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Drum Center of Portsmouth Blog

  • Limited Edition Sonor Cast Bronze Snare Drums at DCP!

    DCP is celebrating our 10th Anniversary with some extremely limited Sonor cast bronze snare drums, reminicient of the HLD-590 and the HLD-596!
  • The 3 BEST Drum Heads for 2019 Reviewed

    Prior to the 1950s, drumheads were created using calfskin heads. While the sound produced was cool with a nice depth, the installation proved a challenge. Every head had to be formed into a round disc and then soaked to loosen up. From there, it would be stretched across the shell and connected to the hoop and tuned up. These heads would contract and expand based on the weather. Post-1950s saw the creation of plastic drumheads formed from Mylar polyester or even Kevlar aramid fiber. These advancements formed opportunities for new textures and sounds.

    The drumheads are important aspects of the drum kit. A solid drumhead can transform the drum kit sound to something truly amazing. Drumheads come in a variety of options, including clear or coated, double-ply or single, or even thin or thick. Understanding your options is the first step in choosing a great drumhead to really pull the kit together.

    If you are an experienced drummer, replacing the drumheads can bring the sound back to life or offer new options. For novice drummers, your best bet is to start with a quality set. That way, you can train your ears to the right tones. At the Drum Center of Portsmouth, we know a bit about building great kits and can help determine the best drumhead for your needs.


    A Quick Overview

    We are here to connect you to the top 3 drumheads in our inventory and on the market. In 2019, there are plenty of options, so we took careful consideration in building this list. For a quick glance, look at the Evans Calftone for a Retro look, the Remo Emperor Colortone for a bold statement, or the Aquarian Modern Vintage for versatility.  

    There’s also a handy buyer’ guide to help answer some questions when it comes to choosing a drumhead. Ready to learn more and make a choice? Let’s roll!


    1 Best Drum Head for a Retro Style: Evans Calftone


    • Retro look
    • Aesthetic mimics calfskin
    • Synthetic fiber coat
    • Single ply head
    • Affordable price range
    • Rich, warm tones


    • Works best for low or medium live playing
    • Sound not as bright as it would be with a clear drumhead
    • Works better with drumstick as brushes do not pop out clearly

    For a more traditional kit with a warm, responsive drumhead, go for the Evans Calftone. The drumhead has a great retro aesthetic in both sound and appearance. It is equipped with a synthetic fiber coat for a little bit extra focus in the sound product. The drumhead is a single-ply head and has the sound and look of calfskin even with a synthetic fiber layer. The combination creates more boost for the low to mid frequencies.

    Product specs:

    • Calftone drumhead finish
    • Available in sizes 8” to 18”
    • Level 360 Tech
    • 7mil film base

    Available Online? We offer the full range of the Evans Calftone sizes both online and in store. Browse the collection or stop in and see it for yourself!

    Why We Love it Overall, a retro drum kit is a solid choice for any drummer. We love the calfskin aesthetic that provides this vintage look and warm tones. One of the great benefits of this drumhead is the range between mid and low frequencies. The sound is both warm and bright, great qualities for drumheads. It is thin enough that the Evans Calftone will respond well to light touches.


    2 Best Drum Head for Making a Statement: Remo Emperor Colortone


    • Powerful projection
    • Great durability
    • Can handle heavy hitting
    • Affordable price range


    • Not great for high volume situations
    • Does not respond as well to brushes

    The Remo Emperor Colortone is great for many reasons. One of the top reasons is the popping colors options that include vibrant shades of red, yellow, orange, blue, green, and even smoke. This makes for a visual aesthetic that is bright and captivating. The vibrant shades make a for a great statement on any kit, perfect for the stage.

    The tom batter heads are formed with Skyndeep Imaging Technology. The visual is accompanied by great durability, attack, and projection. This is created with two-ply and 7 mil film and a smoothly coated top layer.

    Product specs:

    • 2-ply
    • 7-mil clear film
    • Available in sizes 8-18 (tom batter)
    • Available in sizes 18-26 (bass batter)
    • Comes in 6 colors (Yellow, Orange, Green, Red, Smoke, and Blue)

    Available Online? This drumhead is available as both bass batter head and tom batter heads. At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we offer the full line of products in both types with a range of sizes. These can be found in-store and online.

