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Drum Center Portsmouth News Hub

Events, Cool Products and Videos from Drum Center of Portsmouth

  • Sonor AQ2 Drum Sets - Up Close

    Sonor AQ2 Drum Sets take the place of their now-discontinued Force and SSE Special Edition Sets.  This intermediate line includes the extremely popular Martini and Safari kits. We unboxed each of these gig-friendly AQ2 drum sets and gave them a test drive.

    The Evolution of Compact Drums

    The compact drum market has gotten big over the past 10 years.  It started with Yamaha’s Manu Katche Hip-Gig Jr. Kit. Sonor changed the game when they decided to enter the market with their Safari set.  It was a portable, decently made drum set for about $350.

    Other major manufacturers soon followed.  Ludwig released the Breakbeat kit. Pearl came out with the Midtown kit.  Tama has their Club Jam kit. The market was full of options at the sub-400 dollar price point.

    Gigging drummers made many a spontaneous purchase when they discovered how inexpensive and portable these kits were.  Unfortunately, the sound of these kits left something to be desired. The softer wood shells just don’t have the feel and response you get from a higher quality wood.  Sonor’s AQ2 Drum Sets have struck a great balance between affordability, portability and build quality.

    Better Shells Make Better Drums

    Sonor AQ2 Martini and Safari kits sport 100% 7-ply Maple shells.  The three interior plies are softer Asian Maple, and the outer plies are harder North American Maple.  The resulting thickness is a relatively thin 5.8mm. This is a similar shell recipe as Yamaha’s new Tour Custom model.

    Our first kit to set up was the Sonor AQ2 Martini Drum Set in a White Marine Pearl wrap.  The Martini kit is a compact 4-piece set up design for ultimate portability. The rack tom is 8x7, the floor tom is 13x12 and the kick is 14x13.  The steel snare drum is 12x5 with flanged hoops.

    Our second setup was the Sonor AQ2 Safari kit in a similar Delmar WMP finish.  The Safari kit offers slightly larger sizes for the drummer who may need some more thump on their gig.  Our 4-piece Safari kit sizes were 10x7, 13x12, 16x15 with a matching 13x6 snare.

    That Hardware, Though

    Right away, we noticed the quality of the hardware.  The bass drum mount is seriously heavy-duty and very adjustable.  The new Smart mount on the rack tom is functional and low-profile, connecting to two upper lug brackets.  Head changes can be made quickly and easily, and thick rubber gaskets provide isolation. All of the newly designed lugs are cast using molds designed in Germany.

    We decided to tune both kits low and high for each demo to get a sense of their range.  Right out of the gate we were greeted with bright tone from both kits. We were too lazy to change the UT Remo heads, and assumed that would translate to a fuzzy, unpleasant sound.  This is a testament to the QC of Sonor’s new all-maple shells. Bearing edges were perfect and shells were perfectly round. The resulting tone was clear and clean and all drums tuned up easily.  They also stayed in tune thanks to Sonor’s TuneSafe lug design.

    The Martini’s 12x5 snare drum was cutting, but not in a harsh way. Typically an inexpensive metal snare will be sharp sounding, but this was not the case with the Sonor Martini AQ2.  The matching 13x6 Safari Maple snare also proved to be an overachiever. Great projection, smooth bright tone and a decent tuning range.

    AQ2 bass drums feature heavy duty mounting hardware, along with durable hoops.  The 14” Martini kick provided just enough thump for those small 3 piece gigs. The 16” Safari kit bass drum has enough low end to give you a little more genre-diversity.  While the overall tone was good, these will sound much better with Remo USA PS3 heads.

    The Verdict

    Overall, these two Sonor AQ2 kits are an unbelievable value.  Drummers who appreciate the performance of their SSE Martini and Safari kits will LOVE the AQ2 updates.  The all-maple shells, solid hardware and eye-catching finishes are significant upgrades to their predecessors.  Ultimately, the blend of quality, convenience and cost make both of these kits an excellent intermediate option for the working drummer.

     

     

  • Drum Center of Portsmouth Is Now a Roland V-Drums Dealer!

    Roland V-Drums Now Available at Drum Center of Portsmouth!

    Roland Electronic Percussion at Drum Center of Portsmouth Roland Electronic Percussion at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    It goes without saying that Roland is the leader in the world of Electronic Drums.  If you spoken to us before, we've been rather black and white about our feelings on V-Drums and E-drums.   Our typical answer has always been "There's Roland, there's Yamaha, then there's everybody else."

    It's not that simple anymore.  ATV drums have made a BIG splash here at DCP, and their momentum continues to grow.  Yamaha has been steady for us from the word go, and Pearl's Mimic Module is hard to keep on the shelves here.  The E-drum world continues to grow, but there can only be one leader, and that leader is Roland.

    I sold Roland for a number of years before DCP, and went to Roland US in 2004 for training.  ( I have a picture somewhere...)

    I'm very familiar with the architecture of Roland's V-Drum Sets and Sampling Pads, but I'll certainly be needing a refresh as the boxes continue to arrive here at Drum Center of Portsmouth.

    It's a natural evolution for us: in our old location, we barely had room for Electronic drum sets.  Then, the new Drum Center of Portsmouth opened in 2017, and now that we've passed that one year mark, we've learned something:

      People want to buy Electronic drums at Drum Center of Portsmouth.

    You have made it clear: E-drums, or V-drums, are not going away.  And you're looking for a place where you can talk to experts who can help you.

    This aligns perfectly with our mission statement:

    To provide drummers from around the world a community through local and global networking selling products for a reasonable profit and providing friendly service.

    We want to help you make the right choice.  To do that, we've made a major commitment to stock a wide array of Roland V-Drums products, such as the TD-50, TD-30,TD-25, TD-17,TD-11,TD-4, and TD-1 V-Drums Sets.

    Standard fare such as the SPD-SX, SPD-1, and the legendary OctaPad are already in stock.

    Add on Roland Triggers, Pads, replacement mesh heads, and cables are also on the menu and ready to fly.

      The Electronic Drum Division at Drum Center of Portsmouth Just Got Bigger!

    We will continue to stock and service the brands we've carried, we will now be able to provide another option for you.

    We'd like to give a  sincere thank you for spending your drum money with us.  We hope to provide you with many years of good service and pricing on your Roland, and other products that we offer here at Drum Center of Portsmouth.

    Browse our current Roland inventory here.

     

     

  • Bop Kit Battle – Sonor SQ2, Canopus RFM and Ludwig Classic Maple

    Three Top Tier Bop Kits Head-to-Head

    Jazz.  It’s one of America’s original art forms and provides the soundtrack for your Sunday brunch.  The anchor of any good Jazz trio is the bop kit drum set.  Just like the eggs in your Sunday brunch, there are many ways to make a bop kit.  We chose three magnificent maple bop kits from three different manufacturers to compare their discernable differences.  Our “Bop Kit Battle” participants are the Sonor SQ2, Canopus RFM and the Ludwig Classic Maple Jazzette.

    The Parameters

    For this comparison, we chose three maple kits in “standard” bop configuration.  Each kit consisted of a 12-inch rack tom, 14-inch floor tom and an 18-inch kick drum.  The depths of the drums were also standard, except for the Canopus and its 13-inch deep floor tom.

