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Events, Cool Products and Videos from Drum Center of Portsmouth

  • Top 5 Things to Consider When Buying Your First Drum Set

    Things to Consider When Buying Your First Drum Set

    Buying your first drum set is an incredibly exciting time for any aspiring musician.

    Whether you’re trying to channel that inner rhythm that causes you to tap and bang on your closest surroundings, or you’re looking to start your child on the drums early, you’ve come to the right place!

    Owning drumming gear is a wonderful investment that allows you to tap your musical potential (pun intended).

    However, if you’ve never owned a drum set before, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before buying to make sure you have all the equipment needed to rock out.

    So scoot right on up and take a seat on the throne (yes, that’s what we call the seat!)—because we’re going to walk you through everything you need to consider before buying your first drum kit.

    1. What’s included in a Drum Set? And How Many Pieces do You Need?

    The first thing to consider when buying a drum set is how many pieces you need. Depending on your level of expertise and your budget, starting small and keeping it simple might be the best option for novice drummers.

    Most beginner drum sets are sold as 5-piece or 6-piece kits. The number of “pieces” refers to the number of core drums included in the bundle. For example, if you have a snare, a bass, and three toms, this would add up to a 5-piece set.

    When shopping, it is important to consider how many core drums you’ll want to start out with, as well as any cymbals and other percussion add-ons you’d like to purchase.

    Most inclusive packages will come with a few basic cymbals, like a high-hat and a crash/ride cymbal. However, if you’re not buying an inclusive package you’ll need to choose your own cymbals and necessary hardware.

    The great thing about drum kits is that you can start small with the basics and add onto your set with more fancy bells and whistles once you get into the groove.

    2. What Size Drums Do You Need?

    Depending on your space limitations and who will be playing the drums, you may be better off purchasing your set in a specific size. One of the most popular sizes is referred to as “rock” sets. These are a bit larger but they produce a beautiful sound that is deep and balanced.

    Fusion and Hybrid size sets are also becoming increasingly popular because they take up much less space.

    If you’re buying a set for a little drummer, a Junior set may be the perfect option. These are much smaller and more compact, perfect for young musicians looking to rock out. The bass on a Junior set is usually 16” with 8” and 10” tomes.

    The size of your throne is also very important and can make a huge difference when practicing for long periods of time. In fact, some consider it the most valuable investment, which is why it is essential to get an appropriately sized throne that can support proper posture and comfortable playing.

    3. Things to Consider when Buying Shell Sets

    In addition to all-inclusive kits, some manufacturers also sell what is known as “shell sets”. These sets basically include your drums, the holders, and that’s it. Shell sets do not include any additional hardware or cymbals, so you will need to purchase these separately.

    If you purchase a shell set, make sure you also looking into purchasing the following:

    ● A hardware set, including a high-hat stand
    ● A cymbal pack with stands
    ● A snare stand
    ● A bass pedal
    ● A throne
    ● Sticks

    Shell sets can be great if you want to customize your kit as much as possible with the right instruments/tools you need. However, if you’re just looking for the basics, an all-inclusive set might be better suited for your needs.

    4. What’s Your Sound?

    When buying your first kit, you really want the music to be able to resonate with your soul. For this reason, it is important to consider what sound you’re going for so that you can choose the right material to achieve that beat.

    The type of wood used in an acoustic drum, for example, can impact the way the instrument sounds. Below we’ve outlined some of the characteristics of the most popular woods.

    Maple: stronger lows that resonate and create bright/warm tones.
    Birch: strong high frequencies and low-end punch. Ideal for dark tones.
    Mahogany: very rich low-end frequencies.

    The size will also have an impact on the sound.

    5. Additional Add Ons

    In addition to the drum set itself, there are a few vital add ons that you’ll need if you want to be a happy drummer. For example, many kits don’t come with drumsticks (surprising, we know!)
    Other useful items include:

    ● music stands
    ● amps (if you have any electric drums)
    ● soft-bag cases for transporting your instruments
    ● ton rings
    ● dampening pads

    For more worthwhile addition, check out our accessories and hardware section here.

    Choosing a Drum Set That Will Grow With You

    One of the greatest things about drum sets and that you can continue to add on to them and change out the pieces as you grow. While it might be tempting to start out with a rock and roll size drum kit, investing in high-quality basics first can give you all the tools you need to master the basics and find your rhythm.

    At Drum Center, we pride ourselves on helping our customers create their dream set-up. We can pair you with the right kits for your needs so that you can start rocking out in no time.
    Whether you’re shopping for yourself or a loved one, we have a wide selection of drum sets from some of the top manufacturers on the market.
    Browse our selection of drum sets today to find one that resonates with you!

  • A Snapshot History of the Modern Snare Drum

    history of snare drums

    No percussion line is complete without a snare.

    The snare drum is known for its classic sharp staccato, which is unmistakable in any modern marching band or orchestra.

