DW Birch Shells--Need Help!

Hi everyone, my first post here. Maybe you can help me out with something....

I bought a 5 piece DW all-birch shell kit in 2004. I bought it virtually-new from a guy who had to sell it quickly at a fire-sale price. I had a Mapex maple kit that I was very happy with, and I had no prior experience with birch shells, but when the opportunity came up to buy a DW kit at an affordable price, I jumped...

Unfortunately, I've been disappointed with the DW's. It's been 5 years, and I just can't get a good kick drum sound, or a good snare sound. Tried all different kinds of tuning techniques, heads, but to no avail. At this point, I wish I had kept the Mapexes.

Has anybody here had any experience with DW birch shells? Is there a special tuning secret? Should I just sell it and go back to maple shells for the kind of music I play? (I play in a straight-ahead rock band, Springsteen, Stones, Petty, Peal Jam, etc.)

Thanks for any help or insight...

Bob
 
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DrummerGS

Junior Member
Birch wood shells will not have that warm fundamental low tone of maple that you are maybe familiar with. Birch is more on the high pitched side than on the low side. That is why if I were you, I would sell those drums and get some maple or mahogany (if you like really deep and low-pitched drums). For rock, maple is the way to go.
 
Thanks for the reply Drummer GS, and for the suggestion. I am admittedly not the world's most proficient drum tuner, but I've tinkered a lot, and just can't get them to sound 'good'. Maybe I'm expecting these drums to have a sound they are just not capable of producing.

It sounds like birch is not meant for rock music. Any idea what kind of music birch is suited for?
 

DrummerGS

Junior Member
Birch could be used in rock music only if you like high, crisp and bright sound out of your drums. I would assume that birch could be used in situations such as jazz or latin music.

I have another question though, what are the exact sizes of the drums?
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
Check out my signature for some birch sounds. I don't find my drums to be lacking in the low end department....
 
Birch could be used in rock music only if you like high, crisp and bright sound out of your drums. I would assume that birch could be used in situations such as jazz or latin music.

I have another question though, what are the exact sizes of the drums?
22" Bass
14" Snare
12" Tom
14" Tom
16" Tom

They are satin oil red tobacco burst...beautiful to look at, not-so-great sounding. You're described it well, they sound high, bright and crisp. Not for me. I thought I was just not tuning them correctly. Sounds like I may have gotten suckered by the DW name at a cheap price, but ended up getting the wrong type of shells for my taste :(

Do birch and maple drums fetch similar prices on the open market? Am I looking at maybe getting a lousy price if I sell my birch DW's?
Thanks...
 

razorx

Platinum Member
22" Bass
14" Snare
12" Tom
14" Tom
16" Tom

They are satin oil red tobacco burst...beautiful to look at, not-so-great sounding. You're described it well, they sound high, bright and crisp. Not for me. I thought I was just not tuning them correctly. Sounds like I may have gotten suckered by the DW name at a cheap price, but ended up getting the wrong type of shells for my taste :(

Do birch and maple drums fetch similar prices on the open market? Am I looking at maybe getting a lousy price if I sell my birch DW's?
Thanks...

Nope I'm pretty sure there is no difference in price between new maple and birch dws.
 

ryctor

Junior Member
Hi everyone, my first post here. Maybe you can help me out with something....

I bought a 5 piece DW all-birch shell kit in 2004. I bought it virtually-new from a guy who had to sell it quickly at a fire-sale price. I had a Mapex maple kit that I was very happy with, and I had no prior experience with birch shells, but when the opportunity came up to buy a DW kit at an affordable price, I jumped...

Unfortunately, I've been disappointed with the DW's. It's been 5 years, and I just can't get a good kick drum sound, or a good snare sound. Tried all different kinds of tuning techniques, heads, but to no avail. At this point, I wish I had kept the Mapexes.

Has anybody here had any experience with DW birch shells? Is there a special tuning secret? Should I just sell it and go back to maple shells for the kind of music I play? (I play in a straight-ahead rock band, Springsteen, Stones, Petty, Peal Jam, etc.)

Thanks for any help or insight...

