Tape vs. Glue (pt 6)

Featured Articles > History of Drum Wrap © Jammin Sam. All Rights Reserved.
(Continued from History of Pearl Drum Wrap)
The last set of topics I would like to discuss are listed below:

  • History of Adhering Drum Wrap
  • No difference in the Sound (Tape vs. Glue)
  • Ten Disadvantages of Using Glue
  • Advantages of using Hi-bond Tape


History of Adhering Drum Wrap

First, lets talk about the history of adhering drum wrap.  When plastics came into being in the 50’s and gained wide acceptance in the 60’s, there were two thoughts on how to adhere drum material to wooden shells: glue or tape. American drum companies decided to glue because they thought it was a more permanent application, especially with labor being cheaper at the time, and the remove/re-gluing procedure discouraged a lot from attempting the job- thus selling more drum sets. Asian companies decided to tape because it was easier and cheaper.  Even though Asian drum companies were trying to reduce costs, they actually chose the better approach.  There is no doubt that gluing plastic entirely down on a drum shell holds better than just at a seam, but there is a question that begs to be asked:

Is it better to use glue?

Picture sent in by Bruce Johnson
Actually I believe we are a good resource to answer this question.  We recommended gluing for over 17 years, and now have recommend taping since early 2001.  We have seen the positives and negatives of both gluing and taping, and have talked to many who have done both, from “first timers” to those who do it for a living.  But to answer the above question, the answer is no– it is not better to use glue.  This is especially the case when our hi-bond tape, and our method of installation are used.

There is No Difference in Sound

There is no difference in sound, whether one chooses to tape just a seam or glue the entire wrap down to the shell.  Over the years we have sold wrap to thousands of customers, who have glued or taped (and many who have done both).  Rarely does anyone call us and say there is a sound difference, and on those rare occasions, they say it sounds better (our wrap versus their old situation).  To the date of this article, no one has ever called and said their drums did not sound as good now taped, then glued before. 

Also, there is no visual difference whether one tapes or glues. Actually the wrap job may turn out better when our hi-bond tape is used.  See information below.   In our drum wrap video, a red liner tape is used to install the wrap.  This tape was last recommended by us in 2002.  Use this link to read more about this subject.
Over the years, we have spoken to many people in the drum industry, and most know there is no sound difference whether one tapes or glues.  Actually when you walk into most music stores, most of the wrapped sets displayed are taped.  If there was a sound difference, music stores would be pushing the “glued sets” and we would be selling glue to our customers (which we did for over 17 years)- we would be the first to sell it- drum wrap is our business. We would not want to lose a sale, or a customer, over a can of glue- if it was best. And our business would not do well selling inferior products and making false statements.  But the truth of the matter:  There is no sound difference whether one tapes or glues drum wrap.

To get back to our discussion, “Is it better to glue?” there are a number of issues with gluing that need to be addressed.

The Ten Disadvantages to Gluing

  1. Gluing can ruin new drum wrap soon after it is applied.  This can be the case if one uses the wrong glue, or does not apply it correctly.  What happens, is the chemicals in the glue can cause the wrap to expand- known as “bubbling”.  This has happened many times especially with the softer wraps- solids and pearls.  We have heard several individuals tell us how they bought wrap from somewhere else, used the glue (recommended by the seller), and ruined their wrap.
  2. Also, wrap can be ruined in the future by using glue.  Many drums have cracked or split the covering mostly because they were glued. When two different surfaces are bonded together, each can react differently over the years through cycles of temperature, moisture and humidity.  Well, wood and plastic do react differently to the same environment.  I have seen many older drums split and/or crack because of this known fact.
  3. Gluing can cause new drum wrap to change color after a period of time.  Many old drums changed color, not totally because of age, but because the chemicals in the glue caused a reaction to the properties of the drum wrap.
  4. Being in this business for over 25 years, I have seen (and heard) of several “wrap & shell butcher jobs” with people using glue to adhere drum wrap- especially for many “first timers”, but certainly not limited to them.  I have seen my share of bad edges, and some who actually ruined their shells trying to cut the wrap off the edges- some ending up cutting/shaving wood of the shell(s)!  Of course there are those who have actually used glue and had great results with the appearance, but there have been a host who have not.
  5. In gluing the entire wrap down (with contact cement or similar glues), there is a much greater chance of ruining the new drum wrap (and possibly the shells).  Gluing usually involves coating the entire back of the wrap, and the entire shell, then letting both dry separately, once dry, applying the wrap to the shell.  Using this method, it is easy to adhere the wrap on an angle, thus ruining it.  If the material is put on less than straight (even a 1/2 degree off), the material angling rolls off the shell (at the end of application) and has to be removed, which usually ruins it.  This means the glue has to be removed, a new piece of wrap has to be purchased and then re-glued.
  6. Note
    Using our method, this will not be the case- Asian drums can be re-wrapped many times.

    Asian drums are more susceptible to destruction from glues (in the removal process) than American made drums.  Asian drums (most of the older ones) are a one time redo only (when gluing them), because gluing, then later removing glue, destroys the outer layer of wood.  Most Asian drum companies of the past, made drums shells with a paper thin top ply of wood on the outside.  This ply is so thin, that when one attempts to remove glued wrap from them (from a re-wrap job), it usually ruins them.  The self adhesive used to hold down this thin veneer can dry out and may let go years later.  And this is not information one usually gets from companies who recommend glue for new wrap.

  7. Note
    When one does decide to recover their drums that have been glued, the above risks can be diminished by following our tried and proven instructions.  However, continuation of gluing, then removing, then re-gluing will eventually destroy any shell.

