What makes a Quality drum?

What is it that separates a cheap drum from an expensive one?

I'm sure all factors including hardware and wood quality make a difference, but what is that difference and how does it contribute to the sound?

Thanks
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
To me a Quality drum is a drum that sounds good.
It is a drum that has true bearing edges.
It is a drum that has solid functioning hardware.
It can be made from many different materials. It could be an expensive or exotic wood, metal or, plastic.
It could be made from an inexpensive wood or other material.

A quality drum is subjective to the player and his/her individual tastes.
Some of my favorite drums are inexpensive ones. I also like expensive drums.
I find a personality in almost every drum that I play.

In my opinion, There is no one definition of, "What Makes a Quality Drum?".

One mans trash is another mans treasure.
 

Adam8

Senior Member
The end all for me would have to be bearing edges - you'll never see a low quality drum with good ones, or a high quality drum with bad ones.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
The end all for me would have to be bearing edges - you'll never see a low quality drum with good ones, or a high quality drum with bad ones.
Not necessarily true! I own several inexpensive kits with fine bearing edges.
One is a Tama Stagestar and One is a Pearl Rhythm Traveler.
Every drum on both of these kits tunes perfectly.
Cutting a good accurate bearing edge isn't that hard in a factory setting with good tooling.
 

Kenny Allyn

Senior Member
To me a Quality drum is a drum that sounds good.
It is a drum that has true bearing edges.
It is a drum that has solid functioning hardware.
It can be made from many different materials. It could be an expensive or exotic wood, metal or, plastic.
It could be made from an inexpensive wood or other material.

A quality drum is subjective to the player and his/her individual tastes.
Some of my favorite drums are inexpensive ones. I also like expensive drums.
I find a personality in almost every drum that I play.

In my opinion, There is no one definition of, "What Makes a Quality Drum".
That is about it ... well said


Like so many other instruments today, what could be considered a mid grade drum today was pro level in say the 70s. Same is true for guitars and basses also.

When I chose my kit it was on the reputation of that companys total quality control and from the recommendations of many other drummers. It's not considered in any way top of the line but I have no complaints with either fit and finish, hardware or sound. The kit is quality in every way ... exotic no.

It's a keeper and at $400.00 used with all new heads and shipped with a set of Tuxedo bags considered a best buy!

Sound is indeed subjective ... but real quality can be had today for bargain prices do the research and chose well, there is a lot of good quality gear out there.
 

motleyh

Senior Member
I think quality is in the details.

I agree completely that sound is subjective. Not only that, but different sounds have different uses -- one kit might sound great for hard rock, but be completely off the mark for bebop, for example. It's not that one is better than the other -- they're each suited to a different purpose.

But in the design and making of a drum, there are dozens of small details that work in combination to make the drum respond well, perform well, tune well, hold up well, etc. Players are usually unaware of the majority of these small details -- they just know that the drum is consistently a pleasure to work with. Details like the way a hole in the shell fits a lug post, or how the shape of the end plate of a particular set of snares fits the shape of the snare bed, or how the edges are sealed and finished, not just how they're cut. The end results are the major factors like tone, responsiveness, dynamic range, durability -- the things that determine a good musical instrument. A lot of it is fit and finish, but all the tiny details have to work together to make the quality happen.

That's not to say that a lower quality instrument might not have exactly the characteristics or sound that make you happy. But there's a difference between a Volkswagon and a Ferrari, and the difference is found in a myriad of small details, not just in the basic specs.
 

mcbike

Silver Member
I think alot of people take for granted quality construction. I have a high dollar custom maple snare from one of the big name custom shops and it loves to pop lugs. I have rebuilt the thing 20 times over and used loc-tite but it somehow the screws still come loose with regular playing. It's got a great shell with great true edges, great hardware (trick throw off, tube lugs) but I don't take it out anymore. It's just not reliable. It is probably a poor design choice, maybe the holes for the lug post are too big? maybe the screws are a little bit too long?

To me a quality drum isn't just about a brand name or a certain wood or bearing edge. In fact I have drums in some of my kits that are quality while the next one isn't as good.
 

deuce13coop

Junior Member
I think quality is in the details.

