Solid shells are today highly prized, but they are difficult and expensive to make and are usually reserved for snare drums. It’s most unusual for a complete drum kit to be made from solid timber, although at least one major company, Noble and Cooley, has offered a full range of solid sizes in the recent past. Another way of achieving what is almost a solid shell is via the ancient technique of stave construction. This is the same method used to make barrels n and some congas and bongos n where vertical sections of wood are joined into a circle.
This type of construction produces a shell that is free from the ewanting-to-straighten-out’ tension of bent wood. The Italian company Tamburo constructs complete kits in this manner, using maple and mahogany. The staves have interlocking zigzag cuts so that they slot together precisely. Each different diameter of drum requires the staves to be cut at a different angle, which means a large investment in special machinery. Tamburo drums are, however, left with multi-flat-faced exteriors.
Although this looks rather attractive it creates a problem with the bearing edge. Rather than sanding the edge into a round, Tamburo has chosen to attach a circular edge sleeve made from a tough black plastic material called ABS. This strengthens the shell but insulates the head from direct contact with the wood. Still, when I tried them, they certainly projected very well.