Things you can expect from ordering a custom snare

Things you can expect from ordering a custom snare. Michael Outlaw handcrafts each drum at Outlaw Drums, rest assured, you are getting a superior percussion instrument. DSC_0010There are many steps to the process, which you are allowed to be a part of. During the build, at least 4-6 different photos will be taken, and emailed to you, the customer, during different steps in the process. FullSizeRender 3
You will be able to watch your drum as it unfolds from the structure to raw, rough cut boards, FullSizeRender-1 3bringing it all together as if you are helping in the shop.IMG_4990A sIMG_5013 2mall bottle of the original saw dust from your drum will be included. Hand signature and date is written on the inside of the drum. Before any drum ships it is built, tuned, and played DSC_8325by Michael Outlaw himself to make sure you are getting that “vintage Outlaw sound” he is known for, that “fat and punchy sound with a nice pitch bend in the sustain”, IMG_5605according to Modern Drummer’s own Michael Dawson. Rest assured, you have a lifetime warranty on hardware, drum shells, other than abuse or neglect.IMG_5534.JPG  Finally, you are followed up with a call or email to make sure you are happy with your new instrument.DSC_8339

“Drumheads isn’t going to turn a junkyard drum set into a holy grail” or will it?

When it comes to our drum kits sound we all want the best, but what sounds “the best” is subjective.  What sounds perfect to one drummer could sound mediocre to another.  Nevertheless, the unsung hero that is sometimes overlooked when it comes to drum sound is none other than the drumheads we use.

Of course, drumheads aside, a beginner level kit will not offer the mature and pure tone that a top of the line drum set provides.  A drumhead isn’t going to turn a junkyard drum set into a holy grail one, but drumheads can go a long way to changing the tone of your drums to get the sound you want, or at the very least come closer to it.  The following will define the terms used to describe drum sounds, breakdown the different types of drumheads in the market, and indicate what the popular choices out there are that you can start off with if you are unsure where to begin in your drumhead quest.

When shopping around for drumheads it’s important to understand the terminology that is used in the drum world to describe sounds.  Attack/Decay: This is the amount of sound that you initially get upon striking something.  The decay refers to the sound after the initial attack sound is over.  Warm/Bright:  Tones are generally referred to as varying degrees of warmth and brightness.  A bright tone represents something that is sharper in its pitch and has a shinier sound.  A warm tone is lower in pitch, more subtle, and deeper.  Batter Head/Resonant Head: the “batter” head side is the side that you hit and is facing you, and the “resonant” head is the side that is on the bottom of the drum and that you don’t hit.

There are two main types of drumheads, clear and coated.  Clear drumheads are usually brighter and have more attack while coated drumheads are warmer with less attack.  You can see the difference as one is literally clear and you can see through it, while coated drumheads have a white or black coating and the surface is not as smooth to the touch as a clear drumhead.  There are many variations of clear and coated drumheads so note that these are general statements and there are some exceptions to these sound associations.  There are three main drumhead companies that each offer different lines of clear and coated drums, these companies are Remo, Evans, and Aquarian.  What you use is up to you, all three have excellent drumheads and it’s a matter of trial and error until you find what works for you.

CLEAR DRUMHEADS – Completely clear drumheads are a safe approach and offer a medium amount of warmth and attack.  The all clear drumheads are made with one layer of film, labeled “single ply” or “1 ply” head.  Sometimes there is a clear head with an added layer of film in the form of a big black dot in the middle of the clear drumhead.  This extra layer adds more durability and more attack.  There are also many clear drumheads that have some sort of design or circular layer around like a ring around the outside of the drumhead.  These add more dampening and often have an extra layer of film also known as “2 ply” or “double ply”.  The extra layer of film makes the sound a little warmer with slightly less attack but maintains the all around brightness of the tone.  With 2 ply heads there is more of a thuddy sound, with single ply you get a boingier sound.  Keep in mind that the added dot or layer of film also adds to the durability of the drumhead and makes it last longer.

All companies have their version of clear drumheads.  Examples of a single ply all clear head include the Remo Ambassador and Evans G1.  The added dot can be found on a Remo Controlled Sound, and the circular pattern around the edge of the clear heads can be found on Remo pinstripe, some Remo powerstroke heads, as well as Evans EC2.

