Lug Splay Good?

AndyMC

Senior Member
So I always hear Andy over at Guru notice bits of lug splay with his laser eyes and talk about how Ludwig is notorious for it, my own acro and LM400 included.

However everyone still loves them of course and it comes up that they stay in tune better because of it. So DW I ask you this would it make sense for a drum to have purposely splayed lugs? I am assuming they would be engineered that way not just done randomly to find the most beneficial amount and pattern of lug splaying.

Or is the whole thing just a Ludwig owner defense mechanism?
 

Naigewron

Platinum Member
I own a Black Beauty with the standard issue Ludwig Lug Splay feature (patent pending), and I can definitely say that it detunes more quickly than any snare that I've ever owned.

So based on personal experience, I'm going to go with "no". It probably doesn't make it worse either though.
 
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B-squared

Silver Member
I have a ton of respect for Andy's opinions on drum design. I do think he would agree that it's a cosmetic issue (we can wait to hear).

As an engineer, I can say that tension members (which is what we are talking about here, hence the name) do not have to be plumb, or even straight in some cases, to serve their purpose. The cables in the Golden Gate Bridge are tension members, as is any rope-like structural element. They certainly aren't straight or plumb. Bolts can take more than tension, however. Many are designed to take shear too, in which case, out-of-plumb or curvature is a problem. Then again, tension rods aren't designed to take shear, only tension. As a structural engineer, my assessment is that it's just cosmetic. As a drummer, I have a lot of Ludwig drums and I can't see any of my own drums with splay. I know the problem is limited to certain models and eras, but mine look pretty straight.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
So I always hear Andy over at Guru notice bits of lug splay with his laser eyes and talk about how Ludwig is notorious for it, my own acro and LM400 included.

However everyone still loves them of course and it comes up that they stay in tune better because of it. So DW I ask you this would it make sense for a drum to have purposely splayed lugs? I am assuming they would be engineered that way not just done randomly to find the most beneficial amount and pattern of lug splaying.

Or is the whole thing just a Ludwig owner defense mechanism?
Ok. you've just baited the Andy fishing hook, & I'm being "reeled in"!

Here's my take: In terms of structural integrity, given the forces involved, it's close to a non issue. It becomes more of an issue on solid lugs. Lugs with inserts have a degree of give in them that allows the insert to align with the tension screw. In all but the thinnest shell wood drums with solid single point lugs, it has a negligible impact on either sound or shell structure. Significant splay when applied to tube lugs, can promote premature wear of the threads, especially if the screw is shallow in the lug. As for the argument that splay helps tuning retention, that's not true. Perhaps initially whilst the thread is wearing to accommodate, but thereafter, the reverse is true. The best way of assuring good tuning retention is to have a good depth of thread engaged in the lug, & lugs with inserts rarely have that.

Here's what really bugs me about lug splay. It's unnecessary! I regard lug splay as indicative of general lack of care & attention. My thinking is, if you can let something as basic as getting your measurements wrong slip through the net, what else are you turning a blind eye to? That said, I have to be careful here. Our new series drums all use M5 stainless steel tension screws. The holes in most hoops are to accommodate M6 or imperial equivalent. Due to the hoop's manufacturing process, most have a draft angle applied, & that means the screw can migrate towards the outside of the holes in the hoop. So, even if we get our measurements spot on, if we or a customer fits "S" hoops, or after market cast hoops, we could have a very small degree of splay on a Guru snare. Sacrilege!!!!! To mitigate that, we've adjusted our lug standoff by + 0.35mm. Yes, that's the level of attention we apply as standard, so why can't the big boys do the same?

A word of caution here. The number of drums out there with splay is probably less than you think. It's pretty much limited to a few sloppy engineering examples. When using a modern point & shoot camera, it's quite likely that the standard wide angle lens will give a false impression of lug splay. I'm convinced that a lot of examples I see are as a result of this.
 
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evilg99

Platinum Member
I absolutely agree with with Andy's points; it's mostly a lack of attention to these details that bother me as well. There are plenty of other examples of this from virtually every manufacturer.
Most of all, these are not cheap, entry level instruments we are talking about. They are timeless classics that the company hangs their hat on....and you pay for that heritage and name. Yet, they can't seem solve an issue like lug splay / and or/ gaskets. Whatever. Figure it out guys, yeesh.

My local drum shop sent back a Black Beauty with tube lugs : the lug splay was so bad that a couple of the tension rods would not thread into the inserts (which can't swivel on a tube lug)...so back it goes. This is an $800 drum for c&%$st sake! My $200 Mapex has none of these problems...

