Keller Maple vs Keller Mahogany

Jordan Zimmerman

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Drum Center of Portsmouth has some great videos comparing various drums. Just last night I rewatched the Gretsch series where they compare Broadkaster, USA Custom and Brooklyn. Same heads, same tunings, different drums. There are clear differences in the sound. They all sound fantastic mind you, but there are differences.
 

REF

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Drum Center of Portsmouth has some great videos comparing various drums. Just last night I rewatched the Gretsch series where they compare Broadkaster, USA Custom and Brooklyn. Same heads, same tunings, different drums. There are clear differences in the sound. They all sound fantastic mind you, but there are differences.
It is interesting about Gretsch because, even they say only nuances exist between their drums. They and Premier are the two companies that seem to hype their shells the least, if at all, as far as sound properties. I applaud that. And to the DCP videos themselves, whatever differences heard on all their videos (and I have watched most, if not all of them), on stage, in a band: all gone. It is all mics at that point. It is the player playing what he or she likes, for whatever reason but, not shell hype by manufacturers regarding distinct sound properties.

I read all the comments on the shell hype videos and it is startling to read some by people in the industry, itself, at least at the drum shop level and/or pro-touring level. Very eye-opening. Some people into recording have mentioned many of these online yt comparison videos will use different mics to make the drums sound as good as possible. You may watch three sets but, different mics are used, as well. That was a stunning thing to read. If that info got around, and was really validated by absolute proof, I would not want to be the owner of those shops.
 

charlesm

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It is interesting about Gretsch because, even they say only nuances exist between their drums. They and Premier are the two companies that seem to hype their shells the least, if at all, as far as sound properties. I applaud that. And to the DCP videos themselves, whatever differences heard on all their videos (and I have watched most, if not all of them), on stage, in a band: all gone. It is all mics at that point. It is the player playing what he or she likes, for whatever reason but, not shell hype by manufacturers regarding distinct sound properties.

I read all the comments on the shell hype videos and it is startling to read some by people in the industry y, itself, at least at the drum shop level and/or pro-touring level. Very eye-opening. Some people into recording have mentioned many of these online yt comparison videos will use different mics to make the drums sound as good as possible. You may watch three sets but, different mics are used, as well. That was a stunning thing to read. If that info got around, and was really validated by absolute proof, I would not want to be the owner of those shops.
Close mikes tend to homogenize drum sound, yes. But, in my opinion, the acoustic qualities of and differences between drums often still come through and project more than you might think.

Just saying this based on years of recording, hearing how different brands and shell types take to mikes, listening to different brands played live by different drummers...you do start to be able to recognize the differences.

Again, I get it that drums are drums generally speaking. But there are differences.

Just as there are differences between dreadnought acoustic guitars with mahogany back/sides vs. rosewood. You might say that guitars are just guitars. Or violins are violins. However, the subtle differences become clearer and more obvious with enough close listening experience.

Really, it comes down to two different listening philosophies:

Subtle differences = drums are just drums

Vs.

Subtle differences = MAKES all the difference
 

REF

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Close mikes tend to homogenize drum sound, yes. But, in my opinion, the acoustic qualities of and differences between drums often still come through and project more than you might think.

Just saying this based on years of recording, hearing how different brands and shell types take to mikes, listening to different brands played live by different drummers...you do start to be able to recognize the differences.

Again, I get it that drums are drums generally speaking. But there are differences.

Just as there are differences between dreadnought acoustic guitars with mahogany back/sides vs. rosewood. You might say that guitars are just guitars. Or violins are violins. However, the subtle differences become clearer and more obvious with enough close listening experience.

Really, it comes down to two different listening philosophies:

Subtle differences = drums are just drums

Vs.

Subtle differences = MAKES all the difference
My daughter has educated me quite a bit on violin construction. She was just visiting last weekend and she loves her violin but, also recognizes an astute player can make a lesser expensive instrument sound like a very expensive one. Videos on yt comparing them also prove the point. There some very well-known luthiers out there whose names are well known in the stringed instrument community. I found it interesting my daughter said instruments are known for their cosmetic features, not their sound. She can recognize a certain player and hear nothing different about their instruments, even if they have obvious nuanced differences in construction and sound. It comes down to the "voice" of the player.

Is it not the same with sticks and touch upon drum heads?

