What kind of wood do I need for my drum? I get asked this question more than any other. After playing 1000s of different wood drums; it’s safe to say I have an ear for sound. Some drummers might like a wet sound (which is a long decay); another might like a dry sound (which is no decay or lingering sound). To each his own. I like a drum to sing and to have body.
Keep in mind that the thicker the shell, the higher it will sound. The thinner the shell, the lower. Stave drums are thicker so they will have a higher sound. Segmented will have a lower sound. This is imperative to know when looking for a drum. It could save you lots of time when you are trying to find “that sound”.
This number will determine how well the woods hold up to dents and wear and tear as well as overall density and hardness. It’s basically the amount of pounds that are forced down in one spot on a bearing then measuring how much force is needed to embed the bearing halfway.
Maple wood– Uniform amount of highs and mids, somewhat warm lows. Very bright and punchy. Great for all-round drumming! The industry standard for drums. Janka scale: 1450 pounds of force
Oak: Mid highs, all-purpose with a very quick decay and less overtones. Great work house drum very durable and strong. It’s great for rock, country, pop and R&B music. Janka scale: 1290 pounds of force
Cherry: Highs, forceful midrange, average low end. Responsive and bright. Mild decay. Very good for ghost notes and jazz playing. Janka scale: 950 pounds of force
Poplar: Highs and mids, increased low-end. Great tonal wood with medium to low decay; very dynamic. This wood is a soft hardwood and the sound goes away fast. This is great for punk rock music, less muffling needed. Janka scale: 540 pounds of force
Black Walnut: Identical amount of highs, mids, and lows. This is an all-round wood that is very consistent and fat sounding with great punch. Very dynamic with a longer decay great for jazz, rock, country, and gospel music. Janka scale: 1010 pounds of force
Mahogany: Soft highs, level midrange, warm/rich low end. Lively and warm. Great for studio recording and low light playing. Janka scale: 1070 pounds of force
Heart pine: Matching amounts of highs, mids, and lows. Very consistent and fat sounding with great punch due to the high resin content. Very little sap wood. Mid-range decay. Great for all kinds of music. Rock, country, R&B, gospel, and pop. Janka scale: 870 pounds of force
Douglas Fir: Easy highs and mids, increased low-end. Great tonal wood. This wood can tune deeper than most. It’s a softer wood that moistens the over tones. Great for all kinds of music. Mid-range decay. Janka scale: 620 pounds of force
Chinaberry: Soft highs, level midrange, warm/rich low end. Lively and warm. Great for studio recording and low light playing. Great for all kinds of music. Janka scale: 990 pounds of force
Sapele : Soft highs, level midrange, warm/rich low end. Lively and warm. Great for studio recording and low light playing. Great for all kinds of music. Janka scale: 1410 pounds of force.
PurpleHeart: Uniform amount of highs and mids, somewhat warm lows. Very bright and punchy. This hard wood is very bright and punchy. Janka scale: 2520 pounds of force.