    Accenting these three gorgeous kits were some seriously high end Paiste cymbals.  The hi-hats we selected were some genre-appropriate 15” 602 Modern Essentials.  The crash cymbal was a luxurious 20-inch Signature Traditionals Light Crash, and the ride was a 22” Masters Dry.  For a comparison this classy, we needed an extraordinary snare drum.  After much deliberation, we decided on the Schagerl Anteres Brass 14x6.5 snare drum with Black Hardware.

    Canopus RFM Bop Kit

    The first kit we set up was the Canopus RFM in a Bitter Brown Oil finish.  Canopus drums are a staff favorite at Drum Center of Portsmouth.  They are a boutique-level brand that is devoted to the science of their sound.  They build their drums from scratch, and spend an obsessive amount of their resources on R&D.  Canopus has a drum line for every conceivable genre of musician, and their RFM Bop Kit was a joy to experience.

    The 12-inch tom uses a RIMS style mount, and their proprietary low-profile solid lugs are very sleek.  Their Bolt-Tight leather washers are a small but ingenious addition that help keep the kit in tune throughout your gig.

    RFM shells have a relatively vintage vibe to them, as they are thin and sport reinforcement rings.  They arrive from the factory with Remo coated Ambassadors on both the top and bottom, giving them a focused, slightly drier tone.  The low end is prominent when tuned low, and they have clean, crisp tone when tuned up high.

    The Canopus RFM kit falls right in the middle of the three kits, pricewise.  You get a ton of value for your money with this kit.

    Sonor SQ2 Maple Bop Kit

    The second kit we put through its paces was the Sonor SQ2 Maple in Rosewood High Gloss.  The SQ2 line is completely customizable from shells to finish.  We ordered this one with thin maple toms and a medium maple kick.  Each drum also boasts a classy Rosewood interior veneer.  We were extremely excited to unbox this high-end bop kit and couldn’t wait to lay into it.

    From an aesthetic point of view, it doesn’t get much better than an SQ2.  The attention to detail by Sonor’s craftsmen is arguably the best in the industry.  Once you realize that the drums perform as good as they look, there’s no going back.

    Their mounting hardware is rock solid and allows for maximum resonance, along with optimal maneuverability.  The shells are undersized by 12mm, which give them a bright, modern attack that is undeniably the “Sonor sound”.  Notes are clear and defined, regardless of tuning.  Playing an SQ2 is just fun.  The response and feel you get behind the kit is a truly unique experience.

    Ludwig Jazzette Classic Maple

    The final participant in our maple bop kit shootout was the Ludwig Jazzette Classic Maple in Vintage Blue Oyster Wrap.  Ludwig has a huge following and is steeped in American musical history.  Many people are aware of their significant presence in Rock n’ Roll with their huge, wide open sound.  So, how do the Classic Maple shells hold up in a bop setting?

    The 12-inch rack tom sports the straightforward Atlas mount for a quick, easy setup and good resonance.  The classic lugs along with the eye-catching Vintage Blue Oyster wrap has turned many heads here at DCP since its arrival.

    Not surprisingly, the Ludwig Jazzette kept right up with its higher-priced competitors with ease.  The Classic Maple shells are built to the toughest standards in the industry.  Like Sonor, they undersize their shells, which gives you a little extra response and feel.  Shells tune up quickly and easily and produce a warm, round tone that is noticeably balanced.  We especially enjoyed the musicality of the bass drum, which was tonally distinguishable in comparison to the previous kits.

    The Verdict

    The idea behind this comparison was to highlight three flavors of maple bop kits that might not be on every drummer’s radar.  Despite their base-level similarities, each kit managed to distinguish itself visually and sonically.

    The RFM had a unique tone with a slick, vintage vibe that would easily hold its own in any trio.  Canopus makes an incredible instrument and may be the best manufacturer you’ve never heard of.  At Drum Center of Portsmouth we like to say that people who know drums, know Canopus.  If you aren’t familiar, you should definitely get acquainted!

    The SQ2 gave us everything we expected from an ultra high-end, custom drum set.  Flawless tone.  Gorgeous finish.  Practical, sturdy hardware.  You pay a premium when you choose a Sonor SQ2, but you know exactly where your money has gone once you sit behind your instrument.

    Ludwig’s Jazzette kit performed well above its price tag.  It’s can be argued that the sound you get from the Classic Maple shells is preferable to that of a kit costing twice as much.  Great looks, practical hardware and distinguished tone make this kit an undeniable value.

     

     

     

     

  • Yamaha Crosstown Advanced Lightweight Hardware Pack Review

    For the gigging drummer, lugging your hardware can literally be a pain in the butt. Few things are more unpleasant than transporting awkward, heavy stands before and after your gig. This routine can be especially brutal during a New England Winter. Ever pinch a finger on a frozen cymbal stand? Not fun.
    So, what are your options? You could hire a drum tech, or you could get yourself some lightweight hardware. Let’s explore the latter option with the Yamaha Crosstown Advanced Lightweight Hardware Pack.

    The Lightest Hardware Pack On The Market


    Yamaha’s Crosstown Advanced Lightweight Hardware Pack consists of two CS3 cymbal stands, one SS3 snare stand and one HHS3 hi-hat stand. The HW3 Pack comes with a convenient carrying case with enough room leftover for your throne and bass pedal. Each piece of hardware is constructed from durable, lightweight Aluminum. The Matte finished fittings keep the appearance consistently attractive from fingerprints, and is refreshingly different.

    Smart Design


    The combined weight of the HW3 Crosstown Advanced Lightweight Hardware Pack is an impressive 17 lbs. If you are a drummer on the go, that is definitely reason to celebrate. Being lightweight won’t do you much good unless the gear is also sturdy. This is where Yamaha seems to have struck the perfect balance.


    Yamaha has employed crimped aluminum legs to bring the ease of a tripod, with the weight of a flat based stand. The durable channel-tracked legs are supported with aluminum bracing that folds up neatly within itself. This allows for solid performance along with exceptional portability.


    The sub-five pound HHS3 Hi-Hat Stand is remarkably stable thanks to a cast aluminum pedal frame. It also boasts a pro-level clutch that you’d expect from a Yamaha product. The SS3 snare stand’s basket uses the same chanel track design as the tripod base, making it strong enough for even your heavier cast snare drums.

    Features

    Crosstown Hardware shares many of the features that makes the rest of their hardware lineup so successful. It also has some unique innovations that are pretty ingenious. Tripod legs sport non-slip rubber feet that grip securely. The cast aluminum pipe clamps share a universal diameter that allow the stands to be converted into a more compact two-piece stand if desired. Beveled grommets are another small, yet crucial feature that protect fingers and fittings from unpleasant damage.

    The Verdict

    The main benefit of this sturdy tripod design is the load capacity. We put the Crosstown pack through its paces with a 22” ride, 18” crash and 15” hats with no stability issues. There are obviously limits. If you are a heavy-handed basher, this lightweight option might not suit your needs. The 600 series or 700 series is a more viable option for you metal-heads.

