What Is Tone?

We know tone woods are favored by luthiers and musicians for their soundboard-like qualities that can transmit vibrations to the air around us. Many people, websites, blogs, etc. parrot similar language about drum "tone" for a given type of wood. For example, many have said that maple wood has a "warm" sound and they will describe that warm sound as having a good mix of highs and mid tones with warmer low tones. The confusion begins when you ask, how did they hear those tones? Did they observe or measure it or is this subjective? What does warm mean to this person, what about fat, or bright? And so these statements aren’t backed with any data, just one person or company's analysis of what they heard and how they decided to describe that sound.

However, when we analyze each species with all of our hardware attached, and without heads or rims using a spectrum analyzer, we can see that there are small differences in the frequency responses from species to species except in the fundamental pitch of the species. The only observable variation in fundamental pitch for a given species was when the shell depth or diameter changed. This happens because we've effectively increased or decreased the mass of the drum (in depth or diameter) but even those differences were observed to be at least 10Hz per 12.7mm (.5 inch) of shell depth, and up to 25Hz. Knowing that, we can deduce the "tone" that many have been attributing mostly to a species of wood is actually more attributed to the chosen drum head and how it is tuned to resonate with the drum shell.

Another factor in tone (we believe) is the porosity of the wood species itself. The concept of porosity is well known in the world of acoustic guitars and wood species that are more dense (smaller and less frequent pores) will naturally resonate less and have more sustain while species with higher pore frequency and size will resonate more with less sustain. To answer the question of what is tone, we can say that the density and porosity of the wood will affect characteristics of your drum sound without a doubt but ultimately the drum head will dictate the tone you want and hear as a whole.

This side-by-side image from a spectrum analyzer is an illustration of this argument. On the left is the frequency response of an Ash snare with only our brass hardware (no heads or rims). On the right is the same drum (with heads and brass rims) tuned to the fundamental pitch of the shell (137 Hz = C#3 -20). As you can see, the presence of sound above 137 Hz falls dramatically when we just test the pitch of the shell without heads and rims. When we add the rims and heads, we now can see the heads which are now vibrating together with the drum shell give us a strong frequency responses above 137 Hz all the way to 1.5 kHz which will give us pronounced mids and some high tones that we weren't hearing before. This is clear evidence that wood does not provide what we call "tone" by itself and so tone cannot be attributed to a type of wood alone. It is the combination of the type of wood and the drum heads paired with it.

How much does the wood species dictate the overall tone?

We believe that the wood species accounts for ~30% of the sound characteristics of the drum while the drum head affects ~70% the sound characteristics. This is why we think it is important to pair your species of choice with a drum head that will create the tone that you want. For a bright tone you may consider Evans G1 or EQ4. For lots of attack and punch, you can consider Evans G2 or UV2. For a balanced tone, you can consider Evans Genera Dry or EQ4.

Are your drums any better than big box companies?

We think so. The differences are single ply steam-bent shells using minimal glue vs. ply wood, veneers, and wraps that require much more glue that can deaden the natural resonant qualities of the shell. We use custom designed & CNC machined brass hoops, lugs, and tension rods, not cookie cutter hardware that is plated die-cast from mega overseas OEM manufacturers. Using cheaper hardware is a great way to make drums cheaper but we're sacrificing cheaper for better. We're not just another drum company popping up that slaps off-the-shelf hardware onto the same old ply shell just with a different badge only to be forgettable in a few years. We're solving problems and improving the experience through better design and constantly thinking about how we can make something better for you, the artist, no matter what level of drumming you are at. We don't want to be big like the mega-drum companies, just better.

Where will you ship your drums?

We ship worldwide. The "lower 48" U.S. states can expect standard shipping costs via UPS or USPS depending on the destination.

Orders from U.S. territories or locations outside of the U.S. are fulfilled via USPS International, UPS International, or DHL depending on the location. Rates and couriers are automatically adjusted based on location. Every drum we make ships in a Gator Protechtor Elite Air hard case.

Taxes & Tariffs Outside of the U.S.

The value added tax (VAT) is applied to imports in over 170 countries. Those rates vary based on country but in some cases, the VAT rate for musical instruments is a reduced rate. For example, the VAT in Portugal is reduced from 23% to 9%-13% depending on region and the tariff is 3.2%. Check the websites below for more information about VAT rules and rates for your home country.

