Quality of drum shell - finest In your opinion

RickP

Gold Member
We are always talking about finishes and sound and so realize this is part of the sound .
Who do you think makes the nicest quality shells these days ?
From my personal experience the nicest shells I have seen from the point of shell quality , smoothness and evenness of bearing edges my votes go to :

1) Yamaha PHX - the bearing edges are like glass absolutely no nap at all in either direction , very tight diagonal seams and perfectly even edges .

2) Sonor - any of their high end lines SQ2 , Vintage series , SQ1, Prolite - all are beautiful edges , smooth as silk and the undersized shells are superb

3) Tama Star Maple - my local shop has one of these kits and we took the heads of to look at the edges and shells and they are fantastic - very smooth edges and very well made shells .
 

ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
My MIJ Tama Starclassic Maple in Blue Sparkle Lacquer and Yamaha Maple Custom in trans black (gold lug) kits are the highest quality I've seen when it comes to edges, finish, and hardware. I have others, but these stand out quality-wise.

The DW Collector's kit I ordered back in 2001 had amazing edges, but the wrap had issues. Currently deciding what to do with that kit. I started a refinishing job on it, but haven't had time to finish. Even though the shells were penciled FP, Finish Ply, they are still gorgeous.
 
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GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
since Keller makes shells for many companies to the buyers specs I would have to mention them.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
I've got no complaints with my Sonor Prolites. I'd have to think that with the advancements in manufacturing/machining that most companies' stuff are pretty tight. I've found most defects with shells these days are related substandard applications of wrap finishes. I've seen some brutal cases of that. Notably with a Saturn Tour kit and a Gretsch Renown kit. Hence, me no buy wrap kits anymore.
 

Rotarded

Senior Member
I've been impressed by Yamaha and DW kits/shells I've owned, but I have to say I am blown away by the (Ray Era) Ayotte kit I own. Everything about the shells is simply perfect. I did a inspection of all the interiors and bearing edges as soon as I got the kit home. I could not have been more impressed on a 20+ year old kit.
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
Gretsch stave shell maple, oak and cherry are truly beautiful shells. 7/8" thick! Perfect edges, pinned as well as glued and the finishes are like glass. Oh! They also sound awesome.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I play only Pearl. That's been the case for over thirty years. I've never had a bad shell with a Pearl badge on it, whether it's been wrapped or lacquered. There are so many high-quality shells across multiple manufacturers that it's next to impossible to make an objective assessment that one excels beyond all others. Brand loyalty probably has as much to do with our selections as pure craftsmanship does, and there's nothing wrong with that. Finding a drum company you trust is a big relief. It frees your mind for drumming, which is a lot more important than the specific drums you play.
 

Benthedrummer

Junior Member
The mighty Premier Genista.

Powerful, beautiful finish, silky smooth bearing edges, exceptional lugs, sustain for days, sound amazing out of tune.
 
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Chunkaway

Silver Member
My Craviotto snare is fantastic, in terms of edge quality. My old DW kit probably had the highest quality edge work. Strangely enough the edges did not translate to the best sounding kit. I wound up selling it after owning it for less than a year.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
Gretsch stave shell maple, oak and cherry are truly beautiful shells. 7/8" thick! Perfect edges, pinned as well as glued and the finishes are like glass. Oh! They also sound awesome.
Now that you mention snares, I have a Hendrix Archetype stave walnut thin shell, with re-rings integrated in the stave construction. All one piece if you will. Just a masterpiece of craftsmanship. Here's their link that explains it, much better than me I might add.

 

topper-hardy

Junior Member
I don’t have any experience with the high end kits of other companies, but any of the German made Sonor series is build to perfection. I have owned kits from different series and all of them were examples excellent craftsmenship.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
From my own personal collection it's my steambent Tiki workshop maple snare.

Wifey sent me on the drum building course in 2015 as an engagement present. (Eternally grateful to Preston at Tiki and Andy here for helping me with my homework!). If you can make something exactly to your specs and have it come good it's really rewarding.

The maple/walnut shells that Mapex do for the Saturn drums are beautiful, couple that with the soniclear edges, those are some really well made resonant drums.

I did own one of the 00s Arbiter Maple AT kits, the shells were really thick and the tone was so warm. Still tempted to get another one (with a legged floor tom this time!)
 

Eyedrum

Junior Member
I have been impressed with the following shells.

1. Any German made SONOR shells. I think they are the best ply shells made today. I have no experience with their imported shells

2. DW Collectors. I have owned several of their shells and they are always perfectly made, even though I may not dig the sound.

3. Yamaha China. I have owned a new Recording Custom and Maple Hybrid, both kits had perfectly made shells - as good as the MIJ offerings.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Pearl nor SONOR get much praise on here- kind of fall into a generic category but both make as fine A drum as any in their higher end stuff. Sometimes it’s like remembering a first love with a brand so an emotional tie. Speaking of edges there are so many and I think some more advantageous for a snare, or bass, or Tom. Maybe invent a kit with a select an edge tool to fashion each to your own taste. Sort out of like the Ludwig you added the hardware maple kit just this time you add the edges. Maybe in cahoots with Dremel can create a grinder for self edging. It will be “ cutting edge” technology. Sorry couldn’t help myself
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
IMO, the nicest shells are not ply. Either steambent, segmented or stave. Segmented FTW because of the no stress factor. Stave has that too, but I notice a big difference in stave vs segmented shells. Segmented shells to my ear resonate longer. Stave drums are a faster decay to my ear. I like the longest note I can get, and I feel the segmented shells have more open-ness than stave.

That said, ply drums have never been better, and I love them too. I could definitely be plenty satisfied with most ply drums.

The solid shells just have that deep down knowledge where I know that this is as good as a wood drum gets.

Solid shells are a GAS-killer. Works on drums only though. Solid shells do nothing for my cymbal appetite :)
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
IMO, the nicest shells are not ply. Either steambent, segmented or stave. Segmented FTW because of the no stress factor. Stave has that too, but I notice a big difference in stave vs segmented shells. Segmented shells to my ear resonate longer. Stave drums are a faster decay to my ear. I like the longest note I can get, and I feel the segmented shells have more open-ness than stave.

That said, ply drums have never been better, and I love them too. I could definitely be plenty satisfied with most ply drums.

The solid shells just have that deep down knowledge where I know that this is as good as a wood drum gets.

Solid shells are a GAS-killer. Works on drums only though. Solid shells do nothing for my cymbal appetite :)
I have not owned a segmented kit, but my no-name stave walnut kit sounds inCREDIBLE, especially the snare and the 12” tom. Just so smooth and rich. Really low fundamental.

I also like my hollow-log ash kit from Luka Percussion, although I still hurt my own ears by accident sometimes when I play the 10” tom a little too loud. Those shells are PERFECT. Sadly, hollow-log drums can’t really be gigged, they’re too rare, expensive, and vulnerable to humidity. Especially outdoor gigs. LOL
 
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