Of course, there is not only wood in the world of batteries. The famous Ludwig Vista lite (John Bonham above all) is made of Plexiglas. Today, many companies have resumed this type of construction and find virtually all prices.
It takes great energy to bring out the best from these batteries that respond with a great volume and a very ’70s sound, not being suitable for all genres and difficult to use in live situations in small rooms.
… AND BASSWOOD?
The very cheap batteries are often made with a wood called Basswood. Its quality is much lower than the aforementioned woods, but this does not prevent a good acoustic rendering with some precautions (skins, tuning, scordatura), and it is often a good start for those who are entering this world for the first time and have a limited budget.
Multiplayer batteries (with different woods) have recently become very popular. The sonic and aesthetic characteristics are exploited to build the barrel at will, varying the layout and even using the different cuts of wood and taking advantage of the grain orientation.
To keep costs down, some manufacturers often use cheap woods in the inner layers (basswood, etc …) externally coated with a wood that guarantees more pleasant veining and internally with a valuable layer. Often a layer of maple is inserted, which unlike the lauan has a denser and more uniform sound. Of course, this trunk will never sound like one made entirely with maple but still manages to have acceptable sororities at reduced costs.
“Cheap wood does not always mean ugly sound”
A fundamental variant that influences the sound in an important way is the use of the glues used.
There are various methods of drum construction. Excluding, for now, the drums made with a single piece of “excavated” wood or the stems obtained by bending a single layer, we can say that 95% of the batteries are made by superimposing very thin layers of wood, glued together and suitably folded.
The discussion on the glues/resins used in this process and how they influence the sound of the trunk in a more or less decisive manner is still a matter of great discussion.
Suffice it to say that it is clear that the sound is influenced by whatever makes up the “drum”, but we leave it to the experts in the field to explain in what percentage.
For the same reason, the way in which the mechanics are attached to the shaft will also play an important role on the sound yield, influencing or not the vibration and therefore the resonance.
Finally, much is also discussed about the coatings. The cheaper batteries, for the reasons listed above, are coated and this varies the type of sound. The same goes for the “wrap” that we often apply to our barrels.
However, the discussion remains open and it is not certain that the sound always gets worse, but according to some it is simply different.
The last mention is for the metal, which is widely used for snare drums (see post on snare drums), but as far as the drums of the set are concerned, it is used in some productions which still remain niche, as well as for carbon.
“The choice of wood types is important, but there are many factors
that affect the sound of the drum “
The sound output is also strongly influenced by the way the drums are assembled and finished. How many layers? Board treatment? We talked about it in this post.
Hoping that this brief and illustrative explanation of the materials used for the construction of drums for batteries may have been helpful, our advice always remains to try before buying.
Do not fix yourself with the brand, genre, classifications, and reviews, but try, play and change often. What for someone is beautiful for others is not, the needs of each of us are fortunately different, as is the way of hitting a drum, of tuning it.
Furthermore, the enormous variety of skins and their different sound characteristics mean that the same drum set with different skins and played by different people may not seem the same.
Take time to learn and try to make an informed choice.