Drum Building Zenith? Where to now?


Gold Member
When it comes to drum development, I think we have reached the zenith and are now on the flat side of the curve. Our technology has led us to the point that, once we exceed $500 or so for a small shell pack, we are ascending the quality ladder at smaller and smaller increments. Sometimes we are literally buying names and reputations.

We are following the guitar-building template. The "standard" in guitar sound was reached in the 1930s for acoustics and the 1950s for electrics. The best guitars/amps are those considered to mimic what was produced eighty years ago! Even the look of those old designs is considered "magic," thus the pre-aged guitar was born.

Are we going to see pre-aged drums soon? Faded finishes, corroded hardware, and brown, dented heads?

We're already seeing our version of the boutique guitar/amp movement with oodles of boutique drum makers. In this case, we may fool ourselves that all that money has purchased the best sound available, but it's mostly about prestige, construction by hand, one-off examples, and beautiful woods.

I'm not criticizing any of this. Personally, I love it. And without the human desire for big- better-best, innovation would cease.

So bring them on, fellas. Let's see those new, reissued, gold plated, pre-aged marvels of modern manufacture. And don't forget to remind me of just how much I need them!



Staff member
Of course, I have to bite on this ;)

Diminishing returns, sure - that's applied for decades. Brand premiums, bragging rights, cosmetic rebirth, marketing driven features, outsourcing / chasing the lowest manufacturing location, product driven by knowing most drummers buy with their eyes or by brand - all features of the modern drum industry, but if I thought for one minute that I couldn't offer a tangible real world difference, I would never have started possibly the most expensive & difficult journey of my life.


Platinum Member
Are we going to see pre-aged drums soon? Faded finishes, corroded hardware, and brown, dented heads?
Gretsch had a huge display of pre-aged snare drums on display last year at NAMM.

Yes, for a few extra hundred dollars, you too can a buy a snare drum that looks like it was thrown down a flight of stairs and then left out in the rain.


Gold Member
See! I thought I was being a prophet, but Gretsch beat me to it. :( The big G does have a heads-up on the trend, though. Their reissue guitars are luscious.



Senior Member
I'm a big believer in the diminishing returns thing, but to make a comparison to cars, the best car in the world 50 years ago would get smoked by a mid to upper mid level car now, and at much less cost.

I think the reason why SOME people think the sound of some instruments was perfected a while ago is because that's the sound they grew up hearing and so made THAT sound the prototype of what that instrument SHOULD sound like. Sure, cat gut on an original Stradivarius may be the epitome of a violin sound, but I have to think modern design produces a more uniform product for the masses, at a minuscule fraction of the cost! Old calf skin drums may have a sound that modern builds have trouble duplicating, but I think we only remember the good bits (kinda how a lot of people think there were actually 'good ol' days'). No one seems to be complaining about how well modern drums stay in tune, how consistent they are from set to set within a make and model, how little they get affected by humidity and temperature, etc...

Personally, I don't buy that instruments have been perfected. I don't think vinyl or tape sounds better. I don't think analog is any better per se than digital. So long as people keep trying new things and new materials, I'm a potential customer. Having said that, there are certain instruments that I have now that I could never see me getting rid of; they're heirloom instruments I'd rather pass off to a loved one than sell, unless I'm really hard up for cash and I've already sold off other things first.

Pre-aged instruments make as much sense to me as pre-aged clothing; it just screams yuppie to me for some reason :p But hey, we should all be free to do what we want with our hard earned cash, so have at it if that's your thing. If I ever went with a boutique builder, it'd be because they're more interested in pushing quality and/or sound beyond what a larger company is willing to because of the cost-benefit curve they've projected.

I'm curious to see other takes on this. I see this thread having the potential of creating some hard stances! Hahahaha.

It is amazing what we pay for things we ultimately end up hitting with sticks though, isn't it?


Senior Member
Psh. Plywood cylinders (of predictable dimension and arrangement), triple-flanged stamped hoops, bolted-on cheap metal lugs. That's cool that it's all more affordable and consistent now, I guess.

But think of INNOVATION! Radial pros, north drums, sherwood drums, rims headsets, the spacer snare, guru drums, etc. All these cool ideas, some to enhance the properties of the contemporary drum's sound, and others more of a departure.

Why don't they make wooden drum racks? Why don't they have those marching snare projector-skirt things for toms? Why isn't there some schmancy cable-tensioned system being made by a major manufacturer? Why the hell isn't everything that's metal cast bronze? Why is there no electromagnetic cymbal suspension system with a neodymium cymbal seat and too many wires? Why can I not play a drum kit while in a hammock? Why don't they make pressurised 10mil thick polyester spheres for me to boing on? Why do bass drum pedals attach to the hoop? Why can't I have hand-carved, djembe-style drum interiors? Why doesn't yamaha make a kit out of that stuff that their acoustalon marimba is made out of? Why is no one using magnesium? Why have I not wallpapered my drum shells with a collage of vintage penthouse cutouts yet?

We have a long way to go.


"Uncle Larry"
Where to now... is the domain of the marketers. It's like how do you improve a salt shaker? Oh there's countless ways, but at the end of the day, it's still going to be very similar to the original unimproved product. Drummers spend a disproportionate amount of time....judging from the amount of conversation here...on gear, compared to the actual playing of the gear.

A better drum isn't going to do squat for a person's ability to play that drum.

And hey, I'm just as guilty as anyone. But really, the quest to play better really is more important than the gear.

A person's groove will be the same on a set of Exports or a set of Gurus.

Hopefully, the listeners will be moved equally, no matter what set is being played.


Senior Member
It's like how do you improve a salt shaker?
Free-floating steambent salt shaker...for maximum shake. Cover it in microban and add a hinged dust-cover-flap, too.

I had a crazy idea earlier. A big nasty one-piece drum set "shell", 3D-printed out of cellulose. Like a giant deformed ocarina with heads. Every head that's not getting hit is a resonant head! Maybe the snare should be separate...but maybe not.


Gold Member
Jankowske;1323230 Why is there no electromagnetic cymbal suspension system with a neodymium cymbal seat . . . . ?[/QUOTE said:
Oooooh! Now there's an idea - a free-floating cymbal! Seriously. Should be easier to achieve than a true free-floating snare shell.

I've been wondering, why aren't there snares on all the toms, too? Ever noticed how much a kit "wakes up" once the snares are engaged and begin to resonate sympathetically with the rest of the kit? Hmmmmm . . . .



Senior Member
These are the questions...

Now I want three or four gut snares on my kick reso, and some pedal contraption to engage them.