    However, despite its present popularity, the snare drum has actually been around for hundreds of years—even dating back to medieval times.

    Below we’ve outlined some of the history of this ancient instrument and how it became the modern staple it is today.

    Medieval Origins

    Based on historical records, the snare drum has roots all the way back in medieval times, around the 1300—when its ancestor, the Tabor was used by the fife and drum corps.

    The tabor (pronounced “tay-bor”), was a double-headed large instrument that was worn over the right shoulder using a strap.

    Around the 1500s and 1600s, Swiss mercenary foot soldiers used the Tabor to send signals to each other while out on the field. During this time, the instrument also became longer, and was worn alongside the body as a “field drum” or “side drum”.

    The Tabor was primarily tensioned using leather straps or ropes laced in W and V patterns around the shell. By the 1500s, the European Tabor had traveled to other countries and became a popular instrument for various uses.

    In England, a similar instrument was developed by the 1500s, however, the name was changed from Tabor to drume or drome.

    1600s - 1800s: A New Age for the Snare

    New Tensioning Methods

    By the 1600s, new manufacturing methods made it easier to create snare drums and adjust the tension.

    The addition of screws around the 1700s allowed the snare drum to be secured and tensioned more firmly, creating a tighter snap and brighter sound that replaced the loose rattle of the Tabor.

    During the 1800s, development techniques continued to improve the tensioning method, enhancing the overall sound quality. By increasing the tension, drummers were able to create more complex sounds and rhythmic patterns. For this reason, classical musicians started to use the snare around the 1800s for the march-like timbre that added a touch of color.

    Around the mid-century, snares significantly decreased in size and started being built out of brass. This created the higher pitched and crisper sound that is now popular amongst orchestras.

    Military Uses and the Classic Marching Sound

    During the 18th and 19th centuries, the snare drum also displayed tremendous military uses. Various songs played by drum and fife have been documented and studied as an integral part of military culture during their era.

    American military troops, for example, were woken by about 5 minutes of snare and fife, with well-known songs like “Three Camp”. Other uses included songs like “Peas on a Trench”, “Breakfast Call”, and “Roast Beef”, which were used to call soldiers for meals. Other tunes, included “Tattoo” and “Fatigue Call” which were used to signal bedtime and police the barracks, respectably.

    Military bands also started using this instrument in the 19th century, replacing the tenor drum. The distinct timbre of a marching snare still rings as a classic military sound today.

    In addition to its uses within the military camps, this drum also made its way out onto the field on multiple occasions. The military bugle, snare, and fife were all used to send signals during the 18th and 19th century, echoing back to the military uses for the Tabor during Medieval times.

    1900s – Present: The Modern Snare Drum

    After the 1900s, the snare drum underwent some major improvements to its design. For better tensioning, metal counter-hoops were created and added to help tighten the drumheads efficiently. Coiled wires also were added to the design during this time, a now familiar feature of the snare.

    In today’s modern area, the snare drum is an integral part of any Trap-set. Traps are made up of percussion instruments, drums, and cymbals, and were first used in ragtime and jazz music, as well as silent movies.

    Rock and Roll and Jazz music continued to highlight the instrument for its rhythmic backbeat and comping power.

    In response to the instrument’s success in mainstream music, companies like Ludwig and Rogers, which we carry, started creating multiple types and sizes of snare drums.

    By the mid-1900’s, little advancements like plastic drumheads and snare throw offs made a big difference for the instrument—creating better sound quality and control.

    The shell design and hardware for snares has continued to improve into the modern age, as the instrument marches on as a popular drum for everything from marching bands to garage bands.

    Leading Brands March On with the Snare Drum

    From jazz to rock and roll, military tunes to classical music, the distinct sound of the snare transcends genres and continues to be a favorite for percussionists around the world.

    Today, there are several manufacturers that help carry on the snares legacy, offering the instrument in a variety of materials, shells, styles, and sizes.

    At Drum Center, we are proud to partner with some of the leading snare drum manufactures in the world. The legendary Ludwig drums was one of the first companies to specialize in large-scale snare manufacturing and they’re still considered industry leaders today for their high-quality instrument and superior sound. Other great brands include Mapex, Dunnett, Canopus, and more.

    Shop from Hundreds of Modern Snare Drums

    At Drum Center, we appreciate not only this drum’s rich history but also its modern uses today. We fell in love with the snare drum early on, and we are sure you will as well!

    We have over 400 snare drums on hand, giving our customers a huge selection to choose from. Whether you’re joining a marching band or simply looking to add to your musical collection, we can help match you with the right make and model for your needs.

    From budget-friendly instruments to high-end collectors’ items, we have a huge selection in store and online that you can browse.

  • Tama Star Drum Sets - Head to Head Review

    Tama Star Drum Sets - Bubinga, Maple, Walnut Compared at Drum Center of Portsmouth!