    The cost of Yamaha Crosstown Advanced Lightweight Hardware Pack is as impressive as its performance. You can pick up the HW-3 from Drum Center of Portsmouth for only $399.99. Considering the convenience this adds to the gigging drummer’s plight, we’d call this a no-brainer.

  • How To Assemble Your First Double Bass Drum Pedal

    Adding a double bass drum pedal to a drum set is an exciting day in a drummer’s life.  When you purchase your first double pedal, you unlock access to a new world of drumming possibilities.  While this is a momentous occasion, you may quickly find yourself overwhelmed by its complexity.  Depending on which pedal you get, there can be a ton of adjustments and tweaks required to get you pedal dialed in.  Here's a step by step guide on how to assemble a double bass drum pedal.

     

    Finding The Right Pedal For You

    There are many factors that go into choosing the correct double bass drum pedal.  For the purposes of this tutorial, we are going with a solid entry-level pedal for the beginner - the DW 3000 Series Double Bass Drum Pedal.  We like this pedal for its balance of affordability, adjustability and reliability.  Other comparable pedals at this price point include the Tama Iron Cobra 600 Double Pedal and the Mapex Armory Double Bass Drum Pedal.  Any one of these pedals would be a great choice for the double-bass beginner.

    Step One: Pedal Placement

    Attach the “primary pedal” (the one with the beaters) to your bass drum using the hoop clamp.  To set the space of the hoop clamp for your bass drum, use the allen wrench provided to loosen the set screw on the clamp and then rotate the knurled nut to narrow or widen the gap. Retighten the set screw. Position the pedal on the center of the hoop and tighten the side wing screw securely. Use the provided rubber hoop protector to avoid damage to the bass drum hoop.

    Next, place the auxiliary pedal in a comfortable position next to your hi-hat stand, making sure you have enough leg room to accommodate your snare drum stand.  

    At this point, you may find that your hi-hat stand isn’t cooperating with your ideal auxiliary pedal placement. Many hi-hat stands have 3 fixed-position legs which aren't very double bass pedal friendly.  You can either try and work around this, or invest in a 2-legged hi-hat stand like the DW 3000 Series Two-Legged Hi Hat Stand or the Tama Iron Cobra Lever Glide Hi Hat Stand.  Other alternatives include hi hat stands with an adjustable legs, like the Pearl 930 Hi-hat Stand.

    All DW Bass Drum Pedals include built in adjustable spurs and non-skid Velcro on the bottom of the pedals to prevent bass drum crawl.

    Step Two: Connecting The Pedals

    Now that your pedals are in place, connect them using the “double pedal linkage”.  You can adjust the length of the linkage by loosening the 4 key screws located at the top of the linkage.  Before attaching the linkage to the pedals, make sure the footboard height and beater angles are similar on both pedals.  You should then be able to attach the linkage to both cams so that the 4 key screws are facing upwards. Firmly tighten the two key screws at the end of the linkage rod to the primary pedal hex rod, ensuring the footboard height and beater angle are optimal.

    Repeat this step with the auxiliary pedal side. Once your pedals are in place and attached via the linkage, make sure all 4 key screws are on the linkage are firmly holding the linkage rod in place.  If this is not the case, you may find your pedal in pieces before long.

    Step Three: Adjusting The Beaters

    The length of the beater shaft can be adjusted to achieve the desired feel and impact area. The beater should hit the center or an area 1-2 inches above the center of the drum. Once the desired height is achieved, secure the beater shaft by tightening the beater hub key screw.

    The standard Two-Way Beater has two usable sides.  One side features a curved, medium felt side for a warmer attack.   Spin it around for a hard plastic side that produces brighter attack.

    Step Four: Fine Tuning

    Depending on the quality of your double bass drum pedal, you will find more or less adjustment options to dial in the feel that’s right for you.  The DW 3000 features Spring Tension Adjustment, Stroke Adjustment, and Chain Position & Footboard Angle Adjustment.

    Spring Tension Adjustment affects how much force is required to move the beaters.  To increase or decrease the spring tension, loosen the round knurled nut at the base of the spring assembly.  Pull down on the spring to release the locking hex nut.  Tighten or loosen the lock nut to create the desired tension, then release the hex nut and retighten the knurled nut to lock in the adjustment.

    Stroke Adjustment can be used to vary the distance the beater travels before hitting the drum. For a slightly heavier (longer) stroke move the screw towards the back.  For a lighter (shorter) stroke move the screw forward.

    The length of the chain determines the angle of the footboard.  Adjust in combination with the beater height and stroke adjustment to change the length of the stroke.  To change the position of the chain, remove the master link connector from the chain and sprocket.  Then, reposition it as directed by moving it to an alternate hole in the sprocket.  The factory settings are recommended for most general playing situations and preferred by many drummers.

    Conclusion

    Depending on the music you play, the double bass drum pedal can be an excellent tool to have in your arsenal.  When you invest your money into this hardware, it’s important to also invest some of your time.  Become familiar with it, and keep it properly maintained.  The more you know about it’s capabilities, the better it will be able to perform for you.

    If you’re thinking about purchasing a double bass drum pedal, let us help you choose the best one to suit your individual needs and budget.  We carry a huge selection of double pedals from the most basic beginner models, to the ultra-high end professional performance pedals.  At the Drum Center of Portsmouth, drum gear is our passion. Give us a call anytime!

  • The Best Drum Set under $800 - With Video

    What’s The Best Complete Drum Set Under $800?

    Tama Imperialstar and the Ludwig Element Evolution are compared in this informative review!

    Tama Imperialstar Drum Set with Meinl Cymbals at Drum Center of Portsmouth

     

     

    At the Drum Center of Portsmouth, we are frequently asked. “What’s the best value drum set for a beginning drummer?”  If you are in the market for that first drum set, there are many inexpensive options out there.

    When it comes to “value”, you can’t beat the complete drum set.  Complete drum sets offer everything you need to get your drumming career up and running - drums, cymbals, and hardware, all in one convenient package.  We carry several varieties of complete drum sets at Drum Center of Portsmouth, including the Yamaha Rydeen, Pearl Roadshow and PDP Mainstage.

    The two standouts in this category are The Tama Imperialstar and the Ludwig Element Evolution.  To us, you won’t find a better value in a complete drum set under $800.  So, which kit is the best? We decided to find out, as we put these two best-selling kits in a head to head comparison.

     

    The Criteria

    We rated these two drum sets based on the following criteria: Drum Shells, Hardware, Cymbals, Drum Heads, Options, and Sound.  We began with the Tama Imperialstar.

     

    Tama Imperialstar

    Tama Imperialstar has been the best-selling drum set at this price point for a long time due to its name recognition, history, and longevity.  The Imperialstar reviewed was a 5-piece kit: 10x8 and 12x9 toms, 16x14 floor tom, 22x18 bass drum and a 14x5 snare drum.  These shells are 100% Poplar, a porous wood, typically found in a lower-cost drum set. The finish of this kit is a wrap that Tama calls, “Candy Apple Mist”, and is quite eye-catching.

    Tama Imperialstar Candy Apple Mist Drum Set at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    The hardware pack included with the Tama Imperialstar includes the legendary Iron Cobra single-chain drive bass drum pedal and hi-hat stand, a snare stand, drum throne, as well as a straight cymbal stand and a hide-away boom cymbal stand.

