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Thursday, March 11, 2010

2009 / 2010 e-kit

I set out to build my own e-drum shells and renovate my kit to a more modern e-kit. Here were my thoughts and goals for this purpose:
  1. Implement mesh heads for quieter playing for when I am using headphones.
  2. Use my kit as a standard e-kit for my personal drumming, and to dual purpose it for 'Rock Band' / 'Guitar Hero' use. The mesh heads for quieter playing would come in handy here, too. I hear a lot of complaints from people who own them, about the plastic thwack noises from the 'drum kits' that come with the games.
  3. Utilize standard drum shells for a more pleasing look and for tom mounts on the side of the drum instead of the middle of the pad.
With these thoughts in mind, I planned on replacing my current setup with a similar shell setup. Currently, I use 8 pads in two rows of 4, all 8" in diameter, with 2 bass drums, also using the 8" pad design. The issue with this setup is it is not very mobile, as the bass pedals don't attach to the bass drums and are screwed down to the riser I built out of particle board. So, easy multi-use for me and the PS3 games was out of the question. I decided I could build a kit that could be multi-purposed and usable for both of my desires.

I want to add a huge THANKS to Don, my drum teacher / drum building mentor for his help. He provided me a loaner step drill for drilling, he guided me through the lug and drum leg layout, advice on wrapping, etc. And some good prices on the parts and various bits. Visit him here: Portland Drums and Don's Drum Studio.

I got started with 8" shells that I bought off of Keller's overstock Ebay store. I got 2 shells that were 8" in diameter and 18" deep. I figured I could cut them down myself, and get my 8 shells, and they would all be about 4.25" deep. Then I got 2 shells for the bass drums 18" in diameter, and 9" deep. I was set to do a complete replacement of my kit.

Along the way, fellow e-drummer (AxeGrinder or 'Ron') sent me a 13" shell that was used for an e-tom. I decided this needed to be my e-snare. Now, 8 toms seems a little ridiculous, since I was planning on using 2 of them as 'snares' as I do in my current layout. With the addition of the 13" snare, my layout may be too much. I guess it's always nice to have backups, eh?

Mesh drum heads

Home made mesh heads made from a fiberglass screen material found in the hardware store. I also used old drum rings from old drum heads. I trimmed out the mylar head, and used a dremel to 'route' out the old glue. I pressed in my head into the rim, and glued it. I used Gorilla Glue - which expands, so the yellow bubbly stuff is Gorilla Glue. Trim with an exacto blade, and it's not nearly as ug-o-lee.

8" diameter Tom drums

8" shells cut from the 18" long stock pieces

Gouge from me and my table saw will be hidden with some finish work (rubber hose trim). Just wanted to show some of my hardships. The finished product came out great. Just wait.

Wrapped shell - cheap vinyl sign material in a metallic copper color. Not quite the brilliance in the pic, better in person, but still nice. Also shows how the gouge is minimized.

Mounted on my rack. you can see the difference between this new one and my old ones (above it a bit) , and even the middle step of experimentation - the 'hybrid - old pad w/ mesh head - lower left in the image.

Back side, you can see the l-rod mounting on the Superstrut rack, and the jack hanging free. I need to decide how I am going to attach that jack. I'll probably drill another hole for it.

Top view, the green dot is my 'trigger foam' - a 2" Nerf bullet cut in half to a dome. This is done for the padded trigger - most drum pads on the market use a dense foam to make cylinders or cones for this purpose. I have seen folks selling these cones for $8 each. I got 10 'domes' for $5.

Bass drums!

Bass Drum shell - drilled for hardware - lugs and legs.

Bass Drum shell - drilled and wrapped in the copper wrap I found at the sign store.

Bass drum with hoops - no hardware

Hoops, no edge finish

Both drums 100% done. Electronics installed, hoop edges finished - I used some copper foil tape that Meran has. Since she does stained glass, she has scads of this in her shop.


Here is the 13" shell - it was used with a different lug pattern (6 lugs, I am using 8) and had a big hole in it for a tom mount or something. I used some wood filler to patch the holes and sanded it to mostly smooth. The wood is super soft, but it doesn't really matter a lot; I will be covering the drum in a wrap.

I decided to go a little extravagant on the snare, so I got rims and lugs in a black powder-coated chrome. I found some really cool hardware at Ego Drum Supply; mostly they had some really cool colors that you could get hardware in. Anyway, I figured copper and black was pretty cool, so there you are.

Electronics installed. I have a hole cut in the bottom clear drum head while I am working on it - eventually it will also be converted to a mesh head. I built this drum to be dual-zone, so there is a piezo under the head, and on the shell. I am still working on isolating them from each other. Dual zone is new to me; I am pretty content with one zone drums.

Finished and on the snare stand I bought. I bought it for the hammered brass acoustic snare I got a while ago, and will probably be buying a 2nd stand so that I can have both available.

New hi-hats!

So, I got these new electronic hi-hat cymbals. They are cool; the controller is in between the cymbals, and they work with a drop clutch (critical for double bass drumming!). I got these in trade from a buddy of mine. Sweeeeeet.

Top view - pretty. He tried to give me a set in a dark red, which would have kinda been cool, but I think the color would have worn on me. Basic black for me, thank you!

Underside, two connectors, one for the trigger, one for the hi-hat mechanism for detecting how 'open' they are.

The guts. Kind of. They are in the cylinder in the middle. Suffice it to say - it's in there!

Full Kit!
The next task was putting it all together. I went a new route on the rack - I still use the Superstrut, but I am phasing out the keyboard as a sound source, and going with a drum module (the Alesis DM10). And I am keeping the trigger IO for RockBand / Guitar Hero and for potential expansion into the DM10. Anyway, instead of having one rack that is 4 feet long, I used my mini e-kit and just doubled it, so I made 2 smaller racks at 24" long each, and angled them for a more ergonomic feel. The entire right hand side pulls away, moving easily into the media room for PS3 game playing.

Okay, okay, I need to clean up the cables. Agreed.

The bass drums will have a mesh head on the rear, too. Eventually.

Side view: 5 toms, 2 bass drums, snare, 2 crashes (with choke!), dual zone ride (bow and bell), and my newest gear, the Pintech hi-hats with the controller in between the hats.

Bird's eye view.

Squirrel's eye view of the bass drums. I still need to adjust the left pedal; it's riding higher / closer than the right pedal.

Well, that's it, thanks for viewing. It took me a long time, but since I was traveling a lot last year, I had my time split up with the game room remodel, other household tasks, and whatnot. I got this project done a little before the game room was done, but final setup had to wait until I could do it in the game room. I still am waiting for the new DM10 module, and I need to clean up the cables. The right bass drum seems to be double triggering, so I need to figure that out.