5” Supra. Why can’t I get into it?

DrumTransit

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One of my favorite snare sounds is Mitch Mitchell's LM400 on "Fire" -- just a powerful cracking sound. A few years ago, I found a mid-60s 5" Supra at a pawn shop, took it entirely apart, cleaned, and put back together and it sounds great. Last year, I found a pretty good deal on a Slingerland mid-60s 5" Krupa COB, so I bought it to compare the sounds. The Krupa sounds equally as good, but the sound is different (as the metal is different). I probably would be just as happy if I only had the Krupa vs. the Ludwig. If Slingerland had the Ringo effect instead of Ludwig, I wonder if there would be mass ubiquity of the Krupa snares, and we would be talking about those right now.

I've never played a 6.5" Surpa, though I am interested, as I know tons of drummers on here swear by it. I have played a 5" 1960 COB Ludwig, and that was a different (louder) sound entirely, at least to me.
 

jptrickster

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I play a 402 these days but all through my early years I played the 400. The drum is absolutely all that and anyone who thinks it’s all hype might want to reconsider.
Mitch Mitchell
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Michael Shreives
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Dino Dinelli
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John Densmore
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Roger Hawkins

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Hal Blaine

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Steve Gadd
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Joe Morello

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Charlie Watts
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Billy Ward
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mgdrummer

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I’ve had a love/hate relationship with most Supras. Over the years I’ve owed a few that were absolute dogs that either had a limited tuning range that sounded good or just sounded/felt too inconsistent from room to room. My first “real” snare was a 5” 60’s Supersensitive that was given to me by an older cousin so that was the base line that I measured everything else up against. Still have it, in fact, although it never goes out on gigs anymore since it’s the earlier version with the narrow end plates and the strainer is finicky.

I lucked out on a Craigslist find a little over a decade ago, an early 80’s 5” Supra shell w/lugs and P85 & butt for $30. I had the hoops/heads/wires sitting around at home, so I threw it together as a possible flip opportunity. Turned out to be the best sounding Supra I’ve owned to date! Go figure...

I’m getting the bug to find a 402 that I like equally as much as my “partscaster” 400. Maybe someday...
 

Cauldronics

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I play a 402 these days but all through my early years I played the 400. The drum is absolutely all that and anyone who thinks it’s all hype might want to reconsider.
Mitch Mitchell
View attachment 510716 Michael Shreives
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Dino Dinelli
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John Densmore
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Roger Hawkins

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Hal Blaine

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Steve Gadd
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Joe Morello

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Charlie Watts
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Billy Ward
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All of them are on my list of drumming heroes.
 

Cableaddict

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I love the 5" Supra when it's mic'ed. Not so much acoustically.

It's actually easier to deal with on a recording kit, as the 6.5" can actually be too loud, even in the overhead mics. (Depends on the song, of course.)

A few things:

1: If yours doesn't have COB hoops, change them NOW. This is not an option ! You'll sound better, you'll look better, you'll smell better, and you'll get all the hot chicks.

2: Don't over-crank the bottom head. - Maybe even use a 200 weight. (SO much nicer) And don't over-damp it.

3: I suppose different eras might have different drum quality. Having said that, I have a mid 1960's 5" and a late 1970's 5", and they sound the same to me, if set up the same.

Of course, I usually prefer my 5" Acrolite overall, as it seems a bit more alive, but the Supra works great when you want a slightly more controlled sound. (esp. for country and softer rock) Plus of course I have it set up very differently.


If I want a big beefy 6.5" sound, I prefer a COB snare. I love Bonham's playing, but have never been wow'ed by his sound.
 
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I play a 402 these days but all through my early years I played the 400. The drum is absolutely all that and anyone who thinks it’s all hype might want to reconsider.
Mitch Mitchell
View attachment 510716 Michael Shreives
View attachment 510717
Dino Dinelli
View attachment 510718
John Densmore
View attachment 510719
Roger Hawkins

View attachment 510720
Hal Blaine

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Steve Gadd
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Joe Morello

View attachment 510723
Charlie Watts
View attachment 510724
Billy Ward
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After reading this entire thread.
There ya go! Great reference list JP!