    Tama Iron Cobra Bass Drum Pedal at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    The Imperialstar comes with the Meinl HCS cymbal pack, consisting of a  pair of 14” hi-hats, a 16” crash cymbal and a 20” ride cymbal.  These cymbals are made of brass, which is an entry-level, low cost cymbal material.  Brass is typically associated with “harsh” sound, but the Meinl HCS cymbal pack does provide some pleasant musical tones.

    Meinl HCS Cymbals at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    Tama gives you stock, single-ply drum heads on the Imperialstar kit, including a pre-muffled bass drum head, along with a coated, single ply snare drum head.  These heads deliver clear projection, but their durability leaves something to be desired.

    The Imperialstar comes in six durable wrapped finishes, and has a ton of add-on options for additional drums.  This makes the Imperialstar an excellent choice for the beginning drummer who wants to expand their setup over time.

    The sound of the Tama Imperialstar is clean, sharp and dynamic thanks to its precise bearing edges, single ply heads and quality components.  The Meinl HCS Cymbal pack fit in relatively well with the overall sound of the Imperialstar.  Watch the video and hear for yourself!

     

    Ludwig Element Evolution

    The Ludwig Element Evolution Drum Set is comprised of 3 of the biggest names in drums: Ludwig, Zildjian and Remo.  The configuration of the Element Evolution is only slightly different than that of the Imperialstar, sporting a slightly deeper 16x16 floor tom.  The 5-piece kit we tested was a wrapped White Sparkle finish.

    The Ludwig hardware pack is similar to the Tama Imperialstar in terms of what you get - a single chain driven pedal and hi-hat stand, single braced snare stand, throne, and bass drum mounted toms.  The Element Evolution does offer 2 hideaway boom stands, as opposed to the Imperialstar.

    Ludwig Element Evolution Drum Set

    Included with the Ludwig complete drum set is Zildjian’s ZBT Bronze cymbal set.  The sizes are the same as the HCS set included with the Tama Imperialstar - 14” hats, a 16” crash and a 20” ride cymbal.  These cymbals are definitely easier on our ears in comparison to the entry-level HCS brass cymbals.

    Zildjian ZBT Cymbals at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    Another bright spot for the Element Evolution is the 2-ply, Pinstripe tom heads by Remo.  These heads provide more durability for the beginning drummer, as well as a controlled, low-end thud that we found pleasing.  While these are not the preferred USA Remo heads we sell here at Drum Center of Portsmouth, they are a step up from the less-durable single ply Tama heads.

    Remo Pinstripe Drum Heads on the Ludwig Evolution Drum Set

    Ludwig offers slightly fewer options when it comes to finishes and add-on drums relative to Tama’s Imperialstar, but there is certainly enough to keep the beginner drummer busy for years to come.

    The overall sound of the Ludwig Element Evolution is impressive.  All the drums tuned up easily and gave us nice round tone, thanks to the 2-ply Remo heads.  The Zildjian ZBT cymbals yield relatively smooth musicality and are a tremendous value at this price point.

     

    The Verdict

    Both the Tama Imperialstar and Ludwig Element Evolution are simply a ridiculous value at this price point.  The fact that you can spend less than $800 and have a solidly built, great sounding kit that will last for years is a testament to both manufacturers.

    1. Drum Shells

    When it comes to the drum shells - we are giving the slight edge to Tama.  The reason we went with Tama is that they disclosed what their shells are actually made of on their website.  We weren’t able to find that info from Ludwig.

    2. Hardware

    The winner for hardware was also Tama. You can’t go wrong with Tama Iron Cobra hardware.  The quality speaks for itself.

    3. Cymbals

    When it comes to cymbal sound, the Zildjian ZBT bronze cymbals are in a class above that of the brass Meinl HCS.  Ludwig takes this category with relative ease.

    4. Heads

    Ludwig’s 2-ply Remo Pinstripe heads also out-performed the stock, single-ply heads found on the Tama Imperialstar.  While we do recommend you replace either set of heads, the Element Evolution stock heads will give you more legitimate playing time before having to do so.

    5. Sound

    Which kit has the best overall sound?  We’ll leave that up to you to decide, because after all, all ears are different. Check out our head to head comparison video and let us know what you think!  Whichever kit you choose, you can’t go wrong, because we've picked the best of the bunch. We highly recommend spending a little more on one of these kits out of the gate, rather than going with one of the less-expensive options.  By spending a little more up-front, you will get a better sounding, longer lasting kit that will provide the new drummer with more enjoyment while they learn their instrument. If they decide to bail, or trade-in their kit down the road for a new one, either one of these kits will yield a better return on investment than their cheaper competitors.

    In Closing

    Have some questions?  Give us a call at 603-319-8109, or email us.    We offer FREE SHIPPING, or if you're local, we offer free set up and tuning on sets purchased here, as well as a LIFETIME LABOR WARRANTY.  That's right, All services performed on your drums will not be charged.  At the Drum Center of Portsmouth, we are obsessed with sound, and helping you get behind the drum set that is right for your individual needs.  When you’re ready to make your first investment in a drum set, you can rely on us for honest answers to any questions you may have.

    Our Tama Imperialstar Drum Set and add on page is here.

    The Ludwig Evolution Drum Sets are here.

     

    Drum Center of Portsmouth
    144 Lafayette Road
    North Hampton NH, USA
    03862
    +1(603)-319-8109

  • Yamaha Drums Review: Drum Sets with Video!

    A Comprehensive Review of Yamaha Drum Sets

    Drum Center of Portsmouth is the #1 Yamaha Drums Dealer in the USA, and we carry the Stage Custom BirchTour Custom MapleLive Custom,  Recording Custom, Absolute Hybrid, and PHX Drum Sets. These are six unique drum sets that vary in shell composition, sound and price point.  Which Yamaha drum kit is right for you?  What’s the difference in sound between a Stage Custom and a Recording Custom?  We set up all six kits for a side-by-side comparison to help answer any questions you may have.

    “But what about the Rydeen Series?” you ask?  We didn’t forget about  the entry-level offering from Yamaha drums.  While Rydeen drums are a decent beginner’s kit, we decided to focus on the mid-level to professional-level Yamaha kits for the purposes of this comparison.

    The Parameters

    Yamaha drums offer a wide variety of configurations and component drums for each of the series we tested.  To keep things consistent, we opted with standard sizes of a 22x17, 10x7, 12x8, 16x15 from each kit.  Our lone constant was the snare drum, and she’s a real beauty –

    Yamaha Recording Custom Stainless-Steel Snare Drum 14x5.5

    For all the toms, we swapped out the stock heads for Remo USA Coated Ambassadors on the top, and Clear Ambassadors on the bottom.  Bass drums were equipped with Remo Clear Power Stroke 3 Batter heads and a ported Smooth Power Stroke 3 on the resonant side.

    For the video of the recording, we used the following microphone setup:

    Kick drum – Audix D6 microphone through the 4” port and a Shure KSM 32 about 6” in front of the resonant head.

    Snare drum – Earthworks SR20LS, which is a great all-around microphone.

