Vintage Vistalite: can tuning too high damage the shell?


Junior Member
Hi there,

I bought my first Vistalite kit recently and have no previous experience of them. It’s a rare 1976 kit in ‘Super Classic’ configuration with rail mount and matching snare. I’ve replaced the heads and I’m currently trying to tune the kit for the first time using a DrumDial.

I’m using Remo CS Black Dot clear heads on the batter sides and clear Ambassadors on the resonant sides. On the 13” ride tom the drumhead already feels fairly tight now at a 60 reading. Whereas 75 is standard recommended tension, I see some guys even going up to 85 for the Bonham sound. Basically can tuning Vistalites too high cause the shell to crack or does the drumhead take the stress? I’m aware of how easily these shells can be damaged so I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Any advice from experienced individuals would be much appreciated,
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Silver Member
Yes. At least as far as I've heard. Lots of drummers report cracking around the holes where the lugs mount from too much tension and the cracks can spread.


Platinum Member
Lots of "opinions" on what causes spider cracks in Vistalite shells ..... I really don't know what to believe.

I gigged a clear Vistalite kit (22, 14, 16, 18) for about 25 years. Never cracked any of my shells. Never used a DrumDial .... so I couldn't tell you what psi I was running.

One thing I heard, was the cracks were caused by drilling the shell (stress). So that means they actually came (or were started) from the factory. My take .... guys take the lugs off, and when they reinstall, they wrench them down too tight. After all, every spider crack I ever saw in a Vistalite shell was under a lug. And you don't see them until you take the lug off.

Personally .... I don't buy into the "tension" theory. That acrylic shell is pretty hard stuff. I'd be more apt to believe a cracked shell has been dropped. That lug that's protruding from the shell, being driven back into it.


Senior Member
I find it hard to believe a tom would be cranked so high as to damage the shell (look at how many acrylic snares there are out there). But having recently done a restoration job on a set of old Vistas, my research showed that improper/careless hole drilling would indeed be more of a culprit when it comes to the spider cracks under lugs. That, and the fact that the lugs stick out from the shell and are what will take the brunt of it when a drum gets bounced around.