Bell brass and spun brass?

mpthomson

Senior Member
Damn! That's some knowledge right there. I really like the explanation though, it's good to know what is substance and marketing fluff. I'm honestly impressed with everything you guys do. It's more substance than style (but there's style there too). I'm not sure whether it's actually marketed this way or whether it's just lack of product knowledge, but a guy I know touts his DW "Bell Brass" snare drum pretty hard. Its a fine drum, but if that's misleading marketing just to get more money, then I'm kind of not ok with that.
DW have never made a model called 'bell brass' they've always been touted as bronze. Just a word of caution with the DW drums, only the early ones are cast, the more recent are rolled/welded 3mm bronze, not cast.
 

mpthomson

Senior Member
Almost certainly cast brass, but impossible to tell just by looking at it. If it has a zinc content, it's a brass, not a bronze. I have no idea what the definition of a bell brass is, because it doesn't actually exist as a specification. I'm guessing bell brass refers to a high zinc content brass, just as bell bronze refers to a high tin content bronze. Essentially, bronze is a mixture of copper & tin, brass is a mixture of copper & zinc. Bells are typically made from alloys that are predominantly copper, with a high tin content (bronze), or a high zinc content (brass), & few (if any) other materials added.
It's cast bronze. It's the same shell as the Full Range drums with the addition of the knurling and I've got one. Gretsch do a 3mm thick brass shell but it's called that and looks like a brass drum, if that makes sense.
 

Destroyer772

Gold Member
Almost certainly cast brass, but impossible to tell just by looking at it. If it has a zinc content, it's a brass, not a bronze. I have no idea what the definition of a bell brass is, because it doesn't actually exist as a specification. I'm guessing bell brass refers to a high zinc content brass, just as bell bronze refers to a high tin content bronze. Essentially, bronze is a mixture of copper & tin, brass is a mixture of copper & zinc. Bells are typically made from alloys that are predominantly copper, with a high tin content (bronze), or a high zinc content (brass), & few (if any) other materials added.
Thanks for your input on that Andy, I sent Gretsch a message about it and here was their response. Now this was thru Facebook, and who knows who responds to these so he may be misinformed.
"That is such a beautiful drum! It is in fact a cast bell brass shell. I unfortunately do not have any type of records telling me how many were made. they have been discontinued for a bit." Thank you again!
 
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Stroker

Platinum Member
DW have never made a model called 'bell brass' they've always been touted as bronze. Just a word of caution with the DW drums, only the early ones are cast, the more recent are rolled/welded 3mm bronze, not cast.
This may interest you, MP. DW offers both a Bell Bronze version, as well as a Bell Brass version, as much as I know their claim is incorrect regarding the Bell Brass.
 

mpthomson

Senior Member
This may interest you, MP. DW offers both a Bell Bronze version, as well as a Bell Brass version, as much as I know their claim is incorrect regarding the Bell Brass.
So they do! I was referring to the earlier drums, as advertised by Josh Freeze. Some early ones are cast, but as DW themselves say, they are now rolled/welded.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I have no idea what the definition of a bell brass is, because it doesn't actually exist as a specification. I'm guessing bell brass refers to a high zinc content brass, just as bell bronze refers to a high tin content bronze.
Indeed. "Bell Brass" is simply a marketing term and can mean anything the manufacturer pretends it to mean. It often refers to a proprietary ratio of zinc/copper. Sometimes it refers to bronze, and sometimes it refers to simple cast brass.


If you ask me, this sort of marketing reeks of a "Garden Fresh Scent".
 

R2112

Silver Member
Indeed. "Bell Brass" is simply a marketing term and can mean anything the manufacturer pretends it to mean. It often refers to a proprietary ratio of zinc/copper. Sometimes it refers to bronze, and sometimes it refers to simple cast brass.


If you ask me, this sort of marketing reeks of a "Garden Fresh Scent".
I think you just answered a question I've recently had.

