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  #1  
Old 11-16-2011, 01:02 AM
SickRick
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Default Help me out with a real tough decision

Hey folks,

I'm facing quite a tough decision and I could use some opinions. This should be interesting...

So here is the story:

As some of you may have heard a short time ago I decided to sell my Tama B/B and get a new set. At first I was looking into Sonor as that was something I always wanted to have. By now I have abandoned that idea though because I think that Sonor kits are a bit overpriced and frankly look like my grandmas cupboard.

And then Andy (KeepItSimple) comes along and offers me to come to England and try out some Guru drums which I did. We had two great days of messing with a ton of different drums all of which were spectacular good. I immediately fell in love with and bought one of Andys Guru snares but don't have it yet because we're still waiting for a strainer to arrive for that drum (I want to Trick strainer because I really like that one but it's hard to get in the color I want). As for the drums themselves we didn't have that many drums to choose from so we didn't find something that would fit my preferences 100%. However, Andy did watch me playing up close for quite a few hours and came up with a custom set that would be perfect for the way I play (stave set with rather thin shells, possibly steam bent rack toms though).
Then there is the other story about a few Apple- and Peartrees: My cousin just over a year ago cut down a few apple- and peartrees from my fathers old backyard to build furniture from them. These trees were approximately 150-200 years old which for these kind of trees is quite remarkable because usually they are cut down much much sooner than that. The wood quality of these trees was absolutely incredible according to my cousins carpenter (he said he never saw anything like it in his whole career). The thing is: we would have enough apple and pearwood left to built a drumset out of it. Of course I would have to drive to my cousin (which is about 6-8 hours one way) pick the wood, send it to Andy and Dean, they would have to check the wood, cure it and then built the drums out of it if they think it's good enough for an instrument.

Now here is the thing: As far as we know up until this point nobody has ever built a drumset out of apple or pearwood. Dean found one company that once built a snare out of applewood which according to them sounded fantastic but they never went on to built a whole drumset probably because they didn't have enough wood of good enough quality or because it would have been too expensive.

To wrap it up: I could get a drumset built made out of my own wood from my fathers childhood backyard. The risk is: Nobody could tell how it would sound like. It could either be epic or epic fail.

Well.... in the meantime I did check out some other drums (besides Sonor) and really fell in love with a set of Pork Pie Maple drums that I could get for a steal. The thing about these drums is that:

- I know how they sound like and they are absolutely perfect for me and my needs
- they are cheaper than the Gurus (although Andy offered me an incredible price but lets not talk about money here too much)
- I could pick them up immediately
- If something happens to these drums I could just drive to the store and get it fixed
- They fit on my old hardware, so I wouldn't have to get anything new besides the drums themselves
- They look fantastic
- I just like the company - Bill makes great stuff!!
- Easy to resell if I want to: Pork Pie is a well known company that many people around here would want.

On the other hand the Gurus:

- Truly special and personal set that nobody else own the planet has and will ever have
- Massive wood (either steambent or stave - no ply drums)
- My own wood
- I love the company!! Andy is the nicest guy in England and he said Dean is even nicer (and Dean builds incredible drums)
- High risk though because all of us don't know the outcome
- Long wait because the wood needs to be picked, shipped to England, cured, built into drums and then sent back to me
- If something happens to the drums the nearest guy who can fix it is about 1500km away.
- More expensive (also huge cost for driving and shipping) but of course incredible value in return.

My first plan is to compare two snares: I bought a Pork Pie and am waiting for the Guru. When I have both I'll do some heavy testing with both. Possibly I'll first send Andy enough wood to build one or two snares (stave and steam bent) just to try it out. Bad side is that this will make the process of getting a drumset even longer.

Opinions? Thoughts? Share them with me!
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  #2  
Old 11-16-2011, 01:37 AM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

Man, that really is a tough decision. Torture. I don't know if anyone can answer this for you but yourself. Choices like this come down to personality and you probably already are leaning one way more than the other. I bet you'll go that route in the end.

For me, I would probably wimp out and make the safe choice by getting the Pork Pie set. I just can't imagine having the patience to wait for the custom kit.

But there couldn't be anything cooler than having a kit made out of that old tree that's been in your family for so long. I guess you'd have to make one drum out of it before committing to a full set. If that one drum doesn't sound good, then your decision is easy and you get the Pork Pie drums. But if it sounds great, I bet that wait would be worth it. Plus, what I've seen of Guru and heard of Andy, I would want to support them and get in on the action. A great company run by great people... that's something I find irresistible.

