Sealing the insides of shells

Drumdude67

New Member
I have a Tama Superstar Classic kit and I noticed it looks like inside of the shells are unsealed. Can I seal the inside using bees wax, will it change the sound, would you recommend it?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry" - Administrator
Staff member
I have a Tama Superstar Classic kit and I noticed it looks like inside of the shells are unsealed. Can I seal the inside using bees wax, will it change the sound, would you recommend it?
Welcome to DW

I've never heard of sealing with beeswax. I wouldn't do that for 2 reasons I can think of...usually, a lacquer or shellac or polyurethane is used to seal the insides. If you put beeswax on it, nothing will stick to the wax if you change your mind or don't like it.

The other reason is IMO beeswax is soft. Normally people want to brighten with a harder inside finish again, like lacquer, poly or shellac. Shellac will probably impact your sound less than lacquer. That's a big ole fat guess. A lot of shells are left raw on the insides. I like mine sealed too. I'd suggest shellac first, then brush on lacquer 2nd as both products are mostly nature made. (secretions from the Lac bug) Lacquer will brighten it more than shellac if that's what you're after.

The only thing I can think of against sealing the insides is that...and this is totally a guess...that the shell will naturally dry out faster than a sealed shell would. Old shells (especially old solid shells!) where the wood is dried out and the lignins have hardened...that's the holy grail.
 

Lefty Phillips

Well-known Member
I'm thinking about finishing the inside of my drums, as none of them have resonator heads. Beeswax is a good option, in my view; I've used it on guitars, and it's great for waterproofing wood without dampening whatever resonant properties the wood may have.

Shellac is probably a better option, but as @larryace points out, it will change the sound to some degree; it will make the drum sound brighter. He's also spot-on about (nitrocellulose, presumably) lacquer, which will make the drum sound even brighter than shellac.

There's also linseed oil, which affects guitars somewhere between beeswax and shellac, so I would expect similar results on drum shells.

None of the finishes above will have much effect on lignins crystallizing. They all breathe at the microscopic scale that allows wood to age properly.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I'll eventually do. Definitely, I'll stain the unfinished bits, but that's as far as I've gotten on that decision process.
 

Lefty Phillips

Well-known Member
I used sanding sealer - a watery varnish that soaks in and stiffens any loose fibres on the surface. Leaves a slight golden brown tinge.
Also known as "pore filler", different brands use different coatings, including shellac, plant oils, lacquer, and polyurethane.

I'm not sure that's the solution I would pursue, but it begs the question, how, if at all, did it change the sound of your drums?
 

caddywumpus

Archnemesis of Larryace
I’ve tried putting polyurethane on the inside of a poplar shell, to make the inside surface more like a hardwood. It brightened the sound a bit, but didn’t increase the resonance of the shell, probably because it didn’t add to the density of the entire shell.

I have yet to get my hands on one of those Philippine Mahogany shells—you know, the really stringy ones from the 70s/80s—and try it out. Still on the to do list, though.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Also known as "pore filler", different brands use different coatings, including shellac, plant oils, lacquer, and polyurethane.

I'm not sure that's the solution I would pursue, but it begs the question, how, if at all, did it change the sound of your drums?
I used it on cheap, thin luan shells (Yamaha Rydeen) and it stiffened the shells a little, made them less ‘soft’. It feel it brightened the tone, a slightly higher shell sound. The drums sound great! I get compliments all the time.

I also applied it inside a Catalina snare drum and noticed no change.
 

JimmyM

Gold Member
I’ve tried putting polyurethane on the inside of a poplar shell, to make the inside surface more like a hardwood. It brightened the sound a bit, but didn’t increase the resonance of the shell, probably because it didn’t add to the density of the entire shell.

I have yet to get my hands on one of those Philippine Mahogany shells—you know, the really stringy ones from the 70s/80s—and try it out. Still on the to do list, though.
Hmmm...I have a set of CB700's with mahogany that sounds suspiciously like what you're talking about. A buddy of mine suggested I seal them, but I was afraid they'd ring out of control.

However, I could be talked into trying rattlecan poly to see if it improves their sound. Do you think it might stiffen the wood up a little, too?
 
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JimmyM

Gold Member
I once tung oiled the inside of a whole 5 piece kit. I didn't notice a sound difference and it smelled bad. Looking back it was a massive waste of time that I wouldn't do again.
I wouldn't expect tung oil to do much since it soaks into the wood.
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
I would imagine that your shells are sealed on the inside. They just didn't put a ton of high gloss lacquer on it so it doesn't look sealed.
 

JimmyM

Gold Member
Yeah, maybe it’s time for an experiment.

I would imagine that your shells are sealed on the inside. They just didn't put a ton of high gloss lacquer on it so it doesn't look sealed.
Maybe but you can feel the wood surface inside and it feels like raw wood. If there is anything, I doubt it makes much of a difference.
 

cbphoto

Diamond Member
This guy’s post (on another forum) shows the results of tung oil on bubinga.

 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Is there any chance that you will ever sell this kit? If so, don't so anything. I know I probably wouldn't buy anything that had be done to the inside of the shell by the player. If it's done by the company, that's another thing to me.

Just my $.02.
 

Cmdr. Ross

Silver Member
I agree.
I've only done it on inexpensive, used drums that have already been modified.
There should be no need to do anything like it on most new drums.
This.

Depending on the wood used, whenever I refurbish a kit, I use teak oil or sanding sealer.
Teak oil for the softer, undamaged woods that really sponge it in & it brings out the beauty of the grain.
Sanding sealer if the wood has blemishes or has been repaired & I plan to do my own "silver sealer" for the inside.
 

JimmyM

Gold Member
I agree.
I've only done it on inexpensive, used drums that have already been modified.
There should be no need to do anything like it on most new drums.
My shells are inexpensive and used CB700's, but they haven't been modded, and I've apparently worked out my tuning issues because they're sounding excellent today. So you are correct...won't be modding the insides after all.
 

cbphoto

Diamond Member
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