Imperial vs Metric System

Jhostetler

Senior Member
Ok, this may have been asked before. I'm genuinely curious.

So the U.S. is the oddball out still using the Imperial system for most things. The rest of the world has gone the way of the metric system (which I actually find a little bit easier to work with). My question is: why don't I see more percussion equipment measured using cm/mm instead of inches? I get that I'm in the states, but even so. To those outside of the US, do you use inches or cm/mm to measure drums, cymbals, etc.?
 

tcspears

Gold Member
It's funny you should mention that, kits/cymbals/drums made outside of the US before 1970 all seem to be measured in metric units. It looks like after the 70s the companies started using "international" sized drum heads which use the imperial system.

This may be related, but in the UK the imperial system was used until about the 1970s as well. Many people in the UK will use both systems. You'll often hear temperatures in Celsius and Fahrenheit, speeds in MPH and KPH, Pounds of meat/cheese and KG of meat/cheese, et cetera...
 

blinky

Senior Member
I live in Sweden and we use the metric system like all other countries except US & GB. But we have exceptions; car/motorcycle/bicycle wheels, lumber, nails, the length of sail/motorboats. And drums/cymbals.
 

Jhostetler

Senior Member
This may be related, but in the UK the imperial system was used until about the 1970s as well. Many people in the UK will use both systems. You'll often hear temperatures in Celsius and Fahrenheit, speeds in MPH and KPH, Pounds of meat/cheese and KG of meat/cheese, et cetera...
Interesting, wonder what happened?
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
It would cost a mint at this point to retool drum molds etc for any change like that. We tried metric a few years ago but it caused too much confusion to change everything. We have computers now that love to do conversions. there are some cymbals that have both measurements on them but since they aren't exact they are off in one way or another.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Ok, this may have been asked before. I'm genuinely curious.

So the U.S. is the oddball out still using the Imperial system for most things. The rest of the world has gone the way of the metric system (which I actually find a little bit easier to work with).
While I do not have an direct answer to your question, please understand that the US does not have an official measurement system, and individuals are free to use the measurement system of their choice.

To contrast this, I recall articles in UK papers describing how several old-time grocers were fined for continuing to use imperial scales to weigh produce after the metric mandate.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
While I do not have an direct answer to your question, please understand that the US does not have an official measurement system, and individuals are free to use the measurement system of their choice.

To contrast this, I recall articles in UK papers describing how several old-time grocers were fined for continuing to use imperial scales to weigh produce after the metric mandate.
Yea, we use both, mostly without thinking about it. It seems that certain items or things are known by one or the other.

I mean, we measure milk by the gallon, but soda pop by the liter... It is a bit weird.

Good news is, these days, everyone has a converter right on their phone.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
The beginning stages of an attempt at completely converting to metric took place while I was in grade school. I really thought it would happen and my school taught both as if we'd really do it. But then, poof, we just never got there.

That said, there are things that we now refer to in metric measurements. Beverages are sold in liters/litres; if you're working on your car, even a late-model U.S. brand, you'll need metric wrenches for certain things; we talk about running and walking in terms of kilometers. So people in the U.S. have learned what those things look like. The least-adopted, by far, is Celsius. Nobody talks about temperature in terms of anything but Fahrenheit.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I can say after 15 years at the hospital that they are on a 24 hour clock and also all meds and IV solutions use the metric system.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Ok, so let's start now:

Here are my Pork Pie sizes - (width x depth)

25.4 cm x 20.32 cm rack tom
30.48 cm x 22.86 cm rack tom
35.56 cm x 30.48 cm suspended floor tom
40.64 cm x 35.56 cm suspended floor tom
33.02 cm x 12.7 cm snare
55.88 cm x 45.78 cm kick

Which reminds me, I need to buy some heads. My favorite kick head is the 55.88 cm EMAD, and I'll go ahead and pick up a 33.02 cm Remo Ambassador while I'm at it.


I think I'll stick with Imperial. :)
 

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
Measuring weight in kilos is weird. I weigh 192 pounds (lbs) - *what a strange abbreviation! - not 87 kg.






*Lb is an abbreviation of the Latin word libra. The primary meaning of libra was balance or scales (as in the astrological sign), but it also stood for the ancient Roman unit of measure libra pondo, meaning "a pound by weight."
 

Alain Rieder

Silver Member
Here in Switzerland everything is metric, except drum and cymbal sizes.

Note that Zildjian print the size of cymbals both in metric and imperial on the cymbal itself. I will still use imperial for cymbals as well.



.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
My experience (born in 1988 in the UK):

Reasonably fluent in both, with exceptions.

Distance. I'll use miles. For measurement, I'll use metres/centimetres. So if I'm measuring up a room, I'll be doing it in metric. For travelling, I'll use miles.

Temperature. I'll use Celsius. A lot of people use both, particularly the generation before mine. I can't use Fahrenheit at all, other than knowing that 100 is bloody hot and that I've experienced in the UK maybe twice in my life.

Quantities. I'll measure my beer in pints but my other drinks will be in litres. Petrol is always bought in litres but I'll convert into (British) miles per gallon quite readily and on-the-fly.

My weight and height, I'll use Stone and Pounds (16St 7Ibs) (6"2') but for any other weight I'll use (mostly) kilograms, even when I'm cooking.

I can use both but I'm more comfortable with one over the other most of the time. Those are my preferences and I think they're fairly reflective of most people my age in the UK - although I'm quite happy to be proven wrong there. Generally speaking, it was Metric at school and Imperial at home. My parents are definitely more 'full time' users of Imperial than I am but can also use both. My grandparents are mostly Imperial but my granddad worked in a physics laboratory for thirty years during the changeover so will mix and match his units too.

In terms of what I find more useful, I'll say that Metric definitely has a lot of advantages because of it uses a standard mathematical base (decimal). The problem with Imperial is the shifting mathematical base that requires you to know the units. For instance, 14 pounds in a stone but 12 inches in a foot, with three foot in the yard. It's not difficult to use Imperial if you know the units well and you've used them a lot but Metric is intuitive.

It's a bit like when the UK shifted over to decimal currency in the early 1970s. 240 pennies to the Pound Sterling, with 20 Shillings of 12 Pence is pretty easy to remember (then add in things like Crowns, Guineas, etc) but to somebody coming to the UK, it could have been baffling - most currencies have been decimal for a long time. Like everything else, having a non-decimal currency has its roots in history (a Pound Sterling at one point literally meant a Pound (weight) of 92.5% purity silver and it was easy to divide it into 20 and then into 12) but doesn't make a lot of sense without that context.

I'm not saying one is better than the other but Metric certainly has mathematics on its side.
 

Jhostetler

Senior Member
Haha, never thought much about the subject of measurement till now, thanks guys. It's interesting to see different interpretations. I work in a lumber yard over the summers between classes. It's fun to try and explain to people the difference between "dimension" and "nominal" lumber sizes. For example, a 2x4 is actually 1.5" by 3.5" in real life. Some people don't think about this when they are designing their project and they'll come in ordering the wrong quantity of material.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
This doesn't affect drums, but even the term gallon can be misleading. A gallon in the UK or Canada is about 4.5 liters, while the US and South American gallon is about 3.8 liters...
 
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