Jazz Drums and Number of Plies

theuntitleddrummer

Senior Member
I need help with the concept of choosing the numbers of plies for a kit I'm planning to make.
I do not want drums that are TOO focus but at the same time not TOO open with much overtones.
Please state what plies I should get for each snare, tom-tom, floor tom, and bass drum with the jazz sizes of a 6x14 (snare), 10 x 8 and 12x14 (toms) and 18x20 (bass).
The reason I'm asking is because I don't know what plies sound best for jazz, funk genre and also I don't know the relation between the plies of the toms and kick because on kits I see they both have a different number of plies.
Thanks in Advance.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
If you're looking for a good funk/jazz set, I'd get a 14" deep bass drum instead of the 18". It will hone in the sound better for those genres. As for plies of the drums, the "standard" for custom drums is 6 plies for the toms and 8 plies for the bass drum. I don't know why, as a 6-ply bass drum will be sturdy enough, but it's up to you. If you want more "whump" from your bass drum, go for 6-ply.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Are you sure that you won't prefer a 8x12 rack tom? It will still work well with the 12x14 floor tom.
I agree with Caddy on the plies and the bass drum dimension also.
I use a 14x18, 8 ply bass drum and I love it. 6 plies will also work on the bass. 14x20 is better for funk.
 

Artstar

Platinum Member
Diff mfg's use different thickness in mm plies, so you need to go by thickness/mm, but not plies. Sonor makes a 9 ply 5mm. Tama makes a 6 ply 5mm. Pearl makes a 4 ply 5mm. Etc, etc........
 

lawacker

Member
I like the 8x10 tom with my 14x18 bass drum. If I were to use a 14x20 bass drum I would get the 8x12 tom. I'm not to sure on that 6x14 snare drum.It would work, but I think for jazz that the 5x14 would work better. I use my 6x14 with my 22 bass when I playing pop-rock.In the end, If your going to be playing drums for many years you will find out that you will need both snare drums.I play with differnce bands and I'm always changing my set up. You will find in time the same thing with your cymbals. Whatever you chose you won't go wrong.Whatever you buy of any quality try to never sell it.You will need it again someday.
 

Polymetrix1618

Senior Member
I need help with the concept of choosing the numbers of plies for a kit I'm planning to make.
I do not want drums that are TOO focus but at the same time not TOO open with much overtones.
Please state what plies I should get for each snare, tom-tom, floor tom, and bass drum with the jazz sizes of a 6x14 (snare), 10 x 8 and 12x14 (toms) and 18x20 (bass).
The reason I'm asking is because I don't know what plies sound best for jazz, funk genre and also I don't know the relation between the plies of the toms and kick because on kits I see they both have a different number of plies.
Thanks in Advance.
What type of jazz are you playing? If you're going for a quieter jazz, a 5x14 or 5.5x14, 8x12, 14x14, 14x20 setup would be better. As for ply numbers, the thicker a shell is the less resonant and sensitive it is, but the louder it is. This 6 ply 8 ply thing is stupid. Go with the thinnest shells on every drum possible for jazz. The only drum that can't be super thin is the bass drum if you're mounting your rack tom on it.
 

volvoguy

Senior Member
Think about what *kind* of wood, bearing edges, and overall sizes you want out of a set of drums..

Also consider what kind of sound you're after.... there's a lot of different kinds of music that we could call jazz.

-Ryan
 

Polymetrix1618

Senior Member
Think about what *kind* of wood, bearing edges, and overall sizes you want out of a set of drums..

Also consider what kind of sound you're after.... there's a lot of different kinds of music that we could call jazz.

-Ryan
Yeah, I'd recommend completely different drums for swing than cool jazz. You could never get away with a 24" kick playing cool jazz, but it's perfect for swing.
 

mcbike

Silver Member
I have found that thinner shells speak at lower dynamic levels than thicker shells. but they do choke after a certain threshold. Thinner shells are more ideal for jazz drums because you get more of the shell tone at low dynamic levels. With thicker shells if you play softly you just get the head and not alot of tone from the drum.

as for your concerns about overtones, I have found the best natural way to combat overtones is reinforcing rings, and rounder bearing edges. reinforcing rings have a muting effect on overtones and take a little bit of the sustain out of the drum and "warm" up the tone a little bit. also roundover bearing edges help control overtones and smooth out the tone.

