Home » Drum Restoration » Drum Kit Restoration, pt. 4: Bearing edges.

Drum Kit Restoration, pt. 4: Bearing edges.

Bearing edges:

Bearing edges are the nut and saddle of the drum- the head is suspended between them and their condition, evenness, quality and shape will dictate whether the drums is resonant or not.  Drummers got really interested in bearing edges in the last 10 or so years after, oh, 100 years of not giving a fuck.  You can tweak bearing edges a lot, and I wouldn’t discourage you, but remember: The gold standard of tone for a lot of drummers in ’60s Ludwig 3-plys.  You know what kind of bearing edge they have on them?  Fat and round.  Not just “not double 45s”, they’re more like “no 45s.”  Remember that and don’t go chopping up nice old drums when you can probably put a hurtin’ on some nice, new Keller shells you got on eBay for next to nothing.

If you insist on messing with the bearing edges on your old kit:

Visually inspect the bearing edge. How’s it look? Are there any bites out of it? Any missing chunks of putty between the plies? Reinforcement rings still stuck down nice and tight?

I can’t overstress the importance of getting this part right. There are a lot of guys out there with routers who consider themselves bearing edge experts. There’s a guy in NYC who loves to cut modern bearing edges (read: “sharper”) on vintage drums. (He deserves whatever he gets, that prick.)

Go to someone reputable to have your bearing edges looked at if 1. your drum has weird overtones you can’t tune out, 2. there are wrinkles between lugs even when the head seems properly tensioned, 3. your tuning range is narrowed to one note and the drum seems less flexible with regards to tone and pitch.

Knocking down impacted dust and schmeg on a neglected bearing edge can be done with very fine sandpaper, sure. I’ve also heard that guys use a block of canning wax to make the edge a little more slick to the head doesn’t bind there. I’ve done this on an old kit, but I’ve also not done it on most of my kits. Officially, I have no opinion.

As for the price of recutting edges- the best and most trustworthy guys I know who do this only charge a dollar an inch per edge. 16″ floor tom, both ends? $32.

There’s an East Coast guy and a West Coast guy who are both considered to be the absolute tops in the field- Jack Lawton is outside of Pittsburgh:

http://www.lawtondrum.com/

Call, don’t email. His wife will likely answer, as Jack is usually busy. Ship your drums to him and expect to get them back PERFECT.

Chris Heuer is the West Coast dude.

http://www.heuersdrumlab.com/

I hope to one day be able to cut my own bearing edges. You know what I won’t be practicing on? My good drums. Don’t let any old idiot practice on yours!

-Patrick

One of the vintage kits I've used in the studios.  Bearing edges?  Factory!

One of the vintage kits I’ve used in the studios. Bearing edges? Factory!

One Response to Drum Kit Restoration, pt. 4: Bearing edges.

  1. Stephen Reply

    June 28, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Patrick, well written posts. I enjoyed reading them very much. I have an old set with chrome (I think) shells. What would you recommend I use to clean them? Thanks!

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