snare shells - telling brass from aluminium?

opentune

Platinum Member
If the shell is chrome-plated, how do you tell chrome-on-brass from chrome-on-aluminium?
Both are non-magnetic. Brass is heavier but other items on snare or the shell thickness affect that method.
Maybe chrome-plating never on inside of shell?
If not, should the brass always be orange tinted in colour inside of shell?
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
If all else fails, there's physics.

Strip the shell and submerge it in water. Measure the displacement, which will give you the volume of the shell.

Weigh the shell.

Use the weight (ok, mass) and the volume to calculate the density.

Aluminium has a density of 2.7, brass has a density of 8.48.

(Densities courtesy of google).

Somebody will be along in a minute with a much cleverer way...
 

paradiddle pete

Platinum Member
It will be heavier as already suggested, the sound of the shell just by hitting it with your finger , but you would have to know the difference already. Beyond that take off a lug and file a little off the hole to see.
 

FreDrummer

Silver Member
All of the above methods are fine, but what about more practical methods? Talking about the situation where you saw the snare on CL and now you're meeting the guy in the parking lot of GC... Given OP's initial question, especially the unknown factor of hardware weight, is there an easy way to tell?
 

TColumbia37

Silver Member
All of the above methods are fine, but what about more practical methods? Talking about the situation where you saw the snare on CL and now you're meeting the guy in the parking lot of GC... Given OP's initial question, especially the unknown factor of hardware weight, is there an easy way to tell?
I can't really come up with an easier way to tell other than weight, but that would suggest that you would have to be fairly accustomed to the weights of different metals. I can say that if the weight is relatively hefty, there's a good chance it's brass. I play a brass shell with brass lugs and brass hoops. The thing weighs a ton. Aluminum is MUCH lighter by comparison, so it would be pretty tough to get the two mixed up if you already have a grasp of their relative weights.

Or if you look on the underside of the bearing edge, some coating methods don't quite get every little crevice, you might be able to see a little spot that is unfinished.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Thanks, ya the weight should work, but this thing has a parallel strainer adding some heft to it.
As I now just bought and own the snare (vintage premier 2000), I will try the filing trick. Am pretty sure its aluminium,

I have read everything possible on this snare, and all the old brochures on it throgh the 60's 70'smention how it comes in wood and 'metal, but they never state whether 'metal' is brass or aluminium. Funny how things have changed, that would be a selling point now.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I have a 5" deep acro and a 5" deep black beauty. The BB has brass tube lugs and the acro has bowties.

Just for S&G I tapped both shells with a hard mallet.

The brass shell had a noticeably higher tone than the aluminum, it wasn't even close

I don't know if the shells are the same thickness. If they are, that might help.

If I was going to scrape any metal, I would do it on the fold over of the bearing edge so as no to affect anything.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I wouldn't buy a Supra listed on a CL ad as a COB without being able to verify it somehow - either by seeing some shavings or comparing its weight to an otherwise identical COA.

Too many people don't know what they have. Of course, if the price is right I might anyway since I do like me some aluminum.

I have a COA Supra and a Black Beauty, both identical in every way (6.5x14 with Imperial lugs), and while the BB is noticeably heavier, the shells are both pretty thin so it's not a HUGE difference and I doubt I could tell just picking one up by itself without the other right there for reference.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I wouldn't buy a Supra listed on a CL ad as a COB without being able to verify it somehow - either by seeing some shavings or comparing its weight to an otherwise identical COA.

Too many people don't know what they have.

Of course, if the price is right I might anyway since I do like me some aluminum.
Disagree Mike. :)

Sorry. That will hold me over for about a week. Carry on. :)
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
Thanks, ya the weight should work, but this thing has a parallel strainer adding some heft to it.
As I now just bought and own the snare (vintage premier 2000), I will try the filing trick. Am pretty sure its aluminium,

I have a Premier 2000 as well. It's aluminum. A wonderful snare with great sound. How are the wires on yours? Took me a year to find a source for replacements. Just got 'em and put 'em on and the drum sounds a million times better. Any questions about this drum, let me know.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Thanks, ya the weight should work, but this thing has a parallel strainer adding some heft to it.
As I now just bought and own the snare (vintage premier 2000), I will try the filing trick. Am pretty sure its aluminium,

I have a Premier 2000 as well. It's aluminum. A wonderful snare with great sound. How are the wires on yours? Took me a year to find a source for replacements. Just got 'em and put 'em on and the drum sounds a million times better. Any questions about this drum, let me know.
Thanks. Some of the pre-1970 2000's can be brass according to what I read.
But yes, I did the file trick and it is aluminium.
The wires are Premiers, 2 x 12 strands = 24 total and in great shape.
The person I bought it from did not change its heads in 40 years, so just getting it up to par now and it sounds excellent.
 

pgm554

Platinum Member
If the shell is chrome-plated, how do you tell chrome-on-brass from chrome-on-aluminium?
Both are non-magnetic. Brass is heavier but other items on snare or the shell thickness affect that method.
Maybe chrome-plating never on inside of shell?
If not, should the brass always be orange tinted in colour inside of shell?
Most everything from the late 70's was aluminum (ludalloy)If you see any stamp referring to electroxxxxx,it's aluminum.
Some of the mid 70's was bronze and had a br stamp on the inside of the shell.

If the chrome is flaking and pitting 99.9% chance it's aluminum.
Aluminum does not take plating well.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My Supra and my BB look totally different on the inside. The (chromed) Supra looks like bare aluminum on the inside, which I thought they had to nickel plate or maybe it was copper plate something before chrome will stick, but what do I know. So my Supra looks like they chromed a bare ludalloy shell.

My BB, a dark nickel plated brass drum, doesn't look like brass on the inside. Brass is well, brassy looking. Yellow. It doesn't look like nickel either. It's dark. When I think of nickel, I think of the American coin, that looks kind of like aluminum. Yet my BB is dark nickel plated. I guess that's what unpolished nickel coated brass looks like, and all this time I thought nickel was a light color. The Supra is bright by comparison. The BB certainly doesn't look anything like my Supra does on the inside.

So the inside of the shell should tell the story.

As a side note that doesn't really matter but it's interesting to note....the difference between brass and bronze.... brass is mostly copper with zinc. Where bronze is mostly copper with tin. So they are both mostly copper, with zinc or tin really defining the alloy.
 

mpthomson

Senior Member
Thanks, ya the weight should work, but this thing has a parallel strainer adding some heft to it.
As I now just bought and own the snare (vintage premier 2000), I will try the filing trick. Am pretty sure its aluminium,

I have read everything possible on this snare, and all the old brochures on it throgh the 60's 70'smention how it comes in wood and 'metal, but they never state whether 'metal' is brass or aluminium. Funny how things have changed, that would be a selling point now.
There aren't very few COB 2000 drums. I've handled loads of 2000s over the years and never seen a COB..

2000s mainly came in two flavours, steel or aluminium. Earlier ones were aluminium and later ones are steel so a magnet should let you know which it is. If it's pitted then it's ally.

Much later there was the Carmine Appice signature Premier, which is a lacquered brass 2000, and later still there was a favoured dealer only run of what in essence was an 8 lug brass 2000, but with Olymic lugs and a normal snare mech, which was basically to use up some leftover shells and parts.

If it's a genuine 2000 with the later Flobeam then it's almost certainly ally or steel and not brass.
 
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opentune

Platinum Member
Thanks, ya read your blog on these drums (I think its yours) and worked it out a few posts above, its Alum. Of course a date inside the shell helped too :)
 
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