    Why We Love It The colors available from this line are wonderful, and we love the statement they make. The Remo Emperor Colortone produces a sustainable and warm attack. We prefer this for studio recording or medium volumes of live playing. The great part here is that the aesthetic is matched by a quality product that comes out through this durable and versatile drumhead.


    3 Best Drum Head for Versatility: Aquarian Modern Vintage


    • Responds well to either drumsticks or brushes
    • Produces warm tones
    • Sustains well


    • Not suited for high-volume playing
    • Slightly more expensive than other options
    • The thin head is slightly less durable than the medium

    Similar to the Evans Calftone, the Aquarian Modern Vintage creates a warm sound with a calfskin look and feel. It is also a vintage look but has a couple more options. This drumhead is available as either a thin or medium option. Each one has a benefit, depending on what you are looking to create. The medium weight is available with a 10-mil coating, and the thin weight comes with a 7-mil coating.

    Product specs:

    • Single-ply
    • Available with either 10-mil or 7-mil coating
    • Range of sizes, including 10” to 26”

    Available Online? Excited to check this out? You can do that either online or in person. Check out the medium or thin drumheads that are stocked in a range of sizes by Drum Center of Portsmouth.

    Why We Love It We like options, which is why we love the Aquarian Modern Vintage drumhead. With this drumhead, you get to choose between a medium or thin option and control the sound you create. This single ply drumhead has a warm, open sound with both options sustaining well. The medium version is slightly more durable than the thin, so keep that in mind when outfitting your set. Overall, both options provide an open and responsive drumhead.


    Quick Look: Summarizing the Drum Head Options


    Drum Head Ply Size Range Coating Thickness
    Remo Emperor Colortone Two-ply 8” to 18” or
    18” to 26”
    7 mil
    Evans Calftone One-ply 8” to 18” 7 mil
    Aquarian Modern Vintage One-ply 10” to 26” 7 mil or 10 mil


    Buyer's Guide for Drum Heads

    There’s more to buying a drumhead than reading a few reviews. These are just three options, and there are quite a few factors and specs to consider before committing to a drumhead. Whether you are building a new kit or replacing old worn out drumheads, we want to help you find what works for you. To do this, we built a Buyer’s Guide specifically for drumheads. We’ll start by discussing important factors to consider and then answer some common questions.


    Standout Brands

    In the world of drums, some brands stand out above the rest. For other parts of the drum kit, like the best cymbals, there are a number of manufacturers producing high-quality products. For drumheads, high-quality drumhead producers are a bit more limited. If you are lucky, you can find a solid local manufacturer. In most cases, the highest standards are reached by well-known manufacturers. Two of the best brands made this list: Evans and Remo.



    The tone a drumhead produces largely depends on the thickness of the head itself. The thickness can be determined through the number of plies, which increases thickness. Increased thickness is a benefit because it offers better durability. Thicker drumheads also mean different tones.

    Here is an outline of the main differences between thin and thick heads:

    Thin Heads:  

    • Quieter
    • Less durable
    • More sensitive
    • Less attack


    Thick Heads:

    • Louder
    • More durable
    • Less sensitive
    • More attack



    A variety of textured finishes will offer a variety of sonic characteristics, each distinct from one another. Drumhead finishes include coated, clear, fiber-skin /calfskin, or ebony/black.

    Here is a breakdown of each finish and the sound it produces:

    Coated drumheads come with thick texturing for a dark, warm, and dampened sound.

    • Dark
    • Warm
    • Dry tone
    • White appearance
    • Short sustain


    Clear drumheads produce a bright tone with a long sustain. They have a bright, transparent, and smooth appearance.

    • Long sustain
    • Transparent appearance
    • “Wet” tone
    • Fast attack


    Fiberskyn/Calfskin drumheads mimic the classic animal skin composition. It has a similar response to actual calfskin but is warmer and has less overtone.

    • Dark
    • Warm
    • Dry tone
    • Natural skin appearance


    Ebony/black produces tonal quality similar to the clear heads but is black in design.

    • Long sustain
    • Bright
    • Black appearance
    • Fast attack



    Dampening production is a result of controlling natural overtones. Drumheads normally come with certain features intended to dampen the drum without the need for additional dampening measures like gel or tape.

