What makes a drum Stable?

veecharlie

Senior Member
Hello drummers,
Trying to decide if to purchase or make my own set I wondered what makes a drumkit stable when tuned (stable as in it doesn't get out of tune).
For this I suspect a number of things, from the shell being equally cut and beveled, good heads to the quality of the drum tuners and lugs system. But am I missing anything else?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Temperature and humidity fluctuations are the enemy of stable tuning. A good ply drum shell should hold stable tuning in a place with stable temperature/humidity environment.

There are a few factors, such as how hard you hit (or not), how loose you tune...a loose drum will loosen quicker than a tightly tuned drum, your technique (playing "through" or "into" the drum rather than playing "off" the drum), the weight of your sticks, what heads you have, the condition of your hoops...

I believe solid shell drums need tuning more often. A ply shell is a very stable shell. But there's a trade off, a solid shell, to my ear anyway, is a superior tone. But it's more finicky, in that it has more resonance, more vibration. I don't know if other solid shell owners agree with this, but this seems to be my observation.

I have to say, my DW drums held tune pretty darn well, beings they lived in my truck for 4 years, what with all the hot summers and cold winters. The solid shell is more reactive to surrounding air conditions, from what I can tell.

So yea, lots of factors affect tuning stability.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
You could bypass all of that by getting aluminum shells.
 

veecharlie

Senior Member
Temperature and humidity fluctuations are the enemy of stable tuning. A good ply drum shell should hold stable tuning in a place with stable temperature/humidity environment.

There are a few factors, such as how hard you hit (or not), how loose you tune...a loose drum will loosen quicker than a tightly tuned drum, your technique (playing "through" or "into" the drum rather than playing "off" the drum), the weight of your sticks, what heads you have, the condition of your hoops...

I believe solid shell drums need tuning more often. A ply shell is a very stable shell. But there's a trade off, a solid shell, to my ear anyway, is a superior tone. But it's more finicky, in that it has more resonance, more vibration. I don't know if other solid shell owners agree with this, but this seems to be my observation.

I have to say, my DW drums held tune pretty darn well, beings they lived in my truck for 4 years, what with all the hot summers and cold winters. The solid shell is more reactive to surrounding air conditions, from what I can tell.

So yea, lots of factors affect tuning stability.
That was a great answer.. thank you !
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
You could bypass all of that by getting aluminum shells.
IYO Bo, is it aluminum shell or any metal shell?

Are you being serious or snarky?

This raises a Q for me, does a metal drum hold tunings better than a wooden drum? It would seem to make sense that a wood drum....moves more according to the surrounding environment, than a metal one. I wonder if that's a thing.
 

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
This raises a Q for me, does a metal drum hold tunings better than a wooden drum? It would seem to make sense that a wood drum....moves more according to the surrounding environment, than a metal one. I wonder if that's a thing.
Well, aluminum doesn't conduct heat very well and is not affected by humidity, so it should be a stable metal.

Conversely, wood is susceptible to all temperature and humidity variations.

Crap, I'm off for the summer and I'm still being Mr. Science teacher. :-0
 

hippy chip

Silver Member
Aluminum is one of the better conductors of heat---air-cooled motorcycle and car engines have relied on this for decades, as well as heat sinks for your computer cores---if temperature is a factor metal drums will change more than wood!
 

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
Aluminum is one of the better conductors of heat---air-cooled motorcycle and car engines have relied on this for decades, as well as heat sinks for your computer cores---if temperature is a factor metal drums will change more than wood!
I meant that aluminum doesn't hold heat very well. It is a good conductor. Brain fart!
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Hello drummers,
Trying to decide if to purchase or make my own set I wondered what makes a drumkit stable when tuned (stable as in it doesn't get out of tune).
For this I suspect a number of things, from the shell being equally cut and beveled, good heads to the quality of the drum tuners and lugs system. But am I missing anything else?
In theory the number of threads on a tension rod would make a difference, with more threads being better for stability, but more work to change heads.

Older Sonor Phonics and Signatures have a pretty reliable tune-safe mechanism. Works pretty well, but it's a pain because you can't really turn the rods by hand; you need a key at all times. Noble and Cooleys have a similar thing where the lug insert is plastic rather than metal, but it's not very consistent across all the lugs. Even so, of all the drums out there, Noble and Cooleys hold tune the best (no experience with a modern Sonor kit yet though). Still, the head will stretch as its played, enough that a drum will de-tune if it's played aggressively.

Then there's the tightscrew tension rods that have a coating on top of the threads to make it better hold its position inside the lug.

Die-cast hoops seem to do a bit better than triple flange, but not enough to brag about.

Hot weather will affect a drum, but it's the thin plastic drum head much more so than the shell, whether it's of a ply, solid wood (single ply), or metal design.

It would be sweet if drum lugs had "locks" that you could engage and disengage. Although I suspect we'd be doing the same amount of work to tune our drums, for the most part.
 

evilg99

Platinum Member
Temperature and humidity fluctuations are the enemy of stable tuning. A good ply drum shell should hold stable tuning in a place with stable temperature/humidity environment.

There are a few factors, such as how hard you hit (or not), how loose you tune...a loose drum will loosen quicker than a tightly tuned drum, your technique (playing "through" or "into" the drum rather than playing "off" the drum), the weight of your sticks, what heads you have, the condition of your hoops...

I believe solid shell drums need tuning more often. A ply shell is a very stable shell. But there's a trade off, a solid shell, to my ear anyway, is a superior tone. But it's more finicky, in that it has more resonance, more vibration. I don't know if other solid shell owners agree with this, but this seems to be my observation.

I have to say, my DW drums held tune pretty darn well, beings they lived in my truck for 4 years, what with all the hot summers and cold winters. The solid shell is more reactive to surrounding air conditions, from what I can tell.

So yea, lots of factors affect tuning stability.
Yes absolutely Larry - my solid shell Craviotto kit are very finicky...I have to tune them often to get them where I like. But that's fine....they are worth it !
My ply shell kits are much easier to tune and tend to stay in tune longer.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Yes absolutely Larry - my solid shell Craviotto kit are very finicky...I have to tune them often to get them where I like. But that's fine....they are worth it !
My ply shell kits are much easier to tune and tend to stay in tune longer.
Oh wow really? So it really is a thing? I definitely experience this. And I feel the same way as you, it's worth it. My snare not so much, because it's kind of tight. I notice it most in my toms and bass drum. Interesting.
 

evilg99

Platinum Member
Yes I think it is a thing. Some other solid shell observations :

- I really only like coated single ply heads on them. I've tried many combinations , and right now trying some coated pinstripes because I wanted to hear what they would do tuned low. I think I'll be going back to coated ambassadors. Tuned medium.

Also - and I really don't know why - but I don't tune solid shell toms the same way I would tune ply shells.(to achieve the same sound). Ply shells = resonant head higher than batter, about a third. Solid shells - I seem to gravitate to batter and resonant head roughly the same. I would NEVER do that with a ply shell. Can't figure out why this is.
 

veecharlie

Senior Member
Well, aluminum doesn't conduct heat very well and is not affected by humidity, so it should be a stable metal.

Conversely, wood is susceptible to all temperature and humidity variations.

Crap, I'm off for the summer and I'm still being Mr. Science teacher. :-0
I definitively agree on that one. Just basic metals characteristics
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I notice it most in my toms and bass drum. Interesting.
Possibly because the tension rods of a medium-tuned tom or kick are not as far into the lugs, compared to a tightly tuned snare.

Not sure why so many are quick to point to the shell composition as a source of tuning instability. Not all lugs, tension rods, and hoops are created equal...
 
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