How To Wrap Drum Shells

You love the way your old drums sound, but they’ve begun to look a little ragged. Don’t worry — you can give them a new lease on life by rewrapping the shells yourself. It’s easier to do than you might imagine, and you will save some big bucks that you otherwise might have spent on a whole new kit.

We’re going to take you through the entire process, step-by-step. While some people like to use glue to install new wraps, we are going to focus on using double-sided tape, since it is equally effective and simplifies the procedure.

How To Wrap A Drum

Fig. 1

Step 1: Prepare The Shell
Before installing the new wrap, you need to be sure that the shells are as smooth as possible. Remove all the hardware that is attached to your shells, such as the lug casings, airhole grommets, kick drum legs, tom mounts, and so on. Store the hardware for each drum in a separate ziplock bag so that the various pieces don’t get mixed together when you are ready to reinstall them (Fig. 1). Be sure to read the manufacturer’s recommendations — some wraps can be installed directly onto the original wrap. However, if you must remove your original wrap, carefully peel it away from the shell and remove as much of the tape or glue residue as possible. Clean or sand any excess residue to make the shell as smooth as possible. This will ensure a flat installation of your new wraps.

How To Wrap A Drum How To Wrap A Drum

Fig. 2

Step 2: Trim The Wrap
Some companies supply wraps that are already trimmed to your shell sizes, while others sell wraps that require trimming. To trim your wrap you must first measure the depth (bearing edge to bearing edge) and length (circumference) of your shell and then cut your wrap to the appropriate size. Keep in mind that when wrapping drums, all wraps should be trimmed approximately 1/4" shy of each bearing edge so as not to interfere with the drumhead. Don’t worry — your hoops will cover the exposed gap once you reinstall your hardware. Hold each wrap around its shell to verify its size prior to installation and do final trimming if necessary (Fig. 2).

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Fig. 3

Step 3: Installation
If your wraps come with preinstalled double-sided tape, then just hold the wrap very tightly around your shell, making sure that it is evenly spaced between both bearing edges (Fig. 3). Remove the backing from the double-sided tape and adhere one end to the other end of the wrap on the overlap. By taping the wrap to itself and not your shell, you can then slide the wrap around the shell to position the graphics in the perfect location prior to mounting the hardware.

Some manufacturers require taping or gluing the drum wraps to the shell itself. This usually requires trimming the wrap on the shell as it is more difficult to get “straight” results when attaching a pretrimmed wrap to the shell. Refer to specific manufacturers’ instructions regarding these methods.

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Fig. 4

How To Wrap A Drum

Fig. 5

How To Wrap A Drum

Fig. 6

Step 4: Drilling
Once the wraps have been installed, the next step is to drill out the holes for your hardware. Set your shell upright on a table and place a light inside to illuminate the holes from the inside out (Fig. 4). If you didn’t glue the wrap to the shell, this is your last chance to rotate the wrap on the shell so that the graphics appear exactly where you want them to be on the drum. Think about where the seam should be and the look from drum to drum once the entire kit is finished and set up. Make sure that you have a big enough and even enough gap for each bearing edge. Using a drill with the correct size drill bit, very easily (but with consistent pressure) drill your holes from the outside of the shell inward (Fig. 5). Install the first two lugs on opposite sides of the shell to hold the wrap in place while you drill the other holes. Take care when pulling away any cut pieces of wrap around the drilled holes so you don’t peel the laminate. Some holes, such as airholes, may need to be cut out by hand using a sharp utility knife (Fig. 6).

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Fig. 7

Step 5: Put It All Back Together
Believe it or not, you are almost finished. Now it’s just a matter of reinstalling all the hardware (Fig. 7). Aren’t you glad you kept it all in individual ziplock bags?

Hopefully at this point you have noticed the incredible transformation of your “new” drum kit. And you did it all by yourself! Feels good, doesn’t it?

Scott Rockenfield plays drums with Queensr├┐che and is the owner of RockenWraps, a company that specializes in drum wrapping materials.