Holy Moly... POPLAR???

intheruff

Senior Member
Man, I've been playing a set of Tama Imperial Stars I bot in the early 80's. Great set... industrial, tough, and with a solid sound that kicks butt. BUT... is it true??? Are these skins really made of &(#$*&* POPLAR? Poplars a weed (i wouldn't advise smoking however), a mere cottonwood, a nuisance tree, a wood that I've always thought of as truely challened when compared to other woods. Hell, it ain't even suitable for burning in the fireplace! LOL. Laughs on me I guess. I've had this great set all these years and thought they might be of some exotic, or at least, TRUE hardwood. But POPLAR? Is it true??? Guess I'll read the label next time.
 

Crusto 62

Senior Member
Hey Intheruff, Does it really matter what wood the shells of your Tama kit are made out of? If you like the sound of the kit and enjoy playing it, don't stress. Enjoy your kit man and have fun.
 
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trkdrmr

Guest
Hmm.. IIRC the 80's imperialstar were Philippine mahogany, not poplar. The reason that doesn't matter is called Stewart Copeland. His kit was a midnight blue imperialstar up to his 86 tour for synchronicity at least. It sounded GREAT.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Best I can find, Imperial Star Shells were 9 ply select mahogany. Tama history here: http://www.tama.com/history/ One thing I always look for is 10 lugs on a 22" kick (per side). The Imperials pass that test, if I recollect. Manufactures usually don't throw 10 lugs on "cheesewood". If their gonna go cheap on wood, they're gonna go cheap on hardware too.
 
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trkdrmr

Guest
Best I can find, Imperial Star Shells were 9 ply select mahogany. Tama history here: http://www.tama.com/history/ One thing I always look for is 10 lugs on a 22" kick (per side). The Imperials pass that test, if I recollect. Manufactures usually don't throw 10 lugs on "cheesewood". If their gonna go cheap on wood, they're gonna go cheap on hardware too.
Another one of those "IIRC's"

IIRC, Imperialstar was available with the bulletproof TITAN hardware. Some of that stuff was insanely heavier than today's hardware. Remember the titan boom cymbal stand? I think it was strong enough to jack up my car.


Don't mind me, I am still giddy from the Synchonicity DVD. :)
 

Elvis

Silver Member
Man, I've been playing a set of Tama Imperial Stars I bot in the early 80's. Great set... industrial, tough, and with a solid sound that kicks butt. BUT... is it true??? Are these skins really made of &(#$*&* POPLAR? Poplars a weed (i wouldn't advise smoking however), a mere cottonwood, a nuisance tree, a wood that I've always thought of as truely challened when compared to other woods. Hell, it ain't even suitable for burning in the fireplace! LOL. Laughs on me I guess. I've had this great set all these years and thought they might be of some exotic, or at least, TRUE hardwood. But POPLAR? Is it true??? Guess I'll read the label next time.
HISTORY TIME!
Poplar was the middle ply used in just about every 3-ply shell that was ever made, regardless of who's name was on the drum.
Ludwig, Rogers, Slingerland, Leedy, Sonor, Premier, etc...all of these guys used a 3-ply layup that incorporated a 1/8" thick Poplar middle ply.
Its not a "weed". Its actually a bush and part of the same family that Juniper falls under.
It was used because it made a great inexpensive "filler" and DID NOT degrade the sound of the drums.
Some believe it actually helps gives those old drums their "punchy" sound.
The first 3 years Premier made the Cabria, those drums were made in England and used thin shell made from Eucalyptus and POPLAR.
...and those drums were considered the best deal in the drum market for those 3 years.
Great resonant sound with a distinct, but light, "punch" that's easily attainable.

...however...

As some others have already mentioned, Imperialstars were made of Luan, just like all the other Asian drums that aren't Birch or Maple.
Luan is otherwise known as "Phillipine Mahogany" or (more often than not) "Select Hardwoods".
It sounds like you may have heard or read that somewhere and my guesstimate may be that they've confused your old Imperialstars with a recent run of Pearl Export drums, which (for a couple of years) were advertised as being made from 100% Poplar.
Nowadays, however, Pearl has gone back to describing shell composition as "Select Hardwoods".



Elvis
 

Elvis

Silver Member
Another one of those "IIRC's"

IIRC, Imperialstar was available with the bulletproof TITAN hardware. Some of that stuff was insanely heavier than today's hardware. Remember the titan boom cymbal stand? I think it was strong enough to jack up my car.


Don't mind me, I am still giddy from the Synchonicity DVD. :)
I once got in a discussion with someone who thought their Tama Titan hardware was still the strongest name in drums (hardware), and boasted about its weight, using that as factor of how massive it was, thus how strong it was.
At the time, I had a Gibraltar 9500 series cymbal stand and contested that my Gibraltar was a much more massive stand than his Titan.

...and let the battle begin!

As much as I tried to convince him, he wouldn't hear of it. His Titan stands were the most massive things on the planet.
He was truely convinced of that.
So, he comes up with this idea for a "weigh off".
We were to use our own respective bathroom scales and weigh ourselves holding the stand, then weigh ourselves without the stand.
The difference in weight would be the weight of the stand.
It was all laid out, too. How the scale should be adjusted, how we were to hold our stands, etc.
Quite "official" (I think we were starting to make the IOC a little jealous. =) ).