I guess it comes down to cost. Not just the money you'd be spending but the waiting and the uncertainty. If you're willing to pay those things, I think the Guru set is the way to go. It's like wanting to own a BMW M3 but deciding whether you can afford or are willing to pay what it costs to own one. If not, you get the VW Passat. :)

Good luck, man. I think you get a beautiful set of drums either way.
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Old 11-16-2011, 01:57 AM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

Quote:
The risk is: Nobody could tell how it would sound like. It could either be epic or epic fail.
Utter nonsense. There's no risk.

They will be drums, so they will sound like drums. You can make drums out of anything. Cheap wood, expensive wood, metal, plastic, fiberglass, doesn't matter. They will sound like drums. Perhaps different woods will sound different, but they certainly don't sound like epic fail. I think larry's compare-3-snares thread showed that even experienced drummers can't tell one drum shell material from another by ear. Didn't everyone who posted guess wrong? It has been said numerous times on this forum that 75% of the sound of a drum is in the heads and tuning. I'd bet design and hardware considerations are a pretty large chunk of the rest of the sound, and wood type is only a small factor. Even cheap drums made from cheap wood will sound good with good heads and good tuning. The biggest issue with cheap drums is the craftsmanship; oblong shells and bearing edges cut by mouse. You won't have that problem. And a bit of googling hints that apple and pear have janka hardness ratings in the 1700s, which is harder than the commonly used maple at around 1450. Perfectly suitable for drums, it won't be like you're building drums out of cardboard or balsa or something.

So really, are you prepared to pay what it costs to have a unique family heirloom built? Sounds like the shipping companies are you biggest risk; be sure you've got enough wood in reserve to cover that problem.

Personally, I think the whole thing is a great idea. These drums may turn out different from some, but I can't imagine how they could turn out bad. Go for it.
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:21 AM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

I'll pray for the trees. 150-200 years?!? I'd have let 'em live!

Signed, Treehugger Larry :)

p.s. Good luck whatever you choose..
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:22 AM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

You stated that in regards to the Pork Pie set, "I know how they sound like and they are absolutely perfect for me and my needs". Personally, I wouldn't over think it and go with what you know.
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:23 AM
Devils Haircut Devils Haircut is offline
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

If it were me I would go with the Gurus. Andy and Bill are both forum members, great builders, and really nice people. Either kit will sound great. But the Guru apple kit will have 1,000 times more meaning to you along with being rare and unique.
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Old 11-16-2011, 03:38 AM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

You only live once. Get the custom Gurus. My dad was a custom autoharp builder and he used all sorts of different hardwoods. His harps are highly regarded in the folk & bluegrass circles and everybody who owns one is very proud of it.
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Old 11-16-2011, 04:56 AM
New Tricks New Tricks is offline
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

The decision is simple.

Buy a kit and build a kit from your trees.

You can't have too many drums. Wait....there is no such hing as too many drums.

Having a kit built from your own trees would be pretty effing cool. Something to keep and pass down. Document every step with pictures.
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Old 11-16-2011, 10:36 AM
SickRick
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soupy View Post
Utter nonsense. There's no risk.
Thanks guys for all the points you've made - please keep em coming!

Soupy, this is an interesting point and I'd like to say something about it: From my personal experience with literally dozens of drums (I teach a whole lot and offer a service of tuning kits for my students which lets me deal with everything from rock bottom to high end) I'd say that:

Heads and Hoops make 80-90% of the drumsound if, however, the bearing edges are intact and the lugs&screws are working. This equation accounts more to cheaper drums from my experience.

If you are willing to pay more what you get at first is better looks and better hardware. The sounddifference ain't that great.

Once you enter the high end segment you will really start to hear differences at least from my experience. When I tried the Pork Pies I did try them against a Sonor Delite (both are thin maple shells and cost roughly about the same) that had the exact same sizes and the same heads: To my ears the Pies sounded much better which was a pretty big surprise to me because the Delites were what I wanted to get in the first place. Both sets also sounded way different which is kind of suprising, at least to me. The shop owner said this was mainly due to the different types of bearing edges as the wood and the shell thickness are roughly the same (Delites have rereings though which also make a difference).

Now let's talk Guru Drums: When I in was England to my biggest surprise did I find out that the type of wood used makes a huge difference on these drums - probably because they are no ply shells but either steam bent or stave. So this experience is what lead me to the either epic or epic fail conclusion.

@Larryz: The thing is: The trees would have been cut down anyway because the property was sold. I guess no sane person would cut down such trees for no reason. I think it's nice that they ended as furniture and possibly as musical instruments than as firewood. What do you think?