    Toms – Earthworks DM20

    Floor Tom – Audix D4

    Overhead – Dual Earthworks SR25

    Yamaha Drums Stage Custom Birch Shell Pack

    Yamaha Drums Tour Custom Maple at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    We had considered leaving the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch series out of our comparison because of its relatively low price point.  OK…it’s a seriously low price point.  We are currently selling 5-piece configurations for under $650.  Once we got these 100% birch shells set up, we were glad we included them.

    This was the only kit that did not come stock with USA Remo heads, which is completely forgivable considering how budget friendly the Stage Customs are.  Once we swapped out the stock heads, the shells tuned up quickly and produced a surprisingly powerful and smooth punch, something we expect from Yamaha drums.  The toms cut with a focused tone, while the floor tom generated some serious boom.  The 22-inch kick drum was solid in both attack and low-end delivery.

    This kit punched way above its price-point in every possible way.  The shell, finish, hardware and edges were all flawless and exceeded our expectations.  Don’t just take our word for it, check out the video and audio for yourself from our demo.

    Yamaha Drums Tour Custom Maple Set

    Yamaha Drums Tour Custom Maple at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    The Yamaha drums Tour Custom Maple line is another value-minded offering that delivers in sound and build quality.  Like the Stage Custom, it features the Absolute lug design and YESS mounts for the toms.  Tour Custom Maples boast a North American and Asian Maple shell, and USA Remo Clear Ambassadors right out of the box.

    The sound is exactly what you want to hear from an all-maple kit, with plenty of mid-range projection and warmth.  This is the type of kit that screams versatility and will work in any situation you ask it to.  At $1299 for a 4-piece configuration, this latest addition to the Yamaha lineup is as good as many higher-priced competitor’s 100% maple shell offerings.  How do they keep the price so low?  Finish options for the Tour Custom are somewhat limited, and there aren’t a ton of component add-ons.

    Yamaha Drums Live Custom Oak Set

    Yamaha Drums Live Custom at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    The Live Customs were perhaps the most interesting drums we tested for the comparison.  These replaced Yamaha’s Oak Custom Series drums which were known for their sharp, loud projection.  Our experience with the Oak Custom line was that customers were often attracted to them for their volume, but eventually grew weary of their somewhat one-dimensional nature.  The Live Customs share the dynamic punch of their predecessors, but deliver it with a smoother, more refined tone.

    We were immediately impressed by the tom response.  These drums project highs, mids and lows in spades with a well-controlled sustain.  While they are a no-brainer for your live gigs, they also sound exceptional under the mics.  We LOVE these kits in smaller sizes.  Live Customs would absolutely kill when tuned up high for a Jazz gig.  The quality of Live Custom finishes is amazing, especially the “Emerald Shadow Sunburst” tested in our video.

    Yamaha Drums Absolute Hybrid Maple Set

    Yamaha Drums Absolute Hybrid Drum Set at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    When moving on to the Absolute Hybrid Maple model, the attention to detail gets kicked up a notch.  This series boasts higher quality everything.  Practical quick release lugs, high quality, low mass Aluminum die cast hoops, and a gorgeous hybrid shell design make the Absolute Hybrids an absolute joy to play.

    In a word, the sound of these drums is “aggressive.”  We refer to them as “Angry Yamahas” around the shop.  The Absolute Hybrid series features a slightly thicker maple shell with an inner core of ultra-dense Wenge that produces a sharply resonant tone.  These drums are incredibly dynamic and open up immediately from the lightest touch.  The toms sing, and the floor tom and kick drums produce a guttural, low end thump.

    Yamaha Drums Recording Custom Set

    Yamaha Drums Recording Custom Drum Set at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    Yamaha claims their Recording Custom Series Drums are the most recorded drums in history.  While we haven’t seen any empirical data to support this claim, we are inclined to believe them.  Recording Custom drums are the industry standard for studio drummers because of their clean, crisp tone.

    There have been a few iterations of the RC series over the years.  A common gripe we’ve heard about the previous iterations was that they tended to be a little thinner sounding, especially with the bass drum.  Where this was ideal in a mic’d setup, some would say they were slightly lacking in a live acoustic environment.  These latest RCs we tested seem to address those complaints with stellar tone in all frequencies, and a massive sounding kick drum.  Yes, they are now made in China, but these Recording Customs are the best sounding to our ears and the QC is as good as it’s ever been.  We think you’ll agree when you hear the audio!

    Yamaha Drums PHX Set

    Yamaha Drums PHX Drum Set at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    The PHX series has been surrounded by hype since Yamaha drums released the flagship line of ultra-high-end drums in 2009.  Yamaha decided to take the “Ferrari” approach when developing these drums - where cost was no issue.  Their only concern was to create the ultimate high-end professional drum set.

    At the heart of the PHX is its luxuriously thick 11-ply Kapur-Maple-Jatoba hybrid shell.  These exotic woods are progressively harder from the center ply to the outer plies.  We were taken aback upon inspection of the interiors of these drums.  The craftsmanship and attention to detail is of the finest quality.  Put simply – more thought has gone into the R&D of the PHX than any other, and it shows.

    But how do they sound?  To get these magnificent looking toms to where they wanted to be, we definitely had to spend more time with the tuning than the other kits tested.  This is due to the unique approach Yamaha drums took with the PHX bearing edges.  All drums have a 30° bearing edge, but each "family" of drums uses a different profile. Bass drums have a sharper edge cut toward the outer plies. This gives the bass drums attack and shortens the decay. Floor toms have a slightly rounded edge to give them a balance of attack and sustain. Toms have an even more rounded profile for warmth and sustain.  These rounded edges required a different relationship between the top and bottom heads, in that they preferred to be tuned closer together.  Once we figured that out, the results were pure bliss.  Check out the tone for yourself in the video!

    Closing Thoughts

    If you’re shopping for your particular sound, Yamaha drums is going to have you covered at whatever price you can afford.  Whether you want to spend $700 or $7,000 on your next kit, we can say with confidence that Yamaha will provide a quality-made instrument.  Every kit that we tested was flawless in finish and construction.  Shells were round, bearing edges were perfect, and hardware was rock solid.  The tone we got out of the $650 Stage Custom was comparable (or exceeded) that of many more expensive kits we’ve tested in the past.  We highly recommend giving Yamaha a shot.

    At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we specialize in helping you achieve YOUR perfect drum sound, whether it's Yamaha Drums or others. Give us a call at (603) 319-8109 to speak with a professional about that sound you hear in your head.  We are legit sound freaks and look forward to helping you navigate your way to the drums of your dreams.  We carry a huge selection of Yamaha Drum Sets and Snare Drums in stock.  If Yamaha isn’t your thing, we can help with many other fine manufacturers as well.

    Keep your eyes peeled to our YouTube Page for more exciting and slightly eccentric drum-related content!

     

     

     

     

     

  • Snare Drums are Precious Metal at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    Snare Drums are Precious Metal at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    With the blazing hot temperatures of summer, we thought we could help you cool down with some gorgeous metal snare drums.  We have some incredible and rare pieces that you can check out.  Go to the product pates to check out the videos!
    And don't forget - we can do financing as well!

