Oak Shells Or Maple Shells?

Wally11

New member
Hi everyone,
I am currently searching for a new kit, i have always played on birch shells but I want to try out other shells now. I am having trouble on deciding whether to buy a maple kit or an oak kit. I have done some research on their differences but i would just like to hear some of your experiences or opinions on the differences and which wood would be best to get. I dont play a certain style of music, i play various genres.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Oak is a hard wood so bright like birch but on steroids- seem loud to me. Maple nice and warm. If playing live unmic’d the oak might be your preference but if mic’d the warm tone maple your preference. I understand maple has assets for recording but I have no expertise in recording. Good luck I’m sure you’d be happy with either - and don’t second guess yourself you should have picked the other. Personally I’d take birch or maple over oak but that is likely jaded by the few oaks I’ve played for anytime. I was listening behind the kit not in front.
 

Wally11

New member
Oak is a hard wood so bright like birch but on steroids- seem loud to me. Maple nice and warm. If playing live unmic’d the oak might be your preference but if mic’d the warm tone maple your preference. I understand maple has assets for recording but I have no expertise in recording. Good luck I’m sure you’d be happy with either - and don’t second guess yourself you should have picked the other. Personally I’d take birch or maple over oak but that is likely jaded by the few oaks I’ve played for anytime. I was listening behind the kit not in front.
thanks for the info!
 
In general there’s is no “better” between the two. There MAY be .....” better suited“ to a specific genre or as to if it’s staying in your house or being gigged ( small room large room) miced, or unmiced and other variables as alluded to by @GetAgrippa . The only way to know and choose is YOUR ears , the sound YOU like. I’d suggest listening to sound samples and checking them out in person to find what’s more pleasing you YOUR ears . Play and listen to few maples and oaks from different manufacturers if possible to ascertain what you like . Don’t overthink it .

In short ...... Let YOUR ears be the judge . Good luck , happy shopping 👍🏻
 
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harryconway

Platinum Member
While I would love to have an Oak kit (Yamaha Oak Customs) ..... they would simply overpower my current drum space. If you're playing live, and competing with amps (as mentioned above) ..... Oak is a great choice. But overall, if you have a Birch kit already ..... I'd go Maple.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Just an opinion, every oak kit I've heard sounded brittle, bright and stiff. Maple is warmer and more rounded by comparison to my ear. Oak is full of attack, to my ear stiff and unforgiving...a little rude even. But it's your ear so listen in the same room if you can. Online, use a site large enough to stock both maple and oak kits and listen to their videos. At least so the sound mix is at least in the ballpark from one video to the next. DCP, Memphis Drum Shop...places like that.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
This is a pretty good comparison between birch, maple, and oak. The maple is a hybrid though:

I agree with what's been said already though. To me birch is brighter, maple is warmer, and oak is harsher/louder.
I've had birch and maple, but have only tried oak.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
If we're talking straight Oak shell vs straight Maple shell, the Maple wins every time. Oak is a little too bright and stiff by itself, as @larryace said.

But Ludwig was smart about their new Ludwig Classic Oak line. They put a Maple core in the middle and the results are fantastic IMO. They have the projection of Oak, but the warmth of Maple.

I believe @Justinhub2003 really loves his Classic Oak kit, maybe he'll tune in.
 

Justinhub2003

Well-known member
If we're talking straight Oak shell vs straight Maple shell, the Maple wins every time. Oak is a little too bright and stiff by itself, as @larryace said.

But Ludwig was smart about their new Ludwig Classic Oak line. They put a Maple core in the middle and the results are fantastic IMO. They have the projection of Oak, but the warmth of Maple.

I believe @Justinhub2003 really loves his Classic Oak kit, maybe he'll tune in.


Yea I absolutely love my classic Oak kit.

In 2020 alone I’ve owned a maple DW design series kit (sold it), the Classic Oak kit, & my latest is the Birch Sonor SQ1

To me, the Classic Oak sounds the best & it’s not even close. The oak/maple/oak 5 ply setup is just perfect IMO. I think the Classic Oak is versatile but at the same Is the sound of modern music.
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
Hey Wally: I used to own a Yamaha Oak Custom (original line) kit and an Absolute Maple Nouveau kit. Both were excellent in build quality and sound, but I think the maple kit had a generally more pleasing, versatile sound. Only you can decide that one, however, by hearing each in person.

I will say I’ve been quite impressed by the Yamaha Hybrid Oak drums. Excellent sustain and sound in those!
 

brushes

Well-known member
This is a pretty good comparison between birch, maple, and oak. The maple is a hybrid though:

I agree with what's been said already though. To me birch is brighter, maple is warmer, and oak is harsher/louder.
I've had birch and maple, but have only tried oak.
It is only a comparision between the Yamaha different drumsets, not of woods, as the sound is much more than the shell.material. Thickness, hoops used and hardware mass added plays a big role.

The Live Custom Oak is a great sounding drum. Huge tone but still warm. But... oak is heavier than other woods, which can be a no-factor.

I don't really know why you are so keen on other wood than birch as the wood has only minimal impact on the sound of drums. If it is for aesthetics (growing bored of looking at the same drum again and again), okay. But changing wood? ... only because of the sound? Don't expect too much. I have Birch, Birch/Bubinga and Maple drums and the differences are really subtle.
 

Fritz Frigursson

Senior Member
It is only a comparision between the Yamaha different drumsets, not of woods, as the sound is much more than the shell.material. Thickness, hoops used and hardware mass added plays a big role.

The Live Custom Oak is a great sounding drum. Huge tone but still warm. But... oak is heavier than other woods, which can be a no-factor.

I don't really know why you are so keen on other wood than birch as the wood has only minimal impact on the sound of drums. If it is for aesthetics (growing bored of looking at the same drum again and again), okay. But changing wood? ... only because of the sound? Don't expect too much. I have Birch, Birch/Bubinga and Maple drums and the differences are really subtle.
I'd imagine one would get annoyed by playing only 1 kit. Variety is what makes things fun isn't it? Also as you said, if OP gets a new kit, it will likely not have the same hardware nor thickness of the shell, so it will make a pretty big difference I think.
 

brushes

Well-known member
Depends on the drum. If he e.g. switched from a Pearl MBX to a SBX, the difference would be pretty much ... nothing. :)
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
I’d really like to try an oak kit n bop sizes. Is Yamaha the only maker of oak in bop sizes?
I just took a look at the 'Outfitter' for the Ludwigs oaks, and it looks like you can order an 18x12, 18x14, or 18x16 size bass drum.

Too bad there's no dealer around here to talk to. :(
Without that, ideally, you could just fill out the form, send it to Ludwig, and have the drums show up at your door.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Have you tried an Oak snare for comparison, before buying an entire kit.? You may get some idea. It seems in the video above that the Oak could be tuned a tad lower to get rid of some of the brightness.
 
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MusiQmaN

Platinum Member
I loved my oak. The kit I had the longest and over the years with different kit sizes too.

I really didn’t find them loud and harsh.

Rather warm and usable for everything from jazz to rock.

The north sea jazz festival used them for years as main backline kits.
 
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