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  #1  
Old 08-10-2011, 08:19 AM
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Default Wood vs other materials

I recently had a great conversation with the president of Trick drums. He made some really good points as to the lack of resonance of wood. He made a good point that if you take a wood drum shell and hit the shell with a mallet that you get just a little bit of resonance but you mostly just get a thud. I must concur that this is correct.

This got me thinking that all these years of drum companies making drums out of wood might not have been the best idea. I'm thinking it's possibly more based off of tradition then sound physics principles.

I'm not saying that wood drums don't sound good, they do. I'm just saying that other materials, if explored fully, may very well sound better.

All this said I'm very much wanting to hear a Trick kit in person to see how the sound compairs to wood.
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Old 08-10-2011, 11:25 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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Originally Posted by drummingman View Post
I recently had a great conversation with the president of Trick drums. He made some really good points as to the lack of resonance of wood. He made a good point that if you take a wood drum shell and hit the shell with a mallet that you get just a little bit of resonance but you mostly just get a thud. I must concur that this is correct.

This got me thinking that all these years of drum companies making drums out of wood might not have been the best idea. I'm thinking it's possibly more based off of tradition then sound physics principles.

I'm not saying that wood drums don't sound good, they do. I'm just saying that other materials, if explored fully, may very well sound better.

All this said I'm very much wanting to hear a Trick kit in person to see how the sound compairs to wood.
Well, he's both right & wrong. Let's separate out what's actually happening here. He's comparing an aluminium tube to a wood tube. The "thud" he describes is resonance, it just doesn't sustain very much. A drum's sustain is the product of the shell being constantly excited by both direct & sympathetic vibrations from the heads. The ring or sustain he's highlighting on an aluminium tube is a product of relative mass & hardness, & bears no meaningful relationship to sustained tone. It is true to state that aluminium of the same thickness as a comparable wood shell is easier to excite than some wood species, but a lot of the product of that excitement is high overtones. When you have a drum that delivers a lot of high overtones (especially toms), what's the first thing you do? You muffle them. Back to square one!

One last comment on your post. "Better" is subjective, & therefore never definitive, except in the context of a prescribed competition with set criteria.
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Old 08-10-2011, 11:27 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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"Better" is subjective, & therefore never definitive, except in the context of a prescribed competition with set criteria.
...or, in the context of your Guru kit...
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Old 08-10-2011, 11:53 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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I'm not saying that wood drums don't sound good, they do. I'm just saying that other materials, if explored fully, may very well sound better.
Well, his company makes aluminium drums ... so take that into consideration.
Sounding better. That's all subjective. What sounds "better" to you, might sound like "crap" to someone else. Aluminium drums have been around for 20+ years. Stainless steel shells ... 35+ years ... Acrylic shells .... about the same. Carbon fiber drum shells, about 20 years, also ....
And then there's injected molded plastic shells ... fiberglass shells .... yadda-yadda ...
And throughout it all ... wood shells seem to be the default material. Cost, probably, the biggest factor.
Just judging by who's playing what, on this forum, most guys are looking for the "biggest bang" for the dollar .... and that, by in large, means a wood shelled "intermediate" level kit ... made in China ...
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Old 08-10-2011, 12:09 PM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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Originally Posted by caddywumpus View Post
...or, in the context of your Guru kit...
Haha, well, maybe Caddy, but there's many who think it sounds like crap because it's not the sound they're after.

Quote:
Originally Posted by harryconway View Post
Just judging by who's playing what, on this forum, most guys are looking for the "biggest bang" for the dollar .... and that, by in large, means a wood shelled "intermediate" level kit ... made in China ...
& ain't that the truth. Nothing wrong with that. Everyone has a budget, & getting the best you can within that budget is a natural course of action.

There is a negative to that though, it discourages the larger manufacturers from engaging in meaningful R&D. Most concentrate on new cosmetic changes, themes, & low production cost impact specification changes they can easily sell as a means of differentiation.

I do support the spirit of the OP. Experimentation with new materials & construction techniques is to be encouraged. Unfortunately, & especially in this economic climate, it's left to the smaller guys with very limited budgets but a ton of passion, to carry the industry improvement forward.
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Old 08-10-2011, 02:58 PM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

I would say that they make different sounds, like the difference in a Marimba and a Xylophone. Both have sounds only different sounds. But as KIS said they all have resonance just differing amounts. Tradition, maybe, cost for sure. When aluminum costs the same as wood, more will be sold.
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Old 08-10-2011, 04:07 PM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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All this said I'm very much wanting to hear a Trick kit in person to see how the sound compairs to wood.
like i was saying in your other thread, my biggest impression of the Trick kit i heard is that it was incredibly loud! it sounded bright too, like an acrylic kit, if you know what they sound like.
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Old 08-10-2011, 08:03 PM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

Violins, cellos, guitars, and many other instruments are made from wood for their musical qualities.