COATED DRUMHEADS – Similarly, there are coated drumheads that are single ply and double ply.  Snare drums almost always use coated drum heads but sometimes they can sound good with clear drumheads too, although the sound will be a lot brighter.  Coated drumheads don’t usually have the circular design around the rim of the drumhead, rather, you see them with the added dots, or they look the same but some are thicker than others.  Coated heads can have the typical white coated finish which is very standard, but there are also black finishes that are either suede or ebony.  The black suede finish is double ply and can be found on Remo black suede emperors.  These have a very warm sound and deep tone.  Ebony heads are often used as the resonant side of the bass drum.  They recently became developed for toms and have a very punchy sound with lots of attack.  The ebony heads are an exception to the general rule that coated drumheads tend to be warm.  Ebony heads have a lot of brightness and offer a very unique sound that can work well for recording.  Remo emperors or Evans G2’s are great examples of double ply coated drumheads.

There is so much more to know and learn about the world of drumheads but hopefully this gives you a solid foundation of what to look for and what to expect from drumheads you find and purchase.  You may notice that you can’t hear any difference in sounds between drumheads but that’s because sometimes our ears don’t pick up the difference.  To hear the difference between drumheads try recording the sound of each one on your phone and playing it back.  Below I will provide some combinations of drumheads you can use on your drum set.  These are setups that I have found work really well but even I haven’t tried all the heads in the market.  Again, what I find works may not be something you like, but these combinations seem to be used very often among professional drummers and they will be a good place to start to figure out what sound you want out of your drum kit.

(Clear demo) Drumheads for Kit 1:

Batter Bass Drum:  Superkick 2 Aquarian/Evans EMAD 2/Remo Powerstroke 3

Resonant Drum: Any company Ebony Drumhead

Snare Drum:  Evans heavyweight coated

Toms:  Evans EC2’s

(Coated Demo) Drumheads for Kit 2:Resonant Bass Drum:  Any company ebony head

Snare:  Evans Hyrbid/Remo powerstroke 77

Toms: Remo Coated emperor/Evans G2 coated

Mahru Madjid

Forest Fire Limited Edition Drum Sets!

Forest Fire Limited Edition Drum Sets!

Wonderful news everyone! Outlaw Drums is now offering limited segmented solid wood edition Forest Fire drum sets! Only 10 of these drum sets are going to be built a year so contact Outlaw DSC_6958Drums quickly if you are interested because once they are sold out, no more will ever be built! Each is signed and dated.

You may have seen the Outlaw Drums Forest Fire Snare drum at your local Guitar Center, but until now, Outlaw Drums has never made an entire drum set with the gorgeous Forest Fire finish! The Forest Fire drum is one of Outlaw Drums’ most popular models, and for good reason.  Not only does the drum have a classic wood look that Outlaw Drums is known for, but the Forest Fire finish has a sharp, charred, rustic look that makes it stand out among other drums in its class. The Forest Fire drums are built from select Yellow  pine wood that makes the drum sound as classic as it looks. With the Forest Fire kit, Drummers have many options with tuning and can tune it high for a nice “crack” or “pop”, or low for the deeper “thud” sound.  The  Beautiful wood gives each drum a unique voice that is loud and will cut through any venue and sounds beautiful when recorded or played live.  All in all, the Forest Fire kit is a work of art that is built for the drummer that is looking for a sound and look that is different and unique; and the Forest Fire kit delivers on all those grounds and more!

Visit Outlaw Drums web site at  to make further sales inquiries.  Hurry while you still have a chance to get your very own one of a kind Forest Fire Outlaw Drums limited edition Forest Fire Drum.

What you get

Just finding an affordable price for a drum kit is hard. When you find a drum kit do you want a drum kit you don’t really care about that costs $1500, that you have to replace every year, or do you want a kit to pass down the gift of music to your kids and their kids.

Let’s compare wood working items if you buy a hand built table from solid wood it would cost between2014-02-10 18.16.18 $1500-$3500 vs a $200-$600  particleboard table you can from the local chain furniture store. Yeah you can eat off of both a they both serve the purpose; however you obviously get what you pay for. A hand built dinner table is a piece of furniture that is a center piece when entertaining guests, not just an assembly line made run of the mill table anyone can buy at any branch furniture store.

