It's cheaper to build your own.

SGT_Drummer

Senior Member
So if anyone has noticed anything I've said in the past few months, you already know I'm looking at getting a second set. I've been debating between Gretsch, DW, Pearl, Tama, Ludwig, DDrum, and on and on. Well, thanks to a post in this thread a few days ago I have been non-stop educating myself on the world of building your own drums. I didn't even think to consider beyond he main brands before now, so I'm trying to absorb as much information as possible. Somone linked the ghostnote.net drum building forums and hey are amazing. I did some price checking between ordering everything from the amdrumparts.com website and buying a Pearl Masters or Reference set. The Pearl sets were looking at running me between 5 and 7 grand. The EXACT same set up, custom ordered, and bought from amdrumparts was just below 1500. Well, not exact, I went considerably bigger on the custom bass drum. But 1500!! and that's using Keller shells! This whole new world I've stumbled on is fascinating.

But here is where my problems and questions begin. First, I couldn't find anything really on lug count per drum so I guesstimated. (I intentionally OVER estimated to prove the to myself how much cheaper it actually was) So does anyone have a reference to lug counts for drums? (Keep in mind I'm in Iraq so I can't just walk over to my set and count the lugs lol) Second, what tools am I going to need? Third, would it be better to let the shell vendor drill holes and do the bearing edges for me? Fourth, is it ill-advised to play drums with no wrap, paint, or anything other than a clearcoat on the shells? How many of you have actually built your own drums? Are they worth it in the end? And finally, on the greedy end of it, after this initial investments and learning to build these drums are done, is it possible to make this profitable? (since I'll be getting out of the army soon and don't want a 9 to 5 job doing something I hate)

I have a lifetime of experience with drum PLAYING, but now looking into drum BUILDING I'm realizing how much I actually don't know. (it's been said that a wise man is not smart based on what he knows, rather than an understanding of what he doesn't know. I don't consider myself wise or smart lol, so where does that leave me?) I know I'm rambling (again) but like I said, I'm completely fascinated. But I'm completely stumped at the same time. Any help is appreciated! Thanks peeps!
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
First, I couldn't find anything really on lug count per drum so I guesstimated. (I intentionally OVER estimated to prove the to myself how much cheaper it actually was) So does anyone have a reference to lug counts for drums? (Keep in mind I'm in Iraq so I can't just walk over to my set and count the lugs lol)
Typically, 12 and 13 inch toms are gonna have 6 lugs (per side). Some 14's have 6, some have 8. 16 and 18 inch floors are usually gonna have 8 lugs. Kick drums. Most 20 inchers have 8. 22, 24, 26 inch kicks usually have 10 lugs.
Second, what tools am I going to need?
A drill, and a router, and the knowledge/confidence to use both.
... is it ill-advised to play drums with no wrap, paint, or anything other than a clearcoat on the shells?
I would say "minimum" protection for bare naked wood, at least. Clearcoat, oil, wax. These are "your custom made drums", so do what you want. Road tar, maybe, that would be.......different.
..... on the greedy end of it, after this initial investments and learning to build these drums are done, is it possible to make this profitable? (since I'll be getting out of the army soon and don't want a 9 to 5 job doing something I hate)
Since you're asking the "most basic" questions, I would say "don't make this a career. You'll be competing with "already established" custom builders, some of the oldest having 25+ years known reputation. With the economy in the tank, starting up as the "new kid on the block"......? Great that you want to build your own kit....but to compare a "home" build to a "production build", the one thing the large manufactures have on their side is time. Reputation. Re-sale value.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm about to travel down the same road. I'm going Vaughncraft. They are doing the edges, and if they drill, I'll let them do that too. I'll finish it with a satin oil finish and assemble myself.
For a 10, 12, 14, 16 and 22 inch drum I'll need 76 lugs (Tube lugs cost like $7.00 USD per) so that's like 532 in lugs, then you have 8 counter hoops on the toms, if you go diecast that's like 350 or so, then you have suspension mounts for the racks, and 6 floor tom leg brackets, not sure what they cost, and then about 175 for 10 drum heads, I figure 3500 tops, (shells are 1850 with the edges done and bass drum counter hoops included. They are a 1 ply shell, hardly any glue)

You can certainly play them with just a clearcoat. You do want to seal the wood though.

As far as being profitable, hard to say. I'd say it would be best suited as a 2nd income, not a primary one right now.
 

