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collector's series drums
DW is The Original American Custom Drum Company™.

The California Custom Shop is like no other custom drum workshop on Earth. Starting with only select, responsibly harvested woods, a variety of shells configurations are crafted to order. Choose from "Pure" wood shells such as North American Hard Rock Maple, Rotary-Cut Cherry, Heartwood Birch, Red Oak, or Hybrid Shell Collector's Series® options such as Maple & Mahogany and Cherry & Mahogany. Hybrid Poplar & Maple (DW Classics™), Maple & Gumwood (DW Jazz Series™) and Bamboo & Birch (Eco-X Project™) are also available.

Add to that, a wide array of Grain Orientation possibilities that deliver a wider overall tonal range, enhanced low-end punch, and an unmatched selection of custom diameters and depths, to design the ultimate sonically-customized dream kit.

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As the name would suggest, Maple, Birch, Cherry, & Oak shells are crafted from matching plies of one species of wood.


The most popular wood for drum making, maple is a hardwood that produces maximum resonance, projection and attack. Combined with reinforcement hoops, it can produce a more focused sound and is well suited for live and studio applications.

Watch the Pure Maple Shell Animation


Birch has long been a studio favorite. With a brighter fundamental and shorter resonant note, it’s microphone-friendly and another time-tested artist favorite. Heartwood Birch is cut from the center of the log, providing a more "exotic-looking", highly figured appearance.


Rotary cut from hand-selected logs, DW Custom Shop Cherry is a very "musical" wood, which yields distinctive melodic clarity and a warmer tonality than maple. Combined with 2-ply heads, it appeals to drummers that prefer a punchy, round timbre.

► Watch these VIDEOS featuring Pure Cherry shells:
  + Mick Fleetwood's "The Cherry Picked"
  + Pure Cherry Shell Animation


Pure Oak shells are crafted from thicker, 1/32" plies of select Red Oak to create a more robust shell that's perfect for louder playing situations. It packs a full, round punch and is excellent for snare drums of all sizes.

► Watch these VIDEOS featuring Pure Oak shells:
  + The Making of Collector's Series Pure Oak - A Step by Step Factory Tour
  + Pure Oak Shell Animation

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Some of the most recorded drums in history were made from more than one type of wood. Early American drum making saw the advent of mixing softer woods as the result of a less sophisticated manufacturing process. Today, wood species are combined to create a wider selection of sonic possibilities.


The sustain and projection of maple, married with the warmer quality of mahogany is fast becoming a favorite with studio and touring artists alike. This versatile wood combo comprised of mostly maple, with a mahogany inner and outer ply, is excellent for a wide variety of musical applications.

Watch the complete Maple/Mahogany playlist.


Warmth and dynamic range characterize this unique wood blend that can best be utilized for genres of music that emphasize "woodsy", organic drum sounds. With an inner and outer ply of mahogany, these hybrids are sensitive and slightly less resonant.

► Video Coming Soon!

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The direction of the grain within a shell's composition contributes greatly to its sonic characteristics. This is the basis of DW’s patented grain orientation technology. Both long and short grain veneers have been proven to influence pitch and can be manipulated to create a wider pitch range within a set of drums and boost low-end response.


SSC stands for Specialized Shell Configuration. It's the culmination of more than a decade of DW Custom Shop shell technology and represents the state-of-the-art in sonic customization. So what is SSC? Put simply, it's DW's recommended shell configuration that utilizes HVLT, VLT, X, and VLX shell technologies. Of course, drummers can custom order a custom DW kit anyway they want it, but we've simplified the process by optimizing a particular type of shell for each drum size.

(Horizontal Outside + Vertical Low Timbre)

One of our newest grain orientation technologies, HVLT™ (Horizontal/Vertical Low Timber) is similar to our popular VLT™ (Vertical Low Timbre) shell configuration in that most of the plies within the shell are vertical.  This creates less tension on the shell to provide an overall lower note. The difference with HVLT™ is that the outer ply is horizontal. With more tension on the shell, it offers slightly more low-midrange frequencies.  HVLT™ comes standard on Collector’s Series® Cherry and Design Series™ drums.

VLT™ (Vertical Low Timbre)
In experimenting with different exotic woods as alternate shell making materials, DW's Custom Shell Shop discovered that in addition to the different tonal qualities inherent in every unique type of wood, alterations in grain direction can also greatly influence sound. In a VLT™ shell, the outermost and innermost plies run vertically, rather than a traditionally horizontal configuration. The vertical grain places less tension on the shell, allowing it to vibrate more freely, resulting in the lowered fundamental pitch. For those players who prefer a lower overall tone while still maintaining maximum resonance and attack, VLT™ can be ordered as an option on all Collector's Series® Pure drums.

Patented X Shell™ shell technology began with foray into VLT™, or Vertical Low Timbre™ grain technology. In experimenting with alternate ways to cross laminate a shell, the tension on the shell could be greatly decreased if the majority of plies were run vertically, rather than horizontally. Drum makers have always known that shells must be cross-laminated to maintain a shell's structural integrity, so the idea of designing a completely vertical shell to achieve optimal low frequencies was never an option. It was discovered that if veneers were cut at a 45-degree angle and cross-laminated in an X pattern, both low frequency ranges and shell strength could be accomplished. Available with Pure woods and as part of SSC.

Vertical Low Timbre/Diagonal grain shells are the lowest grain orientation available from the DW Custom Shop. As a result, they are suggested for bass drums and larger floor toms. Of the 8 plies that make up a VLX shell, 6 are diagonal or X and 2 are vertical or short grain. When ordering a factory SSC configuration, all bass drums, 16" & 18" floor toms will be made as VLX.

VLX+ and VLX++, utilizing 3 and 4 vertical plies are also available on any custom Collector's Series® kit.

U.S.A made DW Performance Series™ drums feature HVX™ shell technology. Click here to learn more.

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Choose Wood Type
and Grain Orientation


Collector's Series Size Chart


Lacquer, Oil, FinishPly™
and Graphics...

+features & options

Hardware Color, Tension Rods
Suspension Mounts & More...

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