How to build a drum set ?
Knowing how to play drums is one thing, knowing how to make them is another. In itself, a drum kit is perhaps one of the most rudimentary instruments in the orchestra (with the triangle!). A shell, 2 circles, a pair of skins, some screws, and let's make music! And yet... There is a very large number of parts and manipulations to make a drum kit worthy of the name. And it is because the instrument is very simple in its conception that it is necessary to develop an immense knowledge to go into the details which will make the difference, as well in finishing as in acoustic quality
What is the process for making drum shells?
The manufacturing process of a drum set differs according to the nature of the shells. For multi-ply wooden drums, most of them are made sheet by sheet using a mold to the size of the desired shell. The sheets of wood are then steamed and glued together under pressure to form the shell. Some manufacturers still mold and glue their shells by hand. The crossing of the wood plies according to the different layers of wood at the time of assembly, the thickness of the plies, the way of gluing, the way of making the shell, the quality of the wood used... are all parameters that directly influence the sound of the instrument, its soul, its note, its resonance... A real alchemy !
Another method of making the shells is to use blocks of solid wood cut into cubes, glued together like a barrel to obtain a polygon. The whole thing is then sanded down to a perfect cylindrical shape inside and out.
What materials are used to make a drum set?
Drumshells are mainly made of wood (mahogany, okoume, maple, walnut, birch, poplar, bubinga, oak...); but there are also drumshells made of metal, fiberglass, carbon, acrylic, etc.
Metal drum shells are rolled from a sheet of metal (copper, brass, steel, stainless steel...) and then welded. Some metal drum shells are also made using the 'repoussé' method, just like cooking pots (!), to obtain a one-piece shell without welding.
Acrylic drum shells are mostly injection molded or heat rolled from acrylic sheets.
The manufacture of drumheads
Since the 50s and 60s, drumheads have been made of plastic: mylar. The animal skins, although very pleasant to play and of an unequalled sonority, were abandoned because too expensive to manufacture, too sensitive to the changes of temperature and moisture and of often irregular quality.
The current skins are made in factory, molded then mounted on metal hoops (steel or aluminum), by gluing or stamping according to the brands and the price ranges... They can be of different thicknesses, up to 5 thousandth of fineness on a snare drum resonance skin. Metric dimensions have been abandoned with the appearance of synthetic drum heads, in favor of the international unit, the inch.
The manufacture of hardware (metal parts on a drum set: shells, bass drum hooks, etc.)
The metal parts that make up a drum set are called 'fittings' (as in the nautical world). The fittings are injection molded, they are mostly made of 'Zamak', an alloy of Zinc, Aluminium, Magnesium and Copper. They undergo a surface treatment in brass to be chromed. There too, according to the qualities of 'Zamak' and chromium plating, the manufacturing rates can vary from simple to triple, even more...
The different stages of manufacturing a wooden drum set at ASBA
- the preparation of the shell: sanding, tracing of the drillings
- Finishing: Laying the coating or staining by hand
- The realization of the chamfer - a decisive step in the sound of the shell. At
- ASBA, all our shells are checked on a marble to ensure perfect flatness
- The assembly of the fittings
- The installation of the hoops and skins
- The tuning of the skins
- Quality control
The manufacturing methods
Depending on the brand, the range and the target sales price, there are several manufacturing methods for a battery, from the most industrialized and robotized solution to the most traditional way, by hand. Along with the choice of raw materials and the quality of the fittings, this is also where the price difference from one battery to another lies.