The end result?

His Titan straight cymbal stand weighed 9.5 lbs.
My Gibraltar 9500 straight cymbal stand weighed.....11 lbs.

The guy was flabbergasted. =))




Elvis
 
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trkdrmr

Guest
I once got in a discussion with someone who thought their Tama Titan hardware was still the strongest name in drums (hardware), and boasted about its weight, using that as factor of how massive it was, thus how strong it was.
At the time, I had a Gibraltar 9500 series cymbal stand and contested that my Gibraltar was a much more massive stand than his Titan.

The end result?

His Titan straight cymbal stand weighed 9.5 lbs.
My Gibraltar 9500 straight cymbal stand weighed.....11 lbs.

The guy was flabbergasted. =))

Elvis
And the Slingerland magnum stand was 21 lbs. ;) (According to Rick Mattingly of MD)
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
........bulletproof TITAN hardware. Some of that stuff was insanely heavier than today's hardware. Remember the titan boom cymbal stand? I think it was strong enough to jack up my car.
Oh yes...when I put my Vistalite/Rototom kit together in 1980, I used all Titan hardware. 10 H/D boom stands and 3 snare stands. I even referred to the snare stands as "jack stands". And when I sold off all that stuff, 25 years later, the stands sold for almost what I paid for them. Held up AND held their value.
 
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trkdrmr

Guest
What the..? Were those filled with concrete or what?
Elvis/Wave:

IIRC it was imported hardware. It was Slingerland's attempt to catch up with Tama and other imports. The hardware was way, way overweight and the drums were "power" sizes.

Slingerland folded shortly after introducing the line.
 

Artstar

Platinum Member
That early Police stuff WAS recorded with those too. Listen to those recordings, and see how good they sound. I don't know how he did it. Maybe he was using coated diplomats top and bottom so they would ring for days. I dunno.
 

Elvis

Silver Member
A good dose of 'verb, which is a bit of homage to the style of music The Police based their sound on.
Its an old recording trick that was used prominently in recording Reggae music, back in the old days.




Elvis
 

diosdude

Silver Member
Been my experience with poplar kits that they actually sound great, punchy and very articulate but only up to a certain volume, then they turn into a wash that just sounds like mud if you're laying into them. Do any of the major companies use 100% poplar on a kit?
 

Elvis

Silver Member
As I stated before, Pearl was advertising their Export drums as being made from 100% Poplar plies for a few years, but they've gone back to using the descriptive of "Select Hardwoods" now.
I believe there are some other makes that are currently advertising the shells of some of their lines as being constructed from 100% Poplar plies, but nothing particular comes to mind, right off hand.



Elvis
 

intheruff

Senior Member
Hey, ya' know sumthin'? This DW site is the best! I've played a long time and even took the BIG jump and took some lessons a year and something ago (first lessons ever, yet I've been fortunute enough to play pro and semi pro for nearly 40 yrs). That decision to actually attempt to 'learn' my instrument (albiet a little late) eventually brought me to this site. And the information that you and all the drumming enthusiast here share (man, even the TRUE pros are so willing) is truely amazing... and I thank you all. It's interesting about the drum's wood content, I guess I never considered it much and its for sure such an important part of the buying decision (asleep at the wheel me was... :O). It was like Crusto 62 sed, 'just play em' and enjoy em', which is exactly what I've done!

It sounds like these babys of mine are a Phillipine Mahogany with a likely center ply of Poplar. Now that I can live with! They're really tough drums and tolerate abuse as well as the Titan hardware that came with them. Now I'm wondering what my first and now practice set - 1968 Ludwigs... 'phychedelic red' - are made of?? I suppose I can google it, and am sure I will. Thanks again Elvis trkdrmr and all.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Now I'm wondering what my first and now practice set - 1968 Ludwigs... 'phychedelic red' - are made of?? I suppose I can google it, and am sure I will. Thanks again Elvis trkdrmr and all.
Probably a maple interior ply, poplar middle ply, and a mahogany (real, not Phillippean) exterior ply, with maple reinforcement rings. And if it's "frog in a blender" wrap, worth quite a bit of cash, if it's in decent shape. The green tends to really fade out on those. Post pictures.......please.
 

intheruff

Senior Member
'(real, not Phillippean) '

OH NO, here I go again! Now you've got me wondering whether the Poplar in my fake mahogany Tama's are real or just some other kind of common bush, maybe thistle... haha. I'll try to figure how to post a picture of the Ludwigs. The drums have been used fairly extensively from 68 to about 81, and now mostly a practice set thats just an old friend... so some definate abuse.
 

Elvis

Silver Member
intheruff,

Thankyou for the compliment.

Your Imperialstars are 9 plies of Luan ("Phillipine Mahogany") - no Poplar present.

Your circa 1968 Ludwig's used a 3-ply composite of Maple and Poplar (one of the first years to get away from Mahogany).
1/32" thick Maple plies, inside and outside. 1/8" thick Poplar ply in the middle.
I think the sound rings used the same layup.



Elvis
 
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