I get many emails about equipment issues. Some are related to what gear to choose for different gigs, some are about why I use certain pieces, and some concern tuning. I’ve been involved in the design of gear for more than twenty-five years, and in the next few articles I want to clear up some confusion about the function of certain parts of the drumset. This month, I’m discussing the five different types of hoops, and what they’re designed to do, so you can determine which would be best for your personal needs.

Drum Hoop Styles

Each type of hoop has a specific purpose and creates a different sound from the drum. Here’s a rundown of the various options.

Triple-flange. This is the most common type of hoop. The term “triple-flange” refers to the number of bends in the frame. The lower bends provide stability, and the outward bend at the top helps improve rimshot and rimclick tones. Triple-flange hoops allow drums to resonate more fully than other types, and they aren’t very heavy. The drawback with these hoops is that they can bend out of round pretty easily. They also don’t provide as much attack as die-cast hoops, and they can be harder to tune. Some companies offer thicker 3.0mm triple-flange hoops. Those improve rigidity, but they also mute the drum slightly because of the additional mass. All triple-flange hoops have some resonance, which adds to the overtones in the drum’s sound.

Die-cast (aka double-flange). These are single-piece hoops that are cast in molds. They are generally much stronger than triple-flange varieties. They usually weigh more as well, and they won’t bend or go out of round over time. Die-cast hoops help with tuning by forcing the drumhead down evenly. The cast-metal design adds attack to rimshots, and the extra weight and rigidity mutes the drum slightly. Die-cast hoops help the sound project more, especially when playing rimclicks. A die-cast hoop has little to no resonance, so it doesn’t add any overtones. Some companies offer die-cast aluminum hoops to minimize weight, but they can be expensive.

Single-flange. This straight hoop helps give the drum a more open, resonant tone. It also produces a more metallic-sounding rimshot. Single-flange hoops often utilize small claws for mounting, which gives the drum a classic look. They also produce superb rimclicks, but they can lead to more broken sticks if you play a lot of rimshots. (Single-flange hoops are often referred to as “stick choppers” for that reason.)

Inward-flange. These classic-style hoops are triple-flange, but the top flange angles toward the center of the drum instead of outward. The inward flange focuses the sound of the drum downward, which helps control the tone, especially on larger drums. The inward flange also gives rimshots a punchy attack. This type of hoop is commonly used to create a dry sound. They are often called “stick savers” and are found on many vintage drums. (Slingerland, which first introduced inward-flange hoops in 1955, called them Sound Kings.) Mapex recently revised this design with its Sonic Saver hoops, which are 3.0mm thick. Sonor uses a similar inward-flange hoop on its Vintage series.

Wood. Wood hoops have been used since the beginning of drum building. In the early 1990s, Yamaha released a new style of plywood hoops with inset tension-rod holes. These also featured a flattened section to allow drums to be positioned closer together. Wood hoops expand the chamber of the drum shell to create a more open sound and fuller rimclicks. And they won’t bend, which makes the drum easier to tune. The downside of wood hoops is that they can dent or crack from hard hits, and they can be expensive to replace.

I hope this discussion clears up some details about choosing the right hoops for your drums. Remember that the goal of experimenting with gear is to make the instrument present your personal voice more effectively. The key is to make well-informed decisions. See you next month.

Russ Miller has recorded and/or performed with Ray Charles, Cher, Nelly Furtado, and the Psychedelic Furs and has played on soundtracks for The Boondock Saints, Rugrats Go Wild, and Resident Evil: Apocalypse, among others. For more information, visit russmiller.com.