American Musical Supply
American Musical Supply
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Music Equipment Buyer's guide

Wood and Tone

The woods used to make the drums play an important role in shaping the sound, look and feel of the drum.

Wood and Tone
Images courtesy of: Drum Workshop Snare Drums
    Maple
  • Balanced high and mid range
  • Enhanced low end
  • Excellent for live performance

    Birch
  • Enhanced highs and lows
  • Reduced midrange
  • Excellent for recording

    Mahogany
  • Balanced high and midrange
  • Extremely rich low end
  • Warm and vintage sound

    Oak
  • High end attack
  • Resonant lows
  • Great Volume

    Beech
  • Clear, powerful and rich tone

    Ash
  • Clear attack
  • Balanced low end

    Basswood, Falcata, Poplar and Lauan
  • Are low cost alternatives

    Acrylic, steel and carbon fiber
  • Have become popular options with the pros

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Construction and Tone



Construction and Tone
Images courtesy of: Drum Workshop - DWDrums.com
Drum shells are made from multiple plies of one type or several types of wood. The more plies a shell has will increase the attack and volume of the drum but will decrease resonance. The fewer plies a shell has will decrease the drum’s volume but increase its resonance. The most common shell sizes are 8, 10, 12, 13, 14 or 16 inches in diameter. Depths range from shallow to deep.


The bearing edge of a drum also plays a role in shaping the drum’s sound. Edges can be cut at either a 45 or 30 degree angle. A sharp bearing edge cut at 45 degrees will result in a brighter sounding sound with more cut and sensitivity. When cut at 30 degrees, the edge will be more round, making the drum sound mellow and thick.


Drum shell hardware starts with the castings that come in many shapes and sizes, hollow or solid. Powder coating offers many color options but the standard is plating chrome, nickel, black nickel or gold. The counter hoops come in flanged, die-cast or wood and can follows the same as above. Isolation mounts enhance sustain and are low mass to show more of the shell. This is usually on middle to higher-priced drums.

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