Bob
Dude, you got a fine kit.
Birch is an acquired taste if you come from a lower end Mahogany kit, or from a High end African Mahogany or Maple, there is a difference in tone that it is difficult to get used to.Their tuning zone is not the same, to get to their sweet spot is more time consuming, because you are looking that Low end resonance and warmth that you were used to in the MAple.
It happened to me with my BRX.
But once you understand the quality and characteristics of the sound, its priceless, for live or recording.
All the gossip about the Naturally EQed sound, comes from the fact that, if you have ever recorded, in close mic situations, there is the proximity effect, that actually accentuates, some times too much, the low end from the toms, making them sound muddy, or too boomy ,and sometimes, even if in the room, the toms sound warm and nice, there is just a low rumble in the recording, because of this.
The Birch has naturally less reproduction in the lows and a more clear tone, thus not needing the roll off in the lows, that usually takes place in the sound board, to handle the proximity effect in the Maples. Its one of the few, if not the only, that can be recorded flat, because the same EQ that the sound guy needs to do in a Maple, the Birch has in it naturally, a nice reproduction of the mids, controlled lows and beautiful highs.
Mine is really outstanding when playing live without mics, they cut through like anything else, they are loud, focus and with a very clear tone.
Gadd, uses a Maple kick and Birch toms. Weckl uses Maple Customs and Oak Customs for live but exclusively Birch in the studio, this is after using the most recorded kit, The Recording Custom, which are thick Birch Shells, as his main kit for years.

Their tuning range is great, and they sound good tuned low, med or high, but the tension needed to achieve such tones is different in it than in the Maples.
Mine likes to be tuned very resonant, and open, where the true tone comes out, and the low end actually is a very nice, not overpowering tone, accompanied of beautiful high and mid overtones. When tuned med to med-hi, they sound wonderful, cutting, clear, resonant with a lot of punch and still the element of bottom end is very present, but not overpowering the tone of the drum. Its the perfect studio drum. And for live, you wont even need mics with it, because they are loud and will cut through anything!

Its a jewel to record, the mic just loves them, no muffling of any kind needed. I use Coated Emperors on mine for the studio, and coated or clear Ambassadors for live, clear if no mics, because there is nothing more resonant and cutting than the tone I get from that.

A 10" Birch will sound very different than a 10" Maple, and that was my main issue. I wanted to get the nice low resonant warm tone that I used to get from my Yamaha 10", in the Birch, and its never going to happen, it will sound more bright, with still enough bottom end, but not the same as Maple. It sounded higher, more cutting, different. More clear and defined tone, less low rumble.
I used to tune my resos too high for them, and in the 14, there was times it just would not tune. But when I understood their high pitched anture, I tuned the resos lower, and their tone came through nicely, plus gave me an idea of the large tuning range they got.


Do not attempt to get the same tone from them as from a MAple kit, you will reach the point of frustration. Just recognize their tone and learn how to tune to their sweet spot, because when you achieve it, the clear tone and bright overtones is something unique and works perfect for any genre.
Pearl Jams drummer uses Birch!
Listen to any Weckl's recording, you will find plenty of low end, but a very defined tone with beautiful highs and mids, that is Birch.
I find them more versatile than Maple, and for gigs, they just work awesome, plus in the studio, the record by themselves.

I hope this helps and Good Luck!

The Ryctor!
 
Wow, thanks for your very thorough response, ryctor. Appreciate it.

You hit the nail on the head re. tuning...its very different from maples. Problem is, I've never been adept at drum tuning, and don't have a particularly good ear. I've been trying to tune these drums for 5 years, and still haven't "gotten it". It also seems birches need re-tuning more often than maples.

I do like the sound of the birch toms. They cut very nicely. However, I just can't get a good bass and snare sound. Obviously, that's a problem. I use the drums 95% for live gigging, 5% for recording.

It's a shame, they are drop-dead beautiful drums, but they're probably going on ebay soon. Wanna buy em? :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
If your shells are round and the bearing edges are true, you have a tuning problem. If you can't get a DW drum to sound good, assuming it's round and true, then heads/tuning are your issue. Get a Drum Dial and learn how to use it, that's my suggestion. Birch is a fine wood for any type of music. It's not the wood, it's the player.
 

owen90

Junior Member
I'm very interested in buying a DW birch set. How old is it? In which state is it? Could you send me some photos to my email? owen_pulse@hotmail.com which color is it and what measures are them?
Im very interested
maybe we could settle a good price
THANKS A LOT!
 

fredrickcw

Junior Member
I know what you mean in terms of that bright birch sound. I had a Starclassic Birch (sounded good) with similar problems with the 10" & 12" tom. However, my floor tom was amazing.

I ended up just tuning very low - maybe 1/2 to 1 full turn per nut with a tad bit of fine tuning. It was maybe one hair away from getting that paper-like sound from the head. I tuned botht he batter side and reso side the same. It worked for me.
 

ANIMALBEATS

Silver Member
Thanks for the reply Drummer GS, and for the suggestion. I am admittedly not the world's most proficient drum tuner, but I've tinkered a lot, and just can't get them to sound 'good'. Maybe I'm expecting these drums to have a sound they are just not capable of producing.

