DeQueen Gretsch Jasper Shells
The company Jasper Wood closed down in 2003. Because they had been primarily an office-furniture manufacturer they were forced out of business by the importation of cheap products… we’re all guilty there!
When they made Gretsch drum shells they normally used a combination of Maple and Gum wood in a six ply construction. The ply thickness varied according to the wood and the drum.
Toms 1/32 Gum; snare and bass 1/16 Gum; the Maple was always 1/32.
They also varied the grain orientation (reading from the outside: where H = horizontal maple, and V = vertical gum).
Toms = HVHVVH; snare = HVHVVH; bass = HHHVVH.
Note the different layout on the bass-drum where there's a middle horizontal ply (H) of gum. It is considered to be a strengthening element for the large shell.
DW copied this design for their ‘Jazz’ series.
So, the Centennial:
I looked closely at my tom-toms and this is what I discovered: (reading from the inside) HM, VG, VG, HM; then a 0.5mm VG ply on the outside, the 0.5mm veneer increasing its thickness to 1mm.
The shell construction is effectively only five plies – taking the veneer and the outer ply as one because of their combined thickness of 1mm – with a total thickness of 5mm (the regular Jasper shells were 3/16” or 6mm) which may very well account for the exceptional difference in tone. The Centennial shells are indeed markedly different to the regular ones. They have got to be the thinnest shells ever made!