That drum companies simply make drums out of wood due to tradition is false.

Starting from at least the 60's, and ever since, many drum companies have marketed drums made from non-wood materials. Numerous companies, small and large, have marketed drums made from steel, acrylic, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and such.

The fact is almost none of the non-wood drum kits was ever successful.
Even the most popular seller, the 70's Ludwig Vistalite, had to be discontinued due to too many shells had a tendency to crack.
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Old 08-10-2011, 08:17 PM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum View Post
Violins, cellos, guitars, and many other instruments are made from wood for their musical qualities.
Now wait a second! Have you ever heard an aluminum violin or cello? Ha! I didn't think so!*



*Our bass player has a non-Kramer aluminum neck-thru-body bass that is not as good as wood, IMO.
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Old 08-10-2011, 08:58 PM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

I have heard an aluminum guitar. Sounded pretty cool too. Great attack, and sustain that lasted a week! It was a tele style.

As for Trick drums sounding "bright," I would disagree. They have a live, strong attack. But bright isn't the word I would personally use. I understand how some can say the metal drums sound like acrylic because they too have a strong lively attack. The big difference between acrylic and aluminum, in my opinion is the aluminum kit's have far more sustain, not just a ring/overtone. Also the aluminum shells tend to be warmer and more deep in tone.
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  #11  
Old 08-11-2011, 03:37 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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Originally Posted by harryconway View Post
Well, his company makes aluminium drums ... so take that into consideration.
Ultimately, Harry's point tells us everything. It speaks volumes.

If I was president of Trick drums, I'd have said exactly the same thing. It's called "selling your product" and it worked on the OP didn't it?

As everyone else has mentioned, they have been making drums out of all sorts of materials for a long time now. It's hardly a new concept. As for them being "better", you're ear might dictate that they are. But generally speaking, the sheer amount of wooden shells still walking off the shelves begs to differ.
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Old 08-11-2011, 04:44 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

Don't forget, a lot of the overtones, especially unwanted overtones, are the result of head choice and tuning, no matter what the shells are made of. As far as resonance, my Trick kit properly tuned is more resonant and WARMER sounding than my wood (Tama) kit. Wood drums are more forgiving with tuning, I find the Trick drums must be tuned very carefully to sound the way I like them.
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  #13  
Old 08-11-2011, 04:52 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

Find some old Modern Drummer magazine from the late 70's, early 80's, and you'll see all sorts of ads for non-wood drums.

None of them really caught on.
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  #14  
Old 08-11-2011, 05:01 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

Think of the grain and density of the wood like the hammering and lathing on your cymbals.

Here's a thought: Remove all the hardware from your wooden drums (lugs, mounting hardware) and then give it another tap and see. A lot of resonance you'll find in metal drums with metal hardware exists because the resonant frequencies are complementing each other. This is not the case with metal hardware on wooden shells, because the resonant frequencies are vastly different. Why do you think so many manufacturers try to use minimal contact patches?
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  #15  
Old 08-11-2011, 07:13 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

The debate between wood shells and metal shells extends beyond the general material to both the specific type as well as quality.

Every type of material will have its own unique characteristics despite what category it is in.

Copper, aluminum, and brass drums of the same size will all have unique sound qualities to them just as maple, birch, or bubinga would.

Picking your shell type is all subjective and should be based on what you like and what you think sounds good.
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Old 08-11-2011, 06:32 PM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

Well, it's a matter of preference. But give me the sound of baseball hitting a wood bat over an aluminum bat anyday. The ball may travel farther from the aluminum but....

You get the point. My favorite snare is a simple Luxor snare made in the 60s by Rogers. Someone once described its sound like "eating a honeycrisp apple".
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Old 08-12-2011, 12:36 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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Originally Posted by drummingman View Post
I recently had a great conversation with the president of Trick drums. He made some really good points as to the lack of resonance of wood. He made a good point that if you take a wood drum shell and hit the shell with a mallet that you get just a little bit of resonance but you mostly just get a thud. I must concur that this is correct.

This got me thinking that all these years of drum companies making drums out of wood might not have been the best idea. I'm thinking it's possibly more based off of tradition then sound physics principles.