Neal
 

B-squared

Silver Member
Andy's camera angle point is a really good observation. Those of us who rely on our phones for photography are using highly sophisticated devices that are, in fact, crude for the purposes for which we are using them.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
My local drum shop sent back a Black Beauty with tube lugs : the lug splay was so bad that a couple of the tension rods would not thread into the inserts (which can't swivel on a tube lug)...so back it goes. This is an $800 drum for c&%$st sake! My $200 Mapex has none of these problems...

Neal
That's a disgrace, & a prime example of poor quality control, plus a refusal to get a grasp on the basics. The point is this, it's not something that's price related. It's basic lesson 1 in production control. You can spin a shell to fairly fine tolerances. I know, because I get a lot of spun items made. It's not exactly rocket science. It's also a fairly cheap manufacturing method, & even the tooling is fairly cheap.

Andy's camera angle point is a really good observation. Those of us who rely on our phones for photography are using highly sophisticated devices that are, in fact, crude for the purposes for which we are using them.
Of course, there are examples of poor manufacture, but the camera lens is responsible for many examples of splay seen in some pictures. I've posted two examples below. The first shot shows what appears to be severe splay in both the bass drum reso lugs. The farthest one looks splayed out, the nearest on looks splayed in. Even the tom lug on the right looks weird. Now compare that to the farthest lug caught on the second picture - it's completely straight. Both shots taken simultaneously (BTW, if any of you further publish the first photo, I will hunt you down mercilessly :) I can assure you that all the tension screws pictured are absolutely bang on straight.
 

Attachments

B-squared

Silver Member
.....if any of you further publish the first photo, I will hunt you down mercilessly.....
I will treat this as information classified as "Top Secret". I used to have a government security clearance when I worked in the nuclear industry, so your secret's safe with me. :)

Brent
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
My take on the issue is that most hoops, rims, whatever are pretty standard in size. However lugs are varied in style and size but some degree, and drum thicknesses vary so that if you have the thickest drum shell with the thickest lug, or the thinest and the thinest, there would have to be some play, or splay, in the insert to accomodate all drums. If you have more than one snare measure the outside diameter of the shell on all of them and they will vary even on all 14 inch drums. Andy and other custom companies have the ability to make their shells, and hoops, and lugs all fit without splay, but this is not going to happen with the normal drum. Some drums are stained, some are wrapped and yet the manufacturers use the sam rims for all drums. With the loose lug inserts to account for this I see no problem other than looks.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
My take on the issue is that most hoops, rims, whatever are pretty standard in size. However lugs are varied in style and size but some degree, and drum thicknesses vary so that if you have the thickest drum shell with the thickest lug, or the thinest and the thinest, there would have to be some play, or splay, in the insert to accomodate all drums. If you have more than one snare measure the outside diameter of the shell on all of them and they will vary even on all 14 inch drums. Andy and other custom companies have the ability to make their shells, and hoops, and lugs all fit without splay, but this is not going to happen with the normal drum. Some drums are stained, some are wrapped and yet the manufacturers use the sam rims for all drums. With the loose lug inserts to account for this I see no problem other than looks.
Grunt my friend, I must disagree. Most majors use gaskets to make up for differences in external finishes, & I accept that it's unreasonable to expect bespoke lugs for each finish, but non of that explains splay in a metal shell snare drum. The custom companies have no greater degree of control than the big boys, in fact, quite the reverse. Most custom companies use off the shelf parts, & those are a one size fits all deal. Major companies have full control of every element & component, so there really is no excuse. How come some majors get it absolutely right, yet others don't? It's not an inherent manufacturing difficulty thing, it's just sloppiness, pure & simple.

A thick or thin shell should make no difference, as the outside diameter remains constant. It's the inside dimension that changes with thickness.

We're in a fairly unique position for a small manufacturer, we make our own hardware, so yes, we have control, but no more than any major maker. As I pointed out, tolerance control on spun parts is pretty good, so why should a manufacturer release some metal snares with excessive splay, yet others that are just fine, & all from the same model? I agree, lugs with inserts do have the flexibility to accommodate a degree of splay, but many of the snare drum examples we see are fitted with tube lugs, & they have no give in them whatsoever.

Lug splay doesn't bother me, & as I've already said, in most cases it makes little difference to performance, but attempts to justify it do get under my skin slightly, especially on a so called high end drum.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Splaying is common in hand drums that taper, such as djembes, and congas even have a reverse splay. I think splaying on trap set drums looks odd and like a mistake was made. But I don't think it really affects the physics of the sound much at all.
 
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