Thicker shells for live unmiced

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Larry- at these gigs where you're considering going un-mic'd, is it because your band is using a different PA with too few channels for the kit? If not, and you're just concerned about being too loud for the room when mic'd, I'd suggest you reconsider.
I have enough channels in the PA. Most times the room doesn't warrant micing. Volume isn't really the issue, it's the quality of tone from my toms that I am trying to tweak. When I am lamenting that my thin shelled toms don't sound as good as I want, it's the tone not the volume, which is adequate. The thin shelled rack toms seem to lose their lower frequencies from a distance unmiced. Not as noticeable with my floor tom. And it's not horrible, I'm just thinking that I could get a better tone at 20 feet with thicker shelled rack toms.

Mosts gigs I mic my kick only. For the bigger rooms or outside I use one overhead, a kick and snare mic. If I'm miced, the thin shell is a non issue.
 
S

sticks4drums

Guest
I have enough channels in the PA. Most times the room doesn't warrant micing. Volume isn't really the issue, it's the quality of tone from my toms that I am trying to tweak. When I am lamenting that my thin shelled toms don't sound as good as I want, it's the tone not the volume, which is adequate. The thin shelled rack toms seem to lose their lower frequencies from a distance unmiced. Not as noticeable with my floor tom. And it's not horrible, I'm just thinking that I could get a better tone at 20 feet with thicker shelled rack toms.

Mosts gigs I mic my kick only. For the bigger rooms or outside I use one overhead, a kick and snare mic. If I'm miced, the thin shell is a non issue.
Maybe it is not the thickness but the actual quality of the thin shelled drums. My Saturn's project beautifully with there thin shells.
 

eamesuser

Silver Member
I think that drums are like cymbals,they do have a fundamental note,but have partials too,I have an Eames kit it has 3/8 and 1/2 inch shells,and with those I hear more of the fundamental note,which translates to clarity out front IMO,compared to my 4 ply Luddys and 1967 Rogers.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Maybe it is not the thickness but the actual quality of the thin shelled drums. My Saturn's project beautifully with there thin shells.
My shells have re rings. Maybe a straight non ringed thin shell like your Saturns projects better. Maybe another identically sized and headed and tuned DW drum would sound better in that room. It could be my particular drum. Maybe my 2 rack toms in question were tuned wrong for that particular room. I can't say for sure, but I do know that it could sound better. I can feel my sound tastes changing to a straight shelled sound. I still like the thin shelled sound for non slamming playing, but unmiced my best bet is a thicker straight shelled drum it seems.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I'll go back to your first post in this thread and say that from 5 mm to 7.5 mm may seem like only a few mm but it is 50% more. Like to play with the numbers, but I think 50% is a significant amount when talking about 5mm.
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
I thought this would be interesting to throw in to this debate about shell thickness, sound, tone, etc. Here are the folks at Ford Drums presenting their argument for why they use 10-ply shells on toms and bass drums:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llZBMTE0N2s

They also talk about their new Kevlar coating, but they spend quite a bit of time arguing for why they see thicker shells as best for getting a pure sound and tone from a drum.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
I thought this would be interesting to throw in to this debate about shell thickness, sound, tone, etc. Here are the folks at Ford Drums presenting their argument for why they use 10-ply shells on toms and bass drums:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llZBMTE0N2s

They also talk about their new Kevlar coating, but they spend quite a bit of time arguing for why they see thicker shells as best for getting a pure sound and tone from a drum.
Hey, these guys make a great kit, no doubt, but this video is peppered with extremely marketing biased & even some plain simple false information. 2:05 "drums aren't resonant, shells aren't resonant". Yeah right, ain't that the truth ------- utter BS! To say this specific model of Ford shell doesn't resonate, is probably close to the mark. Covered in elastomeric based Kevlar, great for durability, good idea, but don't expect it to resonate. This is verified within the video itself, especially when he hits the shell with a stick to display how hard the finish is at 1:18, possibly the most sonically dead shell I've ever heard.

Statement at 3:11, again, very selective. Yes, the sound waves don't "penetrate" the plies of the shell, but in anything other than an uber thick or purposely deadened shell, those sound waves do "excite" the shell, causing it to resonate, thus contributing to the overall resolved sound of the drum.

Statement at 3:30 "you're actually getting the true tone of the maple", well, just how does that square with "shells aren't resonant"? Come on, make your mind up here.

Then, are those suspension mounts I see fitted to a shell that has no resonant properties? Why? If they truly believed in the principal of zero shell resonance contribution to overall sound, why not bolt the tom mount directly to the shell. Why not mount the toms directly off the kick drum.

This video is loaded with unecessary BS in justification of the product they've produced, such a shame.

