As a drummer, I found myself very frustrated with not only my playing, but with the actual sound of my instrument. There seemed to be no way to get the sound I imagined, other than playing through the heavily colored and expensive use of studio recording equipment. This meant playing live sounded only as good, or more aptly "bad", as the drums themselves. Does this sound familiar?
Well, lets give credit where credit is due. I will say now in front of my fellow man, I did not invent the idea of custom made drums. That being said, I looked closely at what did seem to work for better results in producing a good crisp tone, good sustain, and a clear focused musical note. It certainly starts with the shell material itself.
Although this is purely a subjective call, American Maple is my choice. It is a great hard wood with terrific musical qualities. Shell thickness is the next logical consideration. Well, after a lot of experiments, I found that the best results vary with the diameter of the shell itself. Smaller drums like a little thinner shell for best sustain and tone. Too thick tends to choke the musical note. On the other hand, larger drums seem to like a thicker shell. This tends to hold the note together during the decay phase of the sound, in other words, a more focused musical note. My conclusion, 6 ply for 8" and 10", 8 ply for 12" diameter and larger. I recommend 8 ply for snare drums and 8 ply for bass drums.
The next issue is bearing edges. The main goal here is minimum contact with the drum head itself. I use a 45 degree inside cut with an outside counter cut. The resting point of the head being more towards the outside of the shell. All shells are rotated on a flat sanding table to provide a perfectly flat drum. Extra care is given to the snare drum to insure the best possible snare contact with the bottom head for a good clean sound. I am using a cast, low mass, lug for optimum sustain.
I prefer less stuff attached to the shell for shell freedom. Although some of the drums out there have very fancy and cool looking hardware, I don't think it is necessarily helpful in producing a good sound, not to mention price. Simplicity is where it's at.
My drums come standard with the R.I.M.S. Mounting System. The choice of tom brackets is yours (Tama, Yamaha, Pearl, etc.). I can also provide other hardware items (cases, stands, pedals, etc.) The shells are finished with several coats of a durable, non-yellowing polyurethane. Each coat is carefully hand sanded before applying the next coat, finally a waxing and buffing for a nice natural finish. A variety of solid and transparent colors, as well as natural, is available.
Perhaps, the most fun for me is to work closely with fellow players to come up with a kit that will be a pleasure to play. If this sounds good to you, please feel free to contact me.