When talking about snares, I always live by the phrase that I learned from my friends Steve Jordan and Artie Smith, "Find where a drum wants to live, and keep it there." If you want another sound, (don't waste time trying to make a hamburger taste like a hot dog, or ask a tenor sing an alto part,) just grab another drum."

They (Steve and Artie) have spent hours finding where a snare drum wants to live. So have other techs, some other great drummers, and some really great recording engineers. And so have I. Drummers didn't call Drum Paradise in the 90's and ask for "The Hitmaker" and then try to make it sound like a 1960's Jazzfest.

If you are playing a 5" aluminum drum, let it sound like an aluminum 5" drum, nothing wrong with that. If you don't know what that sound is, put a coated ambassador, some stock wires, some triple flange hoops on, and take some time tuning it. Take some time to find the sound of THAT drum. THAT'S the sound of that drum. then play it for a while. Different touch, heads, wires, hoops, muffling, will accentuate or mute different characteristics of THAT drum, but THAT'S the sound.

If you want another sound, get another drum that possesses the sound that you desire. If you still don't know the sound of that drum, refer to the wonderful list and pictures supplied above by JPtrickster.

Trying to get one thing to sound like another is futile. In my opinion the Supra is the baseline for modern metal snares, you don't have to love it. It's a cheese pizza, vanilla ice cream, demiglace, whatever... They ALL exist wonderfully on their own, but are also the foundation for many other great (if not better) foods.

And yes I have a 5" KB Supra (lower right,) it has COB rims, a coated Ambassador, and it sounds like.....

A really good Supra.
IMG_1271.JPG


MSG
 

Boone20

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I have a 67 supra that is pretty bright even with a thick Emperor X on it. Not ultra fun to play around with to be honest but once it's recorded it really is something special. Cuts through without being harsh and just has a great recorded sound to it... I guess that's why so many great drummers used it
 

6topher

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It's fairly well documented in 60 plus years of recordings that it's the most kick ass snare ever played by the best drummers ever, desired by the best producers & engineers who've ever twisted a knob.

I guess you could get a dog...maybe

More than likely though I would guess if it doesn't sound good it's because it has puresound wires & a thick head on it. I'd check for out of round hoops as well.

With a well tuned one ply & some simple chrome plated wires, you should be able to get the focus in the center, the ring on the edges & the crack on top with plenty of body.
 

Seb77

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At some point I packed the lugs to reduce the ring of the springs; this seemed to muffle the sound too much (there isn't a lot of mass to the drum, so the vibration of the shell is affected easily). When I put some fabric inside the springs only, nothing touching the shell, the sound got livelier again.
 

Slingwig26

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I love mine. Always gets complements from audience perspective and sound guys always compliment it. It sounds brighter from being in the drum seat. When heard out front, thru the band, it cuts through without the “brightness” you hear. Kinda like Paiste cymbals.
 

DrumTransit

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... More than likely though I would guess if it doesn't sound good it's because it has puresound wires & a thick head on it. I'd check for out of round hoops as well.

With a well tuned one ply & some simple chrome plated wires, you should be able to get the focus in the center, the ring on the edges & the crack on top with plenty of body.
Interesting about the wires. I played on a supra very similar to mine in terms of age/heads/tuning, except this other one had Puresound wires on it. It sounded very different, and I didn't like it at all. That's not a knock on Puresound, but to my ears the drum didn't have that popping sound and sounded flat. Mine has the stock wires with the plastic ends, but they're showing their age. Might get Ludwig '63 or Canopus wires next.
 

