Decision: refinishing a Yamaha RC

Bigdumbdrums

Senior Member
So I recently took a damaged 14x10" Yamaha RC (early '80s) and cut it down to 4.5" and turned it into a killer snare drum. I cut my own bearing edges, inlay, snare beds and installed all new hardware. I stripped the shell to bare wood and dyed it black and finished it in a tung oil stain and wax coating. I think it looks amazing. Judge for yourself:

http://bigdumbdrums.com/custom-snare-complete/

It sounds as good as any snare I've played. Very sensitive.

But the rest of the kit (22, 12, 15) needs some love. The finish is scuffed up in some areas and I've been thinking about possibly refinishing it. The kit was almost tossed into a dumpster a few years ago before cooler heads prevailed and donated them to me. I've been gigging with them since and they are great sound drums.
The bearing edges are all rounded over vintage style, including the toms. I'm contemplating stripping/sanding the shells down to the birch wood veneer, dying them black as I did the snare and applying the same tung oil/wax finish. The grain is super nice to see (as opposed to the piano black lacquer).

Question is - would you consider this refinishing drum sacrilege or should I just leave them as is (piano black with scratches and scuffs and road rash)?
 

double_G

Silver Member
GREAT info !!! thanks. a few years a go, i went on a ebay quest for a 12" rack & 14" floor in tour custom, piano black w/ serial number around '88 (so i could run 10, 12, 14 tom set up). i got it it done w/ a custom builder but this left me w/ a spare 14 x 14 floor. so i still plan to make 1-2 snares out of it. so this is great feedback...
 

Bigdumbdrums

Senior Member
Thanks. Yeah if you plan and measure, you'll be fine. I cut the shell down using a hand held electric jigsaw. I didn't need to get it perfect because I let the sanding process do that for me. I have a large granite island table in my kitchen that I used. I glued large sand paper to it and placed the shell on it with the cut side down. I rotated the shell on that until the edge was perfectly level - then I cut my bearing edges. I "cut" the snare beds by hand by sanding only - didn't take much effort to sand them down about 3mm.

I use blue painter tape to tape off the shell and marked all measurements on the tape. Tape the inside of the shell before drilling to avoid splintering when drilling the new lug holes.

I'm not intimidated by much when it comes to building things and I found the process extremely enjoyable. The key is measure measure and measure again. Also I did a lot of work up front in terms of figuring out what length lugs I could use based on shell depth and distance between the rim and the lugs. The 4.5" depth and 2" lugs are a great combination.
 

Bigdumbdrums

Senior Member
Piano black RC's are a dime a dozen. I say go for it.
Thanks. I should probably add they are the thinner shells with the rounded over bearing edges stained in black same as the interior shells. I've read these particular RCs are "highly sought after". They sound good but I was also thinking of recutting the bearing edges to 45 degree for even more resonance. But if most people regard these RCs as the holy grail of RCs as they are now, I may reconsider. I've already sanded down the bass drum hoops because they were in such rough shape. I get compliments all the time about how great they look with a natural finish.

Again I would be dying these shells black with a tung oil finish and final wax coat. I'm not that concerned with lowering their value. I don't plan on selling them. They may even hold their value even after I possibly refinish them.
 

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
They sound good but I was also thinking of recutting the bearing edges to 45 degree for even more resonance.
Technically, you would get more sustain and less resonance by removing the current round over edge your drums have. That nice, warm, rounded sound you currently get would be traded for a sharper, more overtone (complex) sound that makes for a bit more difficult tuning and probably require pre-dampened heads or moon gel to control the ringing. In general, I'm not much of a fan of sharper bearing edges. A nice round edge makes for beautiful tones and clear defined "notes". Tuning is easy, the shells add nice warmth, and the resonance is naturally controlled.
 

Bigdumbdrums

Senior Member
Technically, you would get more sustain and less resonance by removing the current round over edge your drums have. That nice, warm, rounded sound you currently get would be traded for a sharper, more overtone (complex) sound that makes for a bit more difficult tuning and probably require pre-dampened heads or moon gel to control the ringing. In general, I'm not much of a fan of sharper bearing edges. A nice round edge makes for beautiful tones and clear defined "notes". Tuning is easy, the shells add nice warmth, and the resonance is naturally controlled.
Ahhh good point! So the more head-to-shell contact the warmer the tone. True. I kind of forgot about that vintage sound. Thanks man! If I refinish, I would likely sand the bearing edge, keeping the rounded over style and wax them.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Technically, you would get more sustain and less resonance by removing the current round over edge your drums have. That nice, warm, rounded sound you currently get would be traded for a sharper, more overtone (complex) sound that makes for a bit more difficult tuning and probably require pre-dampened heads or moon gel to control the ringing. In general, I'm not much of a fan of sharper bearing edges. A nice round edge makes for beautiful tones and clear defined "notes". Tuning is easy, the shells add nice warmth, and the resonance is naturally controlled.
I agree with this. A 45 degree edge will increase head sustain, but at the expense of fundamental tonal involvement from the shells & tuning ease. If you really want to increase head sustain but retain most of the tonal qualities, consider a half / part round to the outside, truncated at 15 - 20 degrees from vertical, a 45 degree inner cut & a sharp peak.
 

Bigdumbdrums

Senior Member
I agree with this. A 45 degree edge will increase head sustain, but at the expense of fundamental tonal involvement from the shells & tuning ease. If you really want to increase head sustain but retain most of the tonal qualities, consider a half / part round to the outside, truncated at 15 - 20 degrees from vertical, a 45 degree inner cut & a sharp peak.
Genius. Maybe I'll try that for a different drum project on a different shell and leave the rounded over alone on the RC. Thanks man!
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Question is - would you consider this refinishing drum sacrilege or should I just leave them as is (piano black with scratches and scuffs and road rash)?

I've finished an entire drum set (in addition to another snare) in Bum Wrap drum finish. I think that it's a great option for drums that may not be worth a whole lot but still need a better finish than what's on there. Don't bother looking at their website; go to their Facebook account to see what these look like. I couldn't justify putting a $500 sparkle wrap on a $350 drum set. I'm really happy with the results.

https://www.facebook.com/Bumwrapdrums
 

Bigdumbdrums

Senior Member
I've finished an entire drum set (in addition to another snare) in Bum Wrap drum finish. I think that it's a great option for drums that may not be worth a whole lot but still need a better finish than what's on there. Don't bother looking at their website; go to their Facebook account to see what these look like. I couldn't justify putting a $500 sparkle wrap on a $350 drum set. I'm really happy with the results.

https://www.facebook.com/Bumwrapdrums
Thanks. I'm familiar with Bum Wrap. I've wrapped a snare using a wrap from Precision Drum Company with great results. But wrapping the RC would not be the best option due to the really nice birch veneer underneath the lacquer. When I sanded down the bass drum hoops and the 14x10" tom I was amazed at how nice the grain is underneath. I also love the look of a dark dye on wood with an oil satin finish. It's basically black and you can see the grain up close. Really nice.
 
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