    Ludwig Brass Beauty Snare Drum

    Ludwig Brass Beauty Snare Drum

    Ludwig Supraphonic "Brass Beauty" Snare Drum 14x6.5 - DCP Exclusive!

    Here's a rare model for you! The Ludwig Supraphonic has been a staple among session and gigging drummers for decades. The seamless brass shell yields a rich sound with musical overtones and sings at any tuning. While the polished brass finish is a timeless classic, Ludwig has agreed to make a limited run of this amazing drum with brass trim, available only at the Drum Center of Portsmouth! The tube lugs, die cast hoops, P86 strainer, and P33 butt are all brass plated, making this amazing drum look even better! Don't hesitate to get your hands on this phenomenal drum!

     

    Buy Now

    Van Kleef "7" Snare Drum Van Kleef "7" Snare Drum

    VK Drums 7 Snare Drum 14x6.5

    • 14" x 6.5" Titanium, Magnesium, Brass, Copper & Aluminium shell.
    • Surgical steel tubes with Copper, Stainless, Titanium, Aluminium & Brass Lugs
    • Stainless steel hoops
    • Stainless Steel VK 007 throw with integrated, titanium VKey
    • Mild steel tension rods
    • Laser cut VK air hole logo
    • Puresound wires
    • Set up with Remo heads
    • Made by hand in Sheffield, England

     

    View More Details

    Van Kleef Ageless Silver Snare Drum Van Kleef Ageless Silver Snare Drum

    VK Drums Ageless Silver Snare Drum 14x4.5 w/ Hardcase

    The Ageless Collection, 14 x 4.5 Silver snare has the sound and feel like no other drum. This drum is made from 1.5mm thick 925 Solid Sterling Silver, for snare tone like no other.

    The Van Kleef Ageless Collection drum has a unique sound that, combined with the resonant qualities of the brushed finish silver shell range from dry, crisp tones at low tuning, to subtle, articulate tones at higher tuning. The construction of this drum is another reason it sounds so good.

    • 925 Sterling Silver for that unique VK silver sound.
    • Straight Sheffield stainless steel hoops.
    • Solid Sheffield stainless steel single point tube lugs, turned on a lathe, then drilled, tapped and polished by hand.
    • Stainless steel lugs are brush finished on the sides and mirror polished on the front faces.
    • VK-007 Sheffield stainless steel strainer and butt, with the "Ageless Collection" design on the front of the strainer and mini logo on butt plate.
    • Sheffield stainless steel "VKey", silent ratchet drum key is designed to live inside the VK-007 strainer.
    • Foam lined custom designed Hardcase in silver colour.
    • White gloves.
    • Puresound wires.
    • Setup with Remo Ambassador heads.
    • Made by hand in Sheffield, England.
    • Patents Pending
    Buy Now

    Dunnett Classic 2N Engraved Snare Drum by John Aldridge Dunnett Classic 2N Engraved Snare Drum by John Aldridge

    Dunnett Classic 2N Antique Brass Snare Drum 14x6.5 Engraved w/ Brass Trim

    Dunnett Classic Drums are among the best snare drums in the industry and surely Canada's best export aside from Tim Horton's. DCP stocks a variety of Dunnett snare drums, including stainless steel, titanium, monoply wood models, and an ever-evolving selection of prototypes and one-offs. We specialize in many of these rarities and collectible items.

    Please note: Due to their raw, unfinished nature, Dunnett metal shells can and will show various spots and marks that may or may not be represented in images/videos. This is considered to be a normal part of the shell's aging and patina process.

    •     Hand Engraved by John Aldridge!
    •     R4L Strainer
    •     Hypervent
    •     42-Strand Wires
    •     Ahead Bag Included
    More Details Here

    Noble And Cooley Alloy Classic Snare Drum 14x6 Noble And Cooley Alloy Classic Snare Drum 14x6

    Noble And Cooley Alloy Classic Snare Drum 14x6

    The Industry Classic! This 6x14 Noble & Cooley Alloy Classic Snare Drum has a unique cast aluminum shell that delivers a focused, dense sound. It cracks very well at high tunings, but can emulate a wood shell at lower tunings. It's tremendous versatility in the recording studio or on the stage makes it a MUST HAVE for the working drummer's arsenal.

    Buy Now

    Schagerl Antares Brass Snare Drum Schagerl Antares Brass Snare Drum

    Schagerl Antares Brass Snare Drum 14x6.5 w/ Black Hardware

    ANTARES is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius and is the fifth brightest observable star in the night sky. Named for its equal footing to the Greek God Ares, it is easy to see why we chose "Antares" as the name for the line of brass snare drums. Each drum makes a bold statement with heavy yellow brass tube lugs and a raw finished 0.7mm brass shell.

    Adorned with 2.3mm yellow brass or black nickel over steel hoops, the Antares evokes images of battle-worn Grecian armor while retaining a subtle elegance.

    The multi-step Trick Drums strainer allows for precise tension adjustments making the Antares suitable for conventional kit playing as well as orchestral work. The shell itself is dramatically undersized at the top and the bottom to create a tympani effect with remarkable resonance. The raw finished brass will retain its gorgeous looks due a lacquer covering. No two Schagerl Drums raw finish drums are alike.

    • Shell: 0.7mm Yellow Brass
    • Strainer: Modified Trick Drums Multi-step
    • Hardware Material: Ten Schagerl single contact point heavy brass tube lugs
    • Hoops: 2.3mm triple-flanged
    Buy Now

    Tama Star Hand Hammered Copper Snare Drum Tama Star Hand Hammered Copper Snare Drum

    Tama Star Reserve Hand Hammered Copper Snare Drum 14x6.5
    The STAR Drums series' first metal snare features a hand hammered copper shell. In addition to a mid-low end with tons of volume, the hand hammered shell creates a deeply harmonic overtone. A slightly smaller diameter hammer is used on the edge of the shell compared with the hammer that is used on the center, causing the shell to take a barrel shape.This unique shape provides a fat sound and rich resonance. To complement the shell, we used our original 2.3mm brass Customized Flanged Hoop. The edge of this hoop is slightly shaved down compared to our standard flanged hoop, producing a sharper and brighter attack. The combination of these two different characteristics - warm, rich resonance with sharp, bright attack - offers a totally new and original sound, unlike any other metal drums.

    • MSL90S Lug
    • Customized Brass Mighty Hoop (8 Hole)
    • REMO Coated Ambassador / Hazy Bottom Snare Side
    Buy Now

    Trick Scorched Copper Snare Drum Trick Scorched Copper Snare Drum

    Trick Precious Metals 3mm Copper Snare Drum 14x6.5 Scorched

    The Trick copper drum is warm and powerful, built to exacting tone and aesthetic standards. Coupled with Trick's single-point lugs, GS007 throw, and German wires, this drum sings! Perfect for any musical situation.

    Buy Now

    A&F Raw Brass Snare Drum A&F Raw Brass Snare Drum

    A&F Raw Brass Snare Drum 14x6.5

    This 6.5x14 A&F Raw Brass Snare Drum is innovative, gorgeous, and completely handcrafted from scratch in Austin Texas. They cut, roll, weld, and sand their own brass shells, then treat them with a patented oxidizing formula to jump start the patina process. The edge is a 45 degree cut with a 3.5" bed, and there are 8 in-house machined raw brass lugs. This deceptively heavy drum is hyper-sensitive, with a fundamentally bright and crispy tone with projection and articulation that is second to none. Find out why we are so excited to be carrying the A&F drum line at the Drum Center of Portsmouth!

