Keller Maple vs Keller Mahogany

HowardW

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Good evening!

I'm thinking about having a 10" tom made for my 1963 Slingerland set. I already have a set made from Keller maple shells (made by Precision Drums) and I like their tuning versatility. But Keller also has a line of mahogany shells, and I wonder if the tones would be "closer" to my Slingerland set.

Has anybody ever used the Keller mahogany shells? Any advice?

Thanks!
 

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charlesm

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Haven't used them but have heard them. I would think that, especially with the correct Sling-type bearing edge, it would work pretty darn well.

Actually, have you looked into Chicago Drum Company? They have the actual original Slingerland shell molds and build in that tradition. They could probably build you something as close to the real thing as possible.

I love Precision and have been up there numerous times over the years for different projects, but Chicago is really working more directly in the Slingerland lineage.

 

HowardW

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Charlesm, I thought about Chicago Drum (and in fact I chat occasionally with Jim Moritz on the Facebook/Slingerland group) but I've never done business with them. My 2018 kit was custom made by Precision for me (Slingerland/vintage style: 6 ply, 6 ply re-rings, rounded edges) so I thought of them first.

But I've also been reading and finding articles claiming that modern "mahogany" is really luan. And other articles saying luan is just a rumor.
 

charlesm

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There are some lower-end drum lines that tout the use of "Phillipine mahogany"...which IS luan and not a true mahogany.

But I'm pretty sure any higher-end mahogany shell, i.e., Ludwig Legacy Mahogany, Keller Vintage, Chicago, etc., is using true mahogany.

It's also pretty easy to distinguish real mahogany from luan. Luan has a much more coarse, soft, brittle grain texture.
 

Tommy D

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Haven't used them but have heard them. I would think that, especially with the correct Sling-type bearing edge, it would work pretty darn well.

Actually, have you looked into Chicago Drum Company? They have the actual original Slingerland shell molds and build in that tradition. They could probably build you something as close to the real thing as possible.

I love Precision and have been up there numerous times over the years for different projects, but Chicago is really working more directly in the Slingerland lineage.

I think you mean Stone Custom Drums. They bought the Slingerlands shell molds.

 

charlesm

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I think you mean Stone Custom Drums. They bought the Slingerlands shell molds.

Ah, yes. Thanks for the correction. Had completely forgotten about them.

Definitely another resource to check out. Two great options there, then, if you're looking for something in the true Slingerland style.
 

GeeDeeEmm

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Check with John Ollis. He bought out the complete Slingerland inventory from Gibson and has been selling off kits and singles. A while back he was offering 7X10 Studio King toms (maple with cast hoops) for stupid-low prices. I bought one myself and the quality is first rate. You simply cannot build one for the price he was charging.

John Ollis (NEA Music on ebay): 870-761-0875

****By the way - John is now thinning out his original Delmar/Slingerland wrap material. This is the original Nashville/Conway-era wrap specially made for Slingerland. For example, large chip pearls. You can contact him at the number above. Once this material is gone, that's it. There will be no more supplies.

GeeDeeEmm
 

HowardW

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I remember John's warehouse! :) In my case, I'm going to wrapping the new tom in BDP, and John's toms were too gorgeous to wrap.

I did find a 12" 70s tom (3 ply) on Reverb and made an offer. Maybe I can tune it high enough to get some tonal separation and not choke the drum. When I had my Avante set, I always had problems tuning the 10, 12, 13 and 14 to get enough tonal separation.
 

REF

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I bought a Keller mahogany shell, along with a maple and birch, from Anderson International some months back. The mahogany is not a mahogany shell. It is a very thin outer and inner layer of mahogany veneer with a poplar core. All three shells sound the same with a thump test, with heads, and with all different bearing edges. I bought them to test those parameters.
 

kb

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I bought a Keller mahogany shell, along with a maple and birch, from Anderson International some months back. The mahogany is not a mahogany shell. It is a very thin outer and inner layer of mahogany veneer with a poplar core. All three shells sound the same with a thump test, with heads, and with all different bearing edges. I bought them to test those parameters.
By "thump" test you mean striking the shell itself, before hardware is attatched?

