Are Birch Drums the Best for Indoor Acoustics?

RobertM

Platinum Member
In the "talk me out of it" Starclassic W-B thread, I believe TK1 made a comment about loving high-end birch Sonor drums and how no matter the ceiling height, they sound good.

Shane of Drum Center of Portsmouth also made this observation in one of his videos (see 3:45 mark in video) about Sonor Drums. His remark was that, in his experience, Sonor maple drums can sound good or bad depending on the room you are playing in, while Sonor birch drums do not suffer from this problem. No matter the room environment, he said the birch drums sound consistent and good.

So, this leads me to wonder if birch drums are better to use for practice spaces or at home or in small venues (where there will be no expensive sound guy tweaking the kit)? Will birch drums create less sound deflections in such spaces?

I ask this question out of theoretical interest and practicality, for I would like to get a good-quality bop kit to play at home and in café/restaurant environments (with no sound system), and given that such spaces often have hardwood floors or marble/tile floors and varying ceiling heights, would birch drums sound "better" than maple, even for jazz?
 
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Trigger

Senior Member
I have no idea about the actual science of it, but all the marketing you see around birch drums is how good they are for recording, and recording is generally done indoors, so maybe this theory is correct?
 

RickP

Gold Member
I take the statement about any drums being better for particular rooms with a grain of salt . I have been playing gigs for over 50 years . I have played in all kinds of rooms with drum sets made from all kinds of shell ply layups . I think heads, bearing edges make even more of a difference in the doing than the actual wood used in the shell . I also think the thickness of the shell is also a very important factor as well .

Birch drums in my experience have a naturally equalized sound - lots of attack and bottom end with a reduced mid range . Ideal for the studio setting as they note doesn’t ring as long as a maple or walnut shells drum . My mani experience with birch drums are from owning two Yamaha Recording Custom kits ( one Pre-YESS kit and one YESS kit both made by Sakae for Yamaha ). I loved the Toms on these kits , was not as thrilled by the bass drums . I felt they lacked bottom end and oomph . I am talking about just the acoustic unmiced sound . Miced up the bass sounds fine .

My preference personally has come back to maple shells ( Ludwig ) and maple/gum shells (Gretsch) . They both have a nice mid range tone with lots of bottom end . They attack is clear and articulate on both .

You may recall I have a Tama Starclassic walnut/birch kit on order . I hemmed and hawed for awhile before deciding to tip my toe in the water of Tama drumsets . I think the additional of the walnut inner plies to the birch plies is a brilliant idea . Walnut is an extremely underrated tone wood . The Walnut adds that bottom end and balls to the bass drums . It adds some dept to the Tom’s as well . The walnut also adds some richness and warmth .

The comments above are from my experience with drums with thinner shells without reinforcing rings and very well done bearing edges . Single ply heads as well . Again the bearing edges , shell thickness and bearing edges are of the most important factor IMHO.
 

jda

Gold Member
I think the "sounds good" (disaffected) "no matter" the odd size/shape/acoustics/ or no room at all... Comes down to the rims. The Hoops.
more so than a shell. It's the hoops. Ya know like Gretsch USA Cast. No room can defeat them. And they give the outdoors - a run for it's money.
 

jaymandude

Active Member
With all due respect to DCP, that is a ridiculous comment, in my opinion.

There’s SOOOO much to deal with. For example, the way you play ( at home and small resteraunts, playing bop) versus the way they demo ( rock and modern groove styles)

I say this all the time. Do you have access to a shop ? How far is the drive ? Are there drummers in your town you trust ? Get out there and play some drums. The way you play, the way you tune. See if you connect with them. Everything else is internet jive.
 
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jda

Gold Member
Swear to god man, the internet has made drums and drumming worse.
(agree with very few exceptions) it's boiled it down to a very caveman like....
it was almost better when you couldn't "see" and had to 'read'..
and imagine. Imagine's gone almost.
 

jda

Gold Member
That's ok Jay I think many would agree..
And it's not one store----it's near all of them-- but that's the world of the internet---which we don't really live in (yet/ ever/
 

jda

Gold Member
I still think the heavier the Rim the least affected a drum is by room/ no room..
Maybe that helps someone..

