Kit Care: Cracked Drum Shells

No matter how careful you may be with your drums, *bleep* happens. Over the years I have seen drums that have been dropped, kicked, and otherwise abused. Whether by accident or because of a bandmate deciding to use the kit as a springboard to dive into the pit, the end result can mean a cracked shell.


This happens more than you might think. If it is a lacquer-finish drum shell, it may need to be refinished. Plexiglas and fiberglass drums have unique issues when it comes to repairs, so for this article I will be concentrating on a vintage wood shell 1965 Ludwig wrapped drum.


The first step is to remove all the drumheads, hoops, tension rods, and lugs. Once the drum is prepped you can inject wood glue into both sides of the crack in the wood with a syringe. The syringe helps force the glue into the crack for a better bond. Once the glue is in the crack, use a clamp and two contoured pieces of wood (old drum shell pieces work great) to hold the shell stable so the glue can dry. Place strips of wax paper in between the clamping blocks and the glued shell to keep the two from bonding.


After the glue dries, remove the clamps, clean the outside of the drum with rubbing compound, and polish or buff it out. The inside will need to be sanded and refinished.

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This drum was a unique challenge because at some point it had been re-finished with the wrong paint that did not match the rest of the drum set. The owner of the drums really wanted the set to match, and the kit was in excellent shape, so I set out to make it happen.


I had never given much thought to what paint was used on the inside of vintage Ludwig drums, but soon found out it was something very specific that was difficult to match perfectly. After a few phone calls to various sources, Mike Curotto, world-famous drum collector, found out that Ludwig used a white latex from the local hardware store (Benjamin Moore Aqua-glow semi-gloss latex). I was overjoyed when I realized I was able to get the exact paint today. Just mask off the drum and it is really easy to brush the paint on just like Ludwig did. Let the paint dry thoroughly, then re-assemble the drum. Now you have a flawless, undetectable repair.