Then after installing hardware, they all sounded the same? Same hardware and heads on each drum?

And then you tried several different bearing edges on each drum?
 

HowardW

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I bought a Keller mahogany shell, along with a maple and birch, from Anderson International some months back. The mahogany is not a mahogany shell. It is a very thin outer and inner layer of mahogany veneer with a poplar core. All three shells sound the same with a thump test, with heads, and with all different bearing edges. I bought them to test those parameters.
Thanks! I was afraid this would be the case.
 

REF

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By "thump" test you mean striking the shell itself, before hardware is attatched? *******Correct.

Then after installing hardware, they all sounded the same? Same hardware and heads on each drum? *******Correct.

And then you tried several different bearing edges on each drum? *******I used six different edges in the test. Made little to no appreciable, dramatically audible difference. I made eight videos in the series. These are the last three. (I just told someone I would NEVER get into this subject again on a drum forum and here I go but, I refuse to engage if anyone flips out and goes ad hominem on me).

 

Jordan Zimmerman

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I'll try to watch those videos at some point. I watched five minutes and it is said that the sound of a "drum" is the "head" as if that's the only thing that matters (unless I misunderstood). Well, that's ludicrous. I own many different drums that are the same size and putting the same head on different drums (different material, thickness, etc.) produces different sound. If the head were all the mattered we'd be all using roto toms.
 

REF

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I'll try to watch those videos at some point. I watched five minutes and it is said that the sound of a "drum" is the "head" as if that's the only thing that matters (unless I misunderstood). Well, that's ludicrous. I own many different drums that are the same size and putting the same head on different drums (different material, thickness, etc.) produces different sound. If the head were all the mattered we'd be all using roto toms.
The only thing that matters? Obviously not. The vast sonic majority of what makes a drum, a drum? Yes. If that were not the case, head makers would not offer so many choices, especially those that get as close to the sound of calf heads as they can get. Your point is correct, though. Roto toms are drums: single headed drums, and many have used them and still do, and they sound like drums. A stretched membrane makes a tone. A naked shell does nothing. Put together, the cylinder creates a chamber for sound waves to reflect off of, from one membrane or between two. The cylinder does not create the sound. The heads do. The cylinder can only enhance the sound wave's properties in nuanced and subtle ways depending on shell density and depth. Ways of any distinction that are almost always lost in full set play and definitely in a band context. That is the basic point of the videos - ultra-hype about shells in the drum industry. The way you mount a drum is far more important to overall sound than the shell material, especially when it comes to mass-produced, layered plywood shells.

I would be greatly interested in hearing a video of toms from each of your sets, all things being equal, to hear dramatic differences in a full drum set and in a band could be discerned.

The videos argue the case by virtue of evidence, not anecdote. Hardware and finishes mean far more to the dollar value and sound of a drum set than all the hype about drum shells put out there. That is why so many players are totally happy with mid-line drums. They sound just as good as top-of-the-line. Change the heads, change the sound of the drums. And even those differences become nuances with a full set cranking away, and definitely lost in a band setting. Even natural drum volume becomes moot when mics and PA system become involved in electric music. A kick mic will make a far greater difference to the sound of a kick drum than the shell will. You can make cardboard boxes sound like drums and videos on yt demonstrate that. So, what, exactly, becomes the necessity to buying top-of-the-line drums when it comes to sound?

Good heads, seated properly, tensioned well; good mounting = good sound. I think that is good news for so many desiring to spend the big bucks when it doesn't really matter, where shells are made such a big deal of by manufacturers. They don't have to spend the big bucks for good sound. If they want road worthy hardware, or perfect finishes, so be it. You pay more. Then there's wraps, which make it all moot. But paying so much more for layered plywood drum shells with supposed space age glues and proprietary layering of veneers, and all the rest of the hype? No. Hundreds of thousands of players begging mom and dad for the big bucks to buy the "best" drums out there? I see that as ludicrous, and a shame. And if that were not the truth, every single manufacturer would make a video of all their lines and prove their hype, tom by tom. They don't do that, though, because they know the gig is done if they do. There would be no dramatic difference they can actually prove to back up all their hype.