@New Tricks: That's what I'm thinking too. My wallet suggests getting only one kit though :(
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  #10  
Old 11-16-2011, 10:45 AM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

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Originally Posted by 8Mile View Post
Plus, what I've seen of Guru and heard of Andy, I would want to support them and get in on the action. A great company run by great people... that's something I find irresistible.
This is so true. On the other hand Pork Pie is also a great company run by great people - they are really small, stand behind their products - Bill signs each and every shell personally that goes out of his company. It's not like we're talking Pearl/Tama/DW/Yamaha etc. here :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 8Mile View Post
I guess it comes down to cost. Not just the money you'd be spending but the waiting and the uncertainty. If you're willing to pay those things, I think the Guru set is the way to go. It's like wanting to own a BMW M3 but deciding whether you can afford or are willing to pay what it costs to own one. If not, you get the VW Passat. :)

Good luck, man. I think you get a beautiful set of drums either way.
Waiting and uncertainty is the bigger factor than the cash itself. I'm sure I'll earn more money down the road so I'll make up for that... I must say if I had the choice I'd be more of a M5 than M3 guy, although what I drive now is a VW Polo which is about the absolute and total opposite of that hahaha.
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Old 11-16-2011, 07:20 PM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

I would go with the custom Gurus from your family trees, because this is just one of the coolest things I've ever heard of.

In my mind the risk is worth it for this unique opportunity, and for drums that will have more meaning to you personally.
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  #12  
Old 11-16-2011, 07:44 PM
chaymus chaymus is offline
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

The chance to do something this rare should be taken. Build this set and pioneer a new enterprise. The world could use some more pear trees :)
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Old 11-16-2011, 07:52 PM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

This is fresh cut lumber, so there's a time factor that I didn't see mentioned in detail. I work for a violin maker, and even doing entry level student instruments, using a pretty aggressive steam kiln and dry kiln drying process it takes us four years to produce reasonably stable wood. For building a professional level instrument, makers are looking for 15-100 years of drying. Drum making may be entirely different.

Here are a couple of quick pastes I found on a tonewood site about the nature of the two woods:
- Pear Wood (N/A)

Hard, heavy pinkish colored wood. Said to have an almost "Haunting" tone to it.

- Apple Wood (N/A)

Wavy grained yellowish wood. Put emphasis on the high end of the guitar.

http://www.guitarscanada.com/guitar-...tonewoods.html

The answer is definitely two kits. One now, one later. your kids can get new shoes later.
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Old 11-16-2011, 07:55 PM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

I would totally Guru the family tree. Even if the drums sounded like crap (no chance in hell of that, however) ... how cool would it be to have a drum set .... set up in the corner of the living room ... made out of the family tree. People spend thousands on dinning room tables, coffee tables, etc. ..... break out your bad drummer self .... DO IT!
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Old 11-16-2011, 09:44 PM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

Wow! This sounds like a great project (the Guru drums). My first thought is, what is the application that you will be using these drums? Gigging out with a lot of packing/ unpacking and travelling or just to have set up at the house?
It would be great to have a set of drums with a story such as yours being that they were made from wood your father's childhood property, but I sure would be afraid of lugging them all over the place for gigs.
But, if that's not your intent and you have the $$ and way to make it happen, I'd so go for it!
As far as being uncertain of the sound, I'm sure you would not be unhapppy considering that the right selection of heads and tuning can make most any set sound great.
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Old 11-16-2011, 10:03 PM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

Wow, if it were me I would go for the pear/apple wood kit. It my mind that's a great use for the wood and the ultimate application of recycling. You'd have some unique bond with the kit (if someone could bond with a kit).

Although I will say that it's not really a family airloom - those sort of things which are handed through the ages are pewter mugs, war medals, pens that sort of thing..a drum kit is a little massive for future generations to cling onto...just a thought.
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Old 11-16-2011, 10:31 PM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

Get the Guru set. Lutz, you won't regret it and the sentimental value will be there as much as anything else. The Pork Pies are fine drums but Dean makes something really special.
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Old 11-16-2011, 10:53 PM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spreggy View Post
This is fresh cut lumber, so there's a time factor that I didn't see mentioned in detail. I work for a violin maker, and even doing entry level student instruments, using a pretty aggressive steam kiln and dry kiln drying process it takes us four years to produce reasonably stable wood. For building a professional level instrument, makers are looking for 15-100 years of drying. Drum making may be entirely different.

