Stop making drums sound the same...

Lee-Bro

Senior Member
After reading the "Sound of drum is in the head" thread and other discussions we've had on this forum that are similar to that thread, I feel what's being lost is that it's not about if we can get all drums to sound the same, but rather about drums' or drum sets' ability to sound different from each other. Not different as in "that doesn't sound like a drum!" but exhibits characteristics that other drums of the same sizes and heads DON'T produce. For example: I can get my birch and maple drum sets to sound nearly identical and I can also tune them separately that bring out characteristics that the other won't replicate.

So both kits "sounds like a drum set" but they sound different from each other. And that's what I look for in new drums or snares. Can I get a sound out of this drum that I can't get out of what I already own. Would anyone other than me know that I'm now playing my birch kit or snare instead of maple? Most likely not. But it's not about them. ;)
 

johnwesley

Silver Member
After reading the "Sound of drum is in the head" thread and other discussions we've had on this forum that are similar to that thread, I feel what's being lost is that it's not about if we can get all drums to sound the same, but rather about drums' or drum sets' ability to sound different from each other. Not different as in "that doesn't sound like a drum!" but exhibits characteristics that other drums of the same sizes and heads DON'T produce. For example: I can get my birch and maple drum sets to sound nearly identical and I can also tune them separately that bring out characteristics that the other won't replicate.

So both kits "sounds like a drum set" but they sound different from each other. And that's what I look for in new drums or snares. Can I get a sound out of this drum that I can't get out of what I already own. Would anyone other than me know that I'm now playing my birch kit or snare instead of maple? Most likely not. But it's not about them. ;)
I think you misinterpreted the thread. At least my post. No one is trying to make all drums sound the same. However you can make "crappy" drum shells sound good by using good heads. That's the jist of it. As I've posted before, I've taken "throw away" shells and refinished, them replaxced hardware and heads and the drums sound great.
 

Lee-Bro

Senior Member
I think you misinterpreted the thread. At least my post. No one is trying to make all drums sound the same. However you can make "crappy" drum shells sound good by using good heads. That's the jist of it. As I've posted before, I've taken "throw away" shells and refinished, them replaxced hardware and heads and the drums sound great.
Hey JW,
No misinerpretation, I was just pointing out how there are discussions about how some drums can be made sound "the same." And I completely understand making what's considered to be a "crappy" drum sound good (read: good, not same). Also, I enjoy seeing the work you've done on drums. That gives me hope for a set of Collectors shells I've been wanting to refinish. But drum finishes are like tattoos to me, I've never been able to find a design I'd want forever which is why I don't have any tatts. Which is why I may end up sitting on these shells forever. But that's another discussion for another time. Cheers!
 

Al Strange

Well-known member
Ignoring brands/materials etc, my two kits have different sized shells, either width or depth. I like to tune to where the shell sings the most so each of my kits naturally sound different...and I love the sound of both of them! (y) :)
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Ignoring brands/materials etc, my two kits have different sized shells, either width or depth. I like to tune to where the shell sings the most so each of my kits naturally sound different...and I love the sound of both of them! (y) :)
I also have 2 kits. Same brand, over 40 years between the two. Yet I can mix and match and they always blend well together. The old shells are thick, heavy, and fiberglass covered mahogany(?). The new are poplar. I can make them match, or make them sound completely different. Its wonderful to have sonic options.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
That no two drum shells sound identical is a demonstrable truth. Want evidence? Put Dave Weckl behind one set of shells and anyone else behind another. You'll perceive an alarming difference in sound from the outset.
 

Poleaux

Member
C.M. Said: That no two drum shells sound identical is a demonstrable truth. Want evidence? Put Dave Weckl behind one set of shells and anyone else behind another. You'll perceive an alarming difference in sound from the outset

That's a good point. I recall an interview with Ed Van Halen, where he tells of how one day he and Ted Nugent both tried out each other's guitar and rig. He said that it sounded like himself playing Nugent's equipment and the Nuge playing EVH's equipment. The very different sounds coming out of the amps were all due to the spirit, hands and fingers of the musician, rather than the equipment.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
That no two drum shells sound identical is a demonstrable truth. Want evidence? Put Dave Weckl behind one set of shells and anyone else behind another. You'll perceive an alarming difference in sound from the outset.
Likewise you would hear that difference if two drummers played the same set. Agreed that every shell is different (if you add enough decimal points to the number) but the question is when does it make a difference and what exactly are those differences? As someone pointed out, they couldn’t here a difference in a youtube video but they could in a quiet recording studio. So if you can only tell in a temperature controlled, constant humidity room with thousands of dollars worth of acoustical treatment, what difference does it make on stage with the rest of the band wailing away?

