Drum Building Supplies Parts and Terms Explained

If you know absolutely nothing about drums or drum making then you may refer to these definitions.

Drum shell – This is the body of the drum. Drum shell material can be wood, metal, acrylic and even stone. The material you select for your drums will greatly affect the sound of your drums.

Keller Maple Drum Shell

Wood Shells – The most common shell for drums is made of wood. Drum shells can be made out of any wood that is hard enough to hold its round shape. Maple and birch seem to be most popular in the “custom” drum market.

Metal Shells – Metal shells are mostly used for snare drums, but some companies such as Tama and Trick have started making full drum sets out of metal.

Joyful Noise Drum Company

Acrylic Shells – Acrylic shells open up a whole new world of visual possibilities. They can be transparent (clear), translucent (frosted), or multiple colors. To spice up an acrylic drum even more you can put LED lights inside of it! (And even trigger the lights to come on when you hit the drum!)

Acrylic Snare Drum from SJC Drums

Drum head – This is what you strike when playing a drum. There are many types of drumheads for different sounds, feels and situations.  Most drumhead companies offer a 1 ply or 2 ply head either coated or clear, but there is also a head for virtually any playing situation. Pick your drumheads according to how hard you play, what sound you want to achieve, and what style of music you’ll be playing. Picking the right drumhead is up to you, but to see what I recommend, and how to tune the drums please check out this blog post.

Mounting Bracket –These can be attached directly to a drum shell, or used in conjunction with a suspension system. They also are used on toms that require legs. Gibraltar L-Rod Chrome Tom Mount with Memory Lock

Bracket and DSS Mount

Suspension systems – The basic idea of using a suspension system is that it allows the drum to resonate freely. Suspension systems don’t require any mounting directly on a shell; therefore you don’t have to drill any more holes in the drum. Suspension systems usually let the drum hang freely by loosely holding on to the tension rods of the drum.

Drum Wrap – Drum wrap is a thin laminate/pvc wrap that is glued onto the shell to give it an appearance that can’t easily be achieved by using regular paint or stain. Wraps offer limitless possibilities for what your drum can look like. They come in glitter, sparkle, abalone, or you could even have your own custom graphics wrap.

black sparkle custom drum

Bass Drum Claws –These hook onto the hoop to tension and tune the bass drum.

Floor Tom Legs – These are inserted into mounting brackets and allow you to position floor toms at the angle best suited for your playing.

Air Vent – This is a hole in a drum to release air pressure inside the drum when it is struck.

Bass Drum Spurs – These are called spurs because they usually come to a sharp metal point that will make contact with your drum rug, carpet or whatever else might be under your bass drum. They essentially keep the bass drum from creeping further and further away when you play. They must be used with carpet to work effectively. Gibraltar SC-BS4 Bass Drum Spur Pair with Bracket

Snare Butt Plate – This is directly opposite the snare Throw-off and holds the snare string usually in a permanent position so that the throw off can adjust properly.

Snare Wires – These are what give snare drums their distinct sound.

Snare Throw-off, Clutch, Strainer, etc – This is used to control the on-off position of the snare wires. You can also adjust how tight the snare wires are by turning a knob on this. Trick Throw Off w/ Butt Platetrick throw off and butt plate

Bearing Edge – This is the part of the drum shell that makes direct contact with the drumhead. Bearing edges are usually cut into wood shells using a router and router table set up. There are many different types of bearing edges.  45 degree, round over, and a combination edge are the most commonly used edges. Good bearing edges are critical in making drums sound good.

45 bearing edge

Snare Bed – This is a slight slope in a snare drum shell on the snare side that allows the snare wires to lie totally flat on the drumhead.  When the snares don’t lie flat on the drumhead it creates an unwanted “loose snare” buzz.

Snare Bed

Counter Hoop – This is a round hoop, usually made out of metal or wood that is placed on top of a drum head to provide even tension on the drum head collar. It has holes for tension rods to extend through to the lugs.

Lug Screws – These are the screws that attach the lugs to the drum shell. They will be different lengths depending on how many ply’s your shell has. If you have more ply’s you’ll need a longer lug screw.

Tension Rod – This is a threaded rod that extends through a counter hoop and screws into a lug; allowing the drumhead to be tensioned and tuned.

Lug – The lug is the piece of hardware mounted on the drum that is used with counter hoops and tension rods that allow the drum head to be tensioned and tuned.