Here are a couple of quick pastes I found on a tonewood site about the nature of the two woods:
- Pear Wood (N/A)

Hard, heavy pinkish colored wood. Said to have an almost "Haunting" tone to it.

- Apple Wood (N/A)

Wavy grained yellowish wood. Put emphasis on the high end of the guitar.

http://www.guitarscanada.com/guitar-...tonewoods.html

The answer is definitely two kits. One now, one later. your kids can get new shoes later.
Ok, this is very interesting. What do "steam kiln" and "dry kiln" mean? Andy explained to me that before the wood is built into a drumshell it needs to dry / cure in a special room which is heated and dehumidified for a couple of months. So are you saying that I would need to let the wood dry for a few years and then get an instrument from it? In the meantime the Pork Pies?

@fixxxer: Since I am a working / professional drummer, the kit would be a heavily played and also gigged kit. No matter which instrument I buy, I don't want to just look at it... I want to play it and I want to gig it as I want others to hear the set live.
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:48 PM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by Devils Haircut View Post
If it were me I would go with the Gurus. Andy and Bill are both forum members, great builders, and really nice people. Either kit will sound great. But the Guru apple kit will have 1,000 times more meaning to you along with being rare and unique.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnite Zephyr View Post
You only live once. Get the custom Gurus. My dad was a custom autoharp builder and he used all sorts of different hardwoods. His harps are highly regarded in the folk & bluegrass circles and everybody who owns one is very proud of it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by harryconway View Post
I would totally Guru the family tree. Even if the drums sounded like crap (no chance in hell of that, however) ... how cool would it be to have a drum set .... set up in the corner of the living room ... made out of the family tree. People spend thousands on dinning room tables, coffee tables, etc. ..... break out your bad drummer self .... DO IT!
These posts sum it up for me.

Get Andy to make the kit for you. No question. It would a prized and treasured heirloom and then you could have Andy also name it for you. You know those Brits. Apples, Pears, Stairs and all that slang.

Andy could explain.
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Old 11-17-2011, 12:14 AM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

Ok, I've resisted chiming in because I didn't want to influence the replies to Lutz's question, but Lutz has asked me to clarify a couple of points. First up, I'd just like to highlight something that both Dean & myself agree completely on.

The worst scenario for us is to have an artist who's not totally in love with one of our instruments. We'd happily walk away from any commercial opportunity if there was a chance of that. We regularly turn down specified build requests because we know the end result will be either sub standard, or the client doesn't fully appreciate the impact of the choice they're insisting upon. I hope that Lutz can verify just how cautious we've been with our advice on this proposed build.

We're confident we can build a superb set of drums from Lutz's family timber. It's not the first time Dean's built drums from the log through to a complete instrument. Structurally & sonically, we have no concerns. Our only sticking point is whether the resultant timbre will be precisely to Lutz's idea of a perfect sound, & that's because we're not aware of anyone who's made a complete kit from pear wood before. So it's rare, super rare. That said, we're pretty confident it'll make great drums. Furthermore, we can compensate to a degree for less desirable character traits through adjustment of bearing edges & shell thickness should Lutz be concerned after the build is complete.

The other option on the table, as Lutz mentioned in his OP, is to make him a kit from a wood species that we already know & understand. That's a pretty safe bet for us, in terms of Lutz liking the end result.

Specifically on the pear wood. Dean's already viewed a video of the wood. We understand that the wood was felled about a year ago & is currently in board form. Lutz's carpenter cousin has already made furniture from the wood. In terms of curing wood for drum production, natural air curing in a northern European atmosphere works at a rate of around 10mm thickness/year for this species. Dean has a very gentle & advanced cycled curing facility that can take already cut boards to a state of cure ready for drum production quite quickly (numbers of weeks) depending on the timber species. Solid construction drum shells move. They continually respond to temperature & humidity changes, just as any piece of wood will. A solid drum shell, correctly constructed, moves as a single piece without any adverse affect on the shell integrity. The timber stability required for a violin is on a completely different level to that of a drum shell, especially with respect to that instrument holding it's tuning & resisting deformation under string tension. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a modern ply shell can be made of veneer that was cured the day before it was made into a drum. Candidly, by the time it's been coated in glue, heated up, & compressed under huge pressure, any potential movement in an individual veneer is irrelevant. It pretty much ceases to behave like wood.