    Buy Now
    Subscribe to our YouTube Channel!  We're producing tons of great new content on a weekly basis.  When you subscribe, you're one of the first to know!
    Drum Center of Portsmouth YouTube Channel

     

  • A Closer look at the George H. Way Drum Company

     

    George Way Drum Company – What’s Old is New

    George H. Way Drum Set

    There is a special kind of mojo that is associated with that drum sound of the 50’s and 60’s.  The recipe of thin, resonant shells with fewer plies and reinforcement rings yield an unmistakable thud that is prominent in so many recordings from that era.  This sound that is sought after by so many modern-day drummers has created a higher demand in the Neo-Vintage drum market.  While many manufacturers have carved a niche in this market, few have done it with the authenticity and attention to detail as George Way Drum Company.

    The relaunch of George Way Drum Company is a passion project of Ronn Dunnett, one of the finer drum craftsmen in our industry.  These classically styled instruments pay homage to another brilliant innovator in drum history – George Harrison Way.

    George Way is a legendary figure in American drum manufacturing who worked with Leedy, Slingerland, and Leedy & Ludwig before starting his own drum company in the mid 1950's.  Among a huge list of notable accomplishments is the Turret-style lug that DW Drums has adopted and made famous.  George had a long and varied career in drums and left an indelible mark on the industry before his passing in 1969.

    Over 60 years later Ronn Dunnett acquired trademarks for the brand and began making vintage-styled instruments with modern updates in honor of George Way.  We’ve carried Dunnett Classic Drums from day one at the Drum Center of Portsmouth, and we were very excited to get our hands on the George Way line upon their release.  Way Drums have been around for over a decade now and have established themselves firmly in the neo-vintage marketplace.

    If you aren’t familiar with George Way drums, you should get acquainted.  While they faithfully recreate a vintage sound, the rich tone of these thin shells can be applied to most modern-day genres of music.

    George Way Drum Sets

    George Way Drum Sets are a little bit different in that they don’t have many custom options.  Ronn produces his kits in finite batches, so they are all essentially “limited releases”.  Sometimes, component add-ons are available, but the drums are primarily traditional depths – 14” deep kick drums, 12” toms are 8 inches deep, etc.  Once these kits are gone, they’re gone.  So get them while you can!

    Studio” Series drum sets feature classic 4-ply Maple shells with 4-ply Poplar reinforcement rings that sing with warm clarity in a wide range of tunings.  The “Tradition Series” kits vary in wood types.  Over the years, we have seen Cherry, Birch, and Mahogany, typically in a classic 4-ply shell with 4-ply reinforcement hoops configuration.  Currently, we have a handful of classy kits in Walnut with a handsome matte Cordia finish.  Tradition Walnut Series drums have a slightly dark, warm, round thud that fill the room with a thick, classic tone.  Once you get behind one of these limited kits, you may very well stop chasing that vintage sound in your head!

    Way Drums feature Dunnett’s “Reso-Tone” heads by Remo, reminiscent of older Ludwig heads that vintage buffs will truly appreciate.  Unlike the old Ludwig heads, however, the Reso-Tone heads have stronger collars and better QC.  And that’s kind of the deal with George Way drums, in general.  You get a faithful homage to vintage design with a seamless integration of modern improvements.  The toms sport the classic George Way Streamline lugs, along with unique hi-profile triple flanged hoops, which we find particularly noteworthy.  All hardware is finished in a high quality, “AAA” chrome finish.

    George Way Snare Drums

    Here at Drum Center of Portsmouth, we specialize in high-end snare drums.  If there is one thing we are certain of, it’s that Ronn knows how to make a great sounding snare drum.  We’ve seen a TON of Dunnett snares come and go through the years, and they are consistently outstanding.  George Way snare drums are no exception.   The metal snare drum line covers all the bases.  The ultra thin-shelled aluminum “Aero” is delightfully dry and crispy.  The “Indy” bronze projects bold, warm tone.  The “Elkhart” features a medium, polished copper shell with rich darkness, and “The Hollywood” rocks an extra heavy Chrome over Brass Shell that could easily be your main go-to for any gig.

    George Way wood snare drums are equally varied in their composition.  The backbone of the wood snare line is the “Studio”, featuring a 4-ply Maple / Poplar shell with 4-ply reinforcement rings.  The Studio model is available in many different finish types and is a house favorite here at DCP.  “Tradition” models feature similar 4 and 4 layup shells of Walnut, Acacia (he “Carter McLean” Signature model), Mahogany and more.  They even have solid-ply shells covered with the “Advanced” series snare drums.  Way snare drums feature Way Classic lugs, those awesome flanged hoops we mentioned earlier, and several different throw-off options.

    The Verdict

    Before you drop a ton of money on some sketchy Craigslist ad vintage drums, you owe it to yourself to give George Way drums a test drive.  Considering the quality of the build and the components of these instruments, they are VERY reasonably priced.  With so many options within the Way lineup, you are likely to find that vintage vibe that satisfies your ears.

    At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we specialize in helping you achieve YOUR perfect drum sound. Give us a call at (603) 319-8109 to speak with a professional about that sound you hear in your head.  We are legit sound freaks and look forward to helping you navigate your way to the drums of your dreams.  We carry a huge selection of George Way Drum Company Drum Sets and Snare Drums in stock.  If George Way isn’t your thing, we can help with many other fine manufacturers as well.

    Keep your eyes peeled to our YouTube Page for more exciting and slightly eccentric drum-related content!

     

     

     

     

  • DW Collectors Series Drum Set Shootout!

    Does The Type Of Wood Used Actually Affect The Sound Of A DW Collectors Series Drum Set?

    DW (Drum Workshop) offers a lot of options when it comes to drum shells.  This is great, in that there's an endless amount of options in the DW Collectors series.  For someone who's looking to get a drum set, however, it can seem a little daunting – especially when it comes to selecting a wood type.  Maple, Birch, Cherry, Oak, Spruce, Mahogany…which choice is right for you?  Does the type of wood you choose even have an effect on what it will sound like?  If you browse your favorite drum forum, you’ll find many differing opinions on this particular subject.

    Here at the Drum Center of Portsmouth, we were fortunate enough to be able to conduct a pretty cool experiment to determine what (if any) impact wood type has on a drum’s overall sound.  We took three identically (and exceptionally) finished Collectors Series kits with three completely different shell compositions.  DW “Pure Cherry”, DW “Cherry/Mahogany”, and DW “Pure Purpleheart.”  It’s these moments where we truly love our job.  Seriously…who else gets to do this kind of stuff?

    Before we get into detail, here's an overview of what happened:

    1. Sizes and Finish. A list of what we were working with.
    2. Drum Head Selection. Remo's specially made heads designed for DW Collectors series drum kits.
    3. Tune Bot. The great tuning equalizer.
    4. Microphones Used. A list of what was used to obtain the sound.
    5. Detailed Impressions. C'mon, tell us how you really feel.
    6. The Verdict. The jury concludes after some intense deliberation.

