Bearing Edges article - thoughts?

keep it simple

Platinum Member
OK, let's put some meat on the bones re: bearing edges, most especially applied to classic drums - let's choose anything 3 ply or earlier single ply in good overall shape.

The reason rounded edges sound good on these older shell constructions is as much to do with the shell itself as it is to do with the edge. A modern multiple ply shell doesn't resonate so readily as these old designs. Modern shells equipped with modern sharp edges focus on attack & head sustain. Vintage shells concentrate on fundamental tone through shell resonance. Two totally viable but utterly different approaches.

Head sustain is largely only heard by the player. Without mic's, it doesn't transfer to the audience in all but the lowest dynamic of settings, & even when mic'd live in an amplified band setting, almost all of that head sustain is lost. Why? -it has no tone behind it. The drum tone you hear out front, the drum's voice, lasts for between 1 & 2 seconds only. That's the part where the shells are excited & contribute hugely to the satisfying full sound we all like our audience to hear. A modern shell with sharp edges also produces a fundamental tone, but it's shorter, & subservient to attack.

The edges on both types of drum constructions play to the strengths of those designs. Accordingly, because the classic construction shells already deliver lots of tone, head sustain is largely irrelevant. The rounded edges offer more head to shell contact. This delivers more excitement to the shells, but also puts the brakes on head sustain. The result, from a players POV, is a short but full sound, & that more faithfully translates to the audience. The modern construction player hears head sustain & relates that to "a resonant drum". Not the case. It's head resonance decay. The player hears it, the audience mostly doesn't, except for studio applicatios, & then anything is up for grabs in the processing.

So what does this mean in terms of the importance of edge condition? Simple, a rounded or typical vintage edge is much more forgiving than a modern sharp edge. As a vintage edge already puts the brakes on head resonance, a further slight loss, so long as good overall head to shell contact is maintained, has minimal impact on the drum's playing characteristics. A modern shell with sharp edges however, is utterly reliant on that sharp edge being as good as possible. Any deviation from perfectly sharp & perfectly flat will result in a pronounced reduction in head sustain, as well as increased tuning difficulty.

When thinking in terms of recutting edges, it's all about ascertaining what you already have, & balancing preservation of the sonic characteristics you want to keep, & those you wish to improve/augment.

Bearing edges - never has the term "don't throw the baby out with the bath water" been so aptly applied.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I agree 100% Andy.
I think that it is great that companies like Ludwig are making these 3 ply vintage style shells today.
Everyone should have the pleasure of playing 3 ply drums in your drumming life.
I love my sharp edge kits too, but the 3 ply round edge drums are special.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
OK, let's put some meat on the bones re: bearing edges, most especially applied to classic drums - let's choose anything 3 ply or earlier single ply in good overall shape.

The reason rounded edges sound good on these older shell constructions is as much to do with the shell itself as it is to do with the edge. A modern multiple ply shell doesn't resonate so readily as these old designs. Modern shells equipped with modern sharp edges focus on attack & head sustain. Vintage shells concentrate on fundamental tone through shell resonance. Two totally viable but utterly different approaches.

Head sustain is largely only heard by the player. Without mic's, it doesn't transfer to the audience in all but the lowest dynamic of settings, & even when mic'd live in an amplified band setting, almost all of that head sustain is lost. Why? -it has no tone behind it. The drum tone you hear out front, the drum's voice, lasts for between 1 & 2 seconds only. That's the part where the shells are excited & contribute hugely to the satisfying full sound we all like our audience to hear. A modern shell with sharp edges also produces a fundamental tone, but it's shorter, & subservient to attack.

The edges on both types of drum constructions play to the strengths of those designs. Accordingly, because the classic construction shells already deliver lots of tone, head sustain is largely irrelevant. The rounded edges offer more head to shell contact. This delivers more excitement to the shells, but also puts the brakes on head sustain. The result, from a players POV, is a short but full sound, & that more faithfully translates to the audience. The modern construction player hears head sustain & relates that to "a resonant drum". Not the case. It's head resonance decay. The player hears it, the audience mostly doesn't, except for studio applicatios, & then anything is up for grabs in the processing.

