Best Snare Wood by Genre

One question that we get asked a lot is what snare drum is best for a particular genre of music.  This is sometimes difficult to answer for several reasons.  First, music and sound is a matter of personal taste so pinpointing one drum for an entire genre is impossible.  Second, we make unique one of a kind drums out of woods that no one else in the industry is using so the sounds made from these woods are unique and not always found in a particular genre. Many things go into making the sound you get from your drum such as drum heads among other things.  We are concentrating on the wood that the snare is built out of because wood drums it what we do. That being said we are still going to try to answer!

Country music: Country music is interesting because drums were not an original part of country music culture.  In fact bands that incorporated drums were considered “impure”. Drums were introduced to country around the 1960s. Country drummers like a full bodied “fat” sound for ballads in older country songs.  The newer style of country music plays a lot like rock.  The 14×7 maple or birch/maple is a good pick for country. Heart pine is also a good pick. It carries close to the same characteristics and tones because of the tight growth rings in the lumber.  This vintage lumber was some of the virgin trees grown in Georgia in the days of our founding fathers.

Rock music: Rock music drumming is a broad area that incorporates lots of different styles like punk, classic, and heavy metal. Drums have been the backbone of rock music since the beginning of the genre providing a solid beat and rhythm to the music.  These days with the advancement of drum sets they provide tonal, melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic shading.  Black walnut provides a bright, high pitched that is great for this genre with the loud speakers and amp heads.  Cherry works well for this genre as well.  The harder the wood on the janka scale the better sound you will achieve for rock in our opinion.

Jazz music: Jazz drumming is a mixture of different cultures and their influences over time to Jazz music most notably the African influence.  This influence was mostly about improvisation.  Oak works nicely for jazz sounds because of the sensitivity of the snare sound you get with oak.  You want a wood that will reflect the ghost notes in this genre.  Oak is porous and works well for these sounds.

These are a few genres and the drums that we feel do well in those genres.  This is by no means an all-inclusive list and as every musician knows bearing edges, shell thickness, drum head type, and size plays a role.  The musicians and listeners personal preference also plays a big role.  Leave a comment, Tell us your favorite drum for your genre and why.

Snare Drum types of wood

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”.

 Janka Hardness

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.

Combining Heart Pine and Maple for a Custom drum kit.

We have been taking some time to talk about the reality of what we go through on building a custom drum kit. We just built a fun project!  We took some time to let you go deep into the bones on how we work.  Basically, people call me and tell us what kind of drums they want. What style of music and what finish types they like. We love doing drum kits that no one has seen before, completely one of a kind, one that has history, and one that can be passed down to your kids. Here Is our first video of how it works. Rase loved maple so we took it into account, combining Heart Pine and maple. The warmth of the heart pine helps tone down the brightness of maple.

Hitting a wall with your drumming. Staying motivated.

If you’re like me, you love to play drums but sometimes you find yourself getting bored and hitting a wall with your drumming. Maybe you’ve played the same groove over and don’t know what else to play. Or you’re bored with the way your kit looks and sounds. Whatever the reason, keeping our relationship fresh and exciting with the drums is an important factor in improving our skills as a drummer.

  1. Changing your setup

Motivation is a huge aspect of playing drums – you need to be motivated to learn and practice and play. Getting new gear is always an easy way to motivate yourself, although, it can be costly. You can go as far as buying a whole new drum set to simply changing the placement of one of your cymbals to try to change things up! For me, changing my drumheads is a great way for me to motivate myself to play. I tend to grow tired of the same drum sound and like to experiment with new drum sounds. I love doing this with cymbals too but that costs a lot more money, so I don’t do that as often.

  1.  Changing Sticks

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 11.05.00 PMAnother affordable way of motivating yourself is trying out new pairs of drumsticks. It’s amazing what switching up drumsticks can do for your playing! Changing up drumsticks can make you realize how much you liked a certain pair you used to play with, or, on the other hand make you realize that you are much more comfortable playing with a different stick that’s thinner/thicker, has a different type of bead etc.

  1.  Playing new genres

The easiest way to freshen things up behind the drum set is to branch outside of what you usually like to play. For example, if you only play rock music, try playing some jazz! The technique you use in each genre of music is VERY different and will force you to learn new beats, patterns, licks, sticking, and general playing style. Metal is also a genre that will introduce you to the world of double pedal and really challenge you with blast beats, time signatures and odd rhythms that you made have ever heard before. Sometimes listening to the music alone will not give you the insight you need to learn how to play these new genres, in which case you should hop on over to YouTube and watch tutorials or other drummers playing certain songs and seeing how they play it. Another option is to buy a music book for that genre that has exercises and sticking that will teach you how to play these new patterns.

Hopefully these methods give you some ideas to work with to keep it fresh behind the drum set and encourage you to practice more and have lots of fun doing it! Changing things can be intimidating, but can really go a long way to making you a better, more well rounded player.

Mahru Madjidi



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.

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…