The Drum Modification Thread


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a member sent me this question and before i answer it i wanted other people's input and experience as well. this might be a good place for all sorts of modification ideas.

I recently purchased a dated Tama Rockstar as i was looking for some
sort of
project related to my drums and, eventually, to create a personalised
which would look, feel and sound the way i wanted. I am fond of the
sound of
the kick drum on this model and i was wanting some advice on how id go
painting the drum in the fashion i wanted. Is it as easy as one may
would it just require me stripping the plastic rap off the drum and
it? or is there a way of going about this? Also there is a tom mount
on the
drum. I was looking at having this removed or replaced for a newer
I have seen a few modified kits where this has been done but was not
sure of
the effect this created on the sound.
Thank You For Listening
Also, if your From GB do you know anywhere that sells legs for Kick
In one of the recent issues of Modern Drummer there is a good piece on re-covering drums.

After removing and sanding the shells you can repaint.

For hardware and parts, there are a lot of places that sell stuff like kick spurs, like

The best place to inquire about drum repair would probably be and I think there is a site called Ghoste note, drum shed or something like that. That's pretty much all they do there is build and modify drums.
You can take off the wrap, but be sure to get all the glue of the shells. If you want to paint them with a solid color do not sand the shells to smooth, the paint needs some grip to hold on. ( maybe 400 grit max. 600 grit)
If you good at spray painting you can try it yourself, but I would suggest you put a sort of automotive laquer over the paint to get a nice shiny look. Be sure that all those layers of paint and laquers are not too thick, otherwise it will choke the sound of the shell.
The other thing you can do is , as soon as you took off the wrap, and you like the look of the wood just sand it and put a laquer on top of the shell for a nice natural finish.
I do not know any supplier of drum hardware in the UK.
i would take it very slowly. to start with i would only try peeling the wrap from the base part of the bass drum so if there are any negative results they won't show.

the most iportant thing about any modification is not to change the good sound characteristics of the drum...this means above all else, protecting the bearing edges. take off the wrap, lightly sand to remove any glue, put masking tape over the bearing edges. put several primer coats and then lightly sand with a high density paper (1200 grit or more) , then add several light coats of colour. most important to follow the manufacturer odf the coating's advice at all times.
also investigate types of laquer or varnish to put over the finish. look up resin gel coats as well. this will help make the finish last longer.
compressor powered spray paint is much superior to canned stuff. see if you can borrow one, or take your shells to a car respraying company for a quote. they will do a great job.

Good points, and in some cases the drum manufacturers wrapped shells that were
not the best cosmetically. The wrap would cover up imperfections in the wood. I can't say that about Tama.

So the drums in question would probably need to be painted and probably would require extensive work if they were going to be stained. Also remember to cover each interior hole with tape so the paint and over spray does not get to the interior of the shell.

In regards to the switching of tom mounts it depends on certain factors. If they match up with the same hole pattern ( very unlikely) then there is not much to worry about. If on the other hand they do not, then you will need to get some dowel rods that fit snug. After the wrap is removed then plug the holes with the dowel and a little glue. Cut them with the appropriate tool and sand.

In regards to removing the wrap depending on the glue, you might need to slightly heat it with a heat gun to soften it. This of course has adverse affects if you heat it too long and potentially burn the wrap and or create unhealthy fumes. (do it outside)

The sound is an entirely different factor and there are many schools of thought on that. Many custom drum builders refuse to wrap drums because they feel that changes the tonality of the wood and restricts vibration of the shell.

In the end if the drum has the sound you require, it probably will not drastically change the sound by removing the wrap.

Going in the opposite direction and taking a painted or stained drum then adding wrap, you need to make sure heads will fit with the increase of material.

Hope some of that helps

That's a good call about the heads. I've only ever peeled one drumset. When I was done, the heads were all a little too big. It didn't turn out to be a problem- after all, the bearing edges and the hoops were the same. But if I had a drum I liked the sound of, I might worry a little. Also, the wood on the kit I worked on looked like crap! Rockstar is probably better than what I was working with but you might end up with a kit that dosen't look so hot.

Sounds like a fun project anyway, good luck!
Often wrapped drums do not have a suitable wood surface for a good painted or stained finish. You need sand and seal, sand and seal, sand and seal......then if you stain it the liquid makes the wood expand and you have some slight splintering and unevenness. So you lightly sand and restain to taste. Make sure it's completely dust free (use damp cloth) before the lacquer goes on - spray it on, do not use a brush - and let the shells dry in a sealed, dust-free environment. Then polish with fine grit paper like 2400. Then you should have some awesome drums.
I'm not certain of all of the pariculars in this case, but I will offer what litle experience I have. First, you will need to have access to all the right tools. A good putty knife will help you gat the old wrap off of the drum. Also, Tama used to use what I call a keyed split aluminum grommet on the vent hole. You will need to remove this grommet. I used a flat blade screw driver to remove mine, but there is potential to mar and scuff the inside of the shell; I warned you! You will neeed to prepare the shell for refinishing and this may mean filling in a lap joint (this is an intetionally sunk part which Tama used to make the seam on a wrapped drum fit more flushly against the outside. There is an excellent article ina back issue of modern Drummer on the refinishing process. It was written by the guy at DW who does all of the painted drums. I will try to find out more on this as time allows. If you know of someone who has the MD archive, you may even be able to research it there. As far as bass drum spurs, if you wanthe factory Tama spurs, contact Dale's Drum shop in Harrisburg PA. They are a dealer of Tama replacement parts and thier number is 877-704-5682. If you need anything else from me, feel free to contact me at