So what does this mean in terms of the importance of edge condition? Simple, a rounded or typical vintage edge is much more forgiving than a modern sharp edge. As a vintage edge already puts the brakes on head resonance, a further slight loss, so long as good overall head to shell contact is maintained, has minimal impact on the drum's playing characteristics. A modern shell with sharp edges however, is utterly reliant on that sharp edge being as good as possible. Any deviation from perfectly sharp & perfectly flat will result in a pronounced reduction in head sustain, as well as increased tuning difficulty.

When thinking in terms of recutting edges, it's all about ascertaining what you already have, & balancing preservation of the sonic characteristics you want to keep, & those you wish to improve/augment.

Bearing edges - never has the term "don't throw the baby out with the bath water" been so aptly applied.
Simply a fine, fine post.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
I agree 100% Andy.
I think that it is great that companies like Ludwig are making these 3 ply vintage style shells today.
Everyone should have the pleasure of playing 3 ply drums in your drumming life.
I love my sharp edge kits too, but the 3 ply round edge drums are special.
Exactly Bob. Each approach produces different results. It's not a "better" thing, it's a different thing, & isn't variety a wonderful blessing?

In shell terms - essentially - all other things being equal, the less plies you have, the more naturally resonant they are, & the closer to the individual species voice fundamental they sing. Just as 3 ply is different to 6 ply, so single ply is different to 3 ply. You can put sharp edges on a single ply shell, & it will sound great, but you're exchanging some of that inherent tone depth for attack & head sustain. In the end, for most drumming styles, if you have a nice resonant single ply shell, edges that offer good head contact yet are still sharp enough to offer a degree of cut & head sustain are the way to go IMHO.

Simply a fine, fine post.
Thank you :) I just hope these little journeys into "why" help someone take a more informed decision. Of course, that's just my/our opinion. Others may, & do, disagree.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I'm sincerely sorry you are someone who looks for the negative with such fervour, so I'll wish you a good day and hope some loveliness comes along to wash away whatever it is that brings you to this state.
Why the personal attacks? Which are verboten on the forum in any event. Do you have something more to add to the thread beyond posting ad copy?

Andy is an excellent example of someone who is in the business, would obviously have a use for promoting himself and some specialized techniques/knowledge/ability that would make his product/services more attractive to potential customers. But he takes the high road and shares his knowledge without trying to overtly pimp his product. The contributions he posts make sense, and he has backed up his assertions (and even one of mine) with recordings and photographs that speak to the particular area of discussion. He has a concept of drum tone production and owns up to that being his opinion based on his experience. That kind of behaviour leads to respect. And he's sold some product to forum members. Not because he said he was some sort of expert or attacked people who disagreed with his ideas. But because he engendered respect and his concept makes sense to people such that they would invest and have his product shipped across the globe to them.

I used to live a mile or so from Gene D'Amico's shop and spent several afternoons there watching him hand finish edges and soaking up all his ideas on drums while we chatted. He was similarly very open and helped me with a buzzing snare even though I never bought anything from him other than a used cymbal he had there. These people get it.

I, on the other hand, am just another consumer. Albeit one who spent many years selling and repairing musical instruments as well as playing them for a living, and has spent the last 30 years as a manufacturing engineer developing the process that make all kind of things. So when I see someone exaggerating the manufacturing methods they use, I feel that it's a benefit to the less technical forumites to call a little reality check.

Have you ever cut bearing edges? I have, and I know how much pressure on the cutting tool is needed. Now for someone doing it day in and day out, or playing with extremely hard woods, it would make sense to get professional grade equipment. I wouldn't (and haven't) set up a production factory with consumer tools either. But all I was saying is that it's the carpenter and not the hammer. A professional tool does not a professional result make. And that a skilled person with a good pro-sumer tool can get just as good a result.

