DRUM PLATES

The plate is traditionally circular in shape, with variable size and weight. The production techniques differ according to the quality level and the reference price range.

“the plates are composed of a large percentage of bronze”.

First courses appeared about 2000 B.C. and their use was not exclusively musical. However, they were made of different types, concave or flat, with more or less bell (the central part near the hole, the more concave one) depending on the sound you wanted to get.

These are made from flat sheets of metal, usually brass, bronze B8 (for cheap plates) or bronze B20 (for the more valuable ones) to which the shape, the bell, the curve, and the cutting of the edge through the use of presses are imprinted. It is commonly thought that printed plates are cheap plates. In fact, while it is true that cheap plates are generally printed, the opposite is absolutely not true. The production of the entire product range of Meinl and Paiste is, for example, produced by printing. This is because the processing phases that most give sound quality and therefore quality to a plate are the final ones, i.e. hardening, turning and hammering; the precision of a machine hammering may be preferable in some areas (e.g. registration), even if generally the turning is done by hand.

CASTING PLATES

The high quality drumkit plates are normally made of bronze, with varying percentages of copper and tin; one of the most appreciated alloys is bronze B20 (20% tin). Metals are purchased raw and cast. Some manufacturers (e.g. Sabian)

add even the smallest amounts of silver to the melt.

WORK

Most producers (e.g. Sabian and Zildjian) follow this procedure: small bronze discs are created (about ten centimetres, also depending on the size of the plate being produced), which are heated, flattened, today by means of the aid of Currently we have two macro-categories of plates, differentiated by the manufacturing process with which they are built.

PRINTED PLATES

This process is carried out more than a dozen times (also depending on the type of plate); thanks to this (a kind of hardening), the structure of the plate becomes much more resistant, also according to the producers, it improves the spread of sound waves. At this point, the disc is drilled in the center, and the final stages of processing are performed on the lathe: the bell is formed by hammering, is then hammered along the entire surface and always depending on the type of plate. It is commonly thought that hand hammering is synonymous with better quality than machine hammering; in fact, the two processes have consequences on sound quality and are not comparable, so they must be evaluated according to use and personal taste. The most delicate phase, which is always performed by hand in quality plates, is the turning by means of gouges, an operation that thinns specific parts of the plate, which until now still had an almost uniform thickness. The edge is then cut and finished.

“Hand hammering is not always better than machine hammering”.

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS?

There are other manufacturers, such as UFIP, who have the distinction of casting metals and throwing them into a form of cast iron, just as they are built the bells. The raw plate, freed from the burrs of melting, is extremely brittle because of the crystalline nature of the metal; it is then tempered by means of incandescent heating followed by rapid immersion in cold water. The tempered plate is then washed and drilled centrally. This is followed by an initial turning process to remove the dark surface rind and the chamfering of the edges. At this point the bell is returned and finally the hammering proceeds, which gives the plate the right campanatura. Finally, the final turning remains to be carried out, with the gouges manually operated, which serves to give the final appearance and weight.

Before packaging, the hi-hats are selected, coupled, punched and the lettering impressed with the marks and indications of type and size. Some manufacturers (for example Zildjian) have in their catalog plates of gray, black, red (famous gray plates by Nick Mason in the tour of the album The Wall) obtained by vaporizing different metals or alloys on their surface. Generally, since the application of these coatings alters the qualities of the platter, manufacturers design platters that enhance the frequencies that the application goes to attenuate and vice versa.

Melting cymbals usually undergo a period of “seasoning”, necessary to improve their characteristics and to ensure the uniformity and constancy of the sound.

TYPES OF PLATES

Crash: They are created for the most engaging phases, they give a fast and explosive sound. The most common range is from 14″ to 19″. The smaller the measurements, the higher the pitch.

Ride: Generally they range from 18″ to 24″ and are characterized by the fact that they have a clear and well-defined sound, where the stick makes its classic accompanying “tinkling”. Ride is often used by drummers to keep time as accompaniment. On the market also find many Crash/Ride, which are hybrid plates, usable for both crash and ride, but with intermediate characteristics, darker than a normal crash and less defined than a classic ride. They are usually used by those looking for a very “dirty” and undefined accompanying sound.

Splash: This type of platter was created to have a short, sharp sound without overtones. Generally their measurements range from 6″ to 12″.

China: They have the classic explosive and dark sound. Used primarily in rock, their measurements are generally 14″, 16″ or 18″. The china allows the drummer to have that very raw impact sound, often associated with the snare drum or another cymbal to increase its effectiveness and presence.

“before you buy them, try them with your cymbals”.

FIFTH?

Buying the drums can be a really fantastic and stimulating experience or a long and frustrating one. The sound of the cymbals varies due to a thousand different reasons. Plates of the same brand, series and diameter can have different sounds due to the processing they undergo. My advice is to first make a macro-choice by genre.

“If you have to save money, don’t do it on the cymbals.

Then think about your budget and discard immediately the plates that for one reason or another do not suit your needs. Then get advice from the shopkeeper and try some. If you buy more than one, maybe try them together, or if you have to buy a plate to add to your set, I recommend taking your plates to the store to hear if the new plate fits well.

In general, if you really have to save a little (and often it’s a must), better spend a little less on the battery, but avoid taking the plates too cheap. A medium level drum can still sound very good, but the cheap cymbals will give very little satisfaction.

Hi-Hat: Commonly called charleston, this pair of cymbals produce the classic, very defined sound also called “chip”. Used mainly for accompaniment, they are played either with the hands or by means of a special rod with the feet. Their most frequent sizes are 13″ and 14″, but it is not uncommon to find them smaller or 15″.

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