Maple vs. Birch advice


Platinum Member
The OP gave up drums and is now a professional school crossing guard,and raises spider monkeys in his spare time.:)

Steve B
That's what happens if you can't figure out maple vs. birch. Imagine how much more horrifying the consequences might have been for him if he had been trying to decide between three different kinds of wood...


Platinum Member
Guys...this thread is 6 yes 6 years old and the last post was 3 years ago.The OP gave up drums and is now a professional school crossing guard,and raises spider monkeys in his spare time.:)

Steve B
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boltzmann's brain

Senior Member
maple will sound more round, earthy, ethereal. birch will be more oval sounding, lunar, transcendental... just kidding. as mentioned in earlier replies, the bearing edge, heads, manufacturing methods, and how the drums are mounted, among other things, will have a much larger impact on the sound. .02


Junior Member
Iv'e heard both great sounding birch and maple kits. Depends on you're taste. The thing iv'e noticed about birch is that it produces more of a clear focused tone with good highs and attack. Where is maple gives a well rounded warm low end sound. I personally own a maple kit but iv'e had friends with birch kits that sound great.


Perhaps, but I felt people needed to be clear about which model you were referring to, so I dont get customers coming to me saying they heard that "Maple S-Classix kits are available - because someone on said they have one..."


Just a clarification, S-Classix kits were NEVER maple.

S-Class and S-Class Pros were, however.


Let me lay it out.

I can't say which company but i was working in a drum shop and there was a high end snare for repair on the desk. I was new so i was on sanding and and assembly at the time. It would seem the person dropped the snare and really messed up the bearing edge and it wasn't pretty. I also noticed something weird about the middle plies of the drum.

you wanna know what they were?


i swear on my mothers life. 8 plies....4 of them CARDBOARD!

one more time


this when it was bought in the early 90's was about $700 from what i understand. It was made by a very reputable company and it was all finished on shore.

Here's the crazy thing. We re-cut the edges...sealed them properly and put the heads back on. Tuned the sucker up and it sounded amazing! Just killer!

It almost doesn't matter what the wood type is (within reason of course).....If you treat the drum properly and finish it inside the way a real drum is supposed to be finished....with actual bearing edges that are hand sealed and sanded to perfection it'll sound good. I know this as when i started working there we did that with a Sonor 3007 kit that i owened at the time and i would happily put it up against the older s classix (When they were maple) in studio, live, anywhere you can think of.

God Bless,



Hi everyone.

I am getting back into playing after a hiatus of a few years and I am not sure what would make for a good investment for a new kit. I am looking for something mid-range; not necessarily recording quality but something respectable for gigs/mic'd in a bar.

The last time I bought a kit (1997ish) the options seemed more cut and dry: crappy or good. There seems to be more in between kits out there now and overall the quality is better than what I remember.

I am not particularly loyal to any company; I am looking more at shell quality and hardware.

What is the general opinion: Maple or nothing or is a Birch kit worth it? What about the Pearl ELX series: there's a nice kit at a store in my town but is a poplar (or whatever they use) kit worth it in the long run? With the Pearl's, would an extra few hundred bucks be worth it to move up from the Export series?

Your 2 cents is appreciated.

My advice is to get the color and setup style you like. Dont worry too much about the wood. As long as its of decent quality, the particular strain wont make that much difference to most people.

If anything, its a completely overhyped aspect of drum purchasing these days.


Silver Member
Or you can do like me and choose beech.

The best offer in the mid line, quality-wise, is a sonor force 3000.
A cheaper alternative is gretsch catalina or PDP. If you can get a 2nd hand pro set, you're better off than buying a new mid-range set.

In the top line, Yamaha offers the possibility to mix woods. A common practice is a maple kick for low end and birch toms for punch. A snare can go both ways. There's also pearl reference and tama starclassic that use hybrid shells.

Another aspect to consider are the dimensions. These affect the drums more than wood type: thickness, diameter, depth.
Ideally, I'd pick thin rack toms, medium floor toms and thick bass drum, all in deep size and a reasonably small diameter. A smaller diameter focuses the tone, a deeper shell adds body. Most companies don't offer that level of customisation but it matters more than wood type. The only drums I know of that proportionally increase in thickness are gretsch new classic.
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Senior Member
You're absolutely correct in that "mid-range" drums have gotten a heck of a lot better in the last decade.

Aside for the maple *or* birch question, you can mix 'em up, too. Ludwig has birch-maple-birch shells in the Epic line. Nice mid-price range kits. Mahogany is popping up in a lot of import kits as well. Not the scary Asian drums they used to be. Gretsch is mopping up with the Catalina line's mahogany drums. Another, "groovy" option is Ludwig's Retro Element SE series. Funky finishes from the late 60's and early 70's over shells made from cherry/gumwood. I'm loving my new Element SE kit.



Senior Member
I have different drums but i can say that i am more birch guy.
Birch gives , how to say, more produced sound, toms have nice attack and highs.
Premier Genista is best drum that i played together with my vintage 3 ply birch premier.


