Cutting a hole in the bass drum...How big, methods etc...

roncadillac

Member
Nice. Just for the sake of argument, what tool could I use to go about creating a customized cut of straight and semi-circular lines.

I’m going to rebuild my Phil Collins tribute era kit but but I spring $50 on the reso I want to understand how I would replicate the unusual shape of the reso head. Thanks!
I was always curious about this same thing except it was Stewart Copeland's old kick reso that caught my eye:
 

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Iristone

Well-known Member
I've a few different reso heads with no port, normal offset port, centre port, and mesh (effectively no reso head, but I still cut a hole in it for miking). I switch between thrm depending on the sound I'm looking for, but mostly it's the offset port, followed by the centre port.
 

ToneT

Silver Member
Piece of cardboard from the box the drumhead came in.
I put the drumhead face-down on the cardboard.
I measure and center an old CD right in the middle of the head.
The small hole in the CD is taped to the middle of the head.
Slowly, and carefully, I trace around the CD a few times with a fresh razor blade rather lightly.
I hold on to the cd while cutting with the other.
I keep the blade straight up and down while cutting.

I get a nice, round hole every time. However, any slightly rough spots along the edge of the head can be sanded slightly and carefully with a small piece of fine sandpaper.
The largest hole I've ever had in the middle was about the size of a 45 record. Remember those?

My method is tedious, but it works.
I gave the Aquarian Regulators a try but I just don't like off-center ports.
The sound of the drum is still full with a sharper attack, and, yes, the front head still vibrates.

Evans black Hydraulic batters tuned to 90hz (TuneBot)
Remo Ebony Ambassadors ported resos tuned to 80hz
Bed pillow touches both heads
2 18x22 Ludwig Maples
 

roncadillac

Member
Piece of cardboard from the box the drumhead came in.
I put the drumhead face-down on the cardboard.
I measure and center an old CD right in the middle of the head.
The small hole in the CD is taped to the middle of the head.
Slowly, and carefully, I trace around the CD a few times with a fresh razor blade rather lightly.
I hold on to the cd while cutting with the other.
I keep the blade straight up and down while cutting.

I get a nice, round hole every time. However, any slightly rough spots along the edge of the head can be sanded slightly and carefully with a small piece of fine sandpaper.
The largest hole I've ever had in the middle was about the size of a 45 record. Remember those?

My method is tedious, but it works.
I gave the Aquarian Regulators a try but I just don't like off-center ports.
The sound of the drum is still full with a sharper attack, and, yes, the front head still vibrates.

Evans black Hydraulic batters tuned to 90hz (TuneBot)
Remo Ebony Ambassadors ported resos tuned to 80hz
Bed pillow touches both heads
2 18x22 Ludwig Maples
On my 16" bass drums I do tend to like the port a little off center to help maintain lower tones but I do agree and really like center ports on 18" and up.

My first ever bass drum was an early 2000s Tama Swingstar 22" with a clear PS3 batter tuned in the medium range and a clear ambassador reso tuned medium high with a 6" center port. For the few years I used that drum I was playing live in small underage music clubs and fire halls (we were teenagers, couldn't really play the bar scene yet) with no drum mics and competing over my friend's half stacks. Right in front of the drum it was a little 'boingy' however from the crowd perspective I was the only one around who ever had a bass drum you could really hear. Fast forward twenty years, my tuning ability has grown immensely and I'm typically mic'ed when playing live BUT I still employ the same general approach.
 

Lefty Phillips

Well-known Member
Given the many great mics on the market now, I don't think it's necessary to cut a hole in the kick anymore. I did it on my kit because I like the sound of it. 100% if you prefer not to cut a hole in your resonator head, the soundman or engineer should be able to work around that.
 

drumdevil9

Platinum Member
Given the many great mics on the market now, I don't think it's necessary to cut a hole in the kick anymore. I did it on my kit because I like the sound of it. 100% if you prefer not to cut a hole in your resonator head, the soundman or engineer should be able to work around that.
True in theory but in practice the soundman with gripe about it 9 times out of 10. I've always put a port to immediately negate that discussion altogether.
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
My first port holes:

IMG_0335.JPG

I did these freehand with a pair of kids' scissors.

