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.