6topher

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Interesting about the wires. I played on a supra very similar to mine in terms of age/heads/tuning, except this other one had Puresound wires on it. It sounded very different, and I didn't like it at all. That's not a knock on Puresound, but to my ears the drum didn't have that popping sound and sounded flat. Mine has the stock wires with the plastic ends, but they're showing their age. Might get Ludwig '63 or Canopus wires next.
I might put puresounds on a cheap steel snare.

But yeah, the Ludwigs & the Canopus (or the Canopus by Vic Firth) are really good. But honestly I generally use worldmax $12 German steel wires. They're crisp, classic & won't color the drum.
 

BennyK

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Supras are as inconsistent as the countless players who've performed / recorded with them . Engineers and producers , for their own reasons , generally had confidence in them . I've owned numerous 400's and they weren't all the same . Some were " better " than others , whatever that means . The 6 1/2 402's I've owned have been a more consistently better choice . Original Ludwig wire sets paired with 1.6 mm COB factory hoops and Ludwig heads were decisive in producing the classic compressed ' pop ! ' my ears liked the best . This combination has been increasingly more difficult to find, as original parts are near extinction . As previously mentioned, some die cast batter side hoops coupled with thinner snare sides worked out well .

Like the Telecaster and Les Paul Junior , the 400 is an almost blank canvas presenting itself to the drummers who like to foozle their own vibe out of the drum .

I currently don't have a Supraphonic , but the thrill of the chase remains . Therein lies the charm of this classic drum .
 
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High on Stress

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I disagree with the notion that the 400 only does its own sound and needs to be tuned and set up as such. I think the reason for the ubiquity of this drum on recordings is because exactly the opposite is true. You can bring it to a session and get a variety of very usable sounds out if it. The Swiss Army knife comparison is appropriate. Unlike many other snares I own, you can use almost any combo of heads, wires or hoops and it’s hard to make it sound too bad. Many of my other snares seem a lot more finicky in terms of how you set them up and have a narrower tuning range.

Obviously there may be an inexplicable dud here or there or a drum that is out of round or otherwise defective, but I’ve owned a few 400s (as well as 402s) and played many more and find them to be pretty consistent. All of them have been able to produce sounds ranging from fatback to piccolo-esque. If I could bring only one drum to a recording session, I wouldn’t be happy about that but I’d grab one of my 400s. I’d know that I could probably get most of what I might need out of that versatile size and shell material.
 

tillerva

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I have had a few (used to be big into buyingselling) and the one I have now has a Aquarian Vintage series head because it just happened to be the spare head I had when I set it up. It really does not sound really bright to me, in fact it sounds pretty darn perfect to me like it’s eq’d just right- perhaps that particular heads mellows it out.
Now I also recently got a 6.5 Super and have been going back and forth between the two. I have my first post Covid (well I guess we’re still in that) gig coming up and can’t decide which to use! I’ll probably take them both.
 

Sd27

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Sorry if this has already been covered.....

Yes, your drum is a POS. Please send the drum in question to me as soon as possible.

I'll determine if you are correct, which I'm sure you are, and make take the necessary actions of destroying the drum. :lol:
LOL
 

Ludwigboy

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I have a 5x14 Supra 400 from '65 with Puresound wires on it ; Ambassador Coated on batter, clear Remo snare side on resonant and it has a wonderful "pop" to it ; works for all genres I play ; to my ears, this particular one sounds like Doug Clifford's Supra with CCR
 

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FitDrummer

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Those are nice choices to choose from! I would have a hard time deciding which one to play on a gig!
I have had a few (used to be big into buyingselling) and the one I have now has a Aquarian Vintage series head because it just happened to be the spare head I had when I set it up. It really does not sound really bright to me, in fact it sounds pretty darn perfect to me like it’s eq’d just right- perhaps that particular heads mellows it out.
Now I also recently got a 6.5 Super and have been going back and forth between the two. I have my first post Covid (well I guess we’re still in that) gig coming up and can’t decide which to use! I’ll probably take them both.
 


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