I agree completely that sound is subjective. Not only that, but different sounds have different uses -- one kit might sound great for hard rock, but be completely off the mark for bebop, for example. It's not that one is better than the other -- they're each suited to a different purpose.

But in the design and making of a drum, there are dozens of small details that work in combination to make the drum respond well, perform well, tune well, hold up well, etc. Players are usually unaware of the majority of these small details -- they just know that the drum is consistently a pleasure to work with. Details like the way a hole in the shell fits a lug post, or how the shape of the end plate of a particular set of snares fits the shape of the snare bed, or how the edges are sealed and finished, not just how they're cut. The end results are the major factors like tone, responsiveness, dynamic range, durability -- the things that determine a good musical instrument. A lot of it is fit and finish, but all the tiny details have to work together to make the quality happen.

That's not to say that a lower quality instrument might not have exactly the characteristics or sound that make you happy. But there's a difference between a Volkswagon and a Ferrari, and the difference is found in a myriad of small details, not just in the basic specs.
Yup. I agree 100%. Details, details, details. Here's an example. I had a customer come to us interested in a snare. He drove over an hour to our shop and spent about 3 hours playing the two kits we have set up and a dozen or so snares. One of the snares really grabbed him. It was a thin shelled Mahogany 7"x14" (Stave) with rerings and vintage style wood hoops. He was nuts over it. I priced him out and a week later I got an email from him saying he had actually built a Sepele (very similar to Mahog)stave shell himself. He is an avid turner and an established woodworker. Being a nice fellow he apologized profusely for "stealing" my ideas asked if he could purchase the hardware through us and pay to assist him in assembly/set up. Fine. He came back down with a very fine looking shell. Very fine. Nice finish, nice edges. But once we started putting it together I noticed the shell was a bit thicker in the center all the way around. Lugs didn't want to sit right. Snare beds were a tad irregular to one side and a bit undersized. Unwanted snare buzz. The height was 6.25" in most spots but a 1/16" shorter in others. Heads didn't seat right. Long story short his beautiful looking snare with lots of love and time put into it just didn't cut the mustard. Since then I have recut the snare beds for him which helped a bit but it still isn't up to snuff. Moral of the story: he left with a lot more respect for us and what we do and I got a repeat customer who is buying the snare and a matching kit.
 
Sorry for my absence...don't know if i was missed.

If i can gather from what you guys are saying, a quality drum doesn't necessarily equate to more cost.

So how what are some quality brands? I want to build a kit piece by piece, starting with the bass drum, but I don't know what to look for. Cheaper is better, but the reason i'm doing it piece by piece is so that I can do it right. So I don't know want cheap crap, I want cheap goods. So if you can suggest these inexpensive drums that you guys love, i'd appreciate it.
I'm considering buying a floor tom or marching bass drum to convert. If you guys can think along those lines or give me more suggestions it'd be helpful.

Thanks.
 

BassDriver

Silver Member
One of the biggest things that makes a good quality drum is the harmony of the shell with the drum-head.

Now the tricky part of that is what needs to be done to ensure that harmony.

...over the years there has been a tendency of drum companies to make smaller lugs, and to have drums mounted from their lugs or rims instead of through the shells, less contact with the shell means the drum shell can resonate much more freely...

...and there's getting the bearing edge right, it not just influences the sound but the tuning reliability of the drum...

...and of course the shell needs to be made of the best wood selection in the first place...

...with the right dimensions to suit the musical requirements of the drum (eg. it isn't normally suitable to use deep "power"-sized toms for jazz fusion)...

...and there is the aesthetics too, pricey drums often look quite fine...

...a lot of thought goes into it, both the crafter's work and the drummer's taste.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
One of the biggest things that makes a good quality drum is the harmony of the shell with the drum-head.

Now the tricky part of that is what needs to be done to ensure that harmony.

...over the years there has been a tendency of drum companies to make smaller lugs, and to have drums mounted from their lugs or rims instead of through the shells, less contact with the shell means the drum shell can resonate much more freely...