I appreciate your experience with recording drums. You would be in a great position to allow players to hear said differences that exist, all things being equal. The absolute lack of such audio and video in the drum community tends to display the fact, rather dramatically, that differences between drums are not vital when it comes to plywood shells, and nothing actually exists to differentiate between shell design, one company to another. Hype is just that - hype. Not just advertising but, B.S. B.S. a lot of drummers are paying a lot of money for without any actual evidence to back up company claims.

What comparison videos exist on YT are an amazing testament to the hype that exists. Several, especially, come to mind. People put up toms from different companies or the same, and no discernible differences can be heard at all, let alone nuances struggling to be noticed when cymbals get cranking, and the rest of the band is playing. A short video by the Ford drum company at a Sonor booth at NAMM creates some interesting comments. You can't blame the phone. All things are equal to its mic, however deficient.

Change the heads, change the sound of the drum. Think hardware, think appealing finishes for taste but, drum company hype about their shell designs? Where is their proof?

A lot of people hate this topic, especially if they spent for the big price tag based on shells, when they could have saved money and gotten the same sound.

Some people even get ruthless defending a favorite company. I have observed the company with the biggest shell claims will be the company receiving the most owner defense. I believe that's pretty fascinating and rather telling. One would think the biggest claims would be backed up by the greatest attempt to prove the claims with comparison sound. Make it as easy as possible for the consumer.
 

REF

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> It is all mics at that point

That's a good point. Note, I play jazz and 99% of my gigs are totally acoustic - no mics.
I'd be interested to hear your drums, one to another. I know vintage mounting will make drums sound different than isolation mounting. That's why "all things being equal" come into the discussion. Same heads, same tension, same mounting, same player, same band. Can the differences be heard because of drum shell woods, plies, glues, lugs, etc?
 

MidiFinger

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I do have a few vintage slingerland toms in the mix. I don't know about the Mahogany, but I have one Keller Maple tom and I am very happy with it... but my kit is a real Frankenstein.
 
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As long as I've been playing I've never heard a kit either in a store in someone's practice area or in a live playing setting bar/club/concert hall where I have been able to identify the type of shell it is. I just can't tell if it's maple, Birch, Cherry Mahogany or Bubinga. I can tell if I like how it sounds but not material.
 

davezedlee

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I know the different materials have a different feel to them when played, even if those differences are not apparent to outside listeners; if you are ever in the same room with five different kits, you’ll KNOW there are differences
 

mayal7

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I believe DW classic series were built using Keller Mahogany and the sound amazing.
 

Mcjnic

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I paid considerably more for my Noble & Cooley Horizon kit than my vintage kits ... it does not sound or perform like my Tama Superstars or my Yamaha Maple Customs. But it does sound a little like my old Slingerland and Ludwig kits ... but with considerably more sustain and depth.

I have custom leather seats in my roadster. It doesn‘t effect the sound or the performance. But it makes a difference to me. I like it and I paid for the custom work to be done.

While I believe an argument can be made that the shell does indeed impact the sound and performance of a drum ... I also believe the other up-charges like finish and hardware choices are personal and honestly have little to do with a kits performance.
But ain’t they sweeeet looking.
 

Houndog

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I had a guy make me a 10" tom to go with my Slingerland kit , It is a keller maple shell .
It sounds like it belongs ....
 
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Iristone

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The mahogany is not a mahogany shell. It is a very thin outer and inner layer of mahogany veneer with a poplar core.
Isn't that basically how vintage Ludwigs and Slingerlands were made? Only difference is that Keller has 4 plys of poplar whereas Ludwig and Slingerland have only one thick ply.
 

K.O.

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I've had Bernie Stone whip up a few shells for me including a "Slingerland" 3 ply14x14 which was mahogany/poplar/maple with maple re-rings. That was the layup of an early 70s set I redid. Once wrapped to match the rest of the set it blended right in and a lay person would be hard pressed to tell that it wasn't an original Slingerland drum.
 

pendragon

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I built a set of Keller shells 12, 14, 20" Vintage Mahogany shells and they are amazing!! They sound great with any bearing edge profile as well. Mahogany /poplar/Mahogany with maple re-rings are vintage gold! I eventually cut inner 45 deg./outer round over bearing edge which gives them that 60's vibe!!
 

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