SGT_Drummer

Senior Member
Typically, 12 and 13 inch toms are gonna have 6 lugs (per side). Some 14's have 6, some have 8. 16 and 18 inch floors are usually gonna have 8 lugs. Kick drums. Most 20 inchers have 8. 22, 24, 26 inch kicks usually have 10 lugs.
A drill, and a router, and the knowledge/confidence to use both.
I would say "minimum" protection for bare naked wood, at least. Clearcoat, oil, wax. These are "your custom made drums", so do what you want. Road tar, maybe, that would be.......different.
Since you're asking the "most basic" questions, I would say "don't make this a career. You'll be competing with "already established" custom builders, some of the oldest having 25+ years known reputation. With the economy in the tank, starting up as the "new kid on the block"......? Great that you want to build your own kit....but to compare a "home" build to a "production build", the one thing the large manufactures have on their side is time. Reputation. Re-sale value.
Yeah I've done some more research since I posted this and I don't see this turning into a profitable experience. But I might be able to make some money on the side building for friends and the like. I mean it's nto about the money, but if I could possibly make a little extra doing this then why not right? lol. I've gotten into woodworking alot since I've been over here. You'd be amazed how much wood is over here just waiting to get used to build stuff. I'm fairly confident that I will screw up my first few attempts, those beginer stumps. But with the info I'm pulling off of Ghostnote I'm sure I'll get the hang of it. I'm looking up prices on stuff I'll need right now, and it's actually considerably cheaper than I was expecting to get the basic tools.

If I can get some stuff sent out here, my First Seargent has a TON of woodworking tools he's told me I could use any time I wanted. That combined with free wood = all the experience I need to get started lol! I'll keep you guys posted on how I do because I am definitely doing this AT LEAST once. Pics will be posted. =D
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Yeah I've done some more research since I posted this and I don't see this turning into a profitable experience.
I was going to say, I've seen many small drum companies come and go over the years, and even more try to start up. And while wood working is one thing, getting an EPA license to do spray coatings is a whole other ball of wax.

As for making your own kits, why not?

My biggest fear is: If I mess up, I have to buy a whole new shell. And I'd assume, like many things in life, the 1st time isn't as easy as it looks.

And for myself, just finding the time to actually do so.

But if I never find a perfect vintage kit that isn't way too much money, maybe I'll build one some day.
 

drumhead61

Gold Member
Hey I hope that you do get into building...I know that I am looking to do it. If you want practice finishing wood find yourself a nice maple or oak table top sand it like you have never sanded anything else before going through the various grits needed, ensure that you have cleared out the pores of the wood and begin to refinish that baby then you will have a better idea of what is necessary for your drum project.

It has been a long while since I did a table, but I know that before I build a kit I will find another cheap table and work that puppy up properly before I ruin a shell! Best of luck to you and I look forward to seeing your project.

JIM
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
...... But I might be able to make some money on the side building for friends and the like. I mean it's nto about the money, but if I could possibly make a little extra doing this then why not right? lol. I've gotten into woodworking alot ......... info I'm pulling off of Ghostnote........ and it's actually considerably cheaper than I was expecting to get the basic tools.
Now it sounds like your idea is a little more "grounded". Yes, Ghostnote rocks, for builders info. A buddy/fellow drummer of mine has a router table set up, and it didn't take him long at all, to start throwing down a bearing edge like a pro. Also great talent to have, if you get into vintage drum refurbishing.
 

spirit

Senior Member
You cant imagine how much I myself have played with this idea.....over the years I have thought aboout this a lot increasing more since a lot of suppliers of parts have gone online!
I so would love to build my own kit- it would be a magical experiance and finish in a kit of a lifetime- Do you know what I mean? I have in the last few years wanted the final kit- the absolute bees knees! I like a lot of top end kits with some nice features like- cast hoops, vents, etc and to be honest for looks I like Sonor, for features I like Pearl, for sound I like Premier and Gretch- so I have figured like you that build your own would be the best way to go to have the features I want in the configuration I want- to do that with say for example Pearl- you would have to go to the absolute top end and pay as you say around 6K!

It would be a good thing for maybe a sticky on suppliers and perhaps we could neg out a group discount on products?!
I for one would be up for that right now- this min, in a heart beat!
Great thread and invokes massive thoughts on the build project....Well done for giving me that drumming itch again! (not sure the wife will be happy with the thought of me spending money and having boxes of stuff all over the place- as usual)!!!
Lol!
 