Actually I can't draw a straight line with a ruler. And I'm not about to risk burning myself with a coffee can trying to cauterize the dang thing! But I can snag one of those Bass Drum O's specialized head cutters and follow directions, and it's the only way I'm going to get white Ambassadors with ports, as that's going to be my look. Took about 4 passes to get each completed. Perfect holes and butt simple to do.

Thx to those of you who steered me toward the Bass Drum O's cutter over the other ones. It worked as easy as you said.
 

roncadillac

Member
My first port holes:

View attachment 112331

I did these freehand with a pair of kids' scissors.

Actually I can't draw a straight line with a ruler. And I'm not about to risk burning myself with a coffee can trying to cauterize the dang thing! But I can snag one of those Bass Drum O's specialized head cutters and follow directions, and it's the only way I'm going to get white Ambassadors with ports, as that's going to be my look. Took about 4 passes to get each completed. Perfect holes and butt simple to do.

Thx to those of you who steered me toward the Bass Drum O's cutter over the other ones. It worked as easy as you said.
My bass drum o's cutter has paid for itself so many times over. In my opinion, one single satisfactory cut pays for itself because you don't have to risk ruining a $50+ head. I've lost count of how many heads I've cut with mine but I've got to be over twenty at this point.
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
My bass drum o's cutter has paid for itself so many times over. In my opinion, one single satisfactory cut pays for itself because you don't have to risk ruining a $50+ head. I've lost count of how many heads I've cut with mine but I've got to be over twenty at this point.
I just wish it was a little longer to cut Richie rings out of old heads for snares and toms. Makes them look less homemade. Sure, you can buy them, but forget that! Besides, I don’t like them as thick as most.
 

roncadillac

Member
I just wish it was a little longer to cut Richie rings out of old heads for snares and toms. Makes them look less homemade. Sure, you can buy them, but forget that! Besides, I don’t like them as thick as most.
And old trick I learned back in the cymbalholic forum days (though I never had enough patience nor steady hand to attempt) is to use a sharpened drafting compass. Even better, if you get a drafting compass and a small retractable xacto knife pen you can put that in the clip that normally holds a pencil.
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
And old trick I learned back in the cymbalholic forum days (though I never had enough patience nor steady hand to attempt) is to use a sharpened drafting compass. Even better, if you get a drafting compass and a small retractable xacto knife pen you can put that in the clip that normally holds a pencil.
Genius! I didn’t know an xacto knife pen even existed. How do the blades hold up? I went through like 15 doing my tolex rewrapping.
 

roncadillac

Member
Genius! I didn’t know an xacto knife pen even existed. How do the blades hold up? I went through like 15 doing my tolex rewrapping.
They are generally geared more towards crafting, very small scale light duty tool work, and leatherwork. Your most basic form is one like this:

8f23a569-57bc-4fe2-b22f-0138cac6b3f7.aea0e6170c33a89a15c48ef3c6ddf7b9.jpeg

I typically am a proponent of the retractable type like these:




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b68b71a5-c6de-4fcf-9060-1447672606df.38be2de4a3021bd4c23a3c26d5f3f729.jpeg
It's worth noting that the non-retractable ones use a slightly larger and more sturdy blade where as the retractable ones use a blade that is barely thicker then that of a double edge safety razor blade. Any of the above will be perfectly suitable for something easy to cut, like a mylar drum head, but for thicker things you would probably want something like the first one. I just checked and my local Walmart has the non-retractable ones for under $5 in-stock and my local Home Depot, hobby lobby, and Walmart all have a version of a retractable ones for under $10 in stock. These are those types of tools that you never knew you needed until you have one then you'll find all kinds of great uses for them!
 
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