Snare drums are another animal altogether for specific reasons. Toms and bass drums? Not so much.

When I was a kid, getting catalogs and looking at ads in magazines, nothing was said about shells being so crucial to sound. More was made of shell strength, than shell sound. Hardware innovations and finish choices was where it was at from the manufacturers. That all began to change around 40 years ago. And here we are. But, hey, everybody's wallets belong to each of us. People can spend what we want, for whatever reason we want.

Just sayin.'






 

charlesm

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I took a watch/listen to the videos above.

First thing to mention: because of the setting, not a lot of lows coming through. Not much proximity effect. So, my ear is tuning in mostly to mid- and high-frequency characteristics.

Based on that, among the three Keller test drums with the wood hoops, I'm hearing SUBTLE, yet expected, differences between the three:

I'm hearing the most high frequencies in the birch, the least high frequencies in the mahog/poplar, and a sort of middle ground with the maple.

Again, the differences are very subtle (as differences tend to be) but I do hear them.

Thinking more generally, yes, all three sound "like drums." All three are perfectly usable. Any drum that is sounding good is fundamentally usable. (I like to tout my joy in my lowly MIJ stencil kit here now and then. Just used it for two gigs this past weekend. That little "junk" kit sounded killer and got compliments.)

I'm completely over the notion that one shell material is superior to another. But neither do I think that all shells *sound the same.* As someone who has, over the last 20+ years, owned kits/drums from Slingerland, Rogers, Ludwig, Tama, Gretsch, WFL: sure, they all sound "like drums." But, they all also exhibit inherent and particular characteristics.

Understand the differences and, to return to the old adage: just play what you like.
 

REF

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I took a watch/listen to the videos above.

First thing to mention: because of the setting, not a lot of lows coming through. Not much proximity effect. So, my ear is tuning in mostly to mid- and high-frequency characteristics.

Based on that, among the three Keller test drums with the wood hoops, I'm hearing SUBTLE, yet expected, differences between the three:

I'm hearing the most high frequencies in the birch, the least high frequencies in the mahog/poplar, and a sort of middle ground with the maple.

Again, the differences are very subtle (as differences tend to be) but I do hear them.

Thinking more generally, yes, all three sound "like drums." All three are perfectly usable. Any drum that is sounding good is fundamentally usable. (I like to tout my joy in my lowly MIJ stencil kit here now and then. Just used it for two gigs this past weekend. That little "junk" kit sounded killer and got compliments.)

I'm completely over the notion that one shell material is superior to another. But neither do I think that all shells *sound the same.* As someone who has, over the last 20+ years, owned kits/drums from Slingerland, Rogers, Ludwig, Tama, Gretsch, WFL: sure, they all sound "like drums." But, they all also exhibit inherent and particular characteristics.

Understand the differences and, to return to the old adage: just play what you like.
Oh, I don't think the evidence can possibly show all shells sound the same. Density would prevent that. In the case in the videos, they are all ten ply, 1/4" shells. Nuances exist. Nothing that can get heard when a whole set cranks up, or within a band, though.

And in the case of the videos, the same is true for hype about bearing edges as for proprietary shells among manufacturers. Nuances, at best. Nothing that going to give you your own place in the universe because of "those" shells and "those" bearing edges made by so and so company.

Like your "lowly" kit, the second video in the series show a $10, no-name, basswood or something tom purchased off ebay. Same new heads as the rest, same basic tension, sounds as good as maple or any other wood. Four lugs, too. Stupid cheap. It still sounds good though. The edges were trued up so the heads could seat properly. That is key when it comes to bearing edges but, the shell material just is not as big a deal as manufacturers make it and they money they charge.

But, yes, we play what we like, for whatever reasons we like them. The "magical," esoteric nature of what drummers hear is also mentioned somewhere. That's anecdotal, though. That isn't something hard evidence can address, nor should it try. Some will always want to sit behind an old set of Ludwig's or Slingerland's rather than a new set of Tama's or Pearl's. They just hear something they like better. So be it.
 


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