Everybody wants a DW Collector’s. You want one, I want one, everybody else wants one. Even those who say they don’t, that they’re not interested, that they don’t really like them. All of them, all of us want to live the DW Collector’s experience. Who doesn’t want to drive a Ferrari or a Porsche?
But there is a problem. The DW Collector’s Series has always been a custom made product that is tailored to each client’s specifications. And that is awesome. What is not so fantastic is that given the huge number of options available, there are very few customers that may have enough experience or knowledge to discern what they really want. You only need to take a walk through DW Drums website to enter a sea of woods, types of construction, colors and finishes. How do I know if I prefer X-Shells to HVLT? What is all that grain orientation and vertical lamination about? Is there really any big difference?
Well, let’s start by clarifying a basic concept we should know to understand how a drum shell is made, whether it is a snare drum, a tom or a bass drum. Regardless of the type of wood used, we can cut layers so that the grain flows horizontally (along the sheet from left to right), vertically (the grain goes from the top to the bottom across the width of the ply) or in diagonal (this can go like “\” or like “/”).
Right, in the case of the horizontal distribution of the grain, when bending the wooden sheet to make the round shape of a shell, wood gains tension and therefore its natural tone goes up. When curving a sheet with vertical grain orientation, tension doesn’t change and therefore the tone remains as low as it was before bending. Last, diagonal lamination produces a medium stress when bending a sheet.
The second concept we must retain is very simple and identical to the one that applies to cymbals: the thicker the shell, the more mass it has, so the tone goes higher. The thinner it is, the less mass it has, so the tone will be lower.
DW Collector’s Standard
Traditionally, maple and birch are the most utilized types of wood to make drum shells. Maple’s well known qualities are attack, projection, clarity, sustain and a good low-end. This wood has so much resonance, a classic favourite to many drummers. On the other hand, birch has an immediate attack and short sustain. It is a defined, clear tone that appears and then it’s gone. Many recording studios choose having a birch drumset because it’s easy to control for any production.
For both maple and birch, DW makes drum shells by intercalating plies with horizontal and vertical grain. This is the type of construction that is been used for many years and produces a well balanced tone and a good resonance. In the DW Collector’s Series, we can choose this standard construction with these options:
- Shells from 8″ to 13″: 6 plies combining one with horizontal grain and another with vertical grain, and so forth.
- Shells from 14″ and bigger, bass drum included: 7 plies intercalating horizontal and vertical.
- For snare drums, thay use 10 layers adding reinforcement rings with 6 plies.
Maple shells can be chosen with reinforcement rings (3 layers) or without them. As said before, when choosing shells with no reinforcement rings, the tone will be a little bit lower due to their lower mass. This is very interesting for drummers who want maple’s full, deep tone but a lower one.
- 8″ shells are made with 7 plies intercalating one with horizontal grain and another with vertical grain, and so forth.
- For other sizes, drum shells come with 8 layers combining horizontal and vertical orientation.
All birch shells are made with no reinforcement rings and the internal layer is always vertical, so the shell provides a good low-end.
It is also important to note that, this being a totally customizable Series, we have every SSC (Specialized Shell Construction) configurations DW is offering at our disposal. In the second part of this article, we will discuss the SSC concept and what it does.
This post is also available in Versión en Español.