When it comes to designing your dream Noble & Cooley kit or snare, you have a lot of options. While most everyone views this as a terrific scenario and we strive to allow you to customize as much as possible, sometimes having so many options can be daunting and even cause some decision-making stress. Also, with so many choices available to you, it’s possible there are options you didn’t know existed. We get questions daily about whether certain customizing options are possible, and we also get comments wishing we offered something specific, when in fact we already do.

We want you to know about every option available so you can make the most informed decision possible and are completely happy with your kit, whichever direction your tonal and aesthetic interests take you. As such, we have decided to create this tips page as an informational guide for anyone looking to customize. The first part of this provides overall guidance and if you scroll down, the spec options are spelled out for you to consider. Take your time and enjoy the process. We want this to be fun and satisfying for you,


Call or Email Us

As a small company, one of the greatest benefits we can provide is direct access to the people who will make your dream instruments. We have over 150 years of experience making drums and 35 years of experience making modern custom drums. We work with some of the top players in the industry and countless enthusiastic working drummers around the globe. You can tap directly into this collective knowledge base and use the information as a guide as you go through your decision-making process. Also, if you want a custom color, finish, lug configuration or some other idea, just ask us. If we think we can do it, we will try, even if you haven’t seen it before. We’ll also prototype finishes and certain designs if needed, so please reach out to us. And if you’re ever local, please stop by and try out different gear. Just let us know in advance so we can make someone available to you.

Work with Your Favorite Drum Shop

The crew at your store has a wealth of knowledge independent of ours and, as a purveyor of custom drums, they have a vested interest in making you happy and keeping you in the family. They also have relationships with us and can streamline the process for you by handling a lot of the routine communication, including status updates and delivery information. We encourage you to take full advantage of their service.

Try Them Out

While we live in a wonderful era where everyone has access with pictures, comments, video and audio online, it’s still not a substitute for trying the drums out in person with your head, hands and feet (sic, Cozy Powell reference). You have two great options for this: 1) Visit us; and 2) Visit your favorite shop. We encourage you to do both if you can. If none of these are possible given your location, we recommend you go onto the drum forums and ask questions or reach out to us and talk about what you’re looking to do. This will get you closer based on your own specific playing situation.


Wood Choice

Everything starts here because the wood you choose has a significant effect on the overall sound of your drums. We have many options here and, ultimately, this comes down to the sound you like and the look you prefer. Everything we work with — every wood for every snare and every design approach from solid shell to straight ply to hybrids and every finish —is professional grade only, so don’t stress about this. Anything you pick is going to sound beautiful and be finished meticulously. While there will be substantial differences, a sound or look that’s right for one player won’t necessarily be for another player. But they are all professional, so your only decision here is which professional sound is right for you. One of the greatest values in trying the drums out in person is getting access to the less popular woods and configurations, such as ash, beech, Horizon snares, etc. Most drummers haven’t played drums made of these woods and can be much more informative than, say maple or birch. We have them at factory and our dealers carry them in their stores.

Drum Heads

We supply our kits and snares with your choice of either Evans or Remo heads to best fit your needs. Because we value a transparent sound and neutral starting point before coloring the drums too much with different head choices, we ship our drums with either Remo Ambassadors (coated and clear for toms) and PS3’s (your choice of ebony, smooth white, or Fiberskyn) for the bass, or Evans G1 (coated and clear for toms) and EQ3’s for the bass drum (your choice of ebony, smooth white or Calftone). Just pick your brand and reso bass head when you place your order with the dealer!


In general, each of our lines of drums has specific hardware and badges associated with them. The CD Maple lugs and badges are different than the Horizon, Walnut Classic or solid shell badges. We will customize the lugs if requested — just let us know and we’ll make it happen. You can see examples of various customizing approaches in our galleries. Just because you see it on one line, doesn’t necessarily prohibit its application on another so make sure to look closely at the images,

Hardware Finishes

Here too, we have standard approaches. SS Classic snares have brass hardware, CD Maples have chrome, etc. However, we offer black chrome hardware as a no-cost option and can also do chrome over brass.

Shell Sizes

For years, we made our drums in sizes unique to us, but were limited to specific depth and diameter combinations. In the last few years, we’ve decided to relax this policy and attempt to accommodate whichever configuration works for you. At some point, the difference between a 6-inch and a 6 ½-inch snare is probably not significant. However, there are two ways to look at this — we can say this is what we make, take it or leave it; or we can say we don’t think there’s much sonic difference, but we’ll make it for you. We do this because playing isn’t just about the tone. If you’re going to make a significant purchase and those are the sizes that inspire you, then we’ll make it for you.


Finishes Options

Oil — Oil finishes are available in natural or any of our stain options and sealed with a hard wax topcoat to add extra protection to your drum while still maintaining the look and feel of wood.

Gloss — Our gloss drums are painted and treated with a UV cure topcoat to be a harder finish with more depth and shine than standard gloss finishes.

Matte — All matte finishes get the same paint treatment the gloss drums receive up until the last coat. The matte drums get finished with a coat of a urethane that has a flattening agent in it to give a nice eggshell finish to your painted drums.

Finish Style Options

Fade — A fade finish has a color fade in from one direction of the drum and transition to another color, or natural finish, for the remainder of the shell. Available in gloss or matte finish in any color.

Burst — A burst finish has a color fade in from both sides of the drum that transitions to a different color, or natural finish, in the middle. Available in gloss or matte finish in any color.

Solid Color — Any translucent or opaque candy color we offer with no burst or fade option. Available in gloss or matte finish in any color.

Natural — Allows the full beauty of the wood to shine through! No tinting of any kind. Available in oil, gloss or matte finish in any color.

Sparkle — All the sparkles we offer are hand-painted and never wrapped. We can also combine a sparkle with a burst or fade for something truly unique at no additional charge! Available in gloss or matte finish in any color

Mounting Systems

Our suspension system can be applied to your drum set in several ways, including the industry standard of mounting them under the top rim. None of our other construction techniques elicit as many comments as our decision to mount the suspension system at the bottom of the lugs on the toms. Some people don’t like the look of this, which we understand because it places hardware in the middle of the shell and can obscure the badge. However, we choose to do this because it has a significant effect on the tone of the drum — it opens better and resonates longer. It is a very clear difference If you don’t like this look, we can always mount them in the traditional fashion and your drums will be affected no more than any other drum made other manufacturers. As an option, we can also adjust the placement of the badges so they can be seen regardless of the rim placement.


Traditionally, we have used the round badge for the SS Classics, CD Maples and the Alloy snares. Everything else gets the other badge. We also do woodburning as an option on all our drums. If you would like to see a different configuration, let us know and we’ll try to make it happen. Also, for those who want the suspension system on the lower portion of the lugs, we can adjust the placement of the badges to ensure you can see them.


We offer triple flanged, die-cast and wood hoops. We routinely get asked why we no longer offer die-cast hoops. The answer is we do still offer die cast hoops, but the trend lately in the industry has been to use triple flanged, so by default, most drums go out with those. Call us to discuss the pros and cons of each for your playing situation. In general, for studio musicians and anyone who likes a drier tone, we suggest die-cast, whereas we recommend triple flanged for players using the kits in a live situation or those looking for a more forgiving option for tuning. Wood hoops add a special look and tone to your kit, but again, you may want to contact us to discuss before going this route.

Bearing Edges

Traditionally, all our bearing edges have been 45 degrees on the snares and toms and 30 degrees on the kick drums. More recently, we’ve added a slight roundover to the snare and tom edges. All our bearing edges are then checked, leveled and hand-tuned to assure the best tuning and resonance for your instrument.