Drum Shells: Different Wood - Different Tone
By Ben BlakesleyGeorges Music
When it comes to determining how a drum will sound, there are a number of aspects that come into play. One of the most important (and least understood) elements is the wood used to make the drum shell.Seeing how it's so influential in the drum tone, this is a topic that needs to be understood by anyone serious about purchasing drums that are right for them. Here's a quick primer on how common drum woods affect tone.
Birch drums are for drummers who like LOUD drums! Birch is a hard, dense wood which contributes to its loudness and also makes for a brighter sounding kit. A great pick for studio drummers because it's a 'Naturally EQ'd' drum kit with a sharp attack. Also good for anyone who just needs to be as loud as humanly possible.
This is a good choice for drummers who want versatility or for those who don't know what they want. Maple is very plentiful and commonly used for drum shells, and it's got the most even tone of all the woods mentioned here. It's warm, but not dark; bright, but not overly so.
If you want low end power, this is the wood for you! It's a softer wood that gives great low end punch and resonance. This is a common wood and is used in many lower to mid-priced kits.
This (along with Basswood) is what you'll find in many lower priced kits. It's not far off from the tone of Mahogany or Birch, but will have less high end definition than those two more expensive woods.
Now that you're armed with a little information on what you can expect from each of these woods, the real test is to sit down and play them to find the one that speaks to you as a drummer. And don't forget, the MOST important element in determining a drum kit's sound is the person playing it!
Ben Blakesley is in charge of Marketing and Technology at George's Music and likes to play drums and play drums LOUD!