So what is the difference when a drummer is picking out that kit to be the center of attention. You need to compare apples to apples. First of all there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a low cost drum kit that is built on an assembly line one after the other. Which is perfectly fine. Just know what the differences are before choosing an assembly line instrument in comparison to a hand made instrument.  Outlaw Drums are custom hand made instruments build from the love the music.  No two drums are alike in appearance or sound, they are close, but the fact human hands construct every Outlaw Drum no two are alike.  Outlaw Drums is not the only company who build drums one at a time by hand with precise care and precision, Dunnett, Craviatto Angel, Stainbrige, Carolina, many more are a few different high end custom drum companies.  Yes from a distance a table looks like a table. But take a look under a big chain store table. Big difference between a laminated veneer table and a solid handcrafted Morrison and  tendon tables. The same with drums it looks the same from a distance but flip it over get close and really look at the construction. Not to say companies don’t put a high price for name brand sake even on lower end products.  The real custom driven companies take pride in every build and the end product will show the passion the maker has for his instrument.DSC_8071



Here at Outlaw Drums we build many different types of drums, each having their own story and history as well as their own design and sound.

When it comes to answering the question “Which is the best?” we find that it’s always left up to the individual to find their own unique answer.

We always encourage drummers to check out all the different types of drums that are available because each type can deliver a totally different sound and feel that may appeal more to them, so before you commit to buying that cool looking snare drum that is advertised all over the place let’s take a quick look at some of the different types of drums (most of which we build on site) and what goes into the manufacturing process to make them so “different”…

1. Ply Shell drums

The first drum type that we’ll look at is ply shell. It’s by far the most popular type of drum shell and for a good reason; IT’S AFFORDABLE! When it comes to needing a drum at a moments notice, this is more than likely going to be your choice because most music stores only offer this type of drum. Sure the amount of plies in the shell can differ and the type of wood can vary, but the overall sound is toned down by the surface area of the wood glue that holds the ply boards together, so while more plies (thicker) equals a higher sound, it can tend to deaden the “natural resonance” that you may have hoped to achieve, and with less plies (glue amount) you will get a lower sound that you may or may not necessarily want… Of course the difference in sound is very small (in fact most people never notice) it can tend to be “all the difference” according to a lot of drummers and music enthusiasts alike. Ply shells are good, but there’s more range in drum tones than a ply shell can offer… Which brings us to the next option…

2. Stave shell drums

The second type of drum that we’ll look at is the stave shell. A stave shell is blocks or “bars” of wood that are cut into even strips and pieced together to form a general circle which is then cut and sanded down to a smooth surface. The amount of glue that holds the bars together is a lot less than ply shells because for every ply there is an amount of glue that sandwhiches in between it and then next ply, creating a “sheet of glue” that wraps around the entire circumference multiple times. The amount of glue in a stave shell only amounts to the number of bars in the drum itself; So if you buy a 10 piece stave shell (10 bars) then you’ll have 10 spaces in between the staves to hold the glue. Way less glue equals way less deadened sound! The tuning range is most notably what makes this type of drum more bang for your buck hands down. The downside to stave shell drums is that most main stream drum company’s don’t make this type of drum and may be a bit uncommon to find, so aside from Outlaw Drums, here’s a few links to other drum companies that also carry this type:

Stave shells have a different sound than ply shells in all the right ways, while the thicker the shell creates a higher “pop” sound, the fact that the less glue amount covered gives the sound more natural resonance which is noticible to every music enthusiast’s ear, especially the drummer!

Since stave shells have a more natural resonance, which enhances the sounds, it seems that stave shells are the way to go, so where do we go from here? There is yet another type to be noted…

3. Segment Shell drums 

This type is constructed a little bit differently from a stave shell. It adds an extra ring of bars that are offset to not only add an extra amount of beauty in the details, but give the shell much more durability and strength. While the look of each unique shell is always a little different and almost guaranteed to be a one of a kind work of art, segments do not flex with ease when you apply pressure to them and that has a lot to do with the natural resonance. While a stave shell is resonant and loud, they tend to stay towards the lower end of the sound spectrum. A segment shell also has a natural resonance and stays towards the higher end of the sound spectrum. The main difference is in the pitch. From a collection of testimonies gathered it’s determined that segment shells tend to have a wider tuning range, and that alone is a “Big Plus” in the drumming community.  The range of tuning that a segment drum offers will almost guarantee that you will find the tone you want with the best “Punch” added to it. This type has quickly became the most sought after type. Yes the price is a little more than staves and plies, but with our lifetime warranty on this type, we ensure that you only have to purchase it once and enjoy it for a lifetime!  This type of drum design is more uncommon and here’s a few links to other drum companies that also carry this type:

Alternatively we also offer stave and segment shells

in a book match design. Book matching is cutting the

individual bars down the middle in a certain way so

that when opened up (like a book) the grains all line

up and add extra beauty within the details.

