The sound of the drum is within the heads

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Help me understand this, because I'm a little skeptical. I'm not trying to be difficult, honestly. My question is to you drummers that claim that the shell itself makes a noticeable difference. Let's say that you are there in person with the drums and not listening through any speakers of any kind. Can you tell which wood, or other material, is being played just by listening to a drum? If you were part of a blind test of various shells, could you discern which wood was which? And what about if you were hearing those same drums mixed in with other musical instruments? Could you still tell which shell was which?
While it would be extraordinarily difficult to pinpoint shell composition in isolation (e.g., hearing an unknown kit live or in a recording and declaring that it's maple with perfect confidence), differences can, in my experience, be detected side by side. The extent to which heads, tunings, hardware, the way the drum is struck, and other variables shape the experience remains debatable. The better question might be, "Is the debate really of value?" Manufacturers will continue to build drums with various woods, just as we'll continue to buy drums on that basis. My convention is to purchase kits I like and forget about related hype. My current kit is Birch/African Mahogany. If I'm told it will sound exactly like a maple kit (yet I don't think it does), who cares? I like the drums. Other opinions have no bearing on that condition.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
The total sound of a drum is a complex model.

I don’t think anyone is asserting that 100% of the sound is the heads. The shell does make at least some small contribution to the sound. The question is how much? But it is relatively very minor compared to some head swaps.

The dimensions certainly do as we are dealing with sound waves of specific lengths (frequency). But the contributions those dimensions make depend on specifically how a drum is tuned. They don’t directly scale.

The material a shell is constructed of isn’t really the question. What is important is the resultant stiffness of a shell. So you could make the exact stiffness of a shell from many different materials, however the construction of the shell (thickness, plys, etc) would matter (along with the mass of the hardware and the stiffness of the hoops). You would just need to make those adjustments.

But looking at many of the youtube videos that show the difference is sound by changing heads compared to those that show changing woods it's pretty easy for my Mom to hear the difference in heads while most drummers can’t discern any difference in sound from shell materials.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
I’ve watched the videos and most everything presented seems reasonable enough. I can’t discount shell material after listening to the DCP Gretsch comparison video. All things were equal EXCEPT shell material and the differences were noticeable. Also, with my old drums, I just couldn’t get tuning range out of several of the toms. They were round, I had the bearing edges recut, everything looked and checked out fine, but no joy.

When I brought home the new set, I tuned the old set with a TuneBot, recorded them with my same mics in the same spot and with no effects whatsoever, then put the new drums in their place and repeated the same with same heads tuned the same way. Night and day difference. There were obvious shell and hardware differences, but great heads didn’t make the old set sound much better. we can argue it’s all in the heads and tuning all day long, but there’s just more to it than that.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member

Chunkaway

Silver Member
And here is a video of different drum heads which shows how little sonic disparity there is between heads.



Therefore, based on the OP, particular heads don't matter either. Thus, we have learned that specific drum shells and specific heads don't significantly matter in determining sound.

Good times!
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
And here is a video of different drum heads which shows how little sonic disparity there is between heads.



Therefore, based on the OP, particular heads don't matter either. Thus, we have learned that specific drum shells and specific heads don't significantly matter in determining sound.

Good times!
& of course, I'm hearing appreciable differences between some of these heads, others are much closer to each other in terms of delivery, even though they're all of one manufacturer (except a single Evans example).
 

TK-421

Senior Member
And here is a video of different drum heads which shows how little sonic disparity there is between heads.



Therefore, based on the OP, particular heads don't matter either. Thus, we have learned that specific drum shells and specific heads don't significantly matter in determining sound.

Good times!
Frankly, I think every tom hit in this video sounds like crap, due to the heads being tuned way too low. I've never used a Tune Bot, but if that's the result you get, I'd demand my money back!

This video has much better tuning (and a much nicer kit), hence you can hear a significantly greater difference between the heads.

 
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Al Strange

Well-known member

Chunkaway

Silver Member
& of course, I'm hearing appreciable differences between some of these heads, others are much closer to each other in terms of delivery, even though they're all of one manufacturer (except a single Evans example).
I mean there are differences but they are so slight. Do you think anyone in a live situation would hear a difference?

Just so we are clear, I completely disagree that only heads matter in the sound. I’m just posting this video to show how anything can be manipulated to make it fit a specific narrative.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Frankly, I think every tom hit in this video sounds like crap, due to the heads being tuned way too low. I've never used a Tune Bot, but if that's the result you get, I'd demand my money back!

This video has much better tuning (and a much nicer kit), hence you can hear a significantly greater difference between the heads.

TuneBot doesn’t tell you where to tune your drums to. It shows you where you are. If your ideal tom sound is mud, it helps you get to mud faster. Second video shows just how surprisingly close To the same some heads are.
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
It's funny how politics and social-economic hierarchy comes into play when people speak of others' preferences for tone or musical styles.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
It's funny how politics and social-economic hierarchy comes into play when people speak of others' preferences for tone or musical styles.
If this was directed to me, I wasn’t mocking anyone or the video. It was more a comment about TuneBot getting you to where you want to be faster. Mud or otherwise. In other words, the user is in control.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Piano is a percussion instrument as well as a string since you whack it with a felt hammer. So the string makes noise as a string instrument snd the hammer as a percussion. So really the stick produces the majority of the sound. I can prove this in a video where I whack a table, drum pad, and a drum and at no time will any of them produce any sound till I whack them with my stick- Perry Mason rests his case ROFL
 

Al Strange

Well-known member
Piano is a percussion instrument as well as a string since you whack it with a felt hammer. So the string makes noise as a string instrument snd the hammer as a percussion. So really the stick produces the majority of the sound. I can prove this in a video where I whack a table, drum pad, and a drum and at no time will any of them produce any sound till I whack them with my stick- Perry Mason rests his case ROFL
It may have taken countless attempts but finally, a cohesive and well constructed theory spoken by a true voice of reason in amongst a melee of illogical meanderings! 😂 (y) Very thought provoking and surprisingly emotive thread...nice work @bearblastbeats!
 
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