I'm not saying that wood drums don't sound good, they do. I'm just saying that other materials, if explored fully, may very well sound better.

All this said I'm very much wanting to hear a Trick kit in person to see how the sound compairs to wood.
Wood drums are very rare. Most drums are made of plywood, a wood composite material, like particle board (and there are some drums made of particle board too).

Processed wood products like plywood are used for their appearance, durability, low cost and sound properties. Keep in mind that each grain of wood acts as a micro-resonator and, even with lots of glue sandwiched between them, they still produce warmth in a correctly tuned drum, whether it's a CB 700 or a DW (which really have very little difference between them).
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Old 08-12-2011, 02:25 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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Wood drums are very rare. Most drums are made of plywood, a wood composite material, like particle board (and there are some drums made of particle board too).

Umm... ok.

Fun fact: Plywood is constructed of thin sheets of WOOD glued together! Complete different from MDF or chipboard. Hence the name "ply" meaning a layer (single-ply heads, anyone?) and "wood" meaning... um... wood?

</sarcasm>

Now, if you're talking about SOLID wood drums, yes they are much rarer but generally considered a lot more difficult to make due to the difficulty in guaranteeing the quality of the wood used in their construction. Spaun are an Australian company who make solid wood drums, as well as block and plywood shells.
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Old 08-12-2011, 03:14 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

There's place for all of them.
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Old 08-12-2011, 04:10 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

Anyone remember when Zildjian released the Titanium cymbal?
Yeah. That sounded awful! What about brass cymbals? They all basically come from the same factory with the same sound only with Meinl, Sabian, Headliner, Paiste, Zildjian printed on them... There is no difference but the price for the same cymbal. Best of all, they all sound bad which is probably why sales of Sheet Bronze cymbals are way up (which I actually really like, I know I know). But I grew up playing on brass cymbals and B8 hi-hats (branded Peavey) and I didn't like the sound of the brass at all after a while and after 2 years of saving up I left a music store with a Cast Bronze and compared all the cymbals which were brass to it and I basically just threw one away and they next few months I have a brand new Mapex Meridian Maple aswell as more Agean casts and now my whole kit is cast cymbals and an intermediate kit. I could careless if my drum kit was made in China or America or even in my garage. Aslong as I can get the sound I want, then that's me. Which also explains all my toms everywhere in pictures (on the floor, fiddly on stands etc. etc.) because for every style of music I play I have the required sound ready with only slight tweaking to the tuning MAYBE.

Everyones like "Oh, I hate kits made in China" and "Aluminium sounds better than a wood kit". Just remember, wood kits started it all and you guys wouldn't be playing drums today if it weren't for them. You don't exactly progress with an electronic kit though, it has helped with my creativity.

But that's just my story and I think "Keep It Simples" kit sounds amazing and also looks amazing and another note I think that Stainless Steel kits sound absolutely horrible and full of attack and overtones it hurts my ears.
But everyones different and everyone has views.
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Old 08-12-2011, 05:36 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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Originally Posted by iwearnohats View Post
Umm... ok.

Fun fact: Plywood is constructed of thin sheets of WOOD glued together! Complete different from MDF or chipboard. Hence the name "ply" meaning a layer (single-ply heads, anyone?) and "wood" meaning... um... wood?

</sarcasm>

Now, if you're talking about SOLID wood drums, yes they are much rarer but generally considered a lot more difficult to make due to the difficulty in guaranteeing the quality of the wood used in their construction. Spaun are an Australian company who make solid wood drums, as well as block and plywood shells.
I'd count stave, block and steambent as being in the whole wood category; natural whole wood drums are indeed rare.

Particle board and oriented strand board are processed wood products, as is plywood. Yes, processed wood products are made mostly from wood, sometimes very high-grade wood. But there are also a lot of binders, like glue, as well as shaping and forming using heat and pressure. That's where the processing part comes in. Steambent, stave and block shells undergo much less processing and have vastly less glue compared to ply.

That's not knocking plywood at all; plywood has superior strength and workability and lower cost than whole wood construction (including steambent, stave and block), which is more prone to cracking and warping. Some of the best drums ever made are made from processed wood products like plywood and particle board.

