What they are, and how we do them.

Bearing edges are the edges of the drum where the head contacts the shell. Just as the species of wood and the shell thickness largely determine the tone of the drum, the bearing edge is the largest determinant of the resonance.

There are three primary factors that determine the resonance of the drum, how easy it is to seat a head, and tunability:
  • The Flatness of the Edge (variations along the plane)
  • The Shape (inside and outside profiles)
  • The Smoothness (how friction-free is the surface).
Although we will be happy to cut any combination of 22.5°, 45°, and roundover bearing edges, we recommend the ones shown on the right as a starting point. Unless you are very familiar with the interplay between shell plys and inside-outside bearing edge configurations, you'll probably want to go with one of these. Let's describe each one:

  • 45° Inside:
    This bearing edge configuration cuts a 45° edge sloping into the shell from the outside in. The very acute angle results in a bare minimum of the head's surface area coming in contact with the shell. Because of this, it is the most resonant of the bearing edge options. There are some drawbacks however. Because there is no taper on the outside of the shell, you may experience difficulty aligning or seating the head squarely on the shell. Also, the very sharp angle on the edge makes it somewhat fragile and susceptible to dings. But, if an ultra-resonant sound is what you're into, this may be the edge for you.
  • 45° Inside / 45° Outside:
    The best of both worlds. Although any of these three bearing edges will produce excellent, yet different sounds, the 45° Inside/45° Outside is the one we like best. The angles are such that there is still a very small amount of shell/head contact, yet the slight outside taper makes for easy head changes.
  • 45° Inside / Roundover Outside:
    For those of you who like a quick decay, the 45° Inside / Roundover Outside edge is the way to go. The radial edge on the outside is self-seating. As you apply tension to the head, the radial profile serves to guide the head into proper alignment. However, other than a Roundover Inside / Roundover Outside edge, this edge provides a maximum amount of shell/head contact, resulting in less resonance.

The bearing edge is one of the defining aspects of a drum. Perhaps only shell size and material are more critical to the sound of your drum. Accordingly, we have developed a 15-step process to ensure the bearing edges on your new drums are as precise and refined as your two-stroke roll. The edges are cut to profile, sanded to within an inch of their lives (careful to maintain an edge), chemically hardened, sanded again, sealed, and waxed with an ultra hard, long-lasting caranuba compound to a silky smooth finish. This ensures that friction between the head and the bearing edge will be kept to a minimum, allowing for easy, consistent tuning.