    The type of drum will require different levels of dampening. For example, a bass drum will need to dampen high-end overtones while also enhancing low-end frequencies.



    Most of the focus is on the batter side of the drum, or the side you hit. However, the side you don’t hit is the resonant side. This is equally important in the overall drum tone. This is where you hear the term “wet” or “dry” resonance.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    If you have made it this far, there are probably a few lingering questions. With all this information, we know it is still important to answer a few straightforward questions. Perhaps you have already through these, or perhaps you need the extra push to ask a few more questions before purchasing a drumhead.


    What to consider when buying a drumhead?

    Considerations before buying a drumhead include everything outlined in the Buyer’s Guide and a few more things as well. For one thing, what type of music are you trying to create? Light rock, jazz, and acoustic noises will require the increased resonance found in the one-ply head. A heavy hitter will find their needs met with a double-ply head and thicker coating. Heavy hitters are typically looking to produce R&B, rock, or funk music.  


    How do I know I'm ready to buy drumhead?

    If you are reading this guide, you might be ready to buy a drumhead. Buying a drumhead might also mean you are looking to replace an old one. If your drumhead is worn out and not producing the same sound you need, you might need to look into replacing it. If you are trying to create a new sound, you might have to switch between a thin or thick drumhead to try and find that new sound. If you aren’t sure if you are ready, talk to the experts at the Drum Center of Portsmouth.


    How much should I expect to spend?

    The answer here is based on the size of the drumhead you need as well as how many. For the most part, it has a large range, going anywhere between $14 to over $100. Right now, Drum Center of Portsmouth has some great deals running on drumheads, so you might be able to snag a high-quality drumhead at a great price.


    Bottom Line

    Drumheads have been an integral part of the ideal drum kit since the inception of the drum. Finding the right one means asking the right questions and thinking critically about what you are trying to produce. With the right amount of durability, this investment will create a great sustainable sound for a great music set.

  • The 6 Best Drum Thrones for 2019 Reviewed

    A comfortable and practical throne is vital to a drum player’s sound output and creative ability. In the words of Billy Brennan, a good throne “is the foundation of any player’s groove.”

    Here are some benefits of a good throne and the proper sitting form:

    • By sitting correctly, you can actually play more complex patterns than you would with poor posture.
    • By sitting well, your weight is evenly distributed. Having an even distribution of weight will improve your timing. If your timing is spot on, your tempo will improve as well.
    • You will develop a better sound if you aren’t focused on your posture. Once you train your body to keep good posture, you won’t have to think about it anymore and you can focus on playing.
    • Cheaper seats tend to squeak the longer you use them. Investing in a higher quality throne will minimize these squeaks and get you focused on playing.

    Aside from basic considerations like durability and comfort, there are a few other key features you should consider during your search for the best throne.

    All thrones should have a height adjustability feature. If the one you are considering doesn’t, it isn’t a good option for you or anyone. Your seat should also have a large surface area. Without it, you’ll struggle to stay in a secure position without tipping over.

    Thrones should be made out of a material that is both soft and firm, and they should be foldable so you can travel with them.

    These are a few of the primary things you want to shop for. Here at Drum Center of Portsmouth, we know quite a bit about what makes a good drum throne. That’s why we’re bringing you the ultimate buyer’s guide of our top 6 drum thrones for 2019. We’ve categorized our review by priority, so you can find the throne that suits your unique needs.


    1 Best Overall Drum Throne - Tama 1st Chair Ergo-Rider with Cloth Top Seat

    Of all our top picks, this is our favorite because we believe every feature was carefully contemplated. Unlike other products, this ergonomic throne features a hybrid seat. The combination round/saddle-style seat delivers optimum comfort and support.

    You won’t get tired of playing on this throne and you’ll notice that you stay comfortable for longer without developing body fatigue. Drumming is all about passion, and lots of drummers show that passion through expressive moments. With this throne, you have the freedom to do that without sacrificing balance.


    2 Gibraltar Hydraulic Moto Throne - Best Throne for Comfort


    • Comfort
    • Stability
    • Folds down for traveling


    • Seat swivels (Some people like this feature, but others find it annoying)
    • Sometimes the seat raises by itself

    This moto-style throne is the ideal option for those who want comfort above all else. What we love about this piece by Gibraltar is the oversized, plush seat. It provides maximum support so you can play with ease without experiencing any pain from extended sitting.