    Tama Star drums have generated a lot of buzz since their launch in 2013.  The Star line is handcrafted by a small group of artisans in Japan to incredible tolerances.  Their uncompromising attention to detail makes Tama Star Drums a shop favorite at Drum Center of Portsmouth.  We’ve put together an epic head-to-head comparison video of Tama’s big three - Star Bubinga, Star Maple and Star Walnut.

    The Idea

    Working at a drum store has its perks.  One day during a meeting, someone had the idea to order a bunch of the world’s finest drums for a comparison video.  After a few long months our shipment arrived, and we were rewarded with three jaw-dropping kits. The Star Maple and Star Bubinga kits share the same configuration.  10x7, 12x8 rack toms, 14x14, 16x16 floor toms and a 22x18 bass drum. The Star Walnut kit sports slightly different sizes: 10x8, 12x9, 14x12, 16x14, 18x22.

    Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat.  Tama Star drums are among the most beautiful instruments on this planet.  When these kits were unboxed, everyone at the shop stopped what they were doing.  You can’t take your eyes off of them. The exotic grain, the flawless finish, the stunning hardware, those INLAYS!  

    Once we got over the initial shock of pure aesthetic perfection, we got to spend some quality time playing Tama’s flagship line.  And, oh...what a joy it was.

    Tama Star Bubinga

    At the front line of Tama Star drums is the Tama Star Bubinga.  The kit we test drove was finished in immaculate Dark Red Cordia.  The shell construction of the Star Bubingas is a super-thin 4.5mm with thick 9mm reinforcement rings.  The interiors are equally as gorgeous with an inner ply of oiled Cordia.

    Right away you can spot something unusual about these drums.  Tama ships them with Remo Ambassadors, as opposed to Evans heads.  This is just one of the details that help you realize that Tama spared no expense regarding the sound of these drums.  The kick drums come equipped with PS3 batters and Fiberskyn resonant heads.

    The sound of Star Bubingas can be summed up in a word - aggressive.  Their dark tone is immediate, sharp and punchy. Their note is clear and beautiful, and they tune up with ease.  Tama’s Zinc diecast hoops keep the sustain focused and the drum in tune for days. The kick drum was our favorite part of this kit, providing ridiculous thump and cut.

    Tama Star Maple

    As we switched over from Star Bubinga to Star Maple the benefits of Tama’s Star Hardware became apparent.  Tama’s Super Resonant Mounting system works with a nifty quick-lock tom bracket that makes setup a breeze. Simply flip a switch on the tom stand arm to release your tom while leaving the memory lock in place.  Slide the tom back on and, boom. Ready for the next gig. The floor toms also employ these quick locks, making them ultimately gig-friendly.

    Our Star Maple kit was also drool-worthy in appearance.  The finish is called, “Gloss Sycamore” and resembles the most heavily figured Flamed Maple you could imagine.  The gloss is flawless, and has a genuine 3D appearance.

    Star Maple shell construction is completely different from the Bubingas.  At the center of the shell is a “solid-core” ply of 2mm maple, sandwiched between 1.5mm thick cross-laminated plies on both sides.  This thin, 5mm base is supported by 5mm Sound Focus Rings. The reasoning behind this recipe is to simulate the sound of a solid-ply shell without the solid-ply drawbacks.

    This kit delivers maple tone on huge doses of steroids.  The midrange frequencies BOOM with an unusual blend of modern/vintage sound.  Sticking is clean and articulate and sustain goes on and on. If you crave maple tone, Tama Star Maple delivers in spades.

    Tama Star Walnut

    Rounding out the Tama Star Drums lineup is Star Walnut.  As mentioned before, our Star Walnut had slightly different sizes than the other kits.  Toms were slightly deeper, and the floor toms were slightly shallower. The finish is a more understated Dark Mocha Gloss, sans inlays.

    Along with the sizes and finish being different, shell construction is also unique to the Star Walnut line.  Toms are 5mm and the bass is 6mm without reinforcement rings.

    These thin walnut shells produced rich, dark tone as one would expect from Walnut.  What surprised us was an element of bright attack. The shallower floor toms kept right up with its earlier competitors, and the kick delivered the most low end.  The sound of this kit was not unlike birch with some enhanced low-end. This kit would make an excellent rock kit with plenty of aggressive thump to keep up with the mix.

    The Verdict

    Tama Star Drums are uncompromising.  They use the finest materials that are crafted by the world’s finest drum makers.  The hardware is strong, beautiful and practical. They are simply among the finest instruments money can buy, and their price tag reflects this.  We appreciate that these kits are for a handful of fortunate people, but we are grateful that Tama continues to push the limits of what a drum set can be.

    The Tama Star Drum line covers every base between its Maple, Bubinga and Walnut kits.  Each voice is uniquely magnificent. We carry a huge selection of Tama Star Drums at Drum Center of Portsmouth.  We will gladly talk shop about Tama or any other brand you are interested in!

  • 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.


    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.


    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

  • 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!






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