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The Drums Plate Part 2

PRINTED PLATES

These are made from flat metal plates, usually brass,  B8 bronze or B20 bronze, to which the shape, the bell, the curve, and the cutting of the edge are used, using presses. It is a common thought that printed dishes are cheap dishes. In reality, while it is true that cheap plates are generally printed, the opposite is absolutely not true. The production of the totality of the Meinl and Paiste product range is, for example, produced by printing. This is because the processing phases that best give sound value and therefore qualified to a dish are the final ones, namely the tempering, turning and hammering; the precision of a machine hammering may be preferable in some areas (for example recording), although in general turning is performed by hand.

MELTING DISHES

High-quality battery plates are normally made of bronze, with varying percentages of copper and tin; one of the most appreciated alloys is B20 bronze (20% tin). Metals are purchased raw and fused. Some builders (for example  Sabian) also add minimum quantities of silver to the casting.

PROCESSING

Most producers (such as Sabian and Zildjian) follow this procedure: small bronze discs are created (about ten centimeters, also depending on the size of the dish being produced), which are heated, flattened, today by means of the aid of presses, and cooled. This procedure is carried out more than a dozen times (this also depends on the type of dish); thanks to this (a kind of hardening), the structure of the dish become much more resistant, moreover, according to the producers, the diffusion of sound waves is improved. At this point, the disc is drilled in the center, and the final stages of processing are performed at the lathe: the bell is formed by hammering; it is then hammered along the entire surface and always according to the type of dish. It is a common thought that hand hammering is synonymous with better quality than machine hammering; in reality, the two procedures have consequences on sound quality and cannot be compared, therefore they must be evaluated based on use and personal taste. The most delicate phase, which on the other hand is always carried out by hand in quality dishes, is turning by gouges, an operation that thins out specific parts of the plate, which until now was still almost uniform in thickness. The edge is then cut and finished.

“Hand hammering is not always better than machine hammering”

AND THE OTHERS?

Instead, there are other producers, such as  UFIP  (where for years the great man worked, then became a producer of masterpieces, Roberto “SPIZZ” Spizzichino) that have the peculiarity of melting the metals and throwing them into a cast-iron shape, just as the bells are built. The raw dish, freed from the fusion burrs, is extremely fragile due to the crystalline nature of the metal; it is then tempered through heating to incandescence followed by rapid immersion in cold water. The tempered plate is then washed and drilled centrally. A first turning follows to remove the dark surface bark and the bevel of the edges. At this point, the bell returns and finally the hammering is performed, which gives the plate the right setting. Finally, it is still necessary to carry out the final turning, with manually-operated gouges, which serves to give the final appearance and weight.

Before packaging, we proceed to the selection, the coupling of the hi-hats, the punching and the impression of the writings with the marks and the indications on the type and the dimensions. Some manufacturers (for example  Zildjian ) have gray, black and red plates in their catalog (the famous Nick Mason gray plates in the tour of The Wall album  ) obtained by vaporizing different metals or alloys on their surface. Generally, since the application of these patinas alters the quality of the dish, the manufacturer’s design plates that enhance the frequencies that the application attenuates and vice versa.

Usually, the melting plates undergo a ” seasoning ” period, necessary to improve their characteristics and to guarantee the uniformity and constancy of the sound.

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