I'm thinking that based on this thread, I may take one of the cheaper wood snares I have and increase the contact area on the batter head. I've been wanting to have a snare that was softer and warmer for rehearsals and quiet gigs. And I've been though a bunch of damped heads without a result I like. I have definitely gotten positive value out of the germane discussion here. Just not digging the personal attacks.
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
Arguments aside- I would go as far as to say that about half of my knowledge about the interaction of the drum head and shell and the head/shell resonance/construction have come from this forum and specifically Andy. The same is true for many others- he is a treasure and posts in almost all areas of the forum to everyones enjoyment and benefit. I am thinking of building a kit from scratch (please see my thread in the gear section) and cant tell you how much time he put in talking (to me) about it.

THis place is great. Bearing edges are important as hell. Take it easy.
 

zardozo

Junior Member
Why the personal attacks? Which are verboten on the forum in any event. Do you have something more to add to the thread beyond posting ad copy? Just not digging the personal attacks.
Hey - I don't know how wishing you loveliness can possibly seen as a personal attack, but you have just made one there, so why not just drop the whole "ad copy/hype/buddy/agenda" angle from every post you've made toward me, and just enjoy the discussion. If I was attempting to advertise anything, posting a link to a blog entry on drum repair minutae would be a lousy use of my time, and I can't quite see how it is ad copy. Perhaps you should spend a second to find out who John is, and you would realize quickly he is a man who needs no additional publicity to continue his success.

I'm not fond of the way you are playing this game here, and could care less how many posts you've made, or just how many generations deep your illustrious machining background goes. If you aren't happy with the way this thread has come about, or if you feel the need to use it to display further negativity, I would appreciate it if you just skipped it all together. Nobody else seems to have the issue you do. Maybe you should focus on just why that is.

If anyone who is actually in charge of this forum feels this thread has violated any rules, I'm sure they will swiftly lift the considerable burden of proxy moderation from you and remove it. There's no need for you to assume the mantle of stewardship, when there are already people here who are quite capable of doing so.

And on that I do sincerely wish you a wave of loveliness that will take you to a place of breezes and wonderful times and endless perfect drum solos...
 
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MainDragDrums

Junior Member
Wow. I heard that things had heated up a little over here regarding a blog post that I did regarding bearing edges. I've been a member of this fine forum for some time but have been a lurker, happy to learn and listen. When I heard from a customer that I was taking some flack about this posting I came to this thread a little surprised. Surprised that my post had been shared and surprised by the response from one individual.

As bermuda said, "no new perspectives here." I agree. If I'd written this post for this forum it would have addressed a different audience. The blog for Main Drag is read by many people, some drummers, some not, some pros, some not - posts that get too techy lose most of the readers so I try to keep it simple. But to say that I'm "throwing around terms and hooey to impress folks who don't know any better" insults me, my customers, and my business as a whole.

As for my tools, my plate (I'm fine with calling it a plate, btw, they're colloquially referred to as "those stones" around here by a few, that's the origin.) is a Starrett Superior Black, Inspection Grade A, and I've got a another old Grizzly that is less than true, it was lapped a year ago but gets pretty chewed up from abrasives - abrasives that are never allowed near the good stone….sorry, plate. As for the rest of my tools, most of the machinist's tools are also Starrett. And my mill and lathe are Bridgeports. Oh, and the contested shaper is a Grizzly as well. And I wear Red Wing boots exclusively. Since I'm being accused of "pimping" I might as well go all the way.

This is what I do. I've been making, prototyping, and repairing motorcycle, car, and most importantly drum parts for over 20 years. And playing. My customers range from Jojo Mayer to Dino Danelli, with hundreds in between, both lesser and better known names. To say that I'm on here shilling is extremely derisive. And btw, zardozo is not some alter ego; while I appreciate his sharing of my post, having to write this is not what I'd like to be doing right now.