I noticed that with my old RB Gretsch They sounded the same to me in every and any room. They lost (nor even gained..) Nothing. Like immutable.. Whereas some other makes I had would disappear and or be affected strongly by surroundings/.
Has to be the Rims, and the metal overall. @RobertM
 
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C. Dave Run

Gold Member
I have fiberglass lined luan drums, poplar drums, and birch drums. I only play inside the same room. The birch drums do sound better (my opinion) than the others. However, when not in tune, all the drums sound equally bad in said room.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
It's good to think about these kinds of things but at the same time, it is overthinking. There are many things that go into creating the sound of a drum and while wood type is one of those things, it pales in comparison to head choice, tuning, hoop material etc.

Buy the best looking, highest quality kit that you can afford and rest assured that it will do the job. I'm not saying that wood type doesn't matter... but it kind of doesn't.
 
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PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
If someone who plays like Travis Barker comes in swinging around a kit in a high-ceiling room, the type of shell material construction isn't really going to matter.

I've only been in a couple of really nice studios, one of which has turned out hundreds of hits on country music radio. What kit did they use? An old, square-badged Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute. They had a couple of different snares: a Ludwig BB 14 x 6.5 and one of those clear 13" Piglite snares from Pork Pie. The other studio (not nearly as famous) had a Gretsch USA maple kit in it. I told the engineer that I wanted to bring my own kit in. He said, "Bring in whatever kit you want to use as long as it has maple shells."

I've had two birch kits, but they were low-end sets. One of these was a Basix birch kit. The toms weren't anything to write home about, but the 20 x 20 kick drum was one of the LOUDEST kicks I've ever played. It was overwhelming. I now own a Pearl Vision birch kit. It sounds pretty good, but if I had to talk about its sound, I'd have to say that it sounds like a good maple kit with heads that are sort of worn. It's not bad, but it doesn't really do anything for me.

I've done a lot of listening to birch kits online, and the only one I've ever heard that sounded great was the Sakae Almighty Birch. I like the sound of it better than their Almighty Maple series.
 

kdh

Junior Member
I take the statement about any drums being better for particular rooms with a grain of salt . I have been playing gigs for over 50 years . I have played in all kinds of rooms with drum sets made from all kinds of shell ply layups . I think heads, bearing edges make even more of a difference in the doing than the actual wood used in the shell . I also think the thickness of the shell is also a very important factor as well .

Birch drums in my experience have a naturally equalized sound - lots of attack and bottom end with a reduced mid range . Ideal for the studio setting as they note doesn’t ring as long as a maple or walnut shells drum . My mani experience with birch drums are from owning two Yamaha Recording Custom kits ( one Pre-YESS kit and one YESS kit both made by Sakae for Yamaha ). I loved the Toms on these kits , was not as thrilled by the bass drums . I felt they lacked bottom end and oomph . I am talking about just the acoustic unmiced sound . Miced up the bass sounds fine .

My preference personally has come back to maple shells ( Ludwig ) and maple/gum shells (Gretsch) . They both have a nice mid range tone with lots of bottom end . They attack is clear and articulate on both .

You may recall I have a Tama Starclassic walnut/birch kit on order . I hemmed and hawed for awhile before deciding to tip my toe in the water of Tama drumsets . I think the additional of the walnut inner plies to the birch plies is a brilliant idea . Walnut is an extremely underrated tone wood . The Walnut adds that bottom end and balls to the bass drums . It adds some dept to the Tom’s as well . The walnut also adds some richness and warmth .

