Every serious drummer should know the answer to the question, “What are drums made of?”

It’s interesting to know your instrument, and it can help you buy and maintain drums. Snare, kick drum, and tom-toms have similar structures and parts.

Drums consist of three main parts: shell, head, and hardware, and they are all made from different materials.

Shell is usually made of wood, the head is a plastic membrane, and the hardware consists of metal parts. Read on if you want to know your drums better.

What is the shell of a drum made of?

The drum shell is one of the main parts of drums, and it’s responsible for the drum’s sound.

Shell is usually made of wood, but it can also be metal or acrylic.

Wooden drums

The shell can be made of different kinds of wood, but manufacturers usually use:

  • Birch
  • Maple
  • Poplar wood

Wooden drum shells are made from two-ply or three-ply plywood.

Drums in the same drum kit should have the same color and exterior finish, so they are made from the same type and color of plywood.

The plywood is cut and molded into a perfectly round shell and later shaped into the desired size and painted.

Cheaper drum kits are usually made of softer and easier-to-process woods such as poplar. Poplar wood has a bit weaker tone than the wood used for high-end drums.

Harder woods such as birch and maple sound louder and more present, but they are also more pricey.

Metal drums

Some drum shells are made of metal such as:

  • Brass
  • Aluminum
  • Steel
  • Titanium

Brass drums have a warm tone with low overtones.  Aluminum drums have a high pitch tone with few overtones and a short sustain. 

Steel shells produce a loud sound with many overtones but relatively short sustain. Titanium shells have an even tone with long sustain and few overtones. Metal drum shells can be cast, welded, hand-spun.

The difference between wooden and metal drums is generally sound and weight. Metal drums usually have a bright and crisp sound, while wooden ones sound more resonant and warm. Also, metal drum shells are heavier than wooden ones, and therefore it’s harder to carry them.

Acrylic drums

Synthetic variations of drum shells are available nowadays, and they are made of plastic, usually acryl. Acrylic drums have transparent shells and are made from a kind of plastic called acrylate polymer.

This plastic is characterized by transparency, break resistance and flexibility. The plastic is heated and formed into a rounded shape and glued up or welded together, forming a drum shell.

Acrylic drums offer punchy sounds and generally sound a little louder than wooden drums. They look quite interesting because they’re transparent, making the drummer is more visible.

Drum head: what is it made of?

Drum heads used to be made from calf, but now they are made of plastic. 

The circular plastic membrane is clamped to the drum shell and is the surface that is struck with drumsticks to produce the sound.

Polyethylene terephthalate, a mixture of terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol, is the type of plastic used to make drum heads.

The plastic material is warmed up until it becomes liquid, and then it’s cooled on a large metal roller until it’s solid. The solid plastic is stretched with rollers to a thin film and cut to desired sizes of a drum head.

The drum head is attached to the drum shell with hardware and can be adjusted with those parts to change the drum’s sound.

Drum hardware

Drum hardware is usually made of metal, but some parts can be wooden.

The main parts of drum hardware are:

  • Rim
  • Tension rods
  • Lugs

Rim is a hoop that attaches the drum head to the shell and secures it from moving. It is usually made of metal, but it can also be wooden or made from other materials.

Tension rods are metal screws placed around the rim for the purpose of tightening or loosening the head to change the drum sound.

Lugs are large metal bolts that attach tension rods to the drum shell, holding them in one place. Although most drums have a similar structure, some of them have additional hardware. Snare drums have reverberating strips of curled wire stretched under the drum head and held on both ends by the strainer.

What are electronic drums made of?

Like acoustic drums, electronic drums can be made from various material types. 

The main construction materials used to make electronic drum pads are rubber, mesh, and silicone, while other parts are made of various materials such as plastic and metal.

Rubber Electronic Drum Pads

Rubber pads are built to withstand the rigors of constant playing, have a quick rebound, and provide a very consistent playing experience. 

Mesh Electronic Drum Pads

Mesh is a more responsive and quieter surface than rubber, but it is also more expensive than rubber pads. 

Silicone Electronic Drum Pads

Silicone drum pads are very durable and give off a natural bounce-back feel like an acoustic drum head. 

They can be tuned with tension bolts like an acoustic head, which gives them added versatility over other pad types.


What are drum made of?

Drums are made of various materials, depending on what part of a drum we talk about. The shell is usually made of wood, such as birch, maple, and poplar wood, but metal and acrylic drum shells are also used.

Drum heads are made of plastic, and they are attached to the shell with metal hardware which also has the purpose of tuning the drum sound.

The pads on electronic drums are usually made of rubber, mesh, or silicone, while other parts are made of plastic and metal components.

Knowing what drums are made of can be helpful for the drummer who needs to repair or tune his drum, pick the right drum model, buy accessories, and many other things.

We hope you learned something new, interesting, and, most of all, useful about your favorite instrument!