    Dw Collectors Series Drum Set Dw Collectors Series Drum Set

    The Drum Sizes and Finish

    The exotic shells are finished in what DW calls, “Exotic Tangerine Burst over Candy Stripe Padouk” with nickel hardware.  We were absolutely blown away by the quality of the finish.  These are really gorgeous drums – something we’ve all come to expect from DW.  Once we composed ourselves, we were able to focus on the task at hand – the sound.

    The three kits we tested are shell packs that share the exact same sizes: a 22x18 bass drum, 10x8 and 12x9 mounted rack toms, a 14x12 floor tom, a 16x14 floor tom, and a 14x6.5 matching snare with triple flanged True Hoops and True Tone Snare Wires.  It’s worth mentioning that the attention to detail and consistency of production techniques make these three kits nearly indistinguishable from a distance.  DW does an amazing job when it comes to their aesthetics and tightness of tolerance.  You probably already knew this.

    Something else about these kits – no reinforcement rings.  These are different than your traditional DW Collector’s Series Maple shells in that they are a little thicker, as well.

    Drum Heads on DW Collectors Series Drum Sets

    For the tom heads we used DW’s Smooth AA that are made by Remo USA and came standard on 2 of the 3 kits.  These AA heads are manufactured solely for DW, and are not a normal offering from Remo.  We decided to leave the stock, industry standard Remo single-ply resonant heads on the toms.  Additionally, we used DW’s stock snare drum heads – a Coated AA batter and Standard Snare Side resonant.  We replaced the bass drum heads to a Smooth White Power Stroke 3 on the batter side, and an Ebony Power Stroke 3 on the resonant side.  This was merely out of personal preference.  If you haven’t tried out Remo PS3’s, we highly recommend it.  We added a 4” port for a more convenient kick drum mic setup.

    Tune Bot Gig A Drummers Best friend

    The Tune Bot put to the Test!

    Regarding the tuning of the drums, we wanted to keep it as scientific and objective as possible, so we used the TuneBot Gig version.  This gave us complete control and consistency from kit to kit.  With these controls in place, any noticeable difference in sound between the different kits could only be attributed to their shell composition.  On a side note, we highly recommend the TuneBot for ease and consistency of tuning your drums.  This made the process MUCH more efficient for our purposes.  In case you’re curious of the EXACT TuneBot settings for this experiment (we know you’re out there), you can find them in our In-Depth Video Review here.

    Miking the Drum Set

     

    For the video of the recording, we used the following microphone setup:

    Kick drum – Audix D6 microphone through the 4” port and a Shure KSM 32 about 6” in front of the resonant head.

    Snare drum – Earthworks SR20LS, which is a great all-around microphone.

    Toms – Earthworks DM20

    Overhead – Single Earthworks SR25

     

    For the purposes of this experiment, we wanted to make sure that the mixing of the audio was quick and clean.  We used no EQ’ing on the individual channels.  We only applied a high-pass filter on the toms to get rid of some of the low-end rumble.  Then we adjusted the L/R balance…and BOOM.  Done.

    Which Drum Workshop Kit is the best?

     

    Kit #1 –Cherry/Mahogany

    DW Collectors Series Cherry Mahogany Drum Set DW Collectors Series Cherry Mahogany Drum Set

    These gorgeous shells consist of a Cherry-ply base, sandwiched between an inner and outer ply of Mahogany.  We know cherry to be very bright wood, with a lot of attack and really pronounce mids, whereas Mahogany is going to give you some extra low end with lots of boom.  This DW Cherry/Mahogany kit gave us both of those properties in spades.  This was especially apparent with the 12-inch tom.  Playing that particular drum was like dribbling a 90-pound basketball…just a big, fat booming sound!  The snare drum fit right in with the kit.  We can't say that there was anything about it that that made it different from the kit, which is good. It seemed to blend well.

     

    Overall, this was a big sounding kit with substantial complexity to the tone.  We feel this is a kit well suited for the “big note” type drummer…you know, the “Pat Boone Debbie Boone” type fills that have that real big sound.

     

    Kit #2 - Purpleheart

     

    Next up…Pure Purpleheart.  This was our first experience with a 100% Purpleheart-shelled kit.  We were aware that the wood was very dense, so we expected them to be somewhat vibrant.

     

    The first thought that comes to you when sitting behind this kit is, “Wow, these drums are ALIVE!”  All the drums projected.  Substantially.  This was a significantly different experience than driving the Cherry Mahogany kit.  The Purpleheart shells have a sharper note, which we found very appealing.  They deliver that fundamentally low note, along with clean stick articulation.

     

    Before offering Pure Purpleheart as an entire kit, DW offered it as a base for snare drums, and now we can see why. The Purpleheart snare drum checked all the boxes we look for in a snare and was hands-down the winner of the day.  Sharp, loud articulate punch with plenty of sensitivity.  The bass drum also had a nice blend of low end thump and attack that stood out.

     

    Kit #3 -  Pure Cherry

     

    Last up was the 100% Pure Cherry DW Collectors series kit.  We were especially excited to play this kit, as we’ve had other DW Cherry kits in the shop in the past that did not disappoint.  Cherry makes a great shell material for drums, although it’s not all that commonly used.  In our experience, Cherry is not far off from that of birch in tonal characteristics – big attack with pronounced mids and lows.  This particular kit, however, had a smoother, more balanced vibe to it – which really impressed us!  It was like the difference between a 12-year and 18-year old scotch; both are delicious, but one is a little smoother in finish.  That was this Pure Cherry kit.

    The Verdict

    So, does the type of wood used in a drum shell influence what the drum will sound like?  After conducting a relatively controlled experiment on 3 extremely high-end drum sets, our answer is a resounding, “yes!”

    The degree to which the sound will differ, of course, varies on many factors.  Choice of heads, your ability to properly tune a drum, bearing edge quality, the thickness of the shell, environment, etc.  All of these factors being equal, we feel like you will have a different experience based on the shell material you choose.

    And which DW Collectors kit sounded the best?  If you ask 3 different people at the Drum Center of Portsmouth, you’ll probably get 3 different answers.  If you’re looking for deep, boomy thud, you may favor the Cherry/Mahogany shells.  Want to project loud, sharp articulation?  Maybe Purpleheart is the way to go.  If you are looking for total tonal balance, the Pure Cherry is an excellent option.

    Each one of these ultra-high-end kits exceeded expectation and opened the eyes of a few people here who never really considered DW to be “their sound”.  Be sure to check out our video to hear the results for yourself and let us know what you think!

    Looking For Your Own DW Collectors Series Kit?

     

    At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we specialize in helping you achieve YOUR perfect drum sound. Give us a call at (603) 319-8109 to speak with a professional about that sound you hear in your head.  We are legit sound freaks and look forward to helping you navigate your way to the DW kit of your dreams.  We carry a huge selection of DW Drums and Hardware in stock.  If DW isn’t your thing, we can help with many other fine manufacturers as well.

    Keep your eyes peeled to our YouTube Page for more exciting and slightly eccentric drum-related content!

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