Friday, December 06, 2013

Bubinga Mod

I have been very lucky the last couple years to have a wonderful tool for my trade; a beautiful, tonally rich, set of drums. It is a Tama Starclassic Performer B/B (birch/bubinga) kit in Indigo Sparkle Burst finish. I have used it for recording and live and it has always sounded fantastic.

One of the ways that Tama is able to produce such a nice kit in a price I could afford is to skip the hand applied interior oil finish that they put in their more expensive bubinga kits, which is time consuming and costly. Fortunately this is something you can do yourself, and I just did.

Step one was to do a little research to make sure I didn't so something stupid and ruin my kit, which at this point I can't even begin to replace. I found tung oil to be the unanimous choice for this project and picked some up at my local Home Depot. I also got some very fine sandpaper, but found it unnecessary. I had heard of people using steel wool for prep, but also unecessary.

Step two was to remove all the hardware from the shells. I started with my snare because it is a different finish from the rest of the kit (limited edition satin bubinga instead of indigo sparkle burst) and if I didn't like it or had any problems the rest of the kit would still be a matching set if I stopped after one drum. While removing the lugs I found that the rubber gaskets between the shell and lugs held the lugs on really well so on the rest of the kit I just removed the screws and left the lugs stuck to the shells. One less thing to have to store and put back on and I didn't need the exterior of the shells bare anyway.

Once the hardware was removed it was down to applying the tung oil. I used some old cotton clothes that were slated for the rubbish bin (I watch too much British TV) as an applicator and started rubbing the tung oil into the bubinga in the interior of the shells. After letting the shells sit for a brief period I used the applicator cloth to run the wood again, without adding new oil, to even out the coat and remove any excess. Then I let the shells sit for 24 hours and repeated the application process with a clean cloth.

After another 24 hours I started putting the hardware back on the shells and a few hours after that I put the heads on. I am also letting the drums sit for at least another 24 hours before putting them into their cases, since the vents will allow air into the shells, just to make sure that the oil has dried and set. I have not had a chance to play them yet, but do have some rehearsal space reserved for later in the week so I'll post a follow up to this article at that time with any news on the sound. I don't expect to hear a discernible difference.

As for the look? Wow! These drums have always looked great, but now they look amazing. They finally look as good as they sound. Here's the proof.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Suspended Amplification

Well, it didn't take long after getting a new kick drum mic to get an internal mount for it. I purchased a Kelly SHU composite mount and installed it last night. It will be a while before I can plug into a PA to fine tune the mic placement, but it is in a good spot based on previous tests and there is enough adjustability in the angle of the mic for the fine tuning. Results will be posted after testing can be done.

My one concern is that there is a fair possibility of the mic moving while the drum is in transit. I'll need to secure the mic and it's clip somehow to keep them from shifting. With that done I think the mount will be perfect, so long as the composite material is as strong as the company says it is.

Installation was pretty easy and quick. I used 6 of the 8 provided straps, mounted to the shell using the screws that hold the lugs, and about half of the provided rubber cord. Once mounted I attached my AKG D112 using it's mic clip and added a 3' XLR cable that will run out of the resonant head port hole for the time being. I'll come up with something more elegant later. I really don't want to drill holes in the shell. I may actually mount the female XLR end to the resonant head itself, next to the port. Just a thought.

Here is a photo of the result. Before putting the head back on I threw in a few t-shirts that can just sit in the middle or pushed up against the heads, depending on the needs of the acoustics of the venue.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Time seems to be set on warp 9 lately and has definitely slipped away from me. One of the things I have been doing is working on recording an album with a new project started by my good friend Doug Taylor. The band is called Dillinger’s Day and the album will be called “Pregnant With Your Song”. A little more than a week ago we spent a day in the studio getting drum and bass tracks done for the first half of the album.
We recorded at a relatively new facility in Meridian called Osmosis Recording. It’s a great little studio and Nathan was really easy to work with. I highly recommend it for anyone in the area.
It was my first opportunity to record with the Tama Starclassic Bubinga/Birch kit and I was blown away. The toms were warm and distinctive and the bass was really punchy with plenty of low end. It was also my first session with my new Pork Pie black brass snare drum and I was equally thrilled with it. I did use my beloved Mapex Black Panther steel snare with the etched tattoo on a couple of the heavier tunes, and my Black Panther 7×12 maple as a side snare on one song, but the Pork Pie brass did most of the work.

Nathan used more mics than I am used to, essentially marrying individually mic’ed drums with several overheads so he could blend them as needed in post. Here’s a shot of the kit surrounded by mics.

I have only heard the raw tracks of drums and bass, but so far it sounds really good. Doug should be getting guitar tracks done soon and hopefully Salvador will be arriving from Portland in the near future to get the vox done. I’m excited to hear the finished product, and also go get to work on the rest of the album. I’ll try to keep the posts more active, too.