Ludwig 3 Ply Shells Tonal Differences

Black Label

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Hi there,

I have 2 x blue / olive 13" maple poplar maple toms and another 1965 13" with a mahogany poplar mahogany shell. I love the vintage sound of all 3, but to my ears there's quite a distinct difference in sound between the maple and mahogany shells (coated ambassadors on all) with the mahogany sounding warmer and a bit more resonant. It's as if there is a rather marked difference in the fundamental pitch / note (I hope this is the right term). I am by no means an expert on these shells and most certainly do not have trained ear - I can hardly tell the difference between chip board and oak :)razz::razz::razz:) and that is why it surprised me that I actually noticed the difference between these shells. Is it only my untrained ear or is there a rather marked difference between these shells? Keep safe guys.
 

Rotarded

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My experience (currently own a 1964 3ply Ludwig kit, and both 3ply maple and mahogany snares), and have had multiple maple plied kits (and snares) in different ply configurations, is that the Mahogany shells have a rich low and mid range, with somewhat lesser/muted highs. Whereas the maple has good low-mid range, with more pronounced highs. My simplistic description is this: Mahogany fills the room with warmth, Maple fills the room with sound.
 

studrum

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Plus, we are fairly certain that the B/O era drums have sharper bearing edges than the earlier drums. I think you get more "cut" with the maple/poplar/maple shells, but I really dig the throaty roar of my early 60's mahogany/poplar/mahoganies.
 

Seb77

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It's as if there is a rather marked difference in the fundamental pitch / note (I hope this is the right term).
You should be able to tune all heads to the same pitch. If then the fundamental tone is different, that'd be quite a big difference between drums, probably in wood denisty. If the pitch is the same, the timbre (sound colour) could still be different, which I think is more likely.
If you ever wanted to give your drums a through cleaning and removed the lugs, you could compare the pitch of the wood by tapping the naked shells (a la John Good from dw). If there were differences in this wooden sound, it would be an indicator about the sonic differences of the assembled drum.
Are the bearing edges the same?
 

JDA

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You see this is I believe what Mick Fleetwood said in an old early DW drums VHS product video.
He said " back in the old days" one drum in a drum set would "be magic" (or "off" frankly..)
He goes on to say "DW solved all this"

when in reality (mine my reality) I think he was unaware ing-ly yet describing the mixed and separate mahogany and maple (outer- inner ply) drums possible within One 60s Ludwig set..
I had a set like that; looking back at pictures with the bottom heads off my 1st set was mixed;
 
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K.O.

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Are you certain your two shells are maple/poplar/maple? Most wrapped 3 ply drums still had a mahogany outer ply right up to the transition to 6 ply shells. Natural finish drums did have the maple/poplar/maple construction and so would some wrapped drums because, well it's Ludwig, so they used what they had on a given day, but wrapped drums mostly had mahogany exteriors.

I'm not implying that you can't tell mahogany from maple, just wondering if you verified both maple plies as there seems to be an incorrect general assumption that a clear maple interior guarantees the outer ply is maple as well. That isn't the case. The more open grain of mahogany worked better with the glue for the wrap so they continued to use it for the outer ply on most drums that were to be wrapped.

It appears Ludwig wasn't overly concerned with mixing and matching different layup drums into sets, painting the interiors white to retain a uniform look no matter which wood was used. At the time no one was thinking about such details so they could get away with it. Starting in 1968 they went to almost exclusively using maple on the interiors but, as mentioned, kept using mahogany for a lot of the outer plies.
 

scaramanga

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Are you certain your two shells are maple/poplar/maple? Most wrapped 3 ply drums still had a mahogany outer ply right up to the transition to 6 ply shells. Natural finish drums did have the maple/poplar/maple construction and so would some wrapped drums because, well it's Ludwig, so they used what they had on a given day, but wrapped drums mostly had mahogany exteriors.

I'm not implying that you can't tell mahogany from maple, just wondering if you verified both maple plies as there seems to be an incorrect general assumption that a clear maple interior guarantees the outer ply is maple as well. That isn't the case. The more open grain of mahogany worked better with the glue for the wrap so they continued to use it for the outer ply on most drums that were to be wrapped.

It appears Ludwig wasn't overly concerned with mixing and matching different layup drums into sets, painting the interiors white to retain a uniform look no matter which wood was used. At the time no one was thinking about such details so they could get away with it. Starting in 1968 they went to almost exclusively using maple on the interiors but, as mentioned, kept using mahogany for a lot of the outer plies.
Wow this is heavily disillusioning. And I must thank you for it. Food for thought.
 

studrum

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Yes, I should have remembered what KO points out. Anyone who's ever tried to strip a wrap finish 70's drum finds this out, real quick.
But I'll still hold that the inside maple ply and 70's bearing edges kick out a brighter sound. I love them both.
 

Black Label

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Hi there guys. Thank you very much for the input. I am not sure whether the bearing edges are the same, but if memory serves me, they are all the same standard rounded edges. As for plies, I just assumed that the 71 and 72 B/O shells were Maple and the 65 Keystone with the white interior was Mahogany.

I tried to record a cell phone side by side video of the two drums but it will not upload. Must it be in a specific format to upload?
 

TPC

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It appears Ludwig wasn't overly concerned with mixing and matching different layup drums into sets, painting the interiors white to retain a uniform look no matter which wood was used. At the time no one was thinking about such details so they could get away with it. Starting in 1968 they went to almost exclusively using maple on the interiors but, as mentioned, kept using mahogany for a lot of the outer plies.
^This.

I have a late-60’s 3-ply set. In my youth I (stupidly) stripped the shells inside and out to refinish them. The inside plies were a mix of maple and mahogany - the 12” was maple, and the 13, 16, and 22 mahogany. The sound was, for all intents and purposes, consistent.
 


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