How does our gear age?

SpinaDude

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Because I never really paid that much attention to it before, because it hadn't occurred to me and quite frankly, because my ear is likely not good enough, I don;t know how the sound of my gear has changed over the years. I'm talking about both drums and cymbals, both have to decay over time.

So do our shells deteriorate over the years?

If so how does that change their sound?

Do shells become more dense or more brittle?

Do some companies put preservatives on their wood in order to keep them in their prime longer?

Does this also vary by the type of wood your shell is made out of?

If the shells do change, how does that affect the sound?

Does a vintage kit from '57 sound the same today, no matter how well it was kept?

Does how often they are played have an impact on this?

Same questions for cymbals...considering different alloys and production techniques.
 
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bellbrass

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Here's what (I think) I know:

So do our shells deteriorate over the years? It depends on the construction and storage environment. Poorly made drums kept outside (garage, shed, car, etc.) will show deformed shells and/or wrap/finish after a period of time. Drums that are well-made and stored in climate-controlled conditions will show few, if any, signs of deterioration over a number of years.

Of so how does that change their sound? It depends on how they deteriorate. i.e., shell goes out of round = lousy sound and poor tunability.

Do shells become more dense or more brittle? It depends on the type of wood used, and treatment (varnish, shellac, polyurethane, etc.) for sealing the wood.

Do some companies put preservatives on their wood in order to keep them in their prime longer? Yes

Does this also vary by the type of wood your shell is made out of? Yes

If the shells do change, how does that affect the sound? If the wood becomes more porous, that can result in a more desirable sound to some ears (see: Stradivarius violin).

Does a vintage kit from '57 sound the same today, no matter how well it was kept? Unlikely....but, could you tell the difference, blindfolded, all other factors the same?

Does how often they are played have an impact on this? Not really.
 

MrDrums2112

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Great topic. I’m pretty meticulous in how I care for my gear, so I suppose, if nothing changes, my drums won’t deteriorate aside from normal gig wear and tear. I mean, I have vintage gear older than me that looks and sounds amazing, so I assume my drums will long outlive me. I believe as the wood shells age, their sound characteristics definitely change a bit, but I cannot say for certain. Is “mojo” a measurable thing?
 

Johnny K

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Is “mojo” a measurable thing?
I'd like to think that it is. My drum 'mojo hand' is a plastic Pickle Rick that I mount on my bass drum. It is my talisman. Everyone should have a tailsman. A private joke only you know about and how it came to be. The rest of the band knows it's there on my drum when we play. They rib me about it all the time. None of them have any idea who or what Rick and Morty is about. Nor do most folks who ask me about the "Pickle" on my drum. It's my own inside joke, and it makes me smile and happy that Pickle Rick is on guard sitting there on top of the drum! He is my plastic Jesus.

Oh yeah...If drums are like guitars, then yeah, they sound better with age. Unfortunatly, they dont go up in value like guitars do.
 

yetanotherdrummer

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The only drums that I owned that had problem as they aged were my Ludwig Vistalites.

After owning them for 20+ years, the shells cracked, split, etc. Now I will say that they went everywhere with me for the years that I owned them, in all type of climate conditions, which I now know is not good for acrylic shells.
 

MntnMan62

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I agree much depends upon the original quality of construction and equally important is how much care was put into them during their long existence. I have to say I love my Slingerland Stage Band kit as much, if not more, than I did when I first got it. Well, more, because now I can appreciate whereas when I first got it I looked at it as a student or budget kit, which is how it was marketed. But I can tell you those babies sound fantastic and are still set up in my basement, out of the sun with a dehumidifier going keeping the humidity level at around 45%. And I hope that once this virus thing is behind us, the jam band that I was playing in before will get back together and maybe we'll be able to play some gigs, for fun. And I'll use my babies.
 

audiochurch

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Mine are 1964 Slingerland. They sound great! Metalwork is all nice. Age has not hurt them at all. If only I held up as well View attachment 445298 .......
WMP ages well in my opinion, like this photo of a timeless Slingerland kit. I try to keep my gear as long as I can unless it breaks or just does not work well with me for whatever reason. I try to lessen my drum footprint by using the same drums for years now. I find that my ear, playing, and tuning has changed way more vs. the drums themselves.
 

Drm1979

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I'd like to think that it is. My drum 'mojo hand' is a plastic Pickle Rick that I mount on my bass drum. It is my talisman. Everyone should have a tailsman. A private joke only you know about and how it came to be. The rest of the band knows it's there on my drum when we play. They rib me about it all the time. None of them have any idea who or what Rick and Morty is about. Nor do most folks who ask me about the "Pickle" on my drum. It's my own inside joke, and it makes me smile and happy that Pickle Rick is on guard sitting there on top of the drum! He is my plastic Jesus.

