Because sound preferences are such a personal choice, you’re the only one who knows the sonic characteristics you’re looking for from your kit. So it’s important to select drums made from materials that meet your musical demands. And the most important material in shaping drum sound is wood.
The three types of wood most commonly used to create drum sets are maple, birch and mahogany. For unique sounds, sometimes different woods such as oak are used. Generally speaking, the harder the wood, the brighter, more focused and articulate the drum tone.
Maple hardwood kits are the choice of drummers who perform in live settings where a powerful sound is needed. They are loud and have a bright tone with a long, slow sustain. These kits cut through the thick sound of big bands as well as the crunching distortion of Marshall stacks.
Birch, like maple, is a dense wood that offers versatile tone, excellent for any style of music, though it’s ideal for jazz fusion and genres where drummers are looking for articulate sound and shorter sustain. In the studio, where more controlled volumes are preferred, birch is commonly used.
Mahogany is the softest of the three woods and is acknowledged for its classic vintage tone. Drummers looking for deep lows, incredibly rich sound, and short sustain – often heard in Classic Rock bands of the ’60s and ’70s – tend to choose mahogany.
Maple – Hardest of the three woods. Loud nature with long, slow sustain.
Birch – Hard wood. Articulate, focused sound with less sustain.