Owl City at USF Meadows, Tampa FL.

Soundcheck with Owl City at USF Meadows, Tampa FL.

I used this incredible “vintage” Yamaha Recording Custom kit (it was an ’83, and Yamaha only began making this line in ’77) for backline on a fly date the other day. Gosh dang it. Those drums sounded killer and reminded me how much I love birch shells.

Birch has so much smack and thickness to the tone. Sure, maybe the pitch isn’t as “clear” or “true”… but I feel like the words “thick” and “smack” more accurately describe what I want drums to do anyway. I have an early 90’s Premier Genista (birch shells) that I use for all my “rock” sessions and it’s got the same vibe. A generalization that I will confidently stand by: birch shells are super rad, especially in the studio.

Also pictured above is my Canopus Ash snare. The “vintage” quality that the drum is designed to have is totally accurate. A little drier with lower overtones… so nice.

Then we met up with our normal tour bus and gear, which for my rig consists of acrylic shells on the kick and toms and brass snares.

So… no maple shells anywhere for me this past weekend, and I’m really not using many maple drums at all anymore (aside from a 60’s Ludwig 3-pc kick or my blue sparkle RD’s… and an Anton Fig snare that I love). This is noteworthy because magazines and the wider drum culture repeatedly hail maple shells as “the best.” I guess I just don’t agree. And I don’t think many other drummers would choose maple either if they were to do a blindfold test.

Does your mind immediately go to maple whenever you think of the best-sounding drum shell option? If so, is it because you’ve experienced this personally or because you’ve always just assumed it based on the hype?

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