As a balance to me ripping holes in their technical logic, now I'll concentrate on the good stuff. Attention to internal finish certainly makes a big difference, especially to the drum's ability to project well. I think their bearing edge logic is sound. I thought the kit sounded great on the video. I think their lugs are great, but, to be honest, why would you go to the bother of using lightweight materials to reduce shell mass, on a shell that has no resonance benefit.

As a resume, I actually think the drums are great. They've created a drum kit that's designed to project really well and stand up to life on the road, that's made to a high standard but at a reasonable price point. Superb! I'm totally on board with that, well done Ford drums, but proudly push the product for what it is, without dressing the presentation with BS. Please don't pretend that you've reinvented the wheel here, & that every great kit sound in history that offered a unique sound palate due to shell material & construction choices is without merit, because that really is just short sighted BS. Problem is, there's customers out there that'll buy that justification, whereas what they should be buying is a really good road worthy kit that projects well, & why the hell could't they just sell it as such!!!!
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Well Andy, you've certainly exposed some very valid points. Now I'm really confused. I agree that shells definitely do resonate. I don't know that the outer finish would affect tone much, don't they say that the outer ply is negligible tonewise? I would think, since it's sprayed on, that it would behave like lacquer. I don't know if the kevlar coating is thicker or thinner than the multiple coats of lacquers, but a wrap, with it's air gaps, can't help the shell resonate. And a wrap is fairly thick. That would squash the sound before a sprayed on coating I would think...I've heard wonderful sounding wrapped kits. So maybe the outer ply is a moot point tonewise. But suspension mounting is something I firmly believe in.

I think all drum makers should finish the insides of their shells. I am tending to agree with thicker shells though, an about face from what I used to think.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Well Andy, you've certainly exposed some very valid points. Now I'm really confused. I agree that shells definitely do resonate. I don't know that the outer finish would affect tone much, don't they say that the outer ply is negligible tonewise? I would think, since it's sprayed on, that it would behave like lacquer. I don't know if the kevlar coating is thicker or thinner than the multiple coats of lacquers, but a wrap, with it's air gaps, can't help the shell resonate. And a wrap is fairly thick. That would squash the sound before a sprayed on coating I would think...I've heard wonderful sounding wrapped kits. So maybe the outer ply is a moot point tonewise. But suspension mounting is something I firmly believe in.

I think all drum makers should finish the insides of their shells. I am tending to agree with thicker shells though, an about face from what I used to think.
Nothing to be confused about Larry. Let's get the Ford drum thing out of the way first. Using an elastomeric (read rubber based) coating is a totally different thing than a wrap or lacquer. Much more mass, & more importantly, sonically dead. That said, the charactaristics of the outer coating have minimal affect on a thick shell. I've always maintained that something applied to the outside of a very thin shell has a big impact on shell resonance, but little affect on a thick shell. The straight ahead fact here is, thicker shells don't resonate as much as thin ones. That's not to say they don't contribute to the sound, they do, but in a different way to a thinner shell.

I actually like that Ford kit, despite the excessive marketing hype in the video. It has much merit as a road kit and I like the sounds I'm hearing, but to pretend it's a revelation in drum design at the expense of everything that isn't a Ford kit, is just plain incorrect. It has it's place, & I like the design concept.

Larry, if thicker drums are what you want, then thicker drums you should have. My gut feeling is that birch (for projection & clarity) & bubinga (for low fundamental & projection) should be on your radar. If they're real thick shells, then go beat yourself up on whatever finish you like, as it'll make little difference to the sound. Pay attention to bearing edges. Sharp for open wet sound with more sustain, or rounded for more tone in the attack, less sustain & greater tuning ease. On very thick shells, I think suspension mounts aren't as important as on thinner shelled drums, but they still bring something to the party, unless they're those silly hoop bending one side of the drum pieces of crap. Hoops are a biggie here though, & have a significant affect on the sound. Wood for increased tone and open sound (especially with your liking for single ply clear heads), or quality triple flange for brightness & volume. I'd avoid cast hoops on such a design (except the snare, of course). Ultimately, if you want thick shelled drums, there's really only one way to go imo, STAVE!!!
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
I think the idea about the inside of the shell is a good one. Not all drum companies carefully finish the insides of their shells. Sonor used to on their high-end kits, and I believe Yamaha still does this on their Recording Customs--definitely seems to help clarity of the drum's sound.

I believe there was even a forum member here who sanded and lightly lacquered the insides of his Saturn kit and increased the drum sound significantly.

I didn't mean to post that video to agree with or promote Ford; I just thought they presented an interesting argument for thick shells, despite the marketing bias, that was worth hearing given all the heavy marketing buzz about thin shells that dominates much of drum talk these days (Tama, Yamaha, Mapex, etc.). The "there's nothing wrong with thick shells" argument reminded me of Eames's drum theory too.
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
Larry & Andy: What about Trick Drums? AL 13 aircraft grade aluminum shells (at 3.7-ish mm thick)? Thin but strong shells. Anything "wrong" with those? People using Trick drums seem to really love them for their ability to resonate and project.
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
Yeah, that newish company I found, Bucks County Drums in Penn., offers custom kit building using Stave or Steambent shells along with Keller options.

