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Reinforcement Rings

John Van Ness - DW Drum Co 1999

The original purpose of re-inforcing hoops was to maintain the structural integrity of the shell (keep it round). But they also serve a purpose in changing the shell's acoustic properties.

Very thin shells with no re-inforcement hoops tend to distort at high volumes (especially on larger sizes). Re-inforcing hoops tend to control some of the excessive vibration, allowing the shell to be a better conduit for energy to the heads.  There is another theory on it which is that the very edges of the drum-head are responsible for most of the high overtones coming from the drum. Without re-inforcing hoops, the drum has a broader dynamic range, accentuating the lows because the shell is free to vibrate, as well as the highs because the column of air inside is able to reach the outer edges of the drumhead. Add re-inforcement hoops and you get a more focused pitch because you're controlling the lows by inhibiting vibration, and tapering off the highs because the column of air is physically blocked by the re-inforcement hoops at the inside edges.

When single-ply calf-skin heads were the only option for drummers, the hoops vs. no-hoops issue was more critical, because the acoustic differences were more obvious. Now with today's available drumhead combinations, there is really no wrong or right choice. You could alter your drum's characteristics more dramatically with a simple head change.

John Van Ness