We at Outlaw Drums offer these different types of drum designs. We can customize them with certain types of wood and dimensions, all of which create a different feel and pitch making them unique, and ultimately geared towards “that sound” that you hope to find in a drum set.

Make sure to check out our store to find the right drum for you, and also if you want to create you own custom drum be sure to contact us.

On a side note it’s worth mentioning a few other types of drum designs that are available, here are a few links to drum companies that offer these types.

Playing without Ego

Playing without Ego


“Okay, I’ll listen to the recording of your songs, but under the following condition: I’m going to be completely honest about what I hear and what I think about it. If you are looking for someone to stroke your ego or only tell you how good your music is, you might want to consider whether you really want me to listen to your songs or not,” the artist I played drums for was saying to a fan who had asked for feedback and advice about the prospects of pursuing a musical career. As a national recording artist who’d had chart-topping songs, my friend sometimes fielded requests like this. But it was his next kind words to the young, aspiring artist that have stuck in my memory for years, “No matter what I have to say about your music after I listen, I want to encourage you now— not everyone is destined to have a national audience, but don’t let that discourage you. Find YOUR audience and perform for them. It might be national—or local or regional, or even just an extension of your current circle of friends, but YOU have something to share. So I’d encourage you— start where you are to find your audience and give them the best your gifts and talents can offer.”


From the Spotlight

If I learned 1 essential thing playing behind this exceptionally talented and honest singer/songwriter, night after night: it wouldn’t matter whether we played to an audience of 20 people, 200 people, 2,000 people, or 20,000 people—without ego, his commitment to the songs, to giving a dynamic, inspired, and heartfelt performance would always be the same. Regardless of the size of the audience he found himself in front of, and regardless of their response, he always gave each song the performance that it deserved—bringing the best of his voice, his enthusiasm, and his passion. In the years since our tours together, my friend gained an even wider audience. I believe it is not just his talent but the spirit he brings to the delivery of songs that is his gift, and as the proverb says, “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.”

From the Shadows

More recently, I went to a concert where one of my favorite drummers happened to be playing, and a most exceptional thing happened: I forgot about him. I always watch drummers during concerts, but this evening I found myself enjoying the songs, the artist, the performance of the band, background vocalists, keyboards and guitarists, the beautiful arrangements, paying attention to everyone in turn, until at one point there came the perfect moment for the drums to fill. Well, not just to fill— but to take over. And—Oh My Goodness, did the drummer deliver! I knew he was good, but I didn’t have a clue he had chops like that!


In that moment, I realized that the real grace of this musician’s talent was not in the licks he could play, but in his commitment to give each song just what it called for. In retrospect, he’d been creating space for the other players to shine all night, giving the songs an uncluttered rhythmic drive, himself leading the dynamic momentum, and establishing a groove for the whole crowd with precise reliability. The audience had swayed to his steady beats and sang along with the words and all the familiar riffs they knew from recordings. In essence, he gave the songs–and his audience, exactly what they needed. When a song begged to whisper, he whispered with it. When a song needed to explode, he detonated the beat right on time. He knew how to be transparent. And when it was his time to shine, he was ready for that, too. This is playing without ego. Like my gifted friend from the spotlight, this too is simply giving each song the performance it deserves.