SGT_Drummer

Senior Member
You cant imagine how much I myself have played with this idea.....over the years I have thought aboout this a lot increasing more since a lot of suppliers of parts have gone online!
I so would love to build my own kit- it would be a magical experiance and finish in a kit of a lifetime- Do you know what I mean? I have in the last few years wanted the final kit- the absolute bees knees! I like a lot of top end kits with some nice features like- cast hoops, vents, etc and to be honest for looks I like Sonor, for features I like Pearl, for sound I like Premier and Gretch- so I have figured like you that build your own would be the best way to go to have the features I want in the configuration I want- to do that with say for example Pearl- you would have to go to the absolute top end and pay as you say around 6K!

It would be a good thing for maybe a sticky on suppliers and perhaps we could neg out a group discount on products?!
I for one would be up for that right now- this min, in a heart beat!
Great thread and invokes massive thoughts on the build project....Well done for giving me that drumming itch again! (not sure the wife will be happy with the thought of me spending money and having boxes of stuff all over the place- as usual)!!!
Lol!

HAHA! well glad I could help lol, my day is complete now.

i can tell that you should check out ghostnote.net in all seriousness. you get access to a bunch of stuff for free, but if you pay the $20 membership, the drum lab you get access to worth thousands of times over in knowledge and information! I have learned so much in the last few days it's unbelieveable! they also have a thread in there, several actually, about doing group buys that you might find very intriguing. if your wife asks you didn't here that from me lol.

as far as plans on building go, i'm going to make a stave drum once i get a few more supplies here and then finish it in tung oil. now don't get excited or anything lol, it's going to be made out of cheap 2x4s and probably sound like wet cardboard, but its a first. kinda get a feel for it to decide how much i want to throw into it. i found some programs on there that basically tell you how many peices of wood you need, what angle to cut it at, etc etc.

but like i said earlier, i'll keep pics up of anything i do so ya'll can catch it.
 

spirit

Senior Member
I looked into this after I posted and found a uk company that supplys Keller shells and a fair range of snarem throws, snare wires, lugs, hoops etc. The shell can be pre drilled and marked out and bearing edges done for no cost also!
According to the net prices I can build a maple snare, for around £140! Way cheaper then buying a half decent one from a dealer!

Sound like the way forward- I am waiting for an e mail response for lead times, etc

Cant wait- think I will have a go--nothing to loose and everything to gain!
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I built my own piccolo snare from shells and part from www.amdrumparts.com. By buying all of the parts from them they did the drilling and bearing edges at no charge. Now I must say that with all of that done I assembled the drum not built it. However I spent a lot of time on the finish which was still a chore but the end product I feel was worth it monetarily and in the self sufficient way. Go for it, take your time and show us the result. Good luck.
 

Attachments

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I also am thinking of building my own kit. I like the idea of selecting exactly what I want in the way of finish and hardware. It won't save much money, because the hardware that I like is expensive. But I will be able to have it my way. I will have a kit that is unique. I don't think that I can put a price on that kind of reward.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
I'm curious if any of the people on here who have built their own kits have any opinion on this. I seem to remember thinking that, when all was said and done, they really weren't that much cheaper. I may be way off on that, I'm just trying to remember what those particular threads said.

Either way, if it's fun and you have the time, enjoy! For me, I'd rather just buy a kit and spend the time playing it!
 

Xalky

Member
I looked into this a few years back also. My advice would be to have the bearing edges and lug holes drilled by the vendor, especially on your first endeavor. I'm a carpenter by trade and I still would have them cut the bearing edges because they're tooled up to do a precision job. I might drill the lugs myself but why bother if they'll do it for free.

Purchase the best hoops you can afford. The last time I checked it was near impossible to get cast hoops. Personally if I was going to build my own kit, I would want Rims mounts, none of that thru the shell mounting.

Your talents should go into the finishing. I like a smooth car like finish so I would probably use a sprayed on automotive epoxy clear for the top coat. Epoxy can be sanded between coats to get that deep gloss finish. It can also be repaired for scratches and dings, similarly to laquer.
 

SGT_Drummer

Senior Member
just a quick filler, i've been doing more research on finishing and such. and have got to tell you i found the absolute most beautiful snare i have ever laid eyes on!! Hopefully the attached file will let you all see it.

to take a comment from a guy building a similar drum, this is what i believe was done to get the effect: "The finish will be hand-rubbed oil/poly over Dark Vintage Maple/Honey Amber dye and each drum will receive the standard Deco inlay."
 