...and there's getting the bearing edge right, it not just influences the sound but the tuning reliability of the drum...

...and of course the shell needs to be made of the best wood selection in the first place...

...with the right dimensions to suit the musical requirements of the drum (eg. it isn't normally suitable to use deep "power"-sized toms for jazz fusion)...

...and there is the aesthetics too, pricey drums often look quite fine...

...a lot of thought goes into it, both the crafter's work and the drummer's taste.
Where does glue fit into this? It is a crucial component of drums but overlooked a lot.
 

JSdrums

Member
Yup. I agree 100%. Details, details, details. Here's an example. I had a customer come to us interested in a snare. He drove over an hour to our shop and spent about 3 hours playing the two kits we have set up and a dozen or so snares. One of the snares really grabbed him. It was a thin shelled Mahogany 7"x14" (Stave) with rerings and vintage style wood hoops. He was nuts over it. I priced him out and a week later I got an email from him saying he had actually built a Sepele (very similar to Mahog)stave shell himself. He is an avid turner and an established woodworker. Being a nice fellow he apologized profusely for "stealing" my ideas asked if he could purchase the hardware through us and pay to assist him in assembly/set up. Fine. He came back down with a very fine looking shell. Very fine. Nice finish, nice edges. But once we started putting it together I noticed the shell was a bit thicker in the center all the way around. Lugs didn't want to sit right. Snare beds were a tad irregular to one side and a bit undersized. Unwanted snare buzz. The height was 6.25" in most spots but a 1/16" shorter in others. Heads didn't seat right. Long story short his beautiful looking snare with lots of love and time put into it just didn't cut the mustard. Since then I have recut the snare beds for him which helped a bit but it still isn't up to snuff. Moral of the story: he left with a lot more respect for us and what we do and I got a repeat customer who is buying the snare and a matching kit.
Anyone I've met with a custom made kit or snare hasn't owned enough "other" drums to warrant the need for a custom drum. Wouldn't you need the experience and ear to know what you want?? You'd think.
 

BassDriver

Silver Member
Where does glue fit into this? It is a crucial component of drums but overlooked a lot.
More glue, less freedom for the shell to resonate...

...the idea I like is that what Brady Drums does...

...they use a resin of sorts instead of glue to seal up the one seam in their "1-ply" drum shells, the resin eventually settles and becomes a part of the shell.
 

mg33

Member
Has anyone mentioned ... rims? [sometimes known as "hoops" ... the metal thing that holds the drum head in place]

For me a quality drum has to have diecast rims. So many new kits have these flanged rims. My Gretsch kits has diecast hoops/rims all around ... and I will never play a kit without them. I think the diecast hoops keep the head on straight and in alignment with the bearing edge. The flanged rims/hoops can bend if you get one side too tight.

Not sure, technically, but I believe that keeping the head even on the bearing edges contributes to a better sounding drum.

Any comments???
 

mg33

Member
... what is that difference and how does it contribute to the sound?
... play a rimshot or cross stick on a diecast rim vs. flanged rim. You can hear and feel the difference. A diecast rim is so much more solid sounding. A very solid click ... and it feels better. IMHO
 

motleyh

Senior Member
I'd take the diecast-vs-triple-flange issue out of the equation entirely. That isn't about quality, it's about sound preference.

Diecast hoops will give you a tighter, more focused sound and more pronounced rimshots and cross-sticking. Triple flange will open up the sound more and let the drum sing. It's purely a matter of personal preference and intended use. For either one, you can find a range of quality from excellent to shoddy, so keep your eyes open. Some players prefer diecast, others TF, usually based on the type of music they're playing. There are some, like myself, who prefer diecast on snares and triple flange on toms.

Diecasts cost significantly more, so the big manufacturers present them as an upgrade to make their products more competitive. Whether you actually need them -- or want them for that matter -- is a different question.

EDIT: Oh and the tuning question -- even tuning is really done with the tension rods. You can get a head in tune or out of tune just as easily with either type of hoop. While the diecast may hold its even shape slightly more because of more stiffness, it also tends to let the tension rods loosen up individually under intense playing or rimshots. No clear advantage either way.
 
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