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.


DRUM DAMPENERS – Which One Is Best For You?

Over time drummers are getting more and more options for getting rid of the overtones on drums and dampening them.  When I first started drumming moon gels were the main dampener of choice, and to a large extent they still are.  However, with all the new dampening systems coming into the market, it’s become worth exploring which one works the best for your purposes.  In this article I will discuss a handful of dampening options and what their particular strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to dampening the sound of your drums.


Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 8.21.26 PMAs seen in the picture above, these are very different than the stick on circular dampeners that are becoming popular with drummers.  These are plastic, laminated rings made to fit the inside diameter of your drums so you just throw it on their and let it do its thing.  Many different companies make these but the REMO version pictured seem to be the most popular.

You don’t have to stick anything and it comes off as easily as it’s thrown on.  It can also look cool on your drums, especially the white rings.  They are also very cheap and come in packs so you can use them on all your drums.   These are great for beginners who just want to get rid of the overtones and not necessarily get too technical about it with gels and other dampeners.  The issue with these are that they can look tacky at a gig and don’t do the best job getting rid of overtones.  Plus, unlike the gels you don’t have too many options with how much ring to take out and leave.


Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 8.24.40 PMTo be honest I haven’t personally used these myself, but I’ve listened to a lot of drummers that use these as dampeners and I love the way their drums sound.  They come in packs of four for $10.95.  From appearance, they look like an upgraded version of the traditional moon gels, at a slightly higher cost.  Since they are clear they won’t leave colored splotches on your drumheads when you remove them.  I can’t say too much more on these because I haven’t used them but if you guys have feel free to email me and let me know how you like them! (


Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 8.26.17 PMAll Right! These babies are one of the most commonly used methods of dampeners.  Although they feel and look like sticky boogers, they were a major innovation in dampening when they first came out many years ago and really allowed drummers to customize the amount of dampening they want.  Just like the drum dots and other gels, you can place these in different places on the drumhead (batter side), and experiment with different levels of dampening.  You get 6 pads for $7.39, so definitely more bang for your buck.  BUT! Be warned.  These can get really gross as they get older.  They are really sticky and hair, dust, and wood chips get stuck to them over time making them gross and un-reusable.  They will also leave behind a little color on your drumhead, it bothers me but it might not be an issue for you.  If you’re new to the dampening these are a good starting point.


Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 8.28.06 PMWith a creative name that fits its purpose, next up is Vater’s Buzz Kills. A pack of 4 will run you $13.46.  I actually have tried these and anticipate them to be similar to the drum dots, although I could be wrong.  These are a little larger than I expected, but only slightly.  I really wasn’t expecting to like these but I was pleasantly surprised!  I like my drums really damp and one of these buzz kills goes a long way.  I usually use Drumtacs (see below), and I found myself needing to use less buzz kills than I do drumtacs because they dampen more.  I haven’t had them for a long time so I don’t know if they will stick onto the dust, wood chips and other debris, but they seem a lot cleaner than moon gels and have a denser feel than other dampeners. You can also try to cut them in half for less dampness but I think that would get messy and these are best used as they are.  I highly recommend you try these if you like a really dry sound!


Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 8.30.30 PMThese are slowly becoming the new industry standard in drum dampeners.  They are foam based so they don’t stick onto dirt and debris like the gel based dampeners, and they are easy to cut, customize and re-use.  These also stand out because they are more versatile than other dampeners.  For example, you can put them on the resonant side of your drum, on top or  bottom of your cymbals, and virtually anywhere else you want to try!  You can cut them with a pair of scissors with no mess, and if you want to reuse them all you have to do it use alcohol on the adhesive side of the drumtac and it will re-ignite the stickiness.  They are more expensive though – a pack of 4 is $19.99, over double the price of moongels.  They are worth it in some ways because they do last a while if you take care of them.  However, I noticed that I need to use a lot of these to get the level of dampening I want on my drums.  They definitely look cleaner and nicer than gel dampeners; it’s all a matter of preference.  Regardless, if you are looking for a serious dampening tool these are a must try!