My recommendation would be a 3 ply shell with reinforcing rings. possibly considering softer woods like a maple/poplar/maple sandwich or 3 ply mahogany with maple rings.

of course you can go wrong with a 6 ply maple/gum/maple combination so many jazz drummers used Gretsch drums with this configuration in the bebop era that it has become the sound of jazz drums.

I would also echo everybody else's recommendations about a 14" depth on the kick drum. a shallower bass drum will "speak" quicker and you get the full resonant tone of the bass drum faster and at lower dynamic levels. deeper kicks in 16" and 18" are more punchy and project more, but are slower to react at quiet jazz dynamic levels.

I also support the 10" rack tom if you are playing funk, you cannot fake the funk with a 12".
 

Polymetrix1618

Senior Member
I have found that thinner shells speak at lower dynamic levels than thicker shells. but they do choke after a certain threshold. Thinner shells are more ideal for jazz drums because you get more of the shell tone at low dynamic levels. With thicker shells if you play softly you just get the head and not alot of tone from the drum.

as for your concerns about overtones, I have found the best natural way to combat overtones is reinforcing rings, and rounder bearing edges. reinforcing rings have a muting effect on overtones and take a little bit of the sustain out of the drum and "warm" up the tone a little bit. also roundover bearing edges help control overtones and smooth out the tone.

My recommendation would be a 3 ply shell with reinforcing rings. possibly considering softer woods like a maple/poplar/maple sandwich or 3 ply mahogany with maple rings.

of course you can go wrong with a 6 ply maple/gum/maple combination so many jazz drummers used Gretsch drums with this configuration in the bebop era that it has become the sound of jazz drums.

I would also echo everybody else's recommendations about a 14" depth on the kick drum. a shallower bass drum will "speak" quicker and you get the full resonant tone of the bass drum faster and at lower dynamic levels. deeper kicks in 16" and 18" are more punchy and project more, but are slower to react at quiet jazz dynamic levels.

I also support the 10" rack tom if you are playing funk, you cannot fake the funk with a 12".
I've never heard of a drummer using a 10" rack tom for funk. I use an 8" 10" 14" 16" tom setup and it's definitely not for funk.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I've never heard of a drummer using a 10" rack tom for funk. I use an 8" 10" 14" 16" tom setup and it's definitely not for funk.
I use both 8x10 and 8x12 rack toms. I sometimes set up with just the 8x12 as a four piece. Otherwise I play as a five. I find that the 12 is much better when just playing jazz.
I play a Tama StageStar 8 ply mahogany. I believe that the shells are about 8mm thick. It is an inexpensive under rated kit that sounds much better that its price! The mahogany really makes a warm classic jazz sound.
The drums also have the ability to open up and punch through when I want them to. I get good low volume tones also.
 
Last edited:

Ian

Silver Member
Jazz and funk? 3-ply with rings, 4 ply 5mil, or the Jasper maple/gum Gretsch combo are the ways to roll, if you ask me. Thin shells are the way to roll for these two styles.

I agree with the 14" deep kick.

Of course, low punchy funk always sounds awesome on Yamaha RCs.

10" rack toms in funk work for Garibaldi.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Lots of differing opinions here! Interesting topic, Everyone has their fav wood, plies, size, and thickness. All agree on the bass drum though.
 

RogerLudwig

Senior Member
I like the 8x10 tom with my 14x18 bass drum. If I were to use a 14x20 bass drum I would get the 8x12 tom. I'm not to sure on that 6x14 snare drum.It would work, but I think for jazz that the 5x14 would work better. I use my 6x14 with my 22 bass when I playing pop-rock.In the end, If your going to be playing drums for many years you will find out that you will need both snare drums.I play with differnce bands and I'm always changing my set up. You will find in time the same thing with your cymbals. Whatever you chose you won't go wrong.Whatever you buy of any quality try to never sell it.You will need it again someday.
I've always heard that a 5 x 14 was best for jazz, but when I gave my bandmates (bass, keyboard, guitar) a vote, three out of three went for the 6.5 x 14 when we compared them side by side, they were both Ludwig CMs...the rest of the kit is also CM 7ply, 6mm 14 x 20; 8x 12; and 14 x 14. Go figure
 