    There is a greater risk that pieces of wood will lift and breakaway from the shell when removing wrap that has been glued.  Sometimes, wood sticks to the wrap (even with American made shells) when old material that has been glued is removed.

  8. Note
    Using our method of glue removal keeps sanding to a minimum. However, with gluing and re-gluing a shell, roundness will be increasingly compromised.

    Every time a shell is sanded (to remove old glue) some roundness is taken off– roundness that cannot be put back on.  Multiply that several times, and you will have a shell with major roundness problems.

  9. There is an increased risk of exposure to chemical fumes from glue removers.  Most everyone knows that inhaling strong chemicals is unhealthy.  This risk can be minimized with the use of a good breathing mask (respirator) that can be purchased at most hardware stores.
  10. When one chooses to use glue, that process involves considerably more time.  One would need to glue all surfaces (all wrap pieces and shells), allow the glue to set-up, bring shell and wrap carefully together, trimming all edges, and possibly sanding all edges.  This will take an individual a lot of time to accomplish, especially doing it for the first time.

Even if one decides to glue their new wrap down, and has great results, what is going to happen if he decides later to change it (something we hear all the time).  He will have a mess to deal with.  He is going to need a heat gun, adhesive remover, sandpaper, and a few hours of personal time trying to remove everything.  And for what purpose or benefit:  For nothing– for no sound or visual difference.  And the shells may be destroyed in the process.

Today, most people do not want a permanent application of drum wrap; they want to be able to change the finish easily (if damaged, if undesirable, etc.).  They certainly do not want to go through more than they need to, to change the wrap.  And they want the option to change it many times without damaging their shells.  The next question to ask:  What are the advantages to taping?  Well, there are four good ones.

Advantages to Using Our Hi-bond Tape Over GluingPicture sent in by Dan Hertlein

  1. The wrap may actually look better, or better results can be obtained:
    • When one buys our drum wrap with the hi-bond tape, your sound edges may look cleaner.  We cut the material to exactly fit your drums (no trimming on your part) with our industrial equipment, resulting in cleaner, factory like edges.
    • Also the wrap can be applied a little closer because of the lack of a glue layer.  Not only that, but the wrap can be pulled tight with the hi-bond process.  (Note:  In the gluing process the wrap is laid against the glued shell, not pulled.)
    • And when our hi-bond tape is used, the material will last longer then if it was glued  There is no glue to discolor the wrap in the future.
  2. It is easier to apply drum wrap with tape, than using glue.  We custom cut our material to fit your drums perfectly so there is no material to trim.  And when using our tape, there is no glue to use.  Because of our process, it should only take you a few minutes of effort to apply the wrap to each drum shell.  However, with using glue, it might take you several hours of effort to apply the wrap and trim it.
  3. There is less chance of error (having to buy new pieces).  With our method, if you mess up a step, you can usually go back and redo the prior step (if you do not wait to long).  Because we cut the wrap to fit (no trimming on your part), there is no chance of messing up the wrap in a cutting process.  And with our method there is no chance of starting the wrap at a slight angle that would roll off the shell.
  4. The material may last longer with our hi-bond tape instead of gluing.  As stated above, wood and plastic react differently to different environments and temperatures.  Because the wrap is not adhered down everywhere on the shell, it has some room to shift if needed, thus avoiding cracking and splitting in the future.
  5. The drum material can easily be replaced without harming the shell. Since we stopped suggesting the glue method (which we did for over 17 years) and began recommending hi-bond tape, we have seen a lot less problems with the tape, while continuing to hear about a host of problems with glue (recommended by other companies). We have had thousands of customers use our tape with great satisfaction.  If you have any questions about our hi-bond tape method, just give us a call.

Consider the following:  Gluing my tire on my car wheel may adhere the tire to the wheel better, but I plan on changing the tire and replacing it when it is worn out.  For most cars the tire stays on perfectly well without glue.  Another example:  Putting glue on my hands then putting gloves on.  The glue will help the gloves stay on better, but is it necessary?  Not if I wish to take the gloves off at some point in the future.  Another example:  What if I decided to arc-weld my wing-bolt on my cymbal stand?  It would stay on better, but some day I will need to replace the cymbal.

Just like the examples above, drum wrap does not need glue (contact cement or other liquid adhesives) to hold it to the shell.  The hardware, our medium bond tape (that goes down first), and the hi-bond tape, keeps the wrap perfectly adhered- it is not going to go anywhere.  Since early 2001, Jammin Sam has made available  “hi-bond tape” that allows the drum wrap to hold tight to the drum and the seam firmly held in place. This consistently produces professional results.

You might ask, “Who else uses similar tapes to adhere drum wrap?”  The answer:  Just about all of the top US and Asian drum companies, and most have been using tape for many years.  It has been tried and proven many times, with several drum companies (who still use tape today), over many years- since the 1960s.

If you have any questions about using tape vs. glue, or any comments, just give us a call.

For those who prefer to router their sound edges after wrap is applied (this being a rare case for most- mostly for drum companies) gluing may be the desired application.  However, in our opinion, the trade-off is not worth the benefit.  Most drummers don’t take their drum heads off to show the audience their nicely routered sound edges.  Actually, when we cut our wrap to fit your drums, the edges look excellent (see picture above).  As a side note, we have heard individuals being successful at routering their edges with our tape method (using no glue at all)- wrapping the edges with clear wrap, then routering them.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.  Click our other menu selections to read about our “Guarantee/Warranty” and other information. We are excited to share our web site with you and hope that you will call us for a free catalog and samples of our drum materials.  Thank you for spending the time to read this article.


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