From Your Stage

Now of course, some songs are custom-made to feature their players’ abilities. Indeed, some bands are built around technical showmanship—and I don’t mean to suggest that there’s anything wrong with a sheer display of talent. It’s entertaining! If that’s what your gift is and what your audience expects from you, bring it! But most often, we drummers find ourselves in the supportive role of a sideman, servants to the song itself, and a collaborative team-player. The view from the spotlight is the same as it is from the back of the stage—skill and tastefulness, and dedication to the performance show themselves from both locations. Whether it means inconspicuously laying down the most simple beat, or when called for, stepping to the forefront and cooking up a ‘special sauce’ that will define a song’s rhythmic hook, you’ll find your own audience by doing your best to give each song just what it needs—the performance the song deserves.

by Ric Simenson



Southern yellow pine with all its desirable features is not famous as a “showy” wood.  However, occasionally a board does show up with a wavy characteristic that can be called showy.  This wavy or erratic grain is commonly referred to as “curly”. This curly effect is more common in maple lumber, but from time to time this pattern will make its way to the Southern yellow pine.  On the whole Southern curly pine is not a standard item in an average lumber yard.  Very seldom seen and used even less in the construction of many items.  Very little is known about the relative occurrence of curly pine.  The occurrence is sporadic and uncommon.  Whether the wood is producDSC_6200ed by the abnormal growth of a tree, if it’s unnatural or if its irregular growth is caused by injury, insects, birds, mechanical damage or an inherited characteristic, is unknown.  However, this abnormal growth is not usually found in small trees or small logs, only in old-growth mature timber.  With the small production of this type of wood, what can be done?  Build a doorway, a common decorative panel or something else to just look at, no!  In steps Michael Outlaw and his dream for something different and special, he thrives on finding this abnormal lumber and transforming it into a beautiful creation.  Michael has a knack for finding this lumber finding these boards in odd places.  Using these boards to create stunningly beautiful pieces of art, so why not have something truly unique and beautiful to behold and have the ability to produce beautiful sounds.

Outlaw Drums, American Wood Reborn, creating beauty from the unusual.

Derrick Wilkerson.

What is Chinaberry?.. See what’s wrong with this bird!

What is Chinaberry?…

Although the scientific name of this tree is Melia Azedarach, it is commonly known by a few names such as White cedar, Bead-tree, Cape lilac, Persian lilac, and Chinaberry. There are also many other names used for this type of tree and it is within the Mahogany family.DSC_6267

This type of tree is mostly referred to as a nuisance or weed tree and has been categorized as invasive. While it’s roots are native to Asia, it has been introduced to a wide population of North America and the islands that surround it. This wood is not commonly used in wood-working, and therefor is not commercially available as lumber.

How this wood sounds in relation to common wood drums…

Although Chinaberry is within the Mahogany family, but the design of the wood somewhat combines a mixture of Oak and Cherry in a sense that the grain patterns are more of an Oak style, while the color of the wood tends to resemble Cherry. The porous nature of the Chinaberry wood gives the overall sound more of a low-end “punch” similar to that of Red Oak.DSC_6269

The standard wood used in the drum building industry is Maple and Birch, also a common alternative is Mahogany and Beech. These are great for mass production because these types of wood are common to find and easy to work with. In the drum building industry, Chinaberry on the other hand is more rare to find…

While researching different drum manufacturers I found virtually nothing on a drum created from Chinaberry wood. It seems as though a drum of this type has either never been produced, or was never thought to be mentioned on the internet.

The tree that this snare drum was derived from was actually growing right outside of the Outlaw Drums assembly room. These trees tend to grow fast and even after it was cut down the stump is still growing more trees from it. When it was decided that the tree had to go, an idea transpired that begged the question “What would that tree sound like as a snare drum?” Check the video below to hear this drum being played, as well as a bit of the process turning it from a tree to a snare drum.

The drum in the pictures below is the first Chinaberry Snare to be created by Outlaw Drums (and to our knowledge anyone else). The shell thickness is 1/2″ and the diameter is 7×14. While this type of wood is rare in the manufacturing of drums (and any other wood related products for that matter) it has it’s own unique characteristics that make it a great addition to the Outlaw Drums family, finding one of these may be difficult but with this wood having great sound properties, odd’s are it’s here to stay.

Check out our store to see if this type of drum is available.

Once again I want to thank You the reader for taking the time to check out this blog post, if you have any questions or comments, or may have even found any inconsistencies in this blog post be sure to let us know. All feedback is encouraged and we will try to respond as quickly as possible…

Also on a side note,I figured it’s worth a mention that the fruit of the Chinaberry tree can be toxic to humans if eaten in a certain quantity, so please don’t eat from that tree.Birds tend to eat often from the tree and can gorge to the point of a “drunken state” which is kind of funny…