Best of luck!
for things like adding floor tom legs, re doing bearing edges and converting toms into snares id jus talk to guys who own shops such as andy's guitar shop in London. they can help you. and converting stuff doesnt cost as much as u might think. if you want to do it yourself look in bargin bins and spare bits bins in shops, you can pick up things like floor leg clamps for a few quid. ive tried modifying my drums a few times and most have been resounding failures. i would however recomend that people get their bearing edges re-done. it's amazing how much difference it makes. if you've got a drum which just doesnt sound as good as it used to no matter what you try, get the heads off and you'l prbly find the bearing edges are rounded, dented and sometimes soft.
Having learned a very simple method to do so, I just build my own gear. The shells are easy to roll up. I do them in italian poplar or birch (haven't tried maple yet. its pretty stiff).
I just sold my last kit. 20x20 kick (big thunder for a smaller size), 14x12 suspended floor, 6, 8, 10, 13 racks and a 14x8 snare (Nice bottom end).

My next project will be a BIG kit. Double bass (28x28 cannons) 10, 12, 13, 14 racks, 18x16 floor and 14x10 snare. 12 ply shells all (i play pretty hard). I'll post pics as the project progresses.

Build a jig with two pieces of wood cut to the inside diameter of the shell with a single cross member to create the first seam. Use brads to secure the sheet. Then, positioning the next seam 180 degrees from the first, apply DAP weldwood to both the outer surface of the first and inner surface of the second sheet, roll the next ply on. Then position the 3rd seam 90 degrees from the 2nd, same gluing process. Position the 4th 180 degrees from the 3rd and do the same thing again. Use a rolling pin on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th sheets to ensure bonding. let the shell sit for a few hours to be sure the glue has set up. Then mark off both ends to the inside of the jig and cut off the jig ends. Remove the cross member with a pair of pliers (gently). The brads will come out of the 1st sheet. Use a planer to even up the shell ends. A granite slab or a good counter top will serve to level the ends. Now cut your sound edges (vertical with 45s or 30x45 or 45x45 depending on your tastes.
Edges can be cut with a router or with a half round wood file. Then line off your shells for hardware (use the rims to mark off with. The bass has to be done with a tape measure). Repeat this process for all the shells. Cut snare beds on the snare drum shell. This kit will be covered with either sheet brass or bronze. Mounting hardware (lug casings, etc. will be finished in brass). As i said I'll post pics as I get them. Ciao, Rich the Builder
Very impressive, Rich. Really look forward to seeing pictures of your work. Some picts of your shop would be cool too.

I just striped down my Older pearl export select snare......and i want to do somthing with it.. I have a good friend that is into woodworking...and i am thinking about getting an exotic burl veneer to put on it. Then i want to get my edges all redone and that good stuff..all new hardware. My main concern is the veneer. Dose anyone have experence with this stuff?i know its really thin and brittle....but they make stuff to soften it up. Any input would be greatly appreaciated.
I have an old Slingerland set that although it looks rather pathetic, sounds amazing. I want to put artwork on it instead of the rusted shells it now has. From reading this thread I've picked up some tips but not enough to feel confident about doing it. I guess Im just asking for someone to sum up how to modify a set and where to buy the materials needed. It would be very appreciated.
Good points from most...The thing about Tama drums unlike other models they use an adhisive on the entire wrap so removal will be more difficult than most wrap coverings.

Here are some useful links. I was thinking of refinshing a new Yamaha set because the wrap was Ugg! But it looks like a huge undertaking.

Coz out!
today i finally decided to take off the black wrapping on my drums, because it is damn ugly. just one question though. when i take the wrap off, will it affect the fitting of the heads on the drums?
Rendezvous, no it shouldn't cause any problems, the edge is still the same.

Im looking for a way to burn a graphic on mine, anybody has done this before. My drum is a pearl export made of ugly looking poplar.
I want to keep the natural finish with a clear and a burnt drawing on the wood, should be nice.
Hi there. Having read all of the above, I'm not really all that confident about stripping my kit down myself etc (I've been playing for 9 years and I've never come across the terms "wrap" and "bearing edges" but then I don't know much about the technicalities of the drums, more just playing them lol... what are "wrap" and "bearing edges"?). Does anyone know of anywhere in the UK that will strip down drums and re-paint/ whatever them to custom colours etc etc? I'm due to have an operation in August so won't be able to play for a couple of months, this will be an ideal time for me to have these done as it'll take away the temptation to play when I'm not supposed to, plus I'll get an awesome looking kit. I have a Yamaha 9000 series kit from the late 80's, it's in a bright scarlet red, but I have a Recording Custom 12x10" tom, when I ordered I told the guy on the phone that the kit was a bright cherry red, he said "Yea, no problem, Yamaha only do one red on the Recording Cusrom"... Yea, they do now tool, but what about back then? Anyway, the 12x10" is a lush dark red colour, but the rest of the kit is bright scarlet red. It kinda stands out a bit. I'd like it all matching and looking sweet, maybe in black?

So anyway, back to the original question, anyone know of anywhere in the UK that does it? Preferably in Lincolnshire/ Cambridgeshire/ Nottinghamshire/ Yorkshire area (I don't want to have to travel hundreds of miles, but if there's somewhere that will do an astoundingly good job in, say, South London, I'll travel to it!!)


I stripped my terrible Pearl snare (summer boredom) and staind it with shiny natural finish. And it looks better than Hiedi Klum in a swimsuit. (ok i'm exaggerating)

Make sure you sand off all the glue. Also i would strip the snare before I toched the toms or bass. Also trying to redo laquer is as pointless a boat on dryland.