I love what I do and have hundreds and hundreds of satisfied and happy clients. I come to this forum to quietly learn, not to be put down. Much of the response to my unintended post seems positive and upbeat, but it seems that there's often someone that needs to cast negativity around. As for the rest of you, if anyone out there would like to come tour my shops, and talk drums and drumming or even cutter engagement, you'd be my honored guest anytime.
 
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GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Gentlemen, lets make an effort to play nice, and remember that PM's can be read by us mods. A word to the wise should be sufficient.
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
Thanks for this thread. I have an old WFL drum that I was going to get the bearing edges recut. After reading all of this, I have decided not to. Thanks again. Peace and goodwill.
 

zardozo

Junior Member
Gentlemen, lets make an effort to play nice, and remember that PM's can be read by us mods. A word to the wise should be sufficient.
I agree - playing nice is what it's all about in life. I for one have never had any problem doing so, and look forward to not being provoked into such lowly behaviour by personal attacks in the future. Thanks for your thoughts.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
So what does this mean in terms of the importance of edge condition? Simple, a rounded or typical vintage edge is much more forgiving than a modern sharp edge. As a vintage edge already puts the brakes on head resonance, a further slight loss, so long as good overall head to shell contact is maintained, has minimal impact on the drum's playing characteristics. A modern shell with sharp edges however, is utterly reliant on that sharp edge being as good as possible. Any deviation from perfectly sharp & perfectly flat will result in a pronounced reduction in head sustain, as well as increased tuning difficulty.

.
Great post. Thanks for sharing such great info. We all learn so much from you.
I have some old vintage 3 ply drums, simply love these things, want to collect more. Some of their edges look dodgy, I would at times be emberassed to show pics on here, but man they *always* sound great, and get compliments everywhere!
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Great post. Thanks for sharing such great info. We all learn so much from you.
I have some old vintage 3 ply drums, simply love these things, want to collect more. Some of their edges look dodgy, I would at times be emberassed to show pics on here, but man they *always* sound great, and get compliments everywhere!
Exactly, leave 'em alone :) That said, if there are some glaring low areas, there's nothing wrong with doing a bit of careful hand sanding to blend the edges. Use a fairly long sanding block, such that you're gently removing the peaks. Continually check progress by putting the shell on any flat surface (a stone/marble/granite kitchen top is ideal if you don't have a proper gauge plate) & put a light inside it. Once you've reduced "light leakage" as much as is practically possible, then sand the form/profile back to uniform (roundover, counter cut, etc). Effectively, just mirror the shape of the profile that you didn't sand. Finish off with a good coat of quality wax, then buff to finish. A few coats is even better, Melt the wax into the grain a little by applying very gentle heat with a hair dryer. Don't overheat any one spot of the shell.

Try that with the edge of one drum to build confidence, & you'll be surprised just how effective it is. Of course, only attempt this if you're fairly confident in your hand working skills, & have a reasonable eye for level, etc.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I posted a while back about recutting the 45/roundoevers on my '80s Tama Superstars to something sharper. They seem to be an in-between case wrt to this thread since they're 6-ply and thick, so not a very resonant/tonally rich shell and with that cut, not a lot of head resonance either.

Based on what I'm reading here, it sounds like I'd be better off selling them than recutting the edges. Any thoughts from our resident panel of experts?
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I posted a while back about recutting the 45/roundoevers on my '80s Tama Superstars to something sharper. They seem to be an in-between case wrt to this thread since they're 6-ply and thick, so not a very resonant/tonally rich shell and with that cut, not a lot of head resonance either.

Based on what I'm reading here, it sounds like I'd be better off selling them than recutting the edges. Any thoughts from our resident panel of experts?
These edges? Shown is a 6 ply tom from my 80's Superstar , but I have the matching bass drum too, and am also finding I'd like a little more tone on it as well.

 
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