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High-End Drum Shell Fittings

One place where there is still quantifiable difference between middle and top line kits is in the number of tension brackets employed. In particular it is still usual for middle level kits to have eight lugs per head on a 2” bass drum and 16” floor tom while the top line drums have ten. Likewise, top-level 14” snare drums have ten lugs rather than eight, except perhaps when the snare has a heavy die cast rim in which case there might be eight.

Lugs, or tension brackets, are a very important design element in drum making. Ever since the 1930s the design of the lug has been the main identifying trademark of the drum maker. Sometimes they haven’t changed for years and are central to the company’s image. This is particularly true of the American companies, which have heritage on their side. Hence the lugs of Gretsch, Ludwig and DW are designs that have been around for decades n upwards of 50 years. You can see Ludwig’s are deco Imperial lug casing in catalogs from the 1930s, and it looks just as good today. Meanwhile the European and particularly the Japanese companies change their lug designs quite frequently.

The result is that middle and lower ranges may well be lumbered with tension casings (and, incidentally, other mounting hardware like tom brackets) that are previous year’s designs. And you’ll notice that when DW created Pacific drums as its budget line it came up with a different tension bracket n the point being that you don’t get the famous turret lug unless you buy the top line drums. Since everything in drum design today is expected to minimize the damping effect on the shells, the trend has been towards smaller brackets with a lower mass.

These are isolated from the shell by a rubber or nylon/plastic gasket and attached by two small bolts, or in some cases (e.g., Spaun’s small, round solid brass lug) by a single bolt, which is perhaps even better. Noble and Cooley initiated this trend back in the early 1980s when they started to produce drums with lugs mounted at what they called the eNodal Point’ of the shell, this being the are of least resonance and therefore least interference with the shell’s vibration.

With its Absolute Nouveau series Yamaha has taken a completely new turn with a removable lug that hooks on to a bolt position in the nodal area. By partially de-tuning the tension bolts, each lug can be slipped off its bolt, allowing the rim and head to be removed while the bolts are still attached to the lugs. This makes head changing quicker and simpler. Interesting though, Yamaha is hedging its bets by allowing you to specify either this new type of lug or the earlier, conventional design.

The reason for this may be that the idea is not new. It’s been tried before, on several occasions, with varying degrees of success: drummers, like other acoustic instrumentalists, are conservative in their preferences. Remo tried a similar principle in the 1980s with its Powersnap latched lugs, and then abandoned it. The Canadian company Ayotte has had more success with its TuneLock lugs, which have an easy release flip-over eT’ hook design, which, by the way, dates back to the 1930s when it was used by Premier in Britain. The other metal part mounted on each shell is, of course, the rim.

Metal rims are nearly always described as either triple flanged or die cast. Top line drums are often fitted with a heftier gauge of triple flanged rim than budget and middle range kits. Die cast rims are thicker yet than the heaviest triple flanged rims. They are more stable and less inclined to distort under severe tensioning and brutal rim shot assault. They are therefore sometimes supplied on snare drums even when the rest of the rims are flanged.

drum_techniuqes/emails/high-end_drum_shell_fittings.txt · Last modified: 2007/07/26 12:19
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