After 3 months, she’s done.
About 5 years ago I found a 20×20 kick drum for sale on Craigslist. It had an ugly salmon color sparkle wrap that immediately removed. I knew it was a Keller maple shell underneath but what I didn’t know was that a previous owner had spray painted the shell using the most careless technique imaginable.
I spent several hours trying to remove the finish through the use of chemicals and old fashion sanding but ultimately the outer veneer was unsalvageable. I left the shell sanded but unfinished, reassembled the hardware, heads and hoops and tuned it up for the time being. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to refinish the drum at that point so I put the project on hold for what ended up being a couple of years. The drum stayed in my drum room and occasionally I brought it to a gig that required a small setup.
During this time, I learned that the 20″ depth was something I didn’t like sonically and logistically. I’ve grown to appreciate shallower depth kick drums for their sound and feel. So I made the decision to cut the 20×20″ drum down to 15″. The reason for the 15″ depth was because I needed to cut off 5″ due to the existing lug holes. I could have gone down to a 14″ depth but because I decided having that extra 1″ depth would allow me some wiggle room when re-cutting the bearing edges.
After chopping off 5″ of shell depth, I had enough left over for 1.5″ reinforcement rings. The shell is pretty thin and flimsy and the re-rings add strength and dampen the sound enough for my taste. I like an open resonant sound in general but for this drum I wanted more punch. The subtle dampening effect re-rings have would help shape this sound for me.
With the re-rings glued and fully dry, I cut 45 degree bearing edges with the edge itself offset towards the outer side of the shell. From there I rounded off the edge by hand with a sanding block. I wanted a rounded off edge to remove some of the sustain a sharper edge would provide.
My plan for the shell’s finish was to simply wrap it in white marine pearl similar to a custom snare I built a year ago. My preference is having a nice wood grain so I thought I’d try applying a real wood veneer instead. A cherry veneer was ordered from veneersupplies.com and applied using a solvent-based contact cement. I also had enough veneer left over to do both hoops.
With the veneer in place I finished it with a custom stain color and hand-rubbed oil varnish. Once cured, I’ll apply a couple of coats of wax.
The hardware consists of Pearl lugs and spurs and I use a modified riser that I notched to make room for the pedal. Without notching the riser the pedal sits over an inch further away from the hoop which forces the beater to travel beyond normal to reach the batter head. This extra distance the beater travels changes the entire feel of the pedal and since I gig often enough with other kick drums, I didn’t want to have to constantly adjust to a new pedal feel. Wirth the riser notched, I also had to notch the hoop itself. With the modification, the pedal can be installed at a normal distance to the drum head.
With the drum fully assembled and heads tuned up, the drum sounds really great. It has a nice low end thud with plenty of punch and a distinct tone. As with all my kicks, the only muffling is what’s built into the Remo Powerstroke 3 beater and the Fiberskyn resonant heads.