The Build Structure of Low Tuning Drums


Junior Member
I enjoy low notes out of drums. I was forever wrestling with a Pearl MCX for years before I knew anything about drums and I could never tune them low enough. I later learned the 7.5mm maple shell with die-cast hoops some how created drums that some how favored a higher tuning, opposite of what I liked. There is so much information on drum shells that it's easy (for me at least) to get crazy with it and all mixed up so I'm just going to list what I know impacts the pitch (fundamental, note, etc) of a drum:

- The thinner the drum shell the lower note it can produce. (but the thinner the drum shell the lower the volume it can produce)

That's literally all I know for sure. lol

I'm curious about a few things though:
- Do certain wood species tune lower than others? (ie bubinga, mahogany, walnut, etc.) Or do they just accentuate a certain frequency spectrum? Those seem like two different things.
- Does DW's VLT, HVX, etc, types of shell technology lower the tuning of their drums by taking tension out of the shell as they say because I keep noticing their drums sound awesome (to me) and tune LOW compared to other companies.
- Die-cast rims vs triple flange rims: I've read it a few times that die-cast raises the pitch of a drum as it's heavier. No idea to the accuracy in that.

Trying to get a working factual base of knowledge on drum pitch and how it's affected by drum structure. Thanks for any help.


Senior Member
The true-ness of the bearing edges (and hoops) have a big effect on how low a drum can be tuned.

At very low tension there is a small margin for error between getting a flabby sound or a pleasing rumble.


"Uncle Larry"
I don't think the volume difference between thin and thick shells is really a factor. All 16" drums (for instance) will sound flappy at about the same tension. A walnut, mahogany, or bubinga tom will have lower perceived frequencies than say maple ash or birch tom at a given tuning. A 2 ply head will sound deeper. The resonant head is important too. I like to keep them pretty tight for low and high tunings, but you should experiment with the reso tunings to see what kind of timbre you prefer. You could put a 2 ply on the resonant head. The black heads sound darker than white or clear heads. You should definitely be able to get low satisfying sounds out of birch maple and ash drums. It's all in the setup.