Birch drums. Why?

Darth Vater

Senior Member
I just don't get the fascination with birch shells. They just sound so dead and flat to me. Near as I can figure is that people who don't like sustain or projection play them. I've tried them side by side with maple kits and to me it's like coming in from the cold when I get back on a maple kit. Thoughts?
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
I purchased a Sonor Force 3000 birch kit in 1995. It was a big rock kit, 12, 13, 16, 18” toms, 22” kick, 14x5” snare, and I played it for about ten years. I liked the sound, and to my ears it compared well with a maple Yamaha kit at a church I played at. What really made the difference was the type of drum head used on the kits. I used Remo coated Ambassadors over clear Ambassadors. The Yammy kit had Remo Pinstripes over Ambassadors.

When I was tasked with replacing all the heads on the Yammy (c.1997), I also replaced the heads on my birch kit, with Coated Evans G2 over clear Genera. My birch shells were thicker than the Yammy shells. The mounted toms on the Sonor produced a sharper attack and quicker sustain than same-sized the Yamaha toms. There was less low-end in the Sonor birch, which made them sound more clear. They didn’t sound thin or cheap. The Sonor 16” & 18” floor toms were superior in tone & projection to the Yamaha 14” & 16” suspended toms, but my shells were larger. The Yammy suspension method on that kit wasn’t ideal either. It was a large metal bracket mounted to the shell, nothing like they currently use.

I think the tone of both brands have improved since then. But I moved on to Tama Starclassic bubinga and have never looked back.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
All personal preference.

I used Birch drums for years, great for recording. They have a naturally eq and punch. Lots of big hits have been recorded on a yammy 9000 which is a birch kit.

The quality of the wood you're playing with as well plays a massive part, I always used Scandinavian Birch barring the 80s Tama Superstar and I have no idea where they sourced the wood from. Then there's bearing edges, hardware mass, head choice etc.

I find high quality maple is better for snares than Birch.
 

veecharlie

Senior Member
Well, they do have sustain. I think it mostly has to do with how they are EQed and mixed. You can make a maple kit as dry as well. Especially if you put coated heads with birch... man!
 

EricT43

Senior Member
On YouTube at least, the birch drums always sound awesome to me. I'm thinking mainly of Sonor and Yamaha RC's. I love the shorter sustain, and crisp responsiveness. I have a DW Collector's Maple kit at home, and over the years I've gone from single ply to EC2 heads, in an effort to get more controlled sustain without having to put junk on the heads. They still ring like crazy in my small room. I suppose in a live environment, the resonance won't be as noticeable, but I can definitely see why birch seems to be so good in the studio. I'm thinking of selling the DW's in favor of a birch or some other less resonant wood.
 

Artstar

Platinum Member
I just don't get the fascination with birch shells. They just sound so dead and flat to me. Near as I can figure is that people who don't like sustain or projection play them. I've tried them side by side with maple kits and to me it's like coming in from the cold when I get back on a maple kit. Thoughts?
Which birch kits did you try out?? If it was something like an RC then also state the year because that can make a big difference.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
Which birch kits did you try out?? If it was something like an RC then also state the year because that can make a big difference.
Hmmm let's see.....I owned one of the later Stage Customs, I've played a Tama Starclassic birch and a chinese RC. I have no idea what year it was. I'd like to try an SQ1 because I think they use scandinavian birch on those, which I hear is of higher quality.
 

Frosticles

Silver Member
Had my Yamaha RC's for a good few years now & they are always my first choice for recording with. Simply perfect. I still use clear Pinstripes on them which were specified from new. No other head seems to work as well on them. I also have a 4 Ply Pearl Masters Maple with re-rings. A completely different animal & fantastic live :)
 

Artstar

Platinum Member
I've played a Tama Starclassic birch and a chinese RC. I have no idea what year it was. I'd like to try an SQ1 because I think they use scandinavian birch on those, which I hear is of higher quality.
Both the Tama and China RC are incredible sounding drums. I mean.. you gotta own and be able to tweak them.. experiment with heads depending on the room etc.. IMO.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
It could very well be that you were a bit unlucky with the birch kits you tried. My Birch Custom Absolutes will sustain for days if I don't dampen them somehow. It's almost too much projection and sustain, honestly.

As others have mentioned ad nauseum, head choice, tuning, hoop construction, lugs etc. will have a much greater effect on the sound of a drum than the wood used for the shells.
 

AsbaSakae69

Junior Member
My Sakae Almighty is all Hokaido birch, including the snare. Amazing sound and volume. The exact tone I've been searching for all my life with my previous kit in mahogany and all other things I've been given to play with. Another aspect I like is that the weight and value are still reasonable compared to exotic wood and gold plated stuff you wouldn't throw in a car to go to a gig across town. Drums should be kept simple.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Comparing wood species for drum construction is pretty meaningless unless you can remove the confounding variables. Construction, hardware, heads, tuning for starters.

If the sounds you are comparing are recorded then that adds a whole 'nother can of python sized worms.
 

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
I'm on my third Yamaha Custom Recording kit and no complaints whatsoever. But I've never gotten along well with birch snares of any make and model.
 

notvinnie

Senior Member
I just don't get the fascination with birch shells. They just sound so dead and flat to me. Near as I can figure is that people who don't like sustain or projection play them. I've tried them side by side with maple kits and to me it's like coming in from the cold when I get back on a maple kit. Thoughts?
You're allowed to have preferences. Why worry if others like birch and you don't? Just play your maple drums and enjoy.
 

Artstar

Platinum Member
Yeah, having them mess around with is part of it. What kit do you play?
I've owned 3 Yamaha Recording's..... 2 Tama Granstar Customs...... Sonor German 3000 series.. a Sonor Lite Series.. and a Premier Genista. All of them were killer sounding drums with the 2 Sonor's and the Premier taking the lead.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
I've owned 3 Yamaha Recording's..... 2 Tama Granstar Customs...... Sonor German 3000 series.. a Sonor Lite Series.. and a Premier Genista. All of them were killer sounding drums with the 2 Sonor's and the Premier taking the lead.
What do you play now?
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I personally never had a problem with birch drums. I owned 3 different Yamaha RC's, and a vintage Premier kit. I'd like to know what birch kits you compared to which maple kits (side by side) ..... and what heads were mounted on each.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
I wasn't really conducting a science experiment but I'm pretty sure both kits (my buddy's yamaha rc and mapex black panther black widow) had single ply coated heads. The Black Widow kit was mine at the time. It had remo white suedes on it. I owned the Stage Custom briefly and the same Black Widow kit at the time. I tried a few different heads on the stage custom. G12s, coated ambassadors, G2 clears. I sold it finally and took a couple hundred dollar loss on it. Was just happy to get rid of it. I've had a couple lousy maple kits too so don't think I'm just dissin' birch. The Tama starclassic birch I played at a jam session. I think it had pinstripes of some sort on it. Just not my cup of tea. I'm fine with people being all warm and fuzzy about birch. I they like them God bless 'em. As I said in the OP , they just sound dry and flat to me. They don't "sing".
 
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