And for those who believe the difference does matter (and you are welcome to that opinion) at least be aware of the physics that cause that to happen. It’s not the wood species that is making the difference particularly. It is the overall construction of the shell. with the wood being only a small factor in that. Every piece of walnut or maple or whatever is unique so some walnut shells will sound more like some maple shells that another walnut shell might.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Likewise you would hear that difference if two drummers played the same set. Agreed that every shell is different (if you add enough decimal points to the number) but the question is when does it make a difference and what exactly are those differences? As someone pointed out, they couldn’t here a difference in a youtube video but they could in a quiet recording studio. So if you can only tell in a temperature controlled, constant humidity room with thousands of dollars worth of acoustical treatment, what difference does it make on stage with the rest of the band wailing away?

And for those who believe the difference does matter (and you are welcome to that opinion) at least be aware of the physics that cause that to happen. It’s not the wood species that is making the difference particularly. It is the overall construction of the shell. with the wood being only a small factor in that. Every piece of walnut or maple or whatever is unique so some walnut shells will sound more like some maple shells that another walnut shell might.
That's probably the most balanced perspective I've ever encountered on the topic. No variable exists in isolation. A confluence of factors, both internal and external, determine the final qualities of any entity composed of atoms. Oversimplification is always attractive but almost always erroneous as well.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
This raises the question:

A person's technique...and the resultant sound...for better or worse...how big a factor is it? The volume seems like it would have to be taken out of the equation somehow. Think Keith Moon vs any other drummer. Sure you could pick Keith out.

It's an abstract question because how do you measure a subjective sound. Opinion is the only thing I can think of

Still it must be a factor, the technique a drummer uses hits a certain drum, because I hear it echoed throughout the halls of this university.

Here's a more non abstract question. If it were possible to get 2 drummers to hit the same drum at the same decibel level, would we hear the difference?
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
....It's an abstract question because how do you measure a subjective sound. Opinion is the only thing I can think of....
Not abstract or subjective, and relatively easy to do.
Measure the amplitude and envelopes of the frequencies produced by a repeatable strike with an FFT analysis.

A lot of people delight in the process, but in the end, what does it mean other than a distraction and a satisfaction of curiosity?
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
This raises the question:

A person's technique...and the resultant sound...for better or worse...how big a factor is it? The volume seems like it would have to be taken out of the equation somehow. Think Keith Moon vs any other drummer. Sure you could pick Keith out.

It's an abstract question because how do you measure a subjective sound. Opinion is the only thing I can think of

Still it must be a factor, the technique a drummer uses hits a certain drum, because I hear it echoed throughout the halls of this university.

Here's a more non abstract question. If it were possible to get 2 drummers to hit the same drum at the same decibel level, would we hear the difference?
These questions are just as difficult to answer as they are compelling. Subjectivity and sound are often inseparable. Expectation can have a greater influence over what our ears register than decibels or frequencies can. Rabbit holes are dark. They can be dangerously deep as well. If you dig too far, it's hard to reemerge.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Once a microphone is placed between an instrument and our ears it's a game changer depending on many factors.
Anyone with even minimal live or studio experience (especially studio) can attest to your point. EQ and compression changes the character of drums dramatically. Shell composition can lose all relevance once an engineer goes to work on a drum mix. Maple versus birch becomes an empty comparison.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
Here's a more non abstract question. If it were possible to get 2 drummers to hit the same drum at the same decibel level, would we hear the difference?
There are a number of factors to take into account besides sheer volume. Where on the drum did they hit? What was the angle of attack of the stick? What was the shape of the tip of the stick? How fast did they lift the stick off the head after the hit?
 

dboomer

Senior Member
Another elephant in the room is whether we're discussing listening to a drum's sound in person or recorded.

Once a microphone is placed between an instrument and our ears it's a game changer depending on many factors.
Another elephant ... The acoustic properties of the listening space. The temperature and humidity in that space. The altitude of that space. The distance from the drum to the listener’s ear. It’s quite a herd of elephants actually. ;)
 
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