Why Bother Finishing Drums at All?

Neal Pert

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Hear me out.

I've stripped down a Tama Imperialstar bop kit that I got complete for $149. The shells look nicer than I thought they would, and now that I've sanded them down and prepped them for finishing I'm starting to wonder about why I'd put a finish on these at all. Why not just leave the bare shells? I always have control of my gear and never play in raucous places. So, why finish them at all? I could just do some sort of satin or even just tung oil, but why? I could always paint, stain or wrap them later if they get scratched up, and the goal is to not spend much money on this kit.
 

burgundy

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i'm guessing the same as your car or house, protection form the elements, plus easer to keep clean, then there is looks, raw wood will get grubby looking in time.
 

multijd

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My father recently purchased a set from a local deceased drummers estate. The drums were “built” by a local drum builder from Keller shells. They were never finished, just the bare wood. He also had taken the wrap off some Ludwig rockets to add to the kit. He gigged a lot with them and they’ve held up well. My Dad is going to lacquer them though.
 

RIDDIM

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Wood shells will absorb humidity over time, which may cause the shape, and thus the sound, to alter. That's why most folks seal their wood drums in some manner.

Grand pianos have similar concerns; some even have humidity monitoring set ups, with alarms for when the piano needs more water.
 
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JazzDrumGuy

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Interesting but I think you should put something on them to protect the wood. My buddy has a set of Rockstars (Taiwan) and has a yellowed white wrap (12/13/16/22) and he wants to finish the wood, but we started to tear off the wrap and 1) it's got a foam tape edge, and 2) it's got some sort of glue but it's a light coat. However, it's enough to start tearing the outer layer which is vertical luan and pretty bad condition. The inside is factory black as are the edges, and it extends about an 1" on the outer side under the wrap.

I wonder if your outer wood is also luan? If so, it's splintery and looks awful. I hope it can be sanded and stained but I think will look pretty bad.........I hope to get pics up later tonite after I take off the wrap.

I'd like to see what you're dealing with.....
 

jccabinets

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Wood shells will absorb humidity over time, which may cause the shape, and thus the sound, to alter. That's why most folks seal their wood drums in some manner.

Grand pianos have similar concerns; some even have humidity monitoring set ups, with alarms for when the piano needs more water.
Perfect response. Besides they will look like crap.
 

jptrickster

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I'm a fan of raw materials including lumber. Everything develops a natural patina over time and does its own thing ( I like rusty metal and green cymbals)
If your not too concerned about protecting the wood from the elements, mainly water, ice and snow, I'd have no problem leaving them raw.
Keeping in perspective its a rehabed $149 Tama kit lol
 

Neal Pert

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Well, I ended up making the decision to hit them with a couple coats of paint. Although some of the drums looked genuinely nice, they didn't all match by color and some had almost no grain at all. So, given the black accutune hoops I decided to just follow the Rolling Stones' advice and paint them black. They are not gorgeous and they're not perfect and I am fine with all of that.
 

Roch

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Why is it guitars look cool beat up, intentionally done so and drums have to be wiped with diaper?
I've always wondered this, too.. old, worn guitars are desirable by the guitar culture, but any blemish or ding on a drum will reduce it's value and require rectification..
 

REF

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I tend to think raw shells (with some stain on them) under the shiny chrome hardware looks cool, or brass hardware. Finishing, aside from protection, brings out details in the grains. Most show details you never see in unfinished wood. That's the thing for 99% of players.

Look at Fred Young's eclectic vintage set, though. For him, and the vibe of The Headhunters, it works really well. Whatever finish was on the drums originally he leaves totally alone. Years of dust and settlement of whatever kind, he just leaves them be. Worn and weary. They look pretty cool, though.

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These have a brushed satin finish but, walnut, being a darker wood already, would look nice unfinished.

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If had a full set like this, I could happily leave it unfinished.

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My favorite snare is a block Ipe (Ironwood). Very hard wood and when I got the shell decided to just sand it 400 grit smooth, buff it, and leave it alone.

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dale w miller

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I've always wondered this, too.. old, worn guitars are desirable by the guitar culture, but any blemish or ding on a drum will reduce it's value and require rectification..
My first GMS kit is a bit worn, but I think it gives it character.
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