) and toms made out of the same material…..most often a specific type of wood (i.e. maple, birch, oak, etc.) I believe the Pearl Reference Series was the first departure from this scenario.  Each size drum in that series has a different type of wood formulated to producing a certain "voice" relative to the other sizes. However, it seems still to be most typical to hear "my kit has maple shells".  Or "my drums have birch shells".  And so forth......one type of wood for everything except....possibly....the snare drum.. 

Steve Gadd has used a slightly different approach for several years.  He currently prefers the tone qualities of maple for his bass drum but the tone qualities of birch for his toms.

There was a time in his early years in New York when he used a maple bass drum (Gretsch) and fiberglass toms (Pearl) with a Ludwig Supraphonic snare drum. However, that may have been as much based on his equipment budget as it was the partuclair sound of those drums back then.  I really don't know????.

I do know that today, he can have whatever drums he wants.  Perhaps he learned something from his "mix and match days" that we should further analyze.   After all, the bass drum tone and tom tom tones ....do have distinctive voices within the drum kit.  We often seek a different decay rate and attack from these different drums.
So is using different woods a really overlooked way of obtaining the special sound charactertics you want?

Well back to the question for this thread, I am wondering if there are DSA readers out who are purposely using bass drum(s) and toms is drums made of different woods.  If so, why did you choose what you did?

Title: Re: Mixing the shell types in our drum sets.
Post by: KenSanders on February 03, 2011, 01:26:20 AM
Well, still no replies about the mix and match concept for bass drums and toms.  I may try some of this and see if the results have any applications useful for my work.  Maybe it has more validity in the studio than on stage live.  We'll see.

I'd still like to hear from any of you who have experiemented with this.  ;)

Title: Re: Mixing the shell types in our drum sets.
Post by: mightybigcatch on February 18, 2011, 12:04:09 AM
I saw this post and decided to hop in and join the dsa club. I passed the bogus exam that i think a miley cirus fan would pass with no problem and here i am ready to give a response to your inquiry!

I recently mixed and matched two kits I had, one birch and one maple. the somewhat deeper tone of the birch didn't so much complement the kit but it has been helpful in giving me a more diverse sound. Often times I notice (particularly in live settings) drums of different songs tend to blend together such that every song pretty much sounds the same, (this stands out in amateur drummers, as well as some of the best, particularly in rock/folk/jam/etc. music). By adding the maple floor tom to my kit I've been able to ensure that my drum patterns and songs sound distinct from one another.

-that is why I've chosen to keep the mix and match arrangement. I also carry around two snares to switch on and off, but the load accumulates quick! Hope you have a response as this is my first post!

Title: Re: Mixing the shell types in our drum sets.
Post by: KenSanders on February 18, 2011, 03:39:13 PM

Cool mightybigcatch,

Your findings are absolutely in line with the results I observed from my recent experiments.  I have tired Yamaha birch, maple, oak and PHX shell bass drums and I’ve been very surprised how distinctive each became when used with toms of a different wood.

Just to cite one very big surprise, the 15" x 18" oak bass drum was an absolute power house volume-wise.  Hands down it sounded bigger than its diminutive size.  I suppose because I was expecting something similar to the sound of a maple 18” bass drum. 

The 18" x 22'” bass drum had a deeper voice than the 15” x 18” oak bass drum, but I was surprised that it wasn't quite as powerful.

I used Aquarian Super Kick I and Impact I heads on both drums to keep the comparisons in perspective. Although, not a deep, the oak bass drum had a distinctive presence in the band mix that wasn’t hidden by the electric bass.  The feel was :”faster’ as well. 

Color me absolutely surprised.   :o