Since the gloss and satin clear coat finishing options are pretty much self explanatory as far as their description, I thought it would be helpful to talk about our process. We tried several products, testing for various dry times, hardness, clarity and durability. Issues that came up during our test runs included deformations due to temperature, scratch resistance, and even UV protection. We also wanted to find a product that would use less, and yet ensure that our product would last for a life time.
Many clear coats dry in a semi pliable state, making them soft even when fully cured, which effectively mutes the resonant qualities of a drum shell. Imagine wrapping your drums with thick fluffy towels, essentially stifling all those warm fat wood cracks, and those ringy resonant metal clangs, making your drums sound like they are made out of card board. This is one of the reasons entry level and budget drums are possible, because they use cheaper clear coats, but that require many many coats to ensure durability.
A thinner clear coat will more freely resonate with the shell. While a harder clear coat will resonate at a frequency well suited to drum tone. Many drum companies choose to use lacquer to achieve a mirror gloss, but it has a tendency to warp or flex when warm due to its pliability, which is actually a good thing for stringed instruments, because they resonate at a lower frequency than drums, but bad when you bolt hardware to the shell, causing the lacquer to deform over time.
We narrowed down our options to three products that meet all these requirements. It is understandable that not everybody can afford high end finishes so we also take into account different price points, while ensuring long lasting finishes that are amazing to the eye.
Varnish and wax
Hand and rubbed Tung varnish is extremely versatile and can be applied to any wood drum. It is easy to repair dings and dents in the same manner that one would use a scratch remover on furniture, which is a plus because if a drum gets damaged, it can be purchased at any hardware store for a quick scratch fix. It penetrates deep into the wood, making the shell very stable and not susceptible to shrinkage, expansion or change in humidity. It can be left at the final coat or for a glossier satin appearance, or sealed with wax for a dull soft look, which adds another layer of protection. Great for a person who is looking for amazing drum tone, but does not desire a mirror gloss clear coat.
We proudly use PPG automotive clear coat products on our drums. The same product used by major automotive companies, as well as paint and body shops found everywhere around the world. It goes on in few coats, dries ultra hard, protects form UV, and is capable of enduring years of punishment if left outside in the elements. Essentially, the hardware on your drum will rust and fall off the shell long before the finish wears away due to the elements. Ensuring that your drum will become a family heirloom. The kind of finish you want on your drum when you take in on the road.
Not to be confused with a standard lacquer, metal lacquers are used solely for the purpose of applying mirror gloss shine to metals based on copper or iron. We use Behlen metal lacquers because they are specifically formulated to resonate with metals used in musical instruments. But to give you an impression of its durability, you will find it used on bells attached to the deck of naval ships, meaning it has to contend with many years of sea air, salt and sunlight corrosion. Basically made to last and last.
All products are applied in a dust free environment, to ensure there are no accidental inclusions in your finish. You have peace of mind knowing that your finish is going to be amazing!
I would personally love to connect with our drumming family, send us a message or give us a call!