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  #1  
Old 07-01-2013, 11:29 PM
jaysticks jaysticks is offline
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Default Shell thickness revisited!

After just purchasing a new phx kit, and reminiscing over older kits I've owned, I've come to the conclusion that thinner bass drums work better than thicker ones, and thicker toms generally have a bit more volume than thin shelled toms!Anyone else experienced this with kits they've owned?Thin shelled toms seem all the range at the moment, but I'm not sure they're the best option, especially for more contemporary styles. Thoughts?
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Old 07-01-2013, 11:46 PM
mandrew mandrew is offline
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

In general, thicker shells tend towards more projection, whereas thinner shells tend to be more resonant, all things being equal. The problem is, all things are rarely equal! tuning and head selection can have an effect. Not only that, but the shell construction plays a big difference when you are talking about shell thickness. Multi-ply, single ply, and staves, of some necessity, have different shell thicknesses, and produce different effects. A 6 ply shell will be of different thickness (thinner) and give a different sound than a stave shell. In fact, you may not want a stave shell that thin!

Since I gather you are talking mostly about drum sets, most are multi-ply configurations, and are about 1/4" thick, plus or minus some. Most are from 6 to 10 plys, but even that is confusing, because not every manufacturer makes the plys the same thickness. One mans 8 ply is not another mans8ply. that is why I said, "In general, thicker shells tend towards more projection, whereas thinner shells tend to be more resonant, all things being equal. "
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Old 07-01-2013, 11:46 PM
Bonzobilly Bonzobilly is online now
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

Well. All I can tell you is that I love my 10 ply classic maple exotic shells. Wouldn't trade them for the world.
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Old 07-02-2013, 01:07 AM
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

So many variables, it's almost impossible to know where to start, so I won't. All I will say is this, thickness is just one element that affects how a shell responds, & taken in isolation, has little meaning. For example, a 6mm 3 ply shell is predisposed to offering more resonance overall, as well as being easier to excite at low dynamic, than a 6mm 6 ply shell, yet most would assume they're the same.
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Old 07-02-2013, 12:48 PM
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

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So many variables, it's almost impossible to know where to start, so I won't. All I will say is this, thickness is just one element that affects how a shell responds, & taken in isolation, has little meaning. For example, a 6mm 3 ply shell is predisposed to offering more resonance overall, as well as being easier to excite at low dynamic, than a 6mm 6 ply shell, yet most would assume they're the same.
Hmm interesting, what about when compared to a 3mm 6 ply shell?
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:07 PM
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

I have thin shelled toms on one kit and they're louder than my thicker shelled toms from my other kit. Same with the bass drums actually..

I would agree thin shelled snares don't project as well though.
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Old 07-03-2013, 01:08 AM
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

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Hmm interesting, what about when compared to a 3mm 6 ply shell?
There'd be almost no wood in it, so all bets are off in terms of any tone character, but it would be a viable shell, & should be inherently more resonant than a thicker shell. That said, I'd take the 6mm 3 ply over it any day.

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I would agree thin shelled snares don't project as well though.
& this begs another question, don't project what well? Cut? Tone? Snares?
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Old 07-03-2013, 11:48 AM
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

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There'd be almost no wood in it, so all bets are off in terms of any tone character, but it would be a viable shell, & should be inherently more resonant than a thicker shell. That said, I'd take the 6mm 3 ply over it any day.

& this begs another question, don't project what well? Cut? Tone? Snares?
Because there is more "wood" and less glue? Hmm I see thanks
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:16 PM
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

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Because there is more "wood" and less glue? Hmm I see thanks
Not just because there's less glue, but the thicker the ply, the more of the wood structure remains, until ultimately you get to single ply. Not a better statement, just a different bias.
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Old 07-04-2013, 04:57 AM
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
There'd be almost no wood in it, so all bets are off in terms of any tone character, but it would be a viable shell, & should be inherently more resonant than a thicker shell. That said, I'd take the 6mm 3 ply over it any day.

& this begs another question, don't project what well? Cut? Tone? Snares?
Yep, cut and tone. I notice this with sonor prolite and mapex Saturn snares. Very nice sound but just a little thin and dead sounding for some situations.
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Old 07-04-2013, 05:04 PM
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

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Originally Posted by Dre25 View Post
I have thin shelled toms on one kit and they're louder than my thicker shelled toms from my other kit. Same with the bass drums actually..