I've played 3 "Bell Brass" snares from large manufacturers and have heard sound files of others including boutique manufacturers. Sonically they all sounded very similar and their volume was on the extreme end of the spectrum. I would not use the word versatile to describe them. However, I recently was lucky enough able to put a Tama Bell Brass snare through it's paces and A/B it against almost 10 other metal drums from large manufacturers to boutique. All snares were of various metals including "Bell Brass". The Tama "Bell Brass" blew me away sonically and to my ear, sounded different than the other "Bell Brass" snares. That snare is simply incredible and I dare say I would describe it as somewhat versatile. I now understand why it's a legend. I wondered why it was sonically so different though but seeing your post seems to have answered that question. Each company has a proprietary combination of metals they use and Tama's combination must be different than other companies which allows it to be sonically different.

It would be nice if companies described the drums more accurately though.
 

singleflammedmill

Senior Member
It's interesting, that there's no spun bronze drums with the exception of Ludwig Bronze Phonic and I'm wondering why? Is it too challenging to produce such a shell?
Joyful Noise Drum Company makes several spun bronze snares.

I think you just answered a question I've recently had.

I've played 3 "Bell Brass" snares from large manufacturers and have heard sound files of others including boutique manufacturers. Sonically they all sounded very similar and their volume was on the extreme end of the spectrum. I would not use the word versatile to describe them. However, I recently was lucky enough able to put a Tama Bell Brass snare through it's paces and A/B it against almost 10 other metal drums from large manufacturers to boutique. All snares were of various metals including "Bell Brass". The Tama "Bell Brass" blew me away sonically and to my ear, sounded different than the other "Bell Brass" snares. That snare is simply incredible and I dare say I would describe it as somewhat versatile. I now understand why it's a legend. I wondered why it was sonically so different though but seeing your post seems to have answered that question. Each company has a proprietary combination of metals they use and Tama's combination must be different than other companies which allows it to be sonically different.

It would be nice if companies described the drums more accurately though.
Which version of Tama Bell Brass did you get?
 

mpthomson

Senior Member
Thanks for your input on that Andy, I sent Gretsch a message about it and here was their response. Now this was thru Facebook, and who knows who responds to these so he may be misinformed.
"That is such a beautiful drum! It is in fact a cast bell brass shell. I unfortunately do not have any type of records telling me how many were made. they have been discontinued for a bit." Thank you again!

I've got a Full Range Bell Brass drum and it's 100% definitely bronze. It's a different colour to cast brass as well.
 

Redbeard

Senior Member
This may interest you, MP. DW offers both a Bell Bronze version, as well as a Bell Brass version, as much as I know their claim is incorrect regarding the Bell Brass.
Interesting choice on DW's part to call either one "bell" since they openly say the shell is rolled, not cast. I guess that's how they signify these are 3mm shells compared to the more common 1mm shells. However, that does imply that either one is actually brass or bronze, for what that's worth.
And having recently played their bell bronze snare, whatever you want to call it it's certainly a powerful beast!
 

Stroker

Platinum Member
Interesting choice on DW's part to call either one "bell" since they openly say the shell is rolled, not cast. I guess that's how they signify these are 3mm shells compared to the more common 1mm shells. However, that does imply that either one is actually brass or bronze, for what that's worth.
And having recently played their bell bronze snare, whatever you want to call it it's certainly a powerful beast!
Metallurgically speaking, there is no such thing as Bell Brass. Brass is Brass, Bell Bronze is Bell Bronze.

As for rolled or cast, I own both the DW/CS 6.5x14, Brass (3mm shell), and the DW/CS 6.5x14, Bell Bronze (3mm shell). Both drums are polished finish, and neither one displays a seam.

Both of my drums have two DW badges, whereas the new Brass and Bell Bronze versions that DW offers have only one badge, and according to a rep I spoke with over the telephone, the shells my drums consist of are no longer produced, whereas the new versions have seams.

As for beasts, both my Brass and Bell Bronze are otherworldly as far as volume and cut. I've played nothing even remotely close in my day.

Top snare is the Bell Bronze, bottom drum is the Brass.

 
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