The why of drums

BassDriver

Silver Member
Why are drums round?...can't we make hexagonal drums?...don't round drums still have membrane nodal points at the lugs?

Why did we replace lugs with string?...don't bolted lugs obstruct shell resonance?

Why is ply-construction the industry standard?...wouldn't turning drums out of logs be so much more resource efficient?

Wouldn't direct drive pedals be more easier to manufacture than those with chain?

Is there anything else we can make a drum-head from?

Have you noticed that the physics that goes into drums is so much more complex than that which goes into acoustic guitar making?

Who says that we can't put snare wires on the batter head and still have an adjustable snare latch?...heck, who says we can't have a snare bed for both the reso and batter heads?

Would a drum set with proportions made in accordance to the phi ratio sound "golden"?

Should we recycle drums and cymbals to create new drums and cymbals?

Should we have drumsticks made from the offcuts of the drum making process?

Who says I can't have vented tom-toms?...or a vented bass drum, for that short heavy metal sound?

Why snare drums seen as so "stand-alone", eg. ordering them seperately as an add-one?...what if I want an extra-specially designed second left bass drum?

Retractable drums...an new way of tuning?

Are there actually any experts in drum making on these forums?
 
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GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Drums are round so that is easier to do Rolls.
Lugs last longer than leather thongs.
Ply construction is cheaper. Take apart a cheap drum and you will see.
Direct drive pedals may be EASIER to manufacture but was last in the evolution.
Mylar and plastics seem to work OK.
I've never tried to make a guitar. Made a mountain dulcimer once .
The snares may take a beating.
The Golden ratio is so irrational.
I made a whole set of drums from, yep, an old set of drums.
I don't think I would want drum sticks with plies.
All of my drums are vented. They have little metal vent holes on them. My toms have two.
Snare drums are so individualized they must stand alone.
Enough new tuning concepts for a while Please.
There are some experts on drum making on these forums.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Why are drums round?...can't we make hexagonal drums?...don't round drums still have membrane nodal points at the lugs?
You could, in theory. The physics of a round shell allow the sound to bounce around inside the drum very evenly, because all interior surfaces are the same relative distance and angle from each other. A non-round shell creates different patters of sound bouncing inside the shell.

Why did we replace lugs with string?...don't bolted lugs obstruct shell resonance?
String breaks.
Why is ply-construction the industry standard?...wouldn't turning drums out of logs be so much more resource efficient?
Quite the opposite. You would need perfect logs of the perfect size for each drum. It would be very labor intensive to sort out the 14" logs from the 16" logs. Any knots in the wood would have the potential to ruin the sound. And finding 22" logs for a bass drum would be very difficult. Plies make it easy for any size tree to become any size drum.
Wouldn't direct drive pedals be more easier to manufacture than those with chain?
The early pioneers of the bass drum certain thought so. But switching to chain made it easier to make a smoother bass drum pedal.
Is there anything else we can make a drum-head from?
People have tried, but thus far mylar still seems to work best.
Have you noticed that the physics that goes into drums is so much more complex than that which goes into acoustic guitar making?
Disagree.
Acoustic guitars have the bridge, tuning pegs, truss rods, body shape, neck shape, sound hole size, fret size, fret layout, etc. I'd say it's about equal.

Who says that we can't put snare wires on the batter head and still have an adjustable snare latch?...heck, who says we can't have a snare bed for both the reso and batter heads?
There are marching drums made this way.

Would a drum set with proportions made in accordance to the phi ratio sound "golden"?
If this were true, I'd think more drums would be made this way.

Should we recycle drums and cymbals to create new drums and cymbals?
Yes. Why more companies don't is beyond me.

Should we have drumsticks made from the offcuts of the drum making process?
No. Hickory is used for drum sticks (and axe handles and other tools) because it has a natural ability to absorb vibration, and thus not transfer the vibrations of hitting the drum into your hands.
Who says I can't have vented tom-toms?...or a vented bass drum, for that short heavy metal sound?
They exist. So no one says you can't. Just most people don't.

Why snare drums seen as so "stand-alone", eg. ordering them seperately as an add-one?...what if I want an extra-specially designed second left bass drum?
Again, they exist. Nothing is stopping you from special ordering one. But as far as a store stocking them, well, they just don't sell. And stores can't afford to stock what doesn't sell. But any store will be happy to place a special order for whatever size and color that is currently manufactured. And all the custom companies will make whatever you can think of.

Retractable drums...an new way of tuning?
People have experimented with this before. It's just never been perfected.
 

BassDriver

Silver Member
Quite the opposite. You would need perfect logs of the perfect size for each drum. It would be very labor intensive to sort out the 14" logs from the 16" logs. Any knots in the wood would have the potential to ruin the sound. And finding 22" logs for a bass drum would be very difficult. Plies make it easy for any size tree to become any size drum.
I mean, turning a whole kit out of a single log, each drum is cut from a layer of the log, one drum inside of another.