The comments above are from my experience with drums with thinner shells without reinforcing rings and very well done bearing edges . Single ply heads as well . Again the bearing edges , shell thickness and bearing edges are of the most important factor IMHO.
Walnut is not underrated around here. Those walnut/birch Tama kits sound great to me.
 

jda

Gold Member
bout ready to say it's the rims that activate (any) shell : )

the "woods" are the 'aftersound" : )
the after and during sound..

the Rims are 1st, then the head, then the shell; Real quick -like

no wait the stick is first; no wait the arm hand is, so Has to be a person present. 1st.
Living person alive (holding stick) then
Rim
Head
Shell
all-at-once-happens-quick.
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry" - Administrator
Staff member
Talking about audio means nothing to me. For instance, at DCP, whoever is doing the review is a victim of their own likes/dislikes...the room comes into play, the heads and tuning come into play, the player comes into play, the hoops come into play...the stick weight and the tip come into play...how is a girl supposed to make a good decision with all these variables? Don't even get me started on smell...where is CM?

Sound is personal. My opinion only matters to me. I'm not downing anyone who reviews drums. I do like to point out some real world concerns that can affect the decision making process
 

johnjssmith

Junior Member
Shell material doesn't make a big difference, certainly not compared to head selection tuning, and shell design (thickness, bearing edges...), let alone an equalizer, and it's extremely difficult to generalize the effect that a specific type of wood will have on your drum sound.
Shane from DCP is in the business of selling drums and I don't think he's ever played drums professionally, been a drum tech or a recording/mixing engineer, so his position should be taken into account - he's a salesman.
ALL SOUNDS produced in a room are affected by that room, and drums made of different materials, all else being equal, are certainly not going to sound different enough to be affected significantly differently by the room.
The notion that birch drums are better for recording is, in my opinion, the biggest feat of Yamaha Drums' marketing department, though it really is just marketing; if a drum set sounds better in the recording studio it will sound better live just as well, and a punchier, more scooped tom sound might be more desirable for a genre but less desirable for another.

In short, birch drums are no better than maple or walnut or gum or mahogany drums for a specific application.
 

jda

Gold Member
" It's all about the hoops about the hoops.."
 
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incrementalg

Gold Member
Talking about audio means nothing to me. For instance, at DCP, whoever is doing the review is a victim of their own likes/dislikes...the room comes into play, the heads and tuning come into play, the player comes into play, the hoops come into play...the stick weight and the tip come into play...how is a girl supposed to make a good decision with all these variables? Don't even get me started on smell...where is CM?

Sound is personal. My opinion only matters to me. I'm not downing anyone who reviews drums. I do like to point out some real world concerns that can affect the decision making process
Man, I love the smell of drums. I go right to a happy place when I'm changing heads and get to bask in the fragrance.
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
Left to my own devices I choose maple over everything, but even this basswood set I have and threatening to sell sounds really good as long as I play well and have a decent tuning on it. But my Ludwig Classic 6 ply with maple outers are the bomb.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I ask this question out of theoretical interest and practicality, for I would like to get a good-quality bop kit to play at home and in café/restaurant environments (with no sound system), and given that such spaces often have hardwood floors or marble/tile floors and varying ceiling heights, would birch drums sound "better" than maple, even for jazz?
Since the SQ1 came out in 2017, I figured I'd be able to find a SQ1 bop kit demo. Have not been able to find one. Probably a more "popular" all birch shelled kit used for jazz, would be the Yamaha Recording Custom. Several of those.

Birch is, like some have mentioned, touted as a "naturally EQ'd" drum shell material. And I'll buy that, to a certain extent. But you can certainly tame an all maple shell, if you need to. Just like suspension mounts and isolation feet will help add sustain ...... head choice will help lessen sustain.

I'm a mixed wood kinda guy, myself. I've had three Yamaha RC kits (and one 9000 split lug), and I prefer my 8000 series Birch/Philippine Mahogany kit. If I was gonna throw down large on a bop kit, I think it'd be a Gretsch USA. That Maple/Gum shell is a solid winner.
 
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