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What is the secret sauce in a 20” Rogers bass drum?

gryphon

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"200 year old old growth wood"

I call B.S. on that. I know people who log hardwood out of the Allegheny mountains of Southern New York and Northern Pennsylvania. Here are a couple of things you might want to consider:

1. Nearly all of the hardwood forest of PA, NY, OH, WV and IN was clearcut in the 1800's to create farmland. Want proof, look at old photos from the 1890's, nothing but stumps as far as the eye can see. Soil erosion was so bad that during the Depression FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps to replant these forests.

2. Hardwood isn't "farm raised". Wood lots are allowed to grow naturally. Yeah, they might occasionally be "managed" to control disease and insects, but for the most part are just "forest". Every 15-20 years the owners have the larger trees harvested to avoid the increased property taxes that come from the value of the standing timber. Managed wood lots almost never clear cut anymore, usually only about 10% or less of the trees are cut. As I recall, most are about 16" in diameter and around 65 years old. This is the optimum size for handling. Softwood is a whole different story, but softwood is not used in drum shells.

3. While "old growth" will often have slower growth and denser growth rings, "second growth" wood usually has straighter grain as it comes up surrounded by older trees and needs to get up to the canopy of the forest quickly to get into the full sun.

4. The biggest factor in wood quality is how it is dried. Kiln drying is fast, but can put a lot of internal stress in a piece of wood. Look at what the garbage lumber you buy at Home Depot does after you bring it home. That is kiln drying at it's worst.

The higher quality wood is air dried over a period of several years. If done carefully, it will be very stable and have little or no internal stress. This is the stuff that needs to go into a musical instrument.

As far as sound quality, physics says that wood density and construction techniques has more bearing on timbre than the age of the wood used. Growth rate is more important than how old the tree is when it comes to density. A tree grown on the shady side of a mountain in a dry area is going to be more dense than one grown in a well watered, sunny location. It's true that strength comes from adversity.

Can anyone today say what requirements the purchasing agents at Rogers were specifying for the veneer they were gluing up in their shells? What type of glue did they buy? Did they even care beyond how much it cost? I'm guessing that anyone doing that job is only going to be interested in getting the lowest price for a usable raw material that doesn't get complaints from the production people.

Yeah, it's nice and romantic to think that the marvelous sound of a drum is due to the spirits of the indigenous people who hunted deer under these trees hundreds of years before Columbus, but the harsh reality of manufacturing a profitable product says that is not the case.
 

TPC

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To continue on the wood tangent ...

I have a Wm Knabe piano from 1905 +/-. The guy who tunes it, a real expert on old pianos, told me, "Never sell this piano!" The reason, he said, was that the sound boards in this this particular model were made from a single solid piece of birdseye maple. The solid sound boards of these pianos, he said, were aged up to 50 years before being placed in a piano. He was convinced that the sound board was from maple harvested in the 1850's. Newer pianos have either ply sound boards, or boards that were aged for much shorter periods of time. I can't verify any of this, nor do I know how/if this affects the tone, but the guy is extremely knowledgeable about this stuff and I have no reason to doubt him. The piano does sound fantastic, and I won't be selling it.

Ok - back to Rogers bass drums. Great thread!
 

Drdrumdude3009

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"200 year old old growth wood"

I call B.S. on that. I know people who log hardwood out of the Allegheny mountains of Southern New York and Northern Pennsylvania. Here are a couple of things you might want to consider:

1. Nearly all of the hardwood forest of PA, NY, OH, WV and IN was clearcut in the 1800's to create farmland. Want proof, look at old photos from the 1890's, nothing but stumps as far as the eye can see. Soil erosion was so bad that during the Depression FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps to replant these forests.

2. Hardwood isn't "farm raised". Wood lots are allowed to grow naturally. Yeah, they might occasionally be "managed" to control disease and insects, but for the most part are just "forest". Every 15-20 years the owners have the larger trees harvested to avoid the increased property taxes that come from the value of the standing timber. Managed wood lots almost never clear cut anymore, usually only about 10% or less of the trees are cut. As I recall, most are about 16" in diameter and around 65 years old. This is the optimum size for handling. Softwood is a whole different story, but softwood is not used in drum shells.