It sounds like birch is not meant for rock music. Any idea what kind of music birch is suited for?
Wow, thanks for your very thorough response, ryctor. Appreciate it.

You hit the nail on the head re. tuning...its very different from maples. Problem is, I've never been adept at drum tuning, and don't have a particularly good ear. I've been trying to tune these drums for 5 years, and still haven't "gotten it". It also seems birches need re-tuning more often than maples.

I do like the sound of the birch toms. They cut very nicely. However, I just can't get a good bass and snare sound. Obviously, that's a problem. I use the drums 95% for live gigging, 5% for recording.

It's a shame, they are drop-dead beautiful drums, but they're probably going on ebay soon. Wanna buy em? :)
Try using a drum teacher to do it for you
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
If your shells are round and the bearing edges are true, you have a tuning problem. If you can't get a DW drum to sound good, assuming it's round and true, then heads/tuning are your issue. Get a Drum Dial and learn how to use it, that's my suggestion. Birch is a fine wood for any type of music. It's not the wood, it's the player.
yep what larry said. might also take your kick to a local shop and ask if they can give you a hand tuning it.

Also what head combos have you tried and is there any muffling in the drum

Check put this video from bob gatzen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga8Q12mKYxI
 
C

Crazy8s

Guest
The birch isn't the problem. Birch makes for excellent rock drums.

Sonor's highest line drums are made of birch and sound amazing for many genres.

Yamaha's Recording Customs are birch. Steve Gadd?

The reason why many people see birch as less than maple is because DW advertised it as such. At first they only had access to maple, so of course maple was the best, and they made people believe it. Now that DW can make shells of different woods, they no longer mention maple as the best....
 

motleyh

Senior Member
When you say you're not happy with the sound you're getting, what is it you're listening to? Is it the sound from the audience position, i.e. 20 feet away? Is it the sound transmitted by close miking? Or is it the sound you hear sitting behind the kit?

If it's the last one, you're judging on a sound that only you will hear, not an audience or a recording or a PA. You might want to get someone else to play them while you get a little distance away and listen, and make your evaluation and tuning decisions from that. What you hear sitting right over the drums can be very deceptive.

The main difference in sound between maple and birch is that maple sounds slightly fuller and birch sounds slightly punchier. This is not only because of differences in EQ, but also because birch has a somewhat shorter sustain. But these differences are minor, to be honest -- I think anyone would be hard-pressed to identify a kit as birch or maple simply by listening to it. There are many, many rock drummers who use birch and love it -- not just for recording, but live as well.

I don't know for sure, but I'd make a guess that there's also a difference in shell thickness between your old kit and your present one, and if that's true it's much more likely to be causing the difference you're perceiving than the type of wood is causing. You're not really comparing maple to birch, you're comparing a Mapex maple to a DW birch -- different manufacturers, probably different edges, different hardware, etc. And if you've gone from a thicker shell to a thinner one, you're encountering all sorts of changes in tone, projection, attack, etc., that will be much more noticeable than a change in wood, particularly since those two woods are not that drastically different in hardness.
 

Lou Soni

Junior Member
BG,

Don't sell the DW's...just yet...Besides the excellent suggestions maybe try...

- Contacting DW by email/phone - they might be able to suggest a head combination that will make those birch drums sing.

- Yamaha used to equip their Birch Recording customs w/ Pinstripes (Batter side) Worked killer on those drums.

- Try Calling Aquarian Drumhead's - IE: Have you tried a Super-Kick I / Regulator combination on your bass drum?
 
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Artstar

Platinum Member
IMO, his problem is'nt birch. It is dw's shells being too thin for the drum to speak it's potential. This seems to apply even slightly more so with typical grade birch. I have had multiple Yamaha RC, Tama Granstar, Sonor Lite, and THEY ALL KILL !! Easy to tune, stay in tune, resonant, warm, loud...

That's it.
 

eamesuser

Silver Member
I don't have a lot of experience with D.W birch drums,But I have a birch kit the shells are 3/8 and 1/2 thick no rings.Most of the birch kits mentioned here have been straight shell models,closest thing to yours would be Pearls ,the ones with re rings,or premiers,somebody with exp with those may be able to help.All the replies have been good,But I would try getting someone that can really tune to give them a shot,If that doesn't work then sell them.I don't think D.W sold a lot of those,and I rarely see a kit for sale,so whether you would get more or less or the same as a maple version I couldn't guess.I guess you could search e bay completed listings to find out .
 
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