When I mean resource efficient, I mean less "ply-wood trees" have to be cut down, and no glue needs to be used.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I mean, turning a whole kit out of a single log, each drum is cut from a layer of the log, one drum inside of another.

When I mean resource efficient, I mean less "ply-wood trees" have to be cut down, and no glue needs to be used.
In theory that could work I suppose. But it would take a very mature maple tree to make a bass drum. And birch doesn't get that big around, so you'd eliminate them as a source.

So cost of a drum set would increase dramatically, because you'd only be able to use older maple trees. And drum maker would have to wait and wait, and wait for the tree's to grow big enough to carve out a bass drum. For plies, the tree size isn't as important, which allows for quick re-regrowth of the trees that are cut down.
 

zakhopper316

Silver Member
I mean, turning a whole kit out of a single log, each drum is cut from a layer of the log, one drum inside of another.

When I mean resource efficient, I mean less "ply-wood trees" have to be cut down, and no glue needs to be used.
if you got the money then you can have it, might not sound as good as the tried and true method tho
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
seemingly everything that you said got turned around on you! harsh!
lol - or maybe not? BD asked a bunch of questions and got a bunch of answers He now knows more than before he posted (me too). So I'd say it's Mission Accomplished.

Regards

The Spin Doctor :)
 

boomstick

Silver Member
Just a couple additional comments:

The physics of a round shell allow the sound to bounce around inside the drum very evenly, because all interior surfaces are the same relative distance and angle from each other. A non-round shell creates different patters of sound bouncing inside the shell.
In addition, I think the vibrations of the shell itself resonate more freely through a round piece of wood, while the "corners" or "angles" of a hexagonal drum would block the vibrations somewhat.

String breaks.
This one has me thinking though. Not all string is equal. Certainly leather strings would wear out quickly, but there is string and cable made from modern materials that is very strong and very durable.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Just a couple additional comments:


In addition, I think the vibrations of the shell itself resonate more freely through a round piece of wood, while the "corners" or "angles" of a hexagonal drum would block the vibrations somewhat..
More than likely.

When building a recording studio, having more angles is considered better because it breaks up the sound waves, although that is with (or combined with) the notion that not every wall is same width, where as in a hex-shaped drum, each side (I assume) would be of equal width and length.
 

boomstick

Silver Member
I knew I saw something like this somewhere. Page Drums uses a cable and "floating lugs." In other words, the lugs are not actually drilled into the shell and the heads are tensioned by a cable. They say once the heads are on, you can tune top and bottom heads simultaneously from one tension rod. They also say they've never had a customer complain about a broken cable. Strangely, I can't find a picture gallery on their site, but this is where I first saw them:

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/4859534-post301.html
 

BassDriver

Silver Member
huh? What was harsh?
Cultural memetics...

In theory that could work I suppose. But it would take a very mature maple tree to make a bass drum. And birch doesn't get that big around, so you'd eliminate them as a source.

So cost of a drum set would increase dramatically, because you'd only be able to use older maple trees. And drum maker would have to wait and wait, and wait for the tree's to grow big enough to carve out a bass drum. For plies, the tree size isn't as important, which allows for quick re-regrowth of the trees that are cut down.
There is also the "single-ply" construction, Craviotto drums are made like this, one solid rectangle of wood bent into shape with only one seam, less wood wastage, low amount of glue.

lol - or maybe not? BD asked a bunch of questions and got a bunch of answers He now knows more than before he posted (me too). So I'd say it's Mission Accomplished.

Regards

The Spin Doctor :)
...yes, I have asked questions and had a bunch of answers.

BTW, Pearl Masters kits have the vents positioned in accordance to the phi ratio...

...and there is a little drum company that makes snare drums to the phi ratio: http://www.phidrums.com/

...Danny Carey had a kit made from recycled cymbals...I know that, but...cymbals-to-cymbals?
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
In theory that could work I suppose. But it would take a very mature maple tree to make a bass drum. And birch doesn't get that big around, so you'd eliminate them as a source.

So cost of a drum set would increase dramatically, because you'd only be able to use older maple trees. And drum maker would have to wait and wait, and wait for the tree's to grow big enough to carve out a bass drum. For plies, the tree size isn't as important, which allows for quick re-regrowth of the trees that are cut down.
Yes, you could only use old growth logs and it would cost much more. You also waste a fair amount of wood in boring out concentric cylinders from a log. And it takes much, much more time and labor and there is a much higher rejection rate as the shells must be in absolutely perfect condition (no knots or cracks). Also, plywood is much stronger and lighter than natural whole wood, which is subject to splitting, cracking and going out of round. Only the very hardest, driest woods are suitable for solid shells, because these woods are the most stable. Most logs of maple, birch, mahogany, etc., would not produce stable wood shells and would crack after a few decades or sooner. Maybe with modern manufacturing methods you could address this, however. Because it is a processed wood composite, plywood is much more consistent and controllable, which is important in manufacturing. Because natural whole wood is weaker than plywood, you cannot have very thin shells. All drums would have to be heavy with thick shells.