Attachments

Last edited:

Average

Senior Member
If I were you I would have the company drill the lug mounts and do the bearing edges. Those holes need to be drilled precisely and I am sure they have the jigs to accomplish that. I could also see it being really easy to screw up a shell really bad trying to do the bearing edge yourself. This thread has got me thinking about building a snare. Thanks!
 

SGT_Drummer

Senior Member
If I were you I would have the company drill the lug mounts and do the bearing edges. Those holes need to be drilled precisely and I am sure they have the jigs to accomplish that. I could also see it being really easy to screw up a shell really bad trying to do the bearing edge yourself. This thread has got me thinking about building a snare. Thanks!
The bearing edges can be tricky but from what i have been reading it only takes a few trys on a router to get the hang of it and be able to make them just fine. I think they were refering to 45 degree BE for the most part, but if i were to try like a fully rounded BE i would definitely have the company do those for me. as far as the lug mount holes, they are actually pretty simple. the main rule is to measure twice drill once lol. that and place a piece of wood on the inside of the drum to prevent blow outs. there is a very detailed video on youtube on how to do it. i would post it but since i'm on a work computer where youtube is blocked i can't lol. i'll look for it when i get off.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
My piccolo is maple, 4 x 14, and when finished it was about 150.00 USD. The finish is what I wanted, and tough to find at that price on the vendor market. Again i would suggest going to www.ghostnote.com and look around at the gallery of stuff those guys have done. You will be amazed. Many airbrushed jobs covered in clear coat.
 

SGT_Drummer

Senior Member
My piccolo is maple, 4 x 14, and when finished it was about 150.00 USD. The finish is what I wanted, and tough to find at that price on the vendor market. Again i would suggest going to www.ghostnote.com and look around at the gallery of stuff those guys have done. You will be amazed. Many airbrushed jobs covered in clear coat.
yeah, hey i forgot to mention earlier but that is a VERY good looking snare! i'm still digging into the pictures, and i can't honestly see myself buying another mass produced drum set anymore. for personal and monetary reasons i thinking doing it yourself is indescribably better.
 

drumhammerer

Silver Member
I've just about finished building my 2nd kit. My 1st kit was just a simple clear lacquer over maple and they look good enough, so I would start with something simple like that for your 1st build. Actually, I would just try building a snare first, as it will be cheaper and easier with the finishing, plus you can see if you really like building drums. If you have access to a router table, I would certainly take advantage of that and practice doing edges, and even drilling and measuring holes while you have the chance. Drilling and measuring holes can be very easy, but it's also easy to screw up if you're not paying attention. You will learn more by making mistakes, and you will make them, then you will reading all of the literature on the web. I sure made my share of mistakes, but I was a better builder in the long run because of that. Once you actually start trying to build something, you will understand the mechanics better, and if you run into problems you can go to a forum like ghostnote and ask more specific questions.

I would also advise you to stay away from the fancy tube lugs and die cast hoops, because when you start getting stuff like that, the price goes up substantially. I see alot of people that build a snare or something wondering why it's not much cheaper to build their own drums, and they get the fanciest strainer, tube lugs, and die cast hoops. There's perfectly great quality lugs that you can get for 2.50$ or 3.50$ each, and the 2.3mm hoops are heavy duty enough and are great quality, plus there's plenty of good strainers for around 20$. If you just stick to the basic excellent quality parts, then yes, building your own set is much cheaper. And the keller shells sound great, and are actually rather cheap; at least here in the U.S. they are. Most of the expense is in the hardware.

And I would agree the drum building business is not gonna be a good idea, especially in this economy. However, it can be fun building drums, especially once you get good at it. I originally started building because I could get the components over time, and offset the upfront cost of a kit. So, it was kind of like a payment plan without the payments, and it allowed me to afford a great quality kit, because I couldn't afford one of the manufacturer's top qualilty kits. Now, if I want another tom, or different size bass drum or snare, I can just build one, and there is a certain satisfaction in that. If you order component drums from Tama or someone, it can take weeks or months to get them, and if they screw it up, it'll be even longer. Building a kit is alot of work however, and it's not something you're gonna bust out in a weekend, so you have to be patient.
 
Top