At Meliti Acoustics, each drum we produce is handcrafted by us from start to finish. We believe that taking the extra time to hand produce our products from hand selected lumber and materials allows us to make instruments of the highest quality. All products we make are made to order, one at a time. Unlike some other “custom” drum manufacturers, whose drums are merely a collection of parts, we build our own stave drum shells. Stave drum shells are made from solid wood which is cut with the proper angle and then edge-glued together to form a faceted circle. The dried shell is then placed on a lathe and rounded to form a perfect circle. Stave drum shells have some distinct advantages over traditional plywood shells. First, they resonate much more freely because they use much less glue which does not transmit vibrations the way wood does and in stave construction the grain of the wood is running vertical to the shell. This also produces a better tone and transmits vibrations more easily. Additionally, in stave construction the wood is not stressed into shape as in plywood drum shells.
At the center of our shop and our drum building operations lies a granite surface plate that is ground flat to within one ten-thousandth of an inch. Every stave edge is checked for flatness before gluing up for a seamless glue joint and after the shell is rounded the bearing edges are trued flat and square on the plate.
Nothing influences the sound of a drum more than the bearing edge. That’s why we spend a lot of time on them—from truing the edge on a surface plate to cutting the profile. We cut four different profiles for the bearing edges. These include the standard 45°, the flat top 45°, the offset duel round over and a full round over. Each edge has its own advantage and application. The standard 45° edge is the most popular. Since the head only contacts the shell at the point of the 45°, less resonant energy is transferred to the drum shell but there will be more initial attack and you will hear more sustain from the drum head. This profile is also the easiest to tune. The flat top 45° has a flat area toward the outside of the shell. We believe this to be a good hybrid choice as it still produces good initial attack, and the larger contact area on top transmits more energy to the shell. You will notice more sustain from the shell with this profile. However, this profile is more difficult to tune than the standard 45°. The offset duel round over are two round over profiles that come to a point just over the center line of the shell. This profile is a good choice for floor toms and larger rack toms. As the head is struck it will contact more of the edge and you will hear less sustain from the head and more from the shell. The full round over is great for bass drums in that it produces a more controlled low kick sound that requires little if any additional damping.
Most of our drums are finished using clear nitro cellulose lacquer, which is spray-applied in a specially designed spray booth that filters the air twice before entering the booth. We use a 20-step finishing process for our clear finishes and 25-30 steps for stained finishes.