Tonal Qualities of Wood Drums and Metal Drums

WOOD SHELLS

MAPLE - Arguably the most popular wood used in drum making. Maple is a hardwood that produces a perfect mix of projection, resonance, and attack from a drum. Maple is known for its studio friendly blend of highs, mids, and warm lows. A perfect choice for any style of music.

BIRCH - Birch features boosted high frequencies, a subdued midrange, and ample low-end punch. Birch drums have a sharper attack making them a perfect choice for studio, pop, rock, and funk applications. MAHOGANY - A traditional drum making wood commonly seen in vintage drums. Mahogany drums have a smooth midrange and a warm rich low-end, skipping most of the high frequencies entirely. Mahogany is an excellent choice for the player who prefers drum sounds of the olden days.

WALNUT - Walnut produces a fairly equal highs, mids, and lows with a rich dark and punchy sound. Walnut is an ideal choice for players who love low tuned fat drums.

ASH - Ash drums create smooth warm highs, reduced mids, and an enhanced low end. Ash tonally tends to be drier making it an excellent choice for recording. Ash drums also perform exceedingly well when tuned high into the Jazz tuning range.

POPLAR - Subtle highs and mids with an enhanced warm low end. Commonly used as an internal ply in hybrid drum shells of the vintage variety. CHERRY - Enhanced highs and mid frequencies with a subdued low end. Bright and sensitive with ample attack. A great choice for a cutting snare drum. OAK - Oak is a dense wood that features subtle highs, a present midrange, and mildly warm lows. Oak has a quicker decay making it a great choice for quick sounding toms and dark snappy snares.

BEECH - Beech drums feature pronounced highs and mid-range frequencies with a thick low-end punch. These drums are sensitive and focused in nature. Beech performs exceedingly in mid to low tunings.

TULIP - Emphasised equality of the mid and low frequencies with a breathy tone. When used on snares tulip provides articulate, dry, fat stick strokes reminiscent of older military drums.

PURPLEHEART - Denser than oak with a clear attack and massive punch on toms and bass drums. Purpleheart provides excellent “snap” on snare drums and offers great sensitivity. Purpleheart’s purple hue is naturally occurring and is a reaction that occurs when the tree is cut.

 

HYBRID SHELLS

CHERRY/MAHOGANY - Cherry/Mahogany shells marry the woody attack and clarity of cherry with the dark warm punch of mahogany creating a drier punchy drum with excessive low end and prevalent attack. The best of both worlds.

MAPLE/MAHOGANY - Maple/Mahogany shells feature the warm balanced tone of maple with the added dark punch of mahogany. This makes an ideal shell for any application and is incredibly studio friendly.

MAPLE/GUM - Maple/Gum shells are a vintage standard, most notably used by Gretsch to provide their iconic sound. This wood combination offers a pure and round tone that is incredibly rich and pleasant. Many drummers claim this to be “The sound” of Jazz drummers.

MAPLE/POPLAR - Another vintage formula. Similar in nature to Maple/Gum shells but with added projection and clarity. Full and present tone with a wide tuning range for all styles of music.

 

METAL SHELLS

ALUMINUM - Crisp highs, with a warm midrange and low end. Dry and sensitive making it a studio favorite for snare drums.

BRASS - A warmer metal. Versatile and perfect for all styles of music. Warm with even vibrant open highs, mids, and lows.

BRONZE - Subtle highs, with powerful mid and low end frequencies. A warm and sensitive metal.

STEEL - Clear and cutting highs, average midrange and low end. A great all-purpose shell for snare drums. A great option for loud cutting toms and bass drums.

TITANIUM - Cutting highs and mids with a somewhat boxy low end tone.

COPPER - Pronounced midrange and low end with subdued highs. Powerful, cutting, and clear. An excellent drum for rock or heavier music.

 

SYNTHETIC SHELLS

FIBERGLASS - Balanced highs, mids, and lows. A focused drum with a great amount of control. Cutting and powerful making it a great choice for rock players.

CARBON FIBER - Dry and sensitive with even highs and mids and a warm low end.

ACRYLIC - Focused highs, mids, and low end punch. Incredible attack and cut. Acrylic drums are sonically unique as well as visually unique.

 

SHELL CONSTRUCTION

STAVE SHELL (WOOD) - Shorter sustain with boosted highs. Typically drier in tone.

STEAM BENT (WOOD) - Offers a vibrant and pure fundamental pitch with enhanced highs.

PLY SHELL (WOOD) - Typical construction method for most drums. Long sustain with a varying fundamental pitch based off ply amount, reinforcement rings, and wood types used.

SOLID SHELL (WOOD) - Long rich sustain with a direct higher fundamental. Clear and focused.

CAST (METAL) - Longer sustain and a higher fundamental pitch.

SPUN (METAL) - Vibrant and colorful with a more pure fundamental pitch. THIN

SHELL (WOOD AND METAL) - Typically more resonant and mellow. Thin shells offer a lower pitch naturally.

MEDIUM SHELL (WOOD AND METAL) - Shells of medium thickness tend to offer a balanced blend of projection and resonance with more even highs, mids, and lows.

THICK SHELL (WOOD AND METAL) - Thick drum shells accent the high frequencies of the drum and enhance projection. Naturally these drums have a higher more attack heavy tone.