Unix always noted that stave shells will definitely give one a massive sound compared to ply shells.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
I didn't mean to post that video to agree with or promote Ford; I just thought they presented an interesting argument for thick shells, despite the marketing bias, that was worth hearing given all the heavy marketing buzz about thin shells that dominates much of drum talk these days (Tama, Yamaha, Mapex, etc.). The "there's nothing wrong with thick shells" argument reminded me of Eames's drum theory too.
Glad you did post that Ford video Robert. They make some good points, but unfortunately peppered with some rubbish too. As for thin shells vs. thick shells, it's almost like saying rock vs. jazz. Both music, but oh so different, they almost defy comparison.

Just to clear up any misunderstanding on my position, yes, I am developing an ultra thin shelled kit, but I'm a huge fan of thick shelled kits too, especially beefy stave kits. I recognise they're firing at the same target but coming from different directions. Both are good, both have a place, & both are very interesting to me.

& that's another angle that frustrates me. Thick & thin shells are discussed almost in isolation. It's impossible to augment a specific sound using only one element of the drum design. Bearing edges, hoops, construction type + a whole host of other elements go into a truly wholistic design. Some shell types suit different approaches to bearing edge & other design elements. The design needs to be thought of as a total concept, not a series of choices bolted together.
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
Glad you did post that Ford video Robert. They make some good points, but unfortunately peppered with some rubbish too. As for thin shells vs. thick shells, it's almost like saying rock vs. jazz. Both music, but oh so different, they almost defy comparison.

Just to clear up any misunderstanding on my position, yes, I am developing an ultra thin shelled kit, but I'm a huge fan of thick shelled kits too, especially beefy stave kits. I recognise they're firing at the same target but coming from different directions. Both are good, both have a place, & both are very interesting to me.

& that's another angle that frustrates me. Thick & thin shells are discussed almost in isolation. It's impossible to augment a specific sound using only one element of the drum design. Bearing edges, hoops, construction type + a whole host of other elements go into a truly wholistic design. Some shell types suit different approaches to bearing edge & other design elements. The design needs to be thought of as a total concept, not a series of choices bolted together.
Agreed--but that's the sad thing: most drum hype out there just isolates "thin vs. thick," "rering vs. no-rering," etc. We are left to do more research on our own, have conversation, and discover finer truths or realizations. But one could say that's life in general!

What do you think about Trick's drum shells, or stuff like Tempus's carbon fiber or fiber glass shells? I ask, because part of me is tempted to get a little bop kit made by Trick and try out the aluminum shell thing, but then part of me fully realizes that I don't know s*** about drum construction. Ha!
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Agreed--but that's the sad thing: most drum hype out there just isolates "thin vs. thick," "rering vs. no-rering," etc. We are left to do more research on our own, have conversation, and discover finer truths or realizations. But one could say that's life in general!

What do you think about Trick's drum shells, or stuff like Tempus's carbon fiber or fiber glass shells? I ask, because part of me is tempted to get a little bop kit made by Trick and try out the aluminum shell thing, but then part of me fully realizes that I don't know s*** about drum construction. Ha!
I'm taking the unusual step of copying my post from another thread, just for context;

Good points Mike & Mike. Greater mass on the bearing edge makes sense to me, as it often equates to greater head contact with the shell, & goes hand in hand with greater tone, but in no way equates to greater sustain.

Let's just examine a drum sound for a moment. The fundamental tone is only one element in the makeup of the total resolved drum sound (by resolved, I'm referring to the sound heard some distance from the drum, not what a close mic picks up), the rest of the sound is made up of overtones (any tone that isn't the fundamental tone. The combination of tones makes up the drum's character. Greater variety of frequencies of overtones = fatter sound. Think of them as a chorus effect, & you're not far wrong. So, overtones are sometimes good. Overtones are not good when one, or a small number of them (especially high pitched overtones) dominate. Without overtones, a drum offers a distinct & sonically flat tone (actually, there's no such thing as a drum totally devoid of overtones. Some players like this, & it certainly forms an easy to work with platform for studio engineers. The really difficult to achieve, & often elusive combination is a clear fundamental tone with a wide palate of nicely controlled overtones to offer a full sound.