So there's a bit of clarification & context. As for which way Lutz should decide, I've already summed up my advice to Lutz from the POV of a friend & drumming brother. It's a decision of the head vs. a decision of the heart. Lutz has already found a kit, the Pork Pie, that he can have right away, & it satisfies his requirements. That's the logical choice here, & one that any right thinking drummer would advise he take, simply on the basis of tried & tested vs. a degree of unknown. The Pork Pie is maple. We can build a maple kit to rival & exceed the very best out there, no issue, but frankly, what's the point when there's something available ready to go out of the box that gets the job done. The pear wood kit is a real journey into the unknown. Worst scenario, it'll be a beautifully crafted & great sounding kit but not to Lutz's liking. Best scenario, it'll be something that never ceases to make him smile every time he plays it.

Over to you guys for sage advise. I'm happy either way, because it'll be what Lutz wants. I'm just pleased he's decided to come back playing :)

BTW Lutz, we can fit tom holders to interface with your Tama hardware, no problem. I forgot to tell you that.
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Old 11-17-2011, 01:56 AM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

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Originally Posted by SickRick View Post
Ok, this is very interesting. What do "steam kiln" and "dry kiln" mean? Andy explained to me that before the wood is built into a drumshell it needs to dry / cure in a special room which is heated and dehumidified for a couple of months. So are you saying that I would need to let the wood dry for a few years and then get an instrument from it? In the meantime the Pork Pies?

@fixxxer: Since I am a working / professional drummer, the kit would be a heavily played and also gigged kit. No matter which instrument I buy, I don't want to just look at it... I want to play it and I want to gig it as I want others to hear the set live.
Not saying that, just interested in the requirements for making drums, and since you glossed over it in your first post I thought I'd dig for more info. I was concerned that you might be making a decision without knowing the time factors involved. KIS's excellent post explains their method and gives you a good idea of what's required.
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Old 11-17-2011, 02:01 AM
New Tricks New Tricks is offline
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

I just decided to have my cremated ashes molded into a custom set.



Quote:
Since I am a working / professional drummer,.............
That explains the skinny wallet :)
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Old 11-17-2011, 02:33 AM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

Quote:
Our only sticking point is whether the resultant timbre will be precisely to Lutz's idea of a perfect sound
So that's the rub. SickRick, is your goal to find the set of drums that perfectly matches the sound of the perfect drum set that exists in your mind? Or are you looking to find a beautiful instrument to love and cherish without having a preconceptions as to what it will sound like?

If you'll be unhappy with drums that sound different from the Pork Pies (not better, not worse, just different), then you have to get the Pork. On the other handt, I would observe that Andy was not trying to recreate the sound of any other drum set he'd ever encountered when he built his prototype Gurus. Instead he rolled the dice and hoped for the best.

It's like the difference between your wife and your kids. Your wife, well, you probably had a few girlfriends before you picked one that you liked to stick with, and even then you might still trade'r in for a new one. Your kids you have no choice about and you love them no matter who they are or what they're like. You love them for their individuality. You have to discover what makes them special.
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Old 11-17-2011, 02:39 AM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

This post peaked my interest...here's an interesting post by some stand-up bass players discussing the use of pear wood for their tail pieces, etc.

http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f3/pea...g-down-688602/

Based on what I read on a couple pages, it seems that the woods that actually are used for drum construction are used because, number 1, they are abundantly available and therefore cheaper. Number 2, the woods that they do use come from trees that are around 200 years old. The trunks are much wider, whereas Pearwood would more than liked require a stave construction. This may be a method most drum makers shy away from, IDK. In this case, you mention that these trees are 150 years old, and usually Pear trees are cut down long before they even get that old. So, that might be the main reasons right there that Pear wood is not popular for drum construction. Although Ludwig at one time did provide a Pear wood veneer over maple ply shells.

I would say this is actually a unique opportunity to own a set of drums made from Pear wood considering the age of the trees that are being used. I would venture to guess that the sound will be somewhere between maple and mohogany depending on how long or short you cut the shells. I wonder what DW would recommend for length...
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:06 PM
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Default Re: Help me out with a real tough decision

A clarification on the estimated curing time. Dean's best guess is 6-8 weeks, but could be up to 12 weeks absolute worst scenario. This is because our process is both cycled & gentle. We could fast cure Lutz's timber in under 2 weeks, & almost certainly with reliable results, but Lutz's timber is deserving of special care & monitoring. By comparison, according to Dean, almost all commercially available timber is kiln cured in under 1 week. We use the highest quality end of the commercial timber spectrum for our basic shell range, & have never had an issue yet. Our premium species are usually reclaimed from other applications & can be hundreds of years in the curing. Dean travels a circuit of specialist timber suppliers armed with his moisture probe & trusty eye :)
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