I would agree thin shelled snares don't project as well though.
Can you clarify? I've mostly heard "volume" and "projection" used interchangeably. So I'm not sure what you mean when you say something is louder but doesn't project as well.
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Old 07-05-2013, 04:51 AM
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

Honestly I don't know the difference.
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Old 07-05-2013, 05:47 AM
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

I've always considered cut and projection as descriptions of the same phenomenon. If a drum doesn't cut well, it won't project well either and visa versa.

It seems to me that a drum's ability to project is a function of both its volume and frequency output. A metal drum with a lot of highs will project better than a wood drum that puts out mostly mids. But that doesn't necessarily mean that a metal drum is louder than a wood drum. Volume, to my ears, is the totality of the sound a drum will make at all frequency levels as measured in decibels. Projection however, seems to describe a small set of frequencies at a given volume.

A thin shelled drum will not project as well as a thicker shelled drum of the same diameter and depth. This is desirable in some genres and not others. But you can also affect this somewhat by head choices. For instance, coated heads will mellow out a drum and give it some extra depth in the form of lows whereas clear heads will increase the attack and bring out more of the highs.

I personally think a thin shelled drum is more versatile simply because it's tone and perceived projection can be affected quite a lot with different heads. I don't think you could same the same for a thicker shelled drum. No matter what you do to a 10 ply drum it's always going to have plenty of highs and therefore more perceived "cut". Coated heads will have less of an effect on it's volume and projection to my ear.
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Old 07-05-2013, 09:08 AM
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

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Originally Posted by Cuttlefish View Post
I've always considered cut and projection as descriptions of the same phenomenon. If a drum doesn't cut well, it won't project well either and visa versa.

It seems to me that a drum's ability to project is a function of both its volume and frequency output. A metal drum with a lot of highs will project better than a wood drum that puts out mostly mids. But that doesn't necessarily mean that a metal drum is louder than a wood drum. Volume, to my ears, is the totality of the sound a drum will make at all frequency levels as measured in decibels. Projection however, seems to describe a small set of frequencies at a given volume.
Great post, & welcome to the forum BTW :)

FWIW, this is my take on the terminology.

"Projection" I liken to a term often used in a FOH PA context, & that's "throw". The ability to deliver a sound some distance from/off the stage, & ultimately to the furthest point in the auditorium. On a smaller scale, it's the ability to transmit the full resolved tones of the drum beyond just the player's ears.

"Cut" is how well the drum's sound is distinguished in the mix. This is not necessarily volume related, but more usually how much higher frequency forms are generated.

"Volume" is a straight forward amplitude thing, & usually more to do with the player's input than anything else.

Often, a drum will be described as projecting well, when actually, it's an observation of cut & distinction in the mix rather than the full range of tones. The top end of the sound will always distinguish better than lower frequencies, as they're mostly swallowed up in the general lower frequency soup of amplified instruments such as bass guitar, & especially keyboards. In popular use, projection is more an observation of how bright the sound is than anything else.

Relating to shell thickness, a thicker shell is typically (but not always) a more efficient conduit of sound. Thinner shells tend to absorb higher frequencies or reflect less, in favour of mid/low frequencies. In most shell constructions, thinner shells shape the resolved sound by subtracting frequencies from the spectrum, thus allowing others to dominate. In straight forward amplitude terms, this means they're not as "loud" as thicker shell drums. More rarely, a highly resonant drum will add sympathetic shell generated frequencies to the resolved sound rather than working by subtraction only. I say rarely, because most thin shell drum designs aren't actually that resonant as a whole instrument, usually due to specific construction or hardware mass constraints.
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Old 07-05-2013, 09:18 AM
Cuttlefish Cuttlefish is offline
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Default Re: Shell thickness revisited!

Quote:
"Projection" I liken to a term often used in a FOH PA context, & that's "throw". The ability to deliver a sound some distance from/off the stage, & ultimately to the furthest point in the auditorium. On a smaller scale, it's the ability to transmit the full resolved tones of the drum beyond just the player's ears.
Thanks :-) So could there be a situation where the drum was "quiet" but projected well? Or is volume and projection tied together? And when speaking about punch, are we really talking about projection or mostly the character of the attack?
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