While plywood is made with wood, it is not the same as natural whole wood, although manufacturers really want you to think plywood is wood. Wood is wood. Plywood is plywood. I am not inclined to confuse them.
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:14 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

You guys forgot to even mention Remo's Acousticon, surprisingly good sound i think.
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  #23  
Old 08-12-2011, 09:42 AM
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Spaun are an Australian company who make solid wood drums, as well as block and plywood shells.
???????????????????????????????
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Old 08-12-2011, 09:53 AM
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???????????????????????????????
Indeed, news to me, as well ... I thought Spaun was located in the San Dimas/Chino area of Southern California ... 'bout 30 minute drive from where I live ...
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:13 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

Remember it is not just the material of shell that is a deciding factor, a new set of heads tuned well makes a drum sound fantastic.

Not bolting a lot of hardware to the shell also tends to stuff up the sound of drum shell much less, Sleishman Drums uses this principle with its free-floating shell drums (which are also easy to tune).


...Sound is not the only factor.

A solid block wood shell resonates very fully (see DeathMetalConga's drumkit) but it is uneconomical to turn out logs to make these drums and they are also very heavy.
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Old 08-12-2011, 03:28 PM
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Sorry, I must be getting my companies confused - you're correct, Spaun are in California.
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Old 08-12-2011, 06:40 PM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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Sorry, I must be getting my companies confused - you're correct, Spaun are in California.
were you thinking of Brady drums? i've always admired them. they make solid block drums, as well as ply shell drums.
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:57 AM
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Nope - wasn't thinking of Brady. I have a feeling someone linked me a number of years ago to an Australian company that does or did make solid drums, I thought it was Spaun but it's entirely possible I may have got the company name confused, or the location.

Edit: Found out! It's SPIRIT drums!

http://www.spiritdrums.com/snare/beat.html
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Old 08-14-2011, 05:23 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

I do agree that head choice makes a huge difference in the sound of a drum no matter what it's made of.

I find myself drawn to things that are different. Whether that be Trick's shells or Remo's shells. As long as I like the sound that's what matters most to me. But at the same time I still like the traditional sound of wood. But the idea of the durability of a Trick shell is really cool to me.

On a side note, why doesn't Remo market their drum sets a lot more? From what I have read the drums sound good.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:42 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

I'd be concerned about the propensity of Trick shells to hold heat during outdoor summer gigs where there's no tent.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:30 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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I do agree that head choice makes a huge difference in the sound of a drum no matter what it's made of.

I find myself drawn to things that are different. Whether that be Trick's shells or Remo's shells. As long as I like the sound that's what matters most to me. But at the same time I still like the traditional sound of wood. But the idea of the durability of a Trick shell is really cool to me.

On a side note, why doesn't Remo market their drum sets a lot more? From what I have read the drums sound good.
I totally understand your point of view. I, too, am drawn to things that are different - ABP, or Anything But Ply.

If you play what everyone else plays, you will sound like everyone else.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:40 AM
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  #32  
Old 08-16-2011, 08:40 AM
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If you play what everyone else plays, you will sound like everyone else.
It's a rare occasion that I disagree with you old mate. But I'll say this. Bonham does/did not sound like Carmine Appice who in turn does/did not sound like Cozy Powell who does/did not sound like any other named player of the day of Ludwig 3 ply re-ringed kits. It's more than just the wood my friend. At the end of the day, it's that player that determines the tone, the texture and the musical voice of said kit. If I played your beautiful Ironwoods.....I'd bet London to a brick that no-one would ever confuse your playing to mine, purely based on the tones we can both draw from the instrument......well, either that or the simple fact that you can play and I can't. :-)

Last edited by Pocket-full-of-gold; 08-16-2011 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:41 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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Originally Posted by drummingman View Post
I recently had a great conversation with the president of Trick drums. He made some really good points as to the lack of resonance of wood. He made a good point that if you take a wood drum shell and hit the shell with a mallet that you get just a little bit of resonance but you mostly just get a thud. I must concur that this is correct.
.
So then we should make marimbas and drum heads out of something else, right?
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:45 AM
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Default Re: Wood vs other materials

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Now wait a second! Have you ever heard an aluminum violin or cello? Ha! I didn't think so!*



*Our bass player has a non-Kramer aluminum neck-thru-body bass that is not as good as wood, IMO.
Not an aluminium violin but perspex or fibreglass - Ponty played one and it sounded great.

Who needs drumshells? Rototoms are due to make a big comeback ;-)
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:16 AM
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So then we should make marimbas and drum heads out of something else, right?
They already do! Plastic and aluminum are common materials for marimbas and vibraphones.

Many drum heads and made out of fish, snake, goat and cowhide, as well as mylar plastic in single and multiple sheets.
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