3. While "old growth" will often have slower growth and denser growth rings, "second growth" wood usually has straighter grain as it comes up surrounded by older trees and needs to get up to the canopy of the forest quickly to get into the full sun.

4. The biggest factor in wood quality is how it is dried. Kiln drying is fast, but can put a lot of internal stress in a piece of wood. Look at what the garbage lumber you buy at Home Depot does after you bring it home. That is kiln drying at it's worst.

The higher quality wood is air dried over a period of several years. If done carefully, it will be very stable and have little or no internal stress. This is the stuff that needs to go into a musical instrument.

As far as sound quality, physics says that wood density and construction techniques has more bearing on timbre than the age of the wood used. Growth rate is more important than how old the tree is when it comes to density. A tree grown on the shady side of a mountain in a dry area is going to be more dense than one grown in a well watered, sunny location. It's true that strength comes from adversity.

Can anyone today say what requirements the purchasing agents at Rogers were specifying for the veneer they were gluing up in their shells? What type of glue did they buy? Did they even care beyond how much it cost? I'm guessing that anyone doing that job is only going to be interested in getting the lowest price for a usable raw material that doesn't get complaints from the production people.

Yeah, it's nice and romantic to think that the marvelous sound of a drum is due to the spirits of the indigenous people who hunted deer under these trees hundreds of years before Columbus, but the harsh reality of manufacturing a profitable product says that is not the case.

I don’t argue with this. Furthermore, I think the argument about “old growth” is more pertinent on solid wood, such as solid body guitars and the like. Drums are (mostly) plywood.
 

DanRH

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Nothing can beat the sound of a Rogers 20" bass drum,
I totally agree. But like someone said, the 22’s not too shabby as well.

96C8854F-C76A-49B4-890F-6CE497E179E4.jpeg
 

m.clover

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no offense intended but how do you know that a Rogers bass drum built in 1971 was made from wood that was 200 years old?
(I like old drums but never owned any Rogers).
The resonant quality of dry wood you describe makes sense to me.
Would not a thin fibreglass shell resonate the same way?

I do own a 20” Ludwig Club date that sounds great, guess it’s circa 1969 from the badge, never compared it to a Rogers drum so I’m just curious.

The discussion about shell composition seems to be endless and kinda hard to prove scientifically that one wood is sonically “better” than another. I guess “the sound” is in the ear of the listener.
I believe heads & bearing edges and tuning have as much to do with sound as the shell.
Same here. I have '65 Club Date set. An old friend had a larger set of Ludwigs, (don't remember the exact set or dimensions) say from around 69-70. He always said "why can't I get my drums to sound like yours?"
I really had no answer other than new heads, tuning etc.
 

drummertom

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I have had much better luck with no port on the reso on 20in Rogers kicks. Currently have two, and neither is ported. I had another 20in that I used in a basement rehearsal room and with the port the kick just had no projection. Still sounded good if mic'd, but unmic'd it just didn't have it.
 

RyanLovesDrums

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I have had much better luck with no port on the reso on 20in Rogers kicks. Currently have two, and neither is ported. I had another 20in that I used in a basement rehearsal room and with the port the kick just had no projection. Still sounded good if mic'd, but unmic'd it just didn't have it.
I don’t know anything about Rogers drums but right now I have no reso on my 22x14 Gretsch kick. Just a mesh head and it’s doing the whole BOOOOM! thing. It kinda shakes the room. So I’m not so sure about this letting air escape from the drum is a big factor in projection.
 

Shawn Martin

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Whether the wood used in Rogers shells was 150-200 years old at the time they were made may not be as important now, since a drum made in the mid-60s is likely going to (now) be made of at least 120 year old wood. I’m sure these old hardwoods get to a point where they’ve “cured” completely and, whether they’re 120 or 820 years old, it won’t make a difference sonically.
 

multijd

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All the talk of Rogers 20’s must have been on my mind. I stumbled on this at Rochester drum trade. Great place. Willing to deal and very fair!!
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