So where do rerings come into this. 1st off, they weren't designed to enhance sound. Their primary function is that of shell stability, & that brings about the possibility of having thin shells that maintain shape. This, from a sound choice pov, is a good thing. In designs that use rounded edges, or otherwise achieve a fuller head contact, this offers increased shell involvement through vibrations transferred directly through physical contact. The shell is therefore excited by two mechanisms, 1/ direct transfer of vibrations by intimate contact & 2/ sympathetic resonance from sound waves acting inside the shell. One affect of rerings is to promote greater disturbance of the sound waves within the shell, & that produces more overtones. To add to that affect, through (typically) greater head contact, the vibrations transmitted through the shell migrate to the reso head. This means that the reso head is now influenced by two sources, but both at different frequencies. This, in turn, returns to the batter head by means of manipulation through sound pressure waves, & so the cycle continues. The net result is even more overtones. As most overtones are noticed in the higher register, this has the effect of raising the perception of overall pitch, but not necessarily the fundamental pitch itself. My personal feeling is the fundamental pitch is more likely to be raised slightly because the actual bearing edge point contact on a drum with rerings is more towards the center (i.e. smaller diameter) than on a thin shell without rerings.

Well, control those overtones, & it's all good. I'm not a fan of rerings myself, but I do recognise the positives as much as the negatives from my perspective. Now, design a rering that doesn't interupt the bore of the drum. I'll leave you with that little thought gem (wink).
__________________

As for aluminium & carbon fibre shells, I'm sure they work really well if the rest of the drum design is sympathetic to their strengths & weaknesses. No direct experience though. I can guess that they're going to be bright & project well, but beyond that, I'm lost.
 

motleyh

Senior Member
My personal feeling is the fundamental pitch is more likely to be raised slightly because the actual bearing edge point contact on a drum with rerings is more towards the center (i.e. smaller diameter) than on a thin shell without rerings.
/QUOTE]

I know it's not the main point of this discussion, but this is not necessarily the case. The logic holds up for a double-45 edge with a very sharp apex, but not really for other types. With a rounded edge of any sort, the placement of the edge apex controls how much contact area there is between shell and head. So unless you really want a different sound with rerings, you would cut the edges the same with or without the presence of rings -- that is, the distance in from the outside of the shell is the same. For example, if I use an edge apex centered on the shell -- 4mm in on an 8mm shell, for instance -- that 4mm measurement wouldn't change even if adding rerings -- UNLESS I deliberately wanted the resonance properties of the drum to change. If I added a 6mm rerings for a 14mm total thickness at the edge and moved my apex accordingly to 7mm in from the outside, I'd have nearly doubled the contact surface of the head, which is going to give a radically different -- and relatively dead -- sound with a rounded edge. (Please note: these are NOT edges, placements or measurements that I use -- they're just given as an easy-to-explain example.)

Rerings raise the pitch slightly -- usually around 1/2 step -- because of increased mass, not because of any change they dictate in edge design. You can hear the difference in a raw shell, before the edges are even cut.

However, this concept of moving the edge apex with thicker shells is a fairly common idea and lots of builders do build this way. I wonder whether that's what started the impression some people have that rerings kill resonance.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
My personal feeling is the fundamental pitch is more likely to be raised slightly because the actual bearing edge point contact on a drum with rerings is more towards the center (i.e. smaller diameter) than on a thin shell without rerings.
/QUOTE]

I know it's not the main point of this discussion, but this is not necessarily the case. The logic holds up for a double-45 edge with a very sharp apex, but not really for other types. With a rounded edge of any sort, the placement of the edge apex controls how much contact area there is between shell and head. So unless you really want a different sound with rerings, you would cut the edges the same with or without the presence of rings -- that is, the distance in from the outside of the shell is the same. For example, if I use an edge apex centered on the shell -- 4mm in on an 8mm shell, for instance -- that 4mm measurement wouldn't change even if adding rerings -- UNLESS I deliberately wanted the resonance properties of the drum to change. If I added a 6mm rerings for a 14mm total thickness at the edge and moved my apex accordingly to 7mm in from the outside, I'd have nearly doubled the contact surface of the head, which is going to give a radically different -- and relatively dead -- sound with a rounded edge. (Please note: these are NOT edges, placements or measurements that I use -- they're just given as an easy-to-explain example.)

Rerings raise the pitch slightly -- usually around 1/2 step -- because of increased mass, not because of any change they dictate in edge design. You can hear the difference in a raw shell, before the edges are even cut.

However, this concept of moving the edge apex with thicker shells is a fairly common idea and lots of builders do build this way. I wonder whether that's what started the impression some people have that rerings kill resonance.
Couldn't agree more with your post, but I have seen examples of rering shells with edges positioned more towards the center of the drum, & those players claim a raise in pitch. Not surprising really. Maybe this variation in edge placement is partially responsible for some hearing a raise in pitch, & some not.

I also agree that the fundamental tone is raised slightly, but it is slightly. In examples I've tried, the presence of higher overtones has been more apparent, & I think this contributes too. Of course, not all rerings are the same, so there's bound to be differences there too. All good stuff though.
 
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