Drum Making

Some drum building questions I've been wondering about. No plans on actually doing this, but I've always been curious to see if I could someday make my own set of drums.

1.) Seems like every custom company uses Keller shells. Are these good quality, or are they fairly generic since they seem to be everywhere? And are there any big-name drum manufacturers who use them, so I could try out a Keller-shell kit at a store or something?

2.) Other than making the shells and the bearing edges, how much knowledge and equipment is needed to assemble the drum yourself? It seems like having the right parts and some basic handyman skill would be enough to put them together, but as always I'd assume there's much more of an art to it than that.

3.) I see they do a 1-ply snare shell, made of a single super-thick piece. What does this do, and could other drums (toms/basses) be done that way? I like the idea of a solid wood shell with no glue, though I'm sure it's much harder to make, and I don't know what implications that would have on the sound, or the durability of the shell.

Sorry, that's a lot of different questions, but any guidance would be appreciated.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
1.) Seems like every custom company uses Keller shells. Are these good quality, or are they fairly generic since they seem to be everywhere? And are there any big-name drum manufacturers who use them, so I could try out a Keller-shell kit at a store or something?
.
Pearl used Keller shells for a time in the 80s.
DW used Keller shells up until 9 or 10 years ago.
GMS, Pork Pie and as you mentioned, nearly every custom company uses keller shells.
They are high quality, or else no one would use them.

I don't think any the big names are currently using keller shells where you can walk in and play one, but tracking down a store that carries one of the small brands that does use keller shells shouldn't be too difficult. Or just find any used DW from the 90s.

But keep in mind, different companies do different things with the shells. Some use reinforcement hoops, some don't, shells can come in different thicknesses, etc.

There are several threads with pictures of people making drums on the my gear forum.

The thing that has held me back from trying to make my own drums is the precision involved. Every hole must be drilled prefectly, and if you screw up, you need a whole new shell. Unlike home repairs, where you can use a nail, screw or glue to tighten something that isn't perfect, or just get another piece of lumber and start over.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Single ply shells are more commonly know as Steambent, since this is the method they use to bend the one ply into a cylinder. Check Vaughncraft also for drum shells. They make a lot of steambent shells. A single ply shell can be the same thickness as a multiply shell made of all one type of lumber and not have the resonant killing factor like the glue between the plies. I have a Vaughncraft steambent snare, and of all of my snares it is my favorite.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Head over to ghostnote.net and browse around. There's more drum-building info than you could digest in 10 lifetimes...from some very talented people.
 
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