Oh yeah...If drums are like guitars, then yeah, they sound better with age. Unfortunatly, they dont go up in value like guitars do.
A talisman? That's what's missing from my kit. You sir have put me on a quest, to find a lucky charm to have while I'm playing. I've seen a few over the years but didn't really give it much thought. Now you got me thinking. As if I wasnt drum nerdy enough already.
 

cribbon

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Most of my drums are either fiberglass or carbon fiber, both of which are impervious to things that tend to age wood over time, so they are what they are and they remain so. It's probably any shift in my musical/sonic tastes and interests that mostly change how I hear the drums over time, not the instruments themselves.
 
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Tornado

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I've always read that wood hardens as it ages, increasing its resonant potential. I think that's the theory in violins anyway.
 

Seb77

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If you look at Stradivari violins, these are hundreds of years old, and much thinner wood that is much more involved in the actual production of sound than is the case with drumshells. I read that in a museum, someone plays those violins now and then to kee them in shape. Whole different ball game if you ask me, that level of refinement - with drums we're talking mostly furniture-grade plywood.

As some other have mentioned, I think there's more risk in drums deteriorating in moist envrionments, or at extreme temperatures (or temp. changes). One of the most dangerous storage conditions might be with calf skin heads under tension, I've seen an "orff timpani" that was totally out of round becuase of a torn calfskin under tension that went unnoticed. Metal under tension tends to fatigue as well, not to mention rust and other oxidation.
 

Bri6366

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My Pearl kit sounds great, but there are dings and cracks in the lacquer finish. Nothing you can see at a distance, but if you're right up on them you can see the battle scars.
 

Johnny K

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A talisman? That's what's missing from my kit. You sir have put me on a quest, to find a lucky charm to have while I'm playing. I've seen a few over the years but didn't really give it much thought. Now you got me thinking. As if I wasnt drum nerdy enough already.
Glad I could help. Good luck in your quest!
 

Elvis

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Because I never really paid that much attention to it before, because it hadn't occurred to me and quite frankly, because my ear is likely not good enough, I don;t know how the sound of my gear has changed over the years. I'm talking about both drums and cymbals, both have to decay over time.

So do our shells deteriorate over the years?

If so how does that change their sound?

Do shells become more dense or more brittle?

Do some companies put preservatives on their wood in order to keep them in their prime longer?

Does this also vary by the type of wood your shell is made out of?

If the shells do change, how does that affect the sound?

Does a vintage kit from '57 sound the same today, no matter how well it was kept?

Does how often they are played have an impact on this?

Same questions for cymbals...considering different alloys and production techniques.
I've been told that the glue in laminated shells can break down and allow the wood plies to take a set.
I know in the 21 years I've owned my LCM kit, the sound has mellowed slightly. It's lost some of that "cold" aspect that I could pick up when it was new.
On a cellular level, wood also crystalizes over time and this adds to the sound of the drums.
It's like the guy who did guitar repair at the local music store when I worked there said, "There's nothing like the sound of 50 year old wood "
...and he's absolutely right.
With cymbals, I've heard from a few others that there has to be some kind of "additional hammering" effect from playing on them, but that's over a very long time. Possibly longer than one's lifetime....so would there be a difference in the sound of a cymbal over years of ownership, based on the hammering effect of simply playing on it?
Likely not, but maybe, if the cymbal was quite thin.

...anyway, that's my take on things. Interesting question, though.


Elvis
 

halldorl

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If you look at Stradivari violins, these are hundreds of years old, and much thinner wood that is much more involved in the actual production of sound than is the case with drumshells. I read that in a museum, someone plays those violins now and then to kee them in shape. Whole different ball game if you ask me, that level of refinement - with drums we're talking mostly furniture-grade plywood.

As some other have mentioned, I think there's more risk in drums deteriorating in moist envrionments, or at extreme temperatures (or temp. changes). One of the most dangerous storage conditions might be with calf skin heads under tension, I've seen an "orff timpani" that was totally out of round becuase of a torn calfskin under tension that went unnoticed. Metal under tension tends to fatigue as well, not to mention rust and other oxidation.
I was in London back in 1982 and on the news they were talking about retiring a Stradivari from the London Symphony to the British Museum. The musicians were against this because the violin would “die”. It needed to be played to stay in shape.

I believe most Stradivarius violins in use have non-original necks. Those haven’t passed the test of time while the violin body has.
 

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