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Old 05-22-2010, 05:34 PM
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brady brady is offline
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Default Maple vs Birch

Yeah...another one of 'those' questions.

Different twist though. I've only started to think about upgrading from my current kit. I know what I want and why.
However, I was thinking about the current flavor of the month being maple for the most part (or Bubinga if you play Tama). I've read it was Birch just a few years ago. Is this due to an evolution of sorts in drumming or is it driven by the manufacturers pushing a particular drumset material? I have only been playing for about 5-6 years so I wasn't around for all the transitions to birch, maple, oak, bubinga, etc. Will Birch ever return as a flavor of the month or have we 'moved on'?
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Old 05-22-2010, 06:00 PM
Boomka Boomka is offline
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Default Re: Maple vs Birch

Maple has been one of chief woods used for drums for decades. This is in great measure due to maple's reputation as a "tone wood" which has been used in violins/violas, etc. for centuries, a practice adopted by electric guitar manufacturers in the 20th century. The famous Jaspar shells that Gretsch used were maple and gumwood and Ludwig's formula included maple and poplar plies after 1968 (they were previously mahogany and poplar). Rogers famous Dynasonic snares were of maple construction and Slingerland also used maple shells I think, though I'm not well-versed in their history.

Yamaha brought out the first 100% birch kit - Recording Custom - in the late 70s (I want to say 1979). Through experimentation, they found that a kind of birch native to Japan had good drum-making properties, and created a drum with a drier, more focussed sound than maple. It's largely because Steve Gadd started playing them that birch became a fad. Drummers everywhere wanted to imitate his style and his trademark "thud" tom sound. That's how Weckl came to play them and still others. They've since become what some claim to be "the most recorded drums" in history, and Yamaha still makes and sells a tonne of them, so I can only assume the fad hasn't entirely died. I'd say birch has established itself as a common choice for many drummers. The market is driven both by design innovation/marketing and by "fashion", too. It's not either/or.
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Old 05-22-2010, 06:15 PM
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Default Re: Maple vs Birch

Cool. Thanks for the detailed reply, Boomka.

I was just curious about a rough timeline of drumset material evolution. I hadn't found much info on that. Thanks.

What a forum...
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Old 05-22-2010, 07:49 PM
Boomka Boomka is offline
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Default Re: Maple vs Birch

Quote:
Originally Posted by brady View Post
Cool. Thanks for the detailed reply, Boomka.

I was just curious about a rough timeline of drumset material evolution. I hadn't found much info on that. Thanks.

What a forum...
There are quite a few websites run by collectors and aficionados that are dedicated to the history of drums generally, or of particular brands and eras. Do some serious googling and I'm sure you'll turn up plenty of useful info. Besides having been around drums a long time, I've learned a lot by doing exactly that.

The internet is nothing if not a repository for geeks of all kinds to share their obsessions.
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Old 05-22-2010, 08:03 PM
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Default Re: Maple vs Birch

Own both. I like birch for recording and maple for live playing. Or bubinga to cover both options. Or jarrah! Red gum, swamp gum, mahogany, maple and poplar............


There is no debate really. Just a lack of finances! :-)
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Old 05-22-2010, 10:57 PM
Boomka Boomka is offline
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Default Re: Maple vs Birch

Indeed; finances and space.

Oh, and a certain fear of my wife. ;)
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Old 05-22-2010, 11:05 PM
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harryconway harryconway is offline
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Default Re: Maple vs Birch

More options is always good. Go back a few years/decades....all the "modern" pro level drum shells were made of mixed wood. Maple/poplar/maple, maple/poplar/mahogany, maple/gum/maple, etc. It wasn't until 1978, the Rogers (Keller) XP8 shell, that we got a 100% maple shell (the 1st, to my knowledge?).
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Old 05-23-2010, 12:14 AM
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Florian Florian is offline
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Default Re: Maple vs Birch

Much like Wy, I also use Maple for playing out and Birch for recording....the Birch are easy to make sound good in a studio.

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Old 05-23-2010, 01:28 AM
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Default Re: Maple vs Birch

Yeah, that's what I want to do...once I hit the lottery. I would like to have a maple kit and a birch kit to cover all the bases.
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:24 AM
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Default Re: Maple vs Birch

It's easy to make too much of wood type--it's probably responsible for about 10% of the sound. (Most is heads and tuning.)

If you track the relative popularity of maple and birch, you'll also be tracking the relative cost of the wood. When maple got expensive, all of a sudden manufacturers were touting birch. That should tell you something.
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:48 AM
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Default Re: Maple vs Birch

Quote:
Originally Posted by brady View Post
Yeah...another one of 'those' questions.

Different twist though. I've only started to think about upgrading from my current kit. I know what I want and why.
However, I was thinking about the current flavor of the month being maple for the most part (or Bubinga if you play Tama). I've read it was Birch just a few years ago. Is this due to an evolution of sorts in drumming or is it driven by the manufacturers pushing a particular drumset material? I have only been playing for about 5-6 years so I wasn't around for all the transitions to birch, maple, oak, bubinga, etc. Will Birch ever return as a flavor of the month or have we 'moved on'?

It really depends on the quality of the kit rather than the wood used.

I just upped my kit from a tama rockstar ( lowmid range kit) to a spaun custom maple kit (top end kit)

The difference in sound quality is huge, like way beyond noticeable... my maple kit sounds better jsut played in a room than my birch kit ever did no matter what mics/effects/EQing we did to it. I actually just moved my heads over from my old kit to the new one, so I can vouch that the woods do sound different even if quality has a lot to do with it. (both my kits use rim mounts so the shells are untapped)

My birch has more attack and sounds more boomy with the overtones, which decay faster and blur with the initial attack.. My maple kit has more of a "hum" sort of tone to it, and all the stick definition is straight off the head. the tone and the attack are almost 2 different sources of sound, but in unison.
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