History of Drum Wrap

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Drums have been around for a long time, and many of the earlier sets of the last century (1920-1950) were stained, varnished, or painted. But technology started to get going after World War II and, by the 1950’s, plastics were starting to come into play. By the 60’s, the production of plastic drum wrap was in full swing showing up on the majority of produced drum sets.  Specially formulated plastics were developed for drums and became known as drum covering material or “drum wrap“.  This type of finish became even more popular than painted or “wood finished” drums, and this popularity has continued to rise. Even today, only the higher end drum sets are available with a wood finish (wood finishes re-surging in the last 5-10 years as well as painting [since the mid 80’s] for the higher end sets).

The main reason for the popularity in drum covering material (which is by far the most popular) is the high cost of the alternative; the high costs of labor and equipment for professional wood finishing (or painting) of drums. This is one of the main reasons why drum wrap became so popular. As a side note, many have tried the “do-it-yourself drum” route, with poor to moderate success using varnishes, paints, etc. compared to the professional results from the drum manufacturers. (Who wants worse results than what you see on a factory drum set?) The second reason why drum coverings have become so popular is the fact that many different designs, colors, and effects are available instead of the typical wood finish appearance. Here are some more reasons why drum wraps/coverings have become more popular than wood finished drums:

  1. The covering protects the wood shells better.
  2. Wrap can be replaced easier.
  3. Some colors are more easily matched when adding drums or fixing damaged ones.
  4. Most wrap finishes show less scratching than wood finished drums.


And, of course, there are numerous other reasons. In my opinion, wood finished drums do look very nice, and if someone wanted to give me a wood finished set, I would accept it; at this point, though, it is not worth the added cost when one considers the spectacular finishes available at a fraction of the cost (especially when one already owns a set of drums). Finishes like sparkle, glass, glitter, pearl,

Really, if you think about it, most of us are choosing a finish that not only we like, but one that others will admire and get excited about, especially at a distance. This is something that does not tend to happen for wood finished sets unless one is close to it or something is unique about the wood or finish. These reasons are why drum coverings are so popular and have been that way since the early to mid 1960’s.

This article is continued in Is there any Drum Wrap Effect on Sound?

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