"Uncle Larry"
Birch or maple....that's like asking which do you like Prime Rib or Ribeye....I think everyone should own a good maple kit first, but it really is a tough choice. Birch does sound great. It is the better value too.


Junior Member
its all about who's listening, to the drummer who has copious experience, and knows his stuff about drum tuning and how they're made and sound, birch is gonna give a sharper and more "punchy" attack, itll bring out the highs, maple drums will have warmth, and more sustain, and will also bring out the lows of your drums, again, to the seasoned pro...
however, to the vast vast vast majority of people hearing you play (especially if live and not in the studio), the differences will be completely null and void
this is in terms of sound, in terms of feel, thats a personal thing
You want to alter your sound? Check the tuning and the head thickness, as the bearing edge type, on a side note: a factor I dont see considered very much is the surroundings of the individual drum, for example, I own a yamaha rydeen set (maple, and no longer in production unfortunately) and recently took out the original two high toms and right now the only thing attached to my bass drum is a mini cymbal arm for my splash cymbal (I stuck in one of the tom holes), and the difference of how my toms and bass sound is huge, my bass and toms now sound open and alive, warmer and of higher quality

Mathew 7:21

Senior Member
I just traded my starclassics (100%birch) for my second dw kit(maple) and to tell you the truth I kinda like my starclassics better. Birch just has a wet fat sound that you cant get with maple.


Pioneer Member
I would stay away from the Export and ELX series. Like was mentioned earlier you can get into a nice mid level kit like the Gretsch Catalina, Yamaha Stage Custom, Mapex that will sound much better and the price may be just slightly more than the pearls. My personal kit is an early 80's yamaha kit that I love , our church has a poplar export kit and I can't stand it, it doesn't tune well and doesn't sound good. I want to buy a stage custom or catalina kit to replace it for them but with my job right now there are no extra funds to do so.

Mikey Dangerous

Senior Member
Definitely some stuff I agree with here, but some of it I question.

When it comes to comparing maple and birch, neither are a "better" wood. It's a matter of which you prefer more. Head selection and tuning along with bearing edges will make a more noticeable impact on the sound heard by most ears. Keeping those and other factors the same, maple is a touch warmer and sustains longer, while birch is a touch brighter and has more attack. Only well-trained ears can truly notice a difference in pitch and tone, while most ears would notice a small difference with respect to the sustain/attack, but only slightly.

In terms of which wood is better for recording, the quality of today's drums in combination with advancements in recording technology means that both maple and birch drums will record well. In a good room with good equipment, a good engineer, good tuning, and of course, a good drummer, both will sound amazing and you can't really say that one is better than the other. Traditionally speaking though, it was birch that was the preferred drum wood for recording, not maple. This is because birch is considered to be the "naturally EQ'd" drum, going back to the sustain/attack thing mentioned above. Yamaha has a line of drums, made of 100% birch, that's been in production for over 30 years now - it's called the Recording Custom.

The maple and birch woods used in pro kits is certainly of higher grade and better quality than the maple and birch woods used in mid-level kits, and that difference is definitely discernable in the sound they produce. That being said however, mid-level kits nowadays really are excellent and offer tremendous value because they are priced low and sound great. There has been a huge upgrade in the quality of mid-level kits, especially in recent years. Yamaha, Sonor, Mapex, Gretsch, etc. all offer mid-range kits in both 100% maple and 100% birch and are worth checking out. Some of them even come with hardware packages included. Try before you buy is the best advice you can get. I also recommend buying used because you can save a lot of money, and might even be able to get a pro used kit for about the same as a new mid-level kit.

Among the asian manufacturers, birch is much cheaper. They have good domestic birch, but must import maple, usually from the US, or use a less well-regarded Asian species. US and European manufacturers usually charge more for maple, because their competitors are forced to, and the appearance of exclusivity causes the marketplace to go along for the ride.

What I'm saying is, birch is a better value.

Specifically, an equivalent birch kit would be between one half and two-thirds the cost of a maple kit.
Really? I'm not sure about this. Yamaha is Japanese and I'm almost 100% sure that their Maple Custom Absolute drums have the exact same prices as their Birch Custom Absolute drums (which I own), if you keep the sizes equal across both lines to compare apples to apples. I've never officially priced out an MCA, but I recall being told by two different drummers (who also work at drums shops that are authorized Yamaha dealers) that this is the case. There's a lot of asian manufacturers though so I can't say this applies across the board, and I'm not as familiar with other asian brands.


i personally like birth since i like to play rock and birth gives me that focused punchy sound but still dark depending of course the heads u have, i have a tama superstar efx hyper-drive, which is a great birch kit i don't think its much more expensive than a pearl, but if u like maple there are the yamies tour custom or sonor force 3007 i think or something like that, do some research, test, if u go with the tama there great, i don't think u should go with poplar or mahogany, birch and maple are a lot better and u can hear the difference, also maple is used a lot for recording, but for gigs birch especially the tama are pretty loud and mic'd up wow! amazing