I have a set made of solid shells of ironwood, made from a tree about 350-400 years old. They are very heavy (sink in water), very expensive and may crack without warning in the next 100-200 years. Nothing compares to the mindblowing sound of a natural whole wood drum, although staves are a close second, so this is what I got.

Regarding mechanical vs. rope tuning: Yes, lugs don't break nearly as much as rawhide strings, but there are even more important reasons. For most of history, only hide could be used for heads and it is subject to the weather (getting too saggy or too tight). Lugs can be tuned quickly, easily and accurately to compensate for weather. If the head breaks, it is easy to change. Also, you can tune the top and bottom heads to different tensions - probably the biggest advantage of all.

There are a few drums that have the snare on the batter head. I am thinking of the Arbiter flats; the snare had no reso head.

I drum that is not round would produce different tensions in different areas, possibly creating squirrelly overtones, and inconsistent sound. It would stress (break) the head at the corners. Also, a circle is much stronger than a hexagon because it distributes stress evenly. I could see a hex or square drum going "out of round" much more easily. A few drums, like some Trixons, are oval.

On retractable drums, Gon Bops makes some portable congas. They're just the top half of the congas with tubes and extend and retract to make the sound fuller.

Very good questions to ponder, thanks for this long list, BassDriver. It shows quite a bit of thought.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I knew I saw something like this somewhere. Page Drums uses a cable and "floating lugs." In other words, the lugs are not actually drilled into the shell and the heads are tensioned by a cable. They say once the heads are on, you can tune top and bottom heads simultaneously from one tension rod. They also say they've never had a customer complain about a broken cable. Strangely, I can't find a picture gallery on their site, but this is where I first saw them:

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/4859534-post301.html
I've seen pictures of them, but never up close. Interesting.

Cultural memetics...
Ah, yea, tone of voice is lost on the internet. And because we can't use smilies on this forum, we can imply tone of voice either.

I just assume we're having a casual conversation over a beer.


...Danny Carey had a kit made from recycled cymbals...I know that, but...cymbals-to-cymbals?
I know the big companies always have some excuse about it's too hard, or that they can't guarantees pureness of the metal, but I still don't see why it couldn't happen.

Even if there is some legitimate reason they can't produce the same quality of cymbal from a recycle, why not a mid-line cymbal from recycled cymbals?

It just boggles my mind that cymbals aren't recycled.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
It just boggles my mind that cymbals aren't recycled.
It would be too costly. For recycling, all a cymbal is really worth is the bronze, which isn't worth a whole lot; 95 percent of the cost of a cymbal is the machining and working (OK, and marketing and overhead).

Cymbals, compared to aluminum cans, are very uncommon. Collecting them and shipping them would be a huge expense for not much metal, which is cheap anyway. If there were cymbalsmiths in every town, then it might be worth it, but there aren't very many people who need bronze for cymbals. Maybe the next best thing would be to take it to an instrument maker or an artist for them to melt down.

I once told a saxophonist I played with that his horn sounded like a cymbal somehow, but I couldn't put my finger on it. He said it was made from cymbal bronze, which likely colored the sound somehow.
 

BassDriver

Silver Member
The only drum manufacturers that I am familiar with that primarily construct drums with no hardware touching the shell are:

...Sleishman: http://www.sleishman.com/html/index/, with patented lug suspension system.





I think they look nice...one of the most innovative drums I have seen.

...tuning them would be quite different though, you have to tune the reso head half-way before then tuning the batter head, although Sleishman saws this would make tuning them quick.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
It would be too costly. For recycling, all a cymbal is really worth is the bronze, which isn't worth a whole lot; 95 percent of the cost of a cymbal is the machining and working (OK, and marketing and overhead).

Cymbals, compared to aluminum cans, are very uncommon. Collecting them and shipping them would be a huge expense for not much metal, which is cheap anyway. If there were cymbalsmiths in every town, then it might be worth it, but there aren't very many people who need bronze for cymbals. Maybe the next best thing would be to take it to an instrument maker or an artist for them to melt down.

I once told a saxophonist I played with that his horn sounded like a cymbal somehow, but I couldn't put my finger on it. He said it was made from cymbal bronze, which likely colored the sound somehow.
Y'all need to check out Saluda Cymbals (www.saludacymbals.com), they recycle old cymbals into new ones quite effectively. I love them!
 
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