Drum interior finishing experiment

AModestRat

Member
About half a year ago, I took apart my Ludwig Element Birches to do a bit of cleaning and maintenance on them. I put some 3-In-1 on the tension rods and wiped down the lacquered shells with some warm water and dish soap. I then noticed that the interiors were unfinished and I got pretty curious about it, did some research and decided to give them a finish. I went with teak oil (looking back I'm not sure why) and I'm very satisfied with the results. I rubbed the interior of the shells down with steel wool and gave 2-3 coats on each shell. In the end IMHO the interiors look much better and if I'm not mistaken that teak oil will also protect the drums from moisture. It was a great way to spend a weekend, and I learned much about my set in the process. Didn't change the sound as far as I noticed.

I attached a photo of my tom and snare after I finished with the coats. Before, the color was an off-white as is normal birch. Now, they're a beautiful hue of amber and I couldn't be more happy.

The other weekend, a buddy of mine contacted me about doing some maintenance on his set, a PDP X7 7 piece with maple shells. I headed over and we took apart the kit and I told him about what I did with mine. He was really interested in finishing his interiors as well, mostly to protect against the Southern LA moisture and as an experiment to see how the sound changes.

After doing a little research, we settled on 2-3 coats of MinWax semi-gloss polyurethane on each shell. Same procedure as before, they're currently drying in his house at the moment and I'll keep y'all updated if it actually does change the sound.

In the meantime, I see that a few other members here have finished the interior of their drum shells. For those who have done it, did you notice anything different?
 

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CompactDrums

Silver Member
I do this with a lot of my projects. Teak Oil and Danish Oil have very little effect on sound... Tung Oil a bit more. Polyurethane more still. Lacquer, Varnish and enamel affect sound the most in my experience.
 

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
Great look Rat. I love the look of an oil on the inside of the shells.

I for one have experimented greatly with the crap drums I've gotten over the years. I once used Fleck Stone to try & mimic the Silver Sealer that Gretsch uses. Came out alright and the sound of the drum improved quite a bit.

Sanding Sealer is a must when I pull an unfinished shell apart. If nothing else, I know it'll withstand any element changes in the future. As I'm not a fan of wraps, I'll leave the outside of the shell raw so as to take any stains I'll put onto it. Sometimes the sanding sealer has a nice look too (depending on the type of wood it is). If so, I'll seal the whole thing, lacquer it to a shiny finish and call it good.
 

AModestRat

Member
I do this with a lot of my projects. Teak Oil and Danish Oil have very little effect on sound... Tung Oil a bit more. Polyurethane more still. Lacquer, Varnish and enamel affect sound the most in my experience.
That's why I went with Teak oil, very nice finish that doesn't affect the tone. The poly on my church's set definitely brought some projection to some otherwise dead toms.

Those look really great. Those shells look well made too.
Thanks! They really are a great set, the 7 ply marbled birch shells sing!

Great look Rat. I love the look of an oil on the inside of the shells.

I for one have experimented greatly with the crap drums I've gotten over the years. I once used Fleck Stone to try & mimic the Silver Sealer that Gretsch uses. Came out alright and the sound of the drum improved quite a bit.

Sanding Sealer is a must when I pull an unfinished shell apart. If nothing else, I know it'll withstand any element changes in the future. As I'm not a fan of wraps, I'll leave the outside of the shell raw so as to take any stains I'll put onto it. Sometimes the sanding sealer has a nice look too (depending on the type of wood it is). If so, I'll seal the whole thing, lacquer it to a shiny finish and call it good.
I agree with you there on the element protection, if anything, I finish the inside of unfinished shells if only for that. I never thought about using Fleck Stone on the interior, but I did read that the Silver Sealer is just galvanized fence paint and thought of trying it out.
 
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