lawacker

Member
I've always heard that a 5 x 14 was best for jazz, but when I gave my bandmates (bass, keyboard, guitar) a vote, three out of three went for the 6.5 x 14 when we compared them side by side, they were both Ludwig CMs...the rest of the kit is also CM 7ply, 6mm 14 x 20; 8x 12; and 14 x 14. Go figure
Also my 5x14 is wood ( 7.5ml ) Taye studio maple. The 6.5 is Ludwig superphohnic alloy. The Ludwig sounds deeper with a nice snack but I really like the wood. Its sound has a nice crack with the 7.5 ml but the toms and floor toms sound even better to me because there is a lot less snare buzz on the other drums compared to the metal. They all have a dryer type sound which I like. Someone also said to get the thinnest shells, but on the snares I read to stay thick. If you want a lower pitch go fo the deeper drum, not less mls.
 

Polymetrix1618

Senior Member
Jazz and funk? 3-ply with rings, 4 ply 5mil, or the Jasper maple/gum Gretsch combo are the ways to roll, if you ask me. Thin shells are the way to roll for these two styles.

I agree with the 14" deep kick.

Of course, low punchy funk always sounds awesome on Yamaha RCs.

10" rack toms in funk work for Garibaldi.
He uses a 10" and 13" tom. The difference between a 10" tom and a 14" tom is too drastic for funk. I actually own a kit that goes from 10" to 14" and it's not in any way suitable for funk.
 

Polymetrix1618

Senior Member
Also my 5x14 is wood ( 7.5ml ) Taye studio maple. The 6.5 is Ludwig superphohnic alloy. The Ludwig sounds deeper with a nice snack but I really like the wood. Its sound has a nice crack with the 7.5 ml but the toms and floor toms sound even better to me because there is a lot less snare buzz on the other drums compared to the metal. They all have a dryer type sound which I like. Someone also said to get the thinnest shells, but on the snares I read to stay thick. If you want a lower pitch go fo the deeper drum, not less mls.
Shells aren't thin to lower the pitch. That can be done with the turn of a drum key or a change of heads. The reason for a thin shell is to be more sensitive. Thick shelled snare drums like References and G-Maples aren't sensitive enough for jazz music. 5mm is as thin as a non-ringed shell gets, so a super-thin shell with re-rings is the best choice.
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
Both my kits for live work and in the studio for pretty much exclusive acoustic jazz situations and performances are 9 ply shells. One made of 9 plies off AA flame bubinga wood the other with 9 plies of Canadian rock maple. I believe both are around 7.5mm thick with the maples maybe {i'd have to check} being a "wee" bit thinner. No rings on either set of shells with both having nice precise laser cut bearing edges on both sets. Tuning range is great on both and they both speak very clear in full range of tone well at a wide dynamic range and record beautifully.

With new state of the art drum making technology in practice today you can use more plies BUT have thinner shells with NO rings in the mix which has always been my personal preference in ply type shell construction for getting my certain type of sound anyways.
 

lawacker

Member
Shells aren't thin to lower the pitch. That can be done with the turn of a drum key or a change of heads. The reason for a thin shell is to be more sensitive. Thick shelled snare drums like References and G-Maples aren't sensitive enough for jazz music. 5mm is as thin as a non-ringed shell gets, so a super-thin shell with re-rings is the best choice.
If you take the same two exact shell size's one being 4.5 mls( which is as thin as it gets for Taye anyway ) and a 10ml.Ludwig late 70's The 4.5ml. will be of lower pitch every time . Yes a thin shell will be more sensitive. As far as changing the pitch with heads yes, but to which direction. Thicker heads may seem to lower it with a thicker thud sound, but now you lose all your sensitivity. The reason for thin heads is to be more sensitive. Everyone loved the sound of the 3 ply re-ringed Ludwigs, from the 60's but now 99% of the guy's are using ambassador's (10 ml) or thicker .That's not what the drums came with. They came with 7.5ml ( diplomat weight) heads. That why those drum sounded so great.I use coated diplomats top and bottom, all drums beat the crap out of them when I want and have no problems. And talk about sensitive.
 
Top