If you are a business who is purchasing our accessories or drums for sale in your home country, the VAT can be eliminated/refunded. Check with your local tax office to confirm rules and allowances for businesses or self-employed people.

  • https://europa.eu/youreurope/business/taxation/vat/vat-rules-rates/index_en.html
  • https://www.globalvatcompliance.com/globalvatnews/world-countries-vat-rates-2020/
How long does it take to build a single drum?

TL;DR Anywhere between five days and eight weeks for snares and twelve weeks for full kits (coming late 2023). This depends on if we have the shell, diameter, and depth that you require on-hand. If we do have the right shell on hand, and it already has a finish, the turnaround to ship is usually 5 business days. If we have the shell you want already bent and cured but not finished, the turnaround will be roughly 3 weeks since our finishing process is very time consuming. If we start from scratch, it will take approximately 8 weeks total to bend, cure, finish, install hardware, and ship a snare (or 12 weeks for a kit). Some exotic species can take up to 14 weeks to ship. Those exceptions are noted on the product pages.

What kind of warranty do you offer?

We warranty the shell from manufacturer defects for the life of the shell. The NAT0-1™ throw off is also warrantied for life against defects in craftsmanship. All other hardware from defects due to craftsmanship is warrantied for one year.

I placed an order. Now what?

First of all, thanks and welcome to Team Sonique! We will contact you shortly after your order to confirm the details of your order and to give you a rough estimate on delivery times. Then just sit back, relax, and let us do all the work.

What hole spacings does the original NATO-1 support?

The NATO-1™ strainer can replace many popular throws on the market. Our butt end has vertical holes with center-to-center spacing of .625". the butt end can be purchased with the NATO-1™ or without when sold individually.

The following throws can be directly replaced:

  • DW Delta
  • DW MAG
  • DW Mini-MAG* (may require 0.625mm hole modification (no new holes needed))
  • Gibraltar Piccolo
  • Ludwig P83 Elite Piccolo
  • Nickelworks
  • SJC Quick Throw
  • Tama Linear Drive* (may require 1.0mm hole modification (no new holes needed))
  • Trick GS007 Single-Step
  • Trick GS007 Multi-Step

Drum Manufacturers Using Compatible Hole-Spacing

  • Craviotto
  • Custom Works Drum Co. (CWDC)
  • Drum Workshop (DW)
  • Ludwig* (Piccolo models)
  • Orange County Drum & Percussion (OCDP)
  • Precision Drum
  • Premier
  • Risen
  • SJC
  • Tama* (Star, Star Reserve, Starphonic)
  • Trick
  • Truth
  • Varus
What hole spacings does the NATO-1 XL support?

The NATO-1™ XL can replace most popular throws on the market. Our butt end has vertical holes with center-to-center spacing of .625". the butt end can be purchased with the NATO-1™ XL or without when sold individually.

Hole Spacing: 9.53mm | 11.13mm | 12.70mm | 15.88mm | 17.48 | 22.23mm | 25.4mm | 30.16mm | 34mm | 34.92mm | 38.1mm | 42.86mm

Hole Spacing (U.S.A.): 3/8" | 7/16" | 1/2" | 5/8" | 11/16" | 7/8" | 1" | 1 3/16" | 1 5/16" | 1 3/8" | 1 1/2" | 1 11/16"

The following throws can be directly replaced:

  • Canopus (All Models)
  • Dixon Throw Off
  • Dunnett 3-Position Vintage
  • Dunnett R-Class 3 Posiiton
  • Dunnett R4C
  • Dunnett R5 Swivel Lever
  • Dunnett R7 Roto Style 3
  • Dunnett R7 Roto SC-GR-7-C
  • Duplex (vertical)
  • DW Delta
  • DW MAG
  • DW Mini-MAG* (may require 0.625mm hole expansion)
  • Gibraltar Deluxe Classic
  • Gibraltar SC-PTO Piccolo
  • Gibraltar SC-DPTO Piccolo
  • Gibraltar SC-DLSTO
  • Gibraltar SC-DSTO
  • Gibraltar SC STO
  • Gibraltar SC-GR-7-C
  • Gibraltar SC-GR-4TO-C
  • Gretsch Lightning G5379
  • Gretsch GS-DLSTO
  • INDē (All Models)
  • Kent
  • Ludwig P80
  • Ludwig P83 Elite Piccolo
  • Ludwig/Leedy P84
  • Ludwig P87 Super Classic
  • Nickelworks (All Models)
  • Pearl SR-700/C
  • Pearl SR-014N
  • Pearl SR-015
  • Pearl SR-017
  • Pearl SR-017B
  • Pearl SR-018
  • Rogers Swivo-Matic
  • SJC Quick-Drop Throw
  • Sonor Stopwatch*
  • Sonor D-454*
  • Sonor (Series ESF, SEF, ASC, Force 3003/3005/3007, Snare Drum Throw Off System)
  • Tama MLS50A Linear-Drive
  • Taye SR90A
  • Trick (All Models)
  • Yamaha U0201211
  • Yamaha U0201117
  • Yamaha ZY345100 P3 L
  • ...AND MORE!

Drum Manufacturers/Lines Using Compatible Hole-Spacing

  • Canopus
  • Craviotto
  • Custom Works Drum Co. (CWDC)
  • Drum Workshop (DW)
  • Dixon
  • Dunnett
  • Gretsch (GM, RN1, S1, RB1, RW1, & Some Brooklyn series)
  • INDē
  • Ludwig* (Piccolo models)
  • Orange County Drum & Percussion (OCDP)
  • Pearl (Omar, MMX, MRX, MSX, Export, Forum, Decade, DMP, FZH, EXX, Vision VML, VBL, VBA, VB, all other Vision & EXX series drums & most others. SR series throws)
  • Precision Drum
  • Premier
  • Risen
  • SJC
  • Sonor
  • Tama Star, Star Reserve and Starphonic
  • Taye
  • Trick
  • Truth
  • Varus

* Does not require a new hole but slight expansion an existing hole.

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When will you make full drum sets?

An announcement is imminent in this area. Currently we are only working with endorsing artists for drum kit orders. Once a few builds are complete and shipped, we will make kit orders available to the general public.

Are your lugs threaded to work with other tension rods?

In most cases, no, and for good reasons. Our EVR GRP™ and Signature square head tension rods are standard #12-32 screws with a .25000" (1/4") wrench head. The #12 size denotes the standard diameter of .21875" (~7/32") and 32 denotes the number of threads per inch (TPI). We thread it this way to mitigate the tension rod from backing out (which is very common on 24 tpi and even 28 tpi tension rods). Adding more threads per inch and keeping the lug count low results in your drum staying tuned the way you intended and gives you a bigger sweet spot on the drum head.

Do you work with other species of wood not listed on your site?

We can work with just about any species of wood depending upon availability. We have paired what we think are optimal tone woods that are easily sourced species with a shell thickness and head choice to target the best possible sound. That said, we will make a drum with just about any species of wood. If you'd like us to build something that you don't see on our website, please ask.

Will you sell your hardware to other drum builders?

For our existing customers, we do offer replacement parts should any part break or become damaged. For those situations, we will work directly with you and get you the parts you need in exchange for the damaged part. Currently we are only capable of the workload it takes to machine and work with the materials that we need to stay afloat. When we get to a point where we can handle additional work, we will consider selling some of our hardware to the general public (like our signature 4-point tension rods).

Why do you make 8 lug snares? Why not 10 or 12 lugs?

Simply put, we are focused on achieving the best sound possible. Using less lugs for our drums mean that there is a bigger sweet spot on the head for you to strike and it will hold its tension better especially for lower tuning. When more points of tension are added (more lugs) this sweet spot starts to get very small. While this might be great for marching or concert applications, this is not ideal for others. Does that mean we won't make a 10 or 12 lug snare in the future? No, but it will likely be labeled for a specific application such as concert percussion.

I changed my mind. Now I don't want a drum. Now what?

We're sorry to see you go. Sadly, 50% of the purchase price for a drum or drum kit is non-refundable. This is unfortunate spot to be in for both of us but it helps with the sting of rejection as we will need to hold on to excess (and expensive) inventory. This also covers some (not all) of our time & labor already invested in a drum or drum kit that will sit until someone else comes along who happens to want the same thing you did.