Impact of finish on tone

steverok

Silver Member
Hey all,

I just completed a project which has made me quite happy. Earlier this year I snagged a set of early 90s Premier Signia's in my favorite Sapphire Blue finish. It's a 4-piece : 22x16, 10x9, 12x10, and 14x14. I decided I wanted a 16x16 floor to go with it, so I found one in natural, and had it re-finished to match the set. Below is a picture. While my kit is a stain, where you can see the wood grain, he actually painted it, so there is no grain visible. That's OK, as the color match is pretty close, and this is the least visible drum. He did say he had to hit it with alot of coats to get the color deep enough. While I think it sounds great, and I love it, I'm just wondering if anything I did could have changed the tone of the drum. Just looking for informed opinions to obssess over.

Thanks,
Steve-O

 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that any change in tone should be imperceptable. You're actually the only person who can answer this. You've heard the drum before and after right?
 
A

audiotech

Guest
From the photograph, I barely see any color at all, but the sapphire blue sounds interesting. For the changing of the tone, painting on the outside of the shell should be imperceptible.

Dennis
 

tard

Gold Member
I have played 3 of the same kits with the same heads, 1 natural lacquered and one oil rubbed natural, and 1 stained and lacquered, the natural kit with the oil rubbed finish was a bit warmer, and the 2 different lacquered kits sounded the same as each other.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
You may find this link interesting: http://www.canopusdrums.com/en/drumproducts/color/chart/index.html

Does external finish affect the sound of a drum? Answer = yes, but by how much depends on how resonant the shell is. More resonant shell = greater audible affect. For example, at the extremes, a very thick ply shell will show little difference, whereas a thin steam bent shell will show a large difference, depending on the chosen finish.

Finish affects the drum's sound in a number of ways, but adding mass is probably the most noticeable on all but the highest quality shells.

As for your specific circumstances, painting will make a difference, but whether you can hear that difference, will depend largely on how much mass was added, the rigidity of the paint if applied thickly enough, & how resonant your shell is.
 

steverok

Silver Member
To answer one question, I had the drum shipped right to the guy who re-finished it, so no, I didn't hear it before. He said he had to spray it many times, I think he said over 10 times. I don't know what kind of paint he used. He builds acoustic guitars for Rickenbacker, so I imagine he uses paint that is good for musical instruments. Signia's are plied maple shells, on the thin side, with re-rings. It definitely has a big sound to it, and I like it. It does seem to sustain about 1 second less than it's 14x14 counterpart, and perhaps the sound doesn't "well up" as much. I guess there's really not much I can do or even wonder about, since I didn't hear it before. Thanks for y'all's input ... interesting topic.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
It does seem to sustain about 1 second less than it's 14x14 counterpart, and perhaps the sound doesn't "well up" as much.
That's about what I'd expect if the paint was as thick as an average lacquer or a light weight wrap. Some of that change in head sustain could also be put down to any small difference in bearing edge profile, but the "welling up" that you describe is probably shell resonance related.

I'm sure it sounds great though, & TBH, most 18" FT's could use a bit of control anyhow, especially when mic'd :)
 

Netz Ausg

Silver Member
You could attempt to counter this by using different ply/types of heads across the floor toms. Perhaps a lighter/less ply head on the reso or batter of the larger, potentially less resonant drum. Don't forget though, that most of the resonance is lost in the mix when the rest of the band is introduced.
 

steverok

Silver Member
You could attempt to counter this by using different ply/types of heads across the floor toms. Perhaps a lighter/less ply head on the reso or batter of the larger, potentially less resonant drum. Don't forget though, that most of the resonance is lost in the mix when the rest of the band is introduced.
I use single-ply heads everywhere, so that's not really something I would be interested in trying. I think, in the end, it's probably a wash, even with just the rest of the drums, let alone the rest of the band. It's even possible that the new finish on the big guy will "break in" over time, as lacquer jobs purportedly do. As I said, it still sustains and wells up, just not quite as much as its 14x14 maple counterpart, although I would contend this re-finished 16x16 is louder than the 14x14 tom with the original finish. I may remove the heads on both and photograph the profile of the two finishes, just to guage the relative thickness.
 

steverok

Silver Member
From the photograph, I barely see any color at all, but the sapphire blue sounds interesting. For the changing of the tone, painting on the outside of the shell should be imperceptible.

Dennis
Yeah, it looks black, right ? Unless you put sunlight or a flash on these, you'll never see the beauty of the color.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I would contend this re-finished 16x16 is louder than the 14x14 tom with the original finish.
You have finely tuned ears :) An increase in volume is the flip side of the affects you mentioned earlier. Essentially more mass in the shell.
 

steverok

Silver Member
You have finely tuned ears :) An increase in volume is the flip side of the affects you mentioned earlier. Essentially more mass in the shell.
Yes, it's both a blessing and a curse ! I mean, seriously, the percentage of weight attributed to the finish itself, compared to the whole drum, has to be pretty small, yet audible to my rabbit ears.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, it's both a blessing and a curse ! I mean, seriously, the percentage of weight attributed to the finish itself, compared to the whole drum, has to be pretty small, yet audible to my rabbit ears.
It also has a lot to do with increased rigidity, & differential resonant frequency response, but now we're getting nerdy, & the "only heads & tuning can ever make a difference" brigade will jump all over me :)
 

steverok

Silver Member
It also has a lot to do with increased rigidity, & differential resonant frequency response, but now we're getting nerdy, & the "only heads & tuning can ever make a difference" brigade will jump all over me :)
Oh yeah, I forgot all about the "only heads and tuning" contingent of our population. So we're saying not only does the wood matter, but what you spray on it, also. It is interesting. I mean, if I hit each drum individually, while dampening the others, and stick my ear right up to it, I can hear a slight alteration of the sound, which is really a re-distribution of the sound, displacing a slight loss in sustain with a slight increase in volume or power. Then fire up the Marshall amps and bass rigs, and see, then, if you can discern the difference. Like I said, obsessive, man ...
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Then fire up the Marshall amps and bass rigs, and see, then, if you can discern the difference.
Exactly. There'll always be a counter view, but who said that tonal pleasure has no value because it can only be appreciated acoustically? If that's the case, then nothing moves forward, there's no case for individuality, & the pleasure a player gets from teasing new textures from their instrument counts for nothing.
 

steverok

Silver Member
From Paul Wilczynski, the man from Rickenbacker who did the job :

"It's painted with urethane colors and catalyzing urethane varnish for the clearcoat. Sixteen coats in all, sanded and buffed, paint is about .010" thick. It's plenty flexible and should last decades."

Since the heads have stretched out, I tuned it up some today, and it's sounding plenty mighty ! I always wanted a killer set of maple drums, and now I have it. Long live Premier drums !
 
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