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Signature snaredrum

The drum, made by laminating birchwood, was designed to bring out the warm sound of wood while maintaining the sharpness of a snaredrum. The project started from my wish to design and build a drum for my own drumkit. With the snare being vital to a drummer’s sound, I decided to develop my own “signature snare”.

Usually, snare drums are made with steel shells and rims, providing a crisp and clear sound. Wood, being much softer than steel, delivers a warmer sound. This sound can be tuned by selecting the type of wood, build method and shell design. I’ve chosen to use birch veneers which are easy to bend and produce a clear sound.

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Volume and tone depth related to shell thickness

To bend the veneers, I made a mould from 18 mm. MDF panels, which can be opened to allow release of the finished shell. The veneers are cut to size and placed one at a time in the mould, glueing them together with PVA adhesive. When positioned, a skippyball is inflated in the shell to evenly apply pressure on the glued surface.

After release, the shell edges are flattened using a band sander and given the right angle. A steep angle generates a lot of sustain, while a shallow angle will dampen out the vibrating drumheads quicker. Despite this reasoning, I had a rounded milling head available, so the edges were rounded with a radius of 5 mm. The bottom edge needed additional sanding around the snare mat. After some experimenting, a 3 mm. deep recess in the rim was found to provide a good connection of snare to the bottom drumhead.

Photosession with the finished drum

Finally, the mounting blocks were positioned and a set of wooden rims made from 18 mm. Multiplex. Again, the wood thickness needs to compensate for the stiffness difference compared to a steel rim.

Everything assembled and tested, the snare brings a nice sound. The sustain is similar to my steel snare drum and just about equal in volume. The tone is warmer, yet clear and appropriate for a snare drum.