We are not always inclined to consider all the factors that influence the sound of the battery. When we are about to buy one, we evaluate the type of wood, the measurements, but few take into account the thickness of the stems and the way the edges are made.
Obviously the factors are many more, the drummer, for example, is one of the fundamentals, if not the most important, but in the end, the battery is formed (almost always) by layers superimposed and glued between them and their number and their thickness assumes a very important role.
We have already said that they are formed by thin layers of wood glued together and that the type of wood used and the material used for bonding can vary depending on the quality and therefore the cost of the battery.
Important factors, however, are the choice of leather ( wing = above and resonant = below) and the cutting of the edges.
Let’s go in the order.
BATTERY DRUM THICKNESS
Generally, the stem is thinner and more resonant, it is more open and richer in harmonics, at the expense of volume. This happens because a thin stem (max 7 mm), tends to vibrate more if struck; in fact the energy given by the blow is used in large part in the vibration of the drum shaft, so the remaining one that should give volume to the blow is low: the sound that will derive will be more resonant and warm but with less volume .
Drums with more layers instead have a more powerful sound, with more volume and a more centered note, due to the rigidity of the shaft which causes a poor dispersion of energy. In this case, however, some drummers complain about the lack of “body”, that is the range of frequencies given by the vibrations of the wood and that makes these stems colder from a sound point of view.
“The thin stem resonates more,
has more harmonics but has less volume “
Generally, we find 6 layers in the toms and 8 in the timpani, but all this is subject to variation depending on the manufacturers and the models.
Speaking of woods, we saw how the use of different types of wood influences the sound output. Because of the thickness affects the volume, the “color” is given by the wood used and how the veins that compose it is positioned.
“The volume is a consequence of the thickness,
the ‘color’ is mostly given by the type of wood “
THE DRINKS OF THE DRUMS ARE ONLY AESTHETIC?
Absolutely not! On vertical veins, the fundamental of each drum descends in pitch, since they are themselves responsible for the propagation from the swing (high) to the resonant (low). Lately, some companies like DW are experimenting with drums with layers with different direction of overlapping veins to obtain particular sound characteristics. We, therefore, have the aforementioned vertical, horizontal and crossed layers.
Let’s now turn to the processing of the edges.
EDGE OF BATTERY DRUMS
Gretsch was among the first to focus on border processing. They introduced the Rounded Edge or the completely rounded edges of the drums. This process allowed the transmission of energy to the drum through the whole thickness of the shaft, through the edge-to-skin contact that took place on a larger surface compared to the classic cut of wood used so far, with the exaltation of the central note without harmonics and with the maximum depth. Today almost all the manufacturing companies use this trick and fighting with blows of copyright, considerable experiments have been made and the work has now become an infinity.
Without going too much into consideration and postponing the more in-depth discussions to the many forums on the web, we mention the three main types of 45°edge processing: 45th Bearing, Round 45th Bearing and Full Round Bearing.
As can be seen from the images, the difference lies in the rounding of the stem and therefore on the surface of contact of the skin with the wood. These different processes modify the sound and help to get more volume in the 45°Bearing (used mainly for snare drums ), more attack in the Round 45°Bearing ( in the toms) and more depth in the Full Round Bearing ( timpani and cases ).