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Interior Drum Finishes

While the exterior finish has little if any effect on the drum’s sound, this is not the case with the interior. Since the sound generated by the head travels down the interior of the shell and then bounces around inside, it seems reasonable to assume the inner surface of the drum has an effect. Pearl has recently tested out many different combinations of wood plies in its masters Custom series. It found that the inner ply is crucial and that mahogany, for example, has a marked effect, making the sound noticeably warmer.

Most modern shell interiors are very lightly sealed, just enough to keep out moisture. But this has not always been the case. Until the 1970s many shells had heavily lacquered interiors. Others were painted on the inside with a thick coating of white paint (Ludwig, Camco, Hayman) or gray paint (Rogers, Tama). I think the only company that still does this is Gretsch, whose drums have a thin silver paint on the inside. This is in line with the Gretsch philosophy not to change the sound for which it is so famous. Any hard, reflective inner surface will produce a brighter sound.

Conversely, a porous inner surface will produce a softer, warmer sound. Many budget shells, as noted previously, have an inner ply of harder wood for better projection. I once read an interview with Buddy Rich in which he said something to the effect that he didn’t much mind what snare drum he played so long as it had several coats of varnish on the interior to brighten up the sound.

Buddy was obviously out of step with today’s thinking. Evidently, this is another factor in drum sound that is under the influence of fashion. Today’s requirement is for as natural an interior as is practical.

drum_techniuqes/emails/interior_drum_finishes.txt · Last modified: 2007/07/26 12:19
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