Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Birch VS Maple


felix stein

Recommended Posts

I talked to dale flannigan of fortune drums last year and asked him to build me a birch kit. He said a heavy maple would sound better. I was like hmmmm OK. The two woods are very similiar in hardness he told me. I always thought birch was not as hard as the "rock maple". I was under the impression that birch had more attack where maple drums had more sustain.

 

What are your thoughts? I said I wanted a kit to sound like my sonors and I guess they have a process that is unique to there drums where they (sonor) relieve all the stresses in the shell. He said a Keller shell would not give me the sound I wanted (i.e. sonor "slam") from what I can recollect from the conversation. I'm not into that clear wimpy "bong" that I seem to hear in most maple toms.

 

Wimpy? That ought to get everybody going. LOL

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 9
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Hey, Felix:

Of Course, Maple vs. Birch has always been a controversial subject.

 

Maple is a harder, denser wood that provides projection. Much of the sound of a drum has more to do with the bearing edges, heads and tuning. As well as the room and room construction. Many things drummers take for granted.

 

Birch is a more porous wood that absorbs some of the tone of the drum, yielding a more "wet" sound. This is why it is preferred as a studio drum.

 

Then you get into the argument ... reinforcement ring or no reinforcement ring, 2.3 mm steel hoops or die cast, or wood! We could go on for hours.

 

And then ... there is the "maple sandwich" that makes up drums like Gretsch, which is a Maple/Gum/Maple wood. The gum helps absorb resonance and allows that deep punchy sound.

 

Believe it or not, even the finish application can effect the sound. Some folks use Nitro Laq. to coat the inside of the shell, Some use automotive finish urethanes and some use an "auto-trunk" speckle finish. Each of these finishes produce a diff sound from the drums.

 

I know folks here in Nashville that will pay thousands for drums and then turn right around and have one of several master drum builders here cut new bearing edges and sand the finish "off" of the shell interior.

 

Heck, one of the best sets I have ever heard live was a custom set that I built for Paul Geary for the Extreme III tour. I covered maple shells with real Holstein cow skin (spotted fur and all). Those drums had some punch!

 

Yet I digress!

 

Let the argument continue!

 

DJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting-

 

But what is a better drum? One that sounds better mic'd or unmic'd? Does a deader sounding drum mic up better than a really live one? Very complex oxymoron we have going here. Drums that have usually sounded really punchy out front kinda sounded not so great behind them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Felix:

 

This is an interesting thread. I prefer that my drums sound good live from the start.

 

Seems today, whether I go into the studio or play live, that they run so many effects on the drums, that it really does not matter what they sound like on stage.

 

Many cases, the drums do not need *any* effects ... I sometimes think sound engineers just have to turn the knobs. Kind of like a bad habit.

 

Of course, today, on many of the big tours, what you hear is a triggered sound anyway (or a combination of triggered and live drum)

 

In that case, the guy could be playing cardboard boxes and it would sound like drums!!

 

Let's see what others have to say.

 

DJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I am an engineer as well as a drummer and I really like a good sounding kit recorded with minimal eq/fx etc. I think some engineers attack the job the way they always have which is kill all the tone, deaden it and then process the shit out of it later.

I did a session late last year at a studio and the guy couldn't wait to hit the kit with gaff tape, I really think he didn't even listen to it first, he just did what he always does. It sounded like cardboard boxes.

Now my kit sounds nice, I do quite a bit of recording of it and it sounds nice.

I did a live gig about the same time at a venue that has regular national and some international bands coming through and the house engineer came up after sound check to tell me it was one of the nicest sounding kits he'd heard.

 

Sorry for the rant................but it really pisses me off, they don't muffle the guitar amp then mic it up. Every other instrument is recorded the way it is brought in to the studio.

 

Before anyone flames, yes I know some kits come in sounding like shit, I have no problem with the engineer doing what he has to do then.

 

Back to the point, as an engineer I want you to bring me a nice sounding kit, one that sounds nice live and I will choose mics and positions to get the best sound.

 

Just my opinion

 

Brenton

Cheers

Brenton

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

The engineers job is to reproduce and record the way the drums sound naturally. If the drums stink, then they are left no other choice but to start turning knobs. I think the highest compliment any drummer could get from an engineer is ... "I didn't have to do anything to the EQ, your drums sound awesome!"

 

The goal for the drummer should be to have great sounding drums when he shows up to the studio. To me, the only difference between a miked drum sounding great in the studio AND great in the live sitution is the sustain or decay of the sound.

 

I do think one will have to make some tuning alterations when playing without mics. It's no different than having to make minor adjustments when performing in different room sizes. The sound waves reflect different depending on the room or venue.

 

 

 

------------------

Bart Elliott

http://bartelliott.com

Drummer Cafe - community drum & percussion forum
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since we are talking about Birch and Maple ... I have a question.

 

Here's a photo of a GRETSCH "Progressive Jazz" Kit (c. 1968) that I own. I had a custom drum builder friend of mine re-cover the drums using African Bubinga (rare rosewood).

 

http://bartelliott.com/images/Gretsch_Kit.jpg

 

Question: Are the shells Maple or Birch? I believe these Gretsch shells are made by Jasper ... and I thought they were Maple. Then I've had people tell me "NO" they are Birch; all older Gretsch kits are Birch.

 

I guess I should ask John Aldridge from Not So Modern Drummer, but I thought I would inquire here first. I checked through John's book, "Guide to Vintage Drums" but couldn't find anything. Does anyone have the facts for me?

 

 

 

------------------

Bart Elliott

http://bartelliott.com

Drummer Cafe - community drum & percussion forum
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, Bart:

 

I actually know the answer to your question!!

 

I was heavily involved in Gibson's acquisition of Slingerland from Fred Gretsch and spent some time in Ridgeland, South Carolina at the Gretsch factory.

 

Gretsch does use Jasper shells. They are what I call a Maple sandwich. That is to say that they are Maple plies on the interior and exterior and in the case of Gretsch (a part of that "Great Gretsch Sound") the Maple is sandwiched around "gum" wood. This more porous wood contributes to the special "punch" that comes from Gretsch.

 

Maple sandwich is not uncommon as in many mid-line sets you usually see a Maple/Mahogany/Maple Sandwich.

 

The key ingredient here is the gum wood.

 

Great looking kit by the way!

 

DJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So this c.1968 Gretsch kit is a "maple sandwich"?

 

Just wanted to make sure that this is in fact what you are saying and that it applies to a kit from that era.

 

Thanks for all the info DJ ... you've been a HUGE help!

 

Peace!

 

 

 

------------------

Bart Elliott

http://bartelliott.com

Drummer Cafe - community drum & percussion forum
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...