    This throne also folds down easily for convenience while traveling. The oversized feet make it ultra-stable so you can play as expressively as you want without the risk of tipping over.

    Product Specifications:

    • 17-inch Cordura Moto style seat
    • 19.5”-26” adjustability
    • Hydraulic tube height adjustment
    • Double-braced throne tripod
    • Oversized feet

    Why We Love It: This best-selling throne is a solid option for any drummer who lives and breathes drums. As a drummer, you want to feel the music in your core and be as emotive as possible. Without a drum throne like this one to keep you centered, you’ll find yourself stifling your creativity.

    Where to Buy? The Gibraltar Hydraulic Moto Throne is available for purchase on our website. Click here to buy or to request more information.


    3 Tama 1st Chair Round Rider XL Drum Throne With Red Seat - Best Throne for Stability


    • Comfortable
    • Balanced
    • More sitting space


    • Less adjustability
    • Fewer product features

    Balance is fundamental to drumming. Without it, your center of gravity will be skewed, which obstructs your ability to play well. This versatile throne features a rounded cushion and exceptionally thick seat that gives you more sitting area, so you can rest your weight on the throne rather than your feet.

    Aside from how it can help you play better, the beautiful crimson-colored cushion makes it a pleasure to look at and use. While functionality should be the driving factor behind any throne purchase, this product also delivers on design quality.

    Product Specifications:

    • XL cushion
    • Red seat
    • 20 1/4" - 26 3/8" adjustability

    Why We Love It: This throne brings both stability and comfort to the table, allowing you to focus on your craft without worrying about whether or not your throne is affecting your balance.


    4 Tama 1st Chair Ergo-Rider - Beast Throne for Maneuverability


    • Super durable
    • Maneuverability
    • Stability
    • No wobbling


    • Expensive option

    This impressive throne can help you reach mastery in your craft. What makes this product so unique is its combination round/saddle-style seat. A round seat promises fluid motion, and a saddle-style seat promises support.

    No matter how hard you rock, this throne will be your best friend. The front cut-out lets you maintain full control of your thighs so you can use your body as expressively as you please.

    This model is as sturdy as they come. All of the pieces are made of expert-grade materials that eradicate the chances of loosening bolts.

    Product Specifications:

    • Two-piece locking hinge collar system for reduced wobbling
    • 1st chair’s height adjustment
    • Glide-Tite Grip Joint for extra secure base attachment
    • Extra-large rubber feet
    • Foot Life plastic leg attachment

    Why We Love It: There’s a reason this throne is a crowd-favorite. The throne’s ergonomic design makes it a prime choice for drummers who like to move while playing.


    5 Ludwig Atlas Classic Saddle Throne - Best Throne for Support


    • Unique design
    • Minimizes stress on legs and back
    • Less expensive than other picks


    • Colorful design (May only pair well with certain drum sets)

    Available in a blue/olive colorway, this saddle-style throne is incredible for drummers who want something simple that still has a cool factor. The thick, high-density foam makes this throne our top pick for support because of how it helps eradicate back and leg fatigue.

    This throne is an especially good pick for drummers who anticipate long performances. Extended periods of sitting can hurt your posture, leaving you with a full-body ache that makes it difficult to play your drums properly.

    This throne prevents those issues from ever arising in the first place. Once you develop back pain, it can take a while to curb those symptoms. Investing in a throne like this one from the get-go will ensure you never have to face those issues. If you’re looking for a classic look and powerful performance, this one’s for you.

    Product Specifications:

    • Embroidered block logo
    • Blue/olive colored vinyl
    • High-density foam
    • Height adjustability
    • Locking spindle

    Why We Love It: If you’re most concerned about how your body feels during and after a performance, this throne will serve you well. The saddle-style cushion is firm enough to provide adequate support and soft enough to keep you comfortable while playing.


    6 Canopus Hybrid Drum Throne II - Best Throne for the Heat


    • Breathable material is ideal for hot temperatures
    • The seat is both soft and firm
    • Sturdy
    • Rubber feet prevent the throne from sliding


    • Seat is thin

    While it may not be the most important factor for you to consider, how a throne operates in intense heat is important. The most compelling thing about this throne is the unique material it is made from.

    The seat is made from an ultra-breathable material called Sisal Hemp, and the cover is made from a firm material called urethane. This hybrid throne will keep you cool in the summer while still providing good support.

    Product Specifications:

    • Seat materials: Sisal Hemp, rayon, and urethane
    • Seat clamp and steel plate mounted on the base
    • Steel center post with aluminum legs
    • Adjustable Height
    • Rubber feet

    While it may not be the most important factor for you to consider, how a throne operates in intense heat is important. The most compelling thing about this throne is the unique material it is made from.

    The seat is made from an ultra-breathable material called Sisal Hemp, and the cover is made from a firm material called urethane. This hybrid throne will keep you cool in the summer while still providing good support.


    7 Best Throne for Adjustability -(DW Hardware: Heavy Duty Throne, Air Lift, Round Top)


    • Easy to adjust
    • Prevents shaking


    • Another expensive option

    Arguably our most luxurious pick, this throne has a pneumatic lift system that lets you make fast and smooth adjustments to the seat’s height. Its quad-leg folding base provides added protection from wobbling, and the thick cushion keeps you ache-free for as long as you are using it.

    Another unique feature of this particular throne is the option to purchase and attach a backrest. You can use this backrest for extra comfort while playing. A backrest will also help you maintain good posture and minimize your risk of toppling over.

    Product Specifications:

    • Pneumatic lift system
    • Folding base with 4 legs
    • 14” round seat

    Why We Love It: This throne is a reliable option that won’t disappoint when it comes to adjustability.



    Why is a throne so important?

    Thrones are important because, without a comfortable place to sit and the ability to freely move your feet, your ability to play will be challenged. Thrones provide a balance that is fundamental to drumming.

    What should be my top priorities when shopping for a throne?

    There are so many different thrones on the market, some of which offer unique features that standard thrones do not. However, all thrones should offer comfort and durability. This is a part of your drum kit that you will use a lot, so you want something that wears well.

    Do I need a drum throne?

    Absolutely. Even if it’s a less expensive option, a drum throne is essential. Without the added support that it provides, you may suffer from back pain while playing. This will not only affect the way you play, but it may diminish your motivation to play.

    How do I know I’m ready to buy a throne?

    You’ll know you’re ready to invest in a high-quality throne when you notice yourself experiencing pain or fatigue from your current seat. If the seat you use with your drum set is not meant for that purpose, it may be hindering you from achieving your full drumming potential.

    How much should I expect to spend?

    You can find a good throne at any price point, but if you want something of exceptional quality, you can expect to spend a bit more.

    To some, a throne seems like an unnecessary investment. After all, how important is a seat? It’s quite important actually. A quality throne is what separates a skilled drummer and an uncoordinated drummer. We recommend setting aside anywhere from $100-300.

    What should I avoid?

    Some people have a preference between a manual or automatic adjustment. However, it may be difficult to find your perfect height with a manual adjustment. Manual drum thrones are controlled by a metal pin placed into holes that are spaced around two inches apart. With these types of thrones, there’s a chance that your perfect height exists somewhere between those pre-decided heights.  

    How do I assemble my throne?

    Directions for assembly may vary between thrones, but the instructions are generally the same. Thrones usually arrive in 3 separate pieces: the base, seat, and shaft. Begin by spreading the base’s legs and locking them in place. Then, insert the shaft into the base. Finally, place the seat on top of the shaft and screw it in place.

    What is there to consider when buying a throne?

    Height adjustability

    No two drummers are alike. All drummers have a preferred sitting position that depends on their height and where they like to be positioned in relation to the drums. Height adjustability is one of the most important features of a drum throne because it allows you to customize the throne in whatever way you desire.

    To find your perfect height, place your feet where you usually do on your drum set’s two main peddles. Then, raise your knees as high as you can without stepping off the pedals. This is generally the height for which you want to adjust your drum throne, give or take a few inches.

    Seat shape

    Some different seat shapes include round, cycle, saddle, split, and square. Again, you must test these different seat types and decide on one that works best for you. Spend a significant amount of time testing different types of thrones and see how comfortable you are.

    Are you experiencing back pain? Do your thighs tingle or fall asleep after sitting on the throne for too long? Does the throne make you feel sore and stiff? These are all factors to consider.

    Seat rotation

    Some seats will rotate when you move while others stay completely still. Again, this is a matter of personal preference. Some people don’t mind moving freely. Others like to control their own movements. Always check the product description for mention of a swiveling seat.


    While a soft throne is important because it keeps you comfortable, you want to avoid buying something that is too soft that won’t provide any support. Find a happy middle and choose something that is partly firm. That way, you have added support while still being comfortable.

    Base type (number of legs)

    You have several options when it comes to the number of legs at the base of your throne. More legs mean more stability. It is possible to wobble and even fall on a throne, so choose one that has a few or more legs to minimize your risk of falling.

    Manual or automatic adjustment

    If you choose a manual throne, you will have to adjust the height yourself. Some people like this because it gives them more control. The other option is a pneumatic throne that adjusts itself when you sit on it.


    If you’re playing in a band that performs at venues, you’re going to need to move your drum throne around frequently. Because of this, you want something light that can be folded into a compact form. If you’re only going to be playing in one location, you can get away with a heavier throne that doesn’t have a transport functionality.


    This is another feature that is up to personal preference. If you’re an expressive drummer who likes to move their body quite a bit, a backrest will actually make it harder for you to do so. If you plan on staying fairly still, a backrest can be an effective way to maintain the proper posture.


    Thrones either have a threaded shaft with grooves or a smooth shaft that is just a solid piece of metal. Smooth shafts can lead to sliding problems that you don’t want. Threaded shafts provide more stability. This isn’t to say that you should completely avoid a smooth shaft. What matters is the overall quality of the throne.

    Your weight

    This is important because you want a drum throne that can support your weight. Check each product’s specifications and weight capacity before you decide on one.


    Bottom Line

    Choosing the right drum throne can be daunting, especially if you plan to spend quite a bit of money. Thrones are more than simple chairs, and the one you pick should serve a number of purposes. You must not only consider price, but also comfort, sturdiness, functionality, portability, and much more.

    We’ve shown you several options at varying price points. All of these offer some unique features that may or may not appeal to you depending on what your main concerns are. In order to make the best choice possible, we recommend deciding on your priorities before you begin shopping.

    The throne must be uniquely yours. At the end of the day, the most important thing you should want is comfort and balance. Without these two things, you put yourself at risk of injury. If you associate playing with pain or fatigue, you will be less motivated to use your drums. No one wants to feel like their passion is hurting them.

    The most common type of injury is lower back pain. This can occur from sitting too low. To check if you are sitting too low, see if your knee goes above your thigh. If so, you need to adjust your seat’s height to ensure your knee rests below your thigh. You can also hurt your hip flexor muscles if you are sitting too high.

    Ultimately, you should study the way you play drums before deciding on a throne. This will give you a clear understanding of what is most comfortable to you depending on your body shape and height.

    Aside from that, everyone maneuvers their bodies in different ways. You shouldn’t have to conform to one way of sitting or moving if it’s not the way that feels right for you. Your drum throne should work with you, not against you.

    You also want to look for signs of fatigue and find the root of those problems. It varies between people, but we mentioned a few common mistakes that may be causing those issues. Understanding what that pain stems from will aid in your search for a drum throne that can prevent those problems.

    We hope our guide helps you understand how essential a good drum throne is and how much of a difference it can make in how well you play. There are so many options for you to explore so we urge you to begin your search using our carefully crafted guide.

    Whatever model you choose, we’re sure you’ll be impressed by the quality and design. Your perfect drum throne is out there, so what are you waiting for? To browse our selection of drum thrones and other drum-related equipment, click here.

  • Rogers Dyna-Sonic Wood Shell Snare Drum Reissue Review

    We weren’t particularly excited upon the news of the Dyna-Sonic’s reissue.  Wooden Dyna-Sonics were so rare, that we didn’t have much experience with them.  Once we got our hands on them, we quickly changed our tune.
  • Ludwig / Noble Cooley Solid Ply Snare Drum - DCP 10th Anniversary Exclusive

    DCP brought together two of the oldest and iconic names in the drum business - Ludwig drums and Noble & Cooley - to bring this special snare drum to the marketplace.
  • WFLIII Drums Review

    WFLIII Generations drum sets feature 3-ply maple/poplar/maple shells that are modeled after the original Ludwig and Ludwig shell design of the past.
  • The Best Birch Drum Sets

    Birch is often overlooked and considered a second rate drum sound.  We're here to help dispel this myth as we present what we think are the 4 best birch drum sets!
  • 6 Best Cymbals of 2019 Reviewed

    With so many different brands and styles of cymbals, even the most skilled drummer can struggle to choose the right ones for their drum set. There are cymbal manufacturers of all sorts, from modern companies like Meinl, who are employing old world tactics and integrating them with laser like efficiency,  to older companies like Zildjian that have been around for over 400 years, and doing the same exact thing.

    Approximately half of the cymbals on the market are made by the big four companies: Zildjian, Paiste, Meinl, and Sabian. The other half comes from smaller companies.

    To help drummers make the right choice, our team at the Drum Center of Portsmouth is on hand. Our expert percussionists can guide anyone, from the newest drummers to professionals who already have the technical know-how and just need the inside scoop when making a new cymbal purchase.

    After the stunning popularity of our guide to Narrowing Down Your Drum Kit Buying Decision, we decided it was time to offer a “crash” course on cymbals. Without further ado, here’s our guide to the top six lines of cymbals and a guide to choosing the best line for your drum set and playing style.

    6 Best Cymbal Line Reviews for 2019

    1 Paiste Masters Cymbals – Best Cymbals Overall for Drumming Masters


    • Unmatched versatility of sounds, styles, and types
    • Available individually or in premade sets
    • Ideal for professional drummers who understand the finer details of cymbals


    • Large selection of rides, hi-hats, and crashes but not other types of cymbals

    The Paiste Masters series is one of the most versatile lines on the market. The cymbals are all extremely lively. They enable broad accents that are great in moderately loud settings. The development of this range took over three years. They offer a complete range of jazz and acoustic sounds with minimal instrumentation.

    The Paiste Masters line includes the 20”, 22” and 24” thin rides and the 14”, 15”, and 16” thin hi-hats. Together, these provide multifunctionality and all-around capability. The extra thin cymbal varieties are exceptionally lightweight. While they are ideally meant for use as a crash, they also work great as a ride in low volume settings.

    Like all the Masters’ thin models, it is neither a ride nor a crash but instead a hybrid of both. The Masters series boasts exquisite craftsmanship and superior sound for all musical genres. Both the thin and extra thin models possess thin weights and low curvatures. This gives them a unique responsiveness that is both tranquil and balanced.

    The entire Masters line is very dynamic and capable of volumes that are more than sufficient given the breadth of sizes available.

    Why We Love It: With so many varieties of sounds, this line gives drummers the freedom to explore the entire spectrum of drumming styles.

    Most of the cymbals in the Masters line are usually available online, making them the first choice to look at when thinking about buying new cymbals. Contact Drum Center of Portsmouth for any questions or to purchase the Paiste Masters Cymbals today.

    2 Zildjian Kerope Cymbals – Best Cymbals for an Old School Sound


    • Zildjian boasts 400 years of experience
    • Gritty rock ’n roll sound
    • Elegant and traditional appearance will help upgrade the appearance of your set


    • Somewhat expensive for beginning drummers
    • Only hi-hats and ride cymbals available – no matching crash cymbal yet

    This line takes its name from Kerope Zildjian, who presided over Zildjian during one of their most famous periods. The Kerope line has a sound that evokes the era of rock and roll music of the 1950s-1960s. They are handcrafted and feature a distinctively modern sound that is dark and complex.

    This line features four rides of 20” and 22” in two different weights apiece and two 20” medium rides of different weights. There are also hi-hats of 14” and 15” in two separate weights. The cymbals have a traditional finish that produces a dark, low pitched sound that sustains its sound for a long time.

    This Kerope line is a favorite among jazz and club drummers. That being said, other drummers can appreciate the different sounds they produce as well. Although not as jazzy as the K series or as heavy as the A series, the Kerope range are somewhere in the middle. In short, they promise a great overall old school rock ’n roll sound.

    Why We Love It: With over 400 years of experience making cymbals, Zildjian always delivers an excellent product with amazing sounds.

    This entire line is available to purchase online. The only issue is that they can be difficult to keep in stock because of their popularity. These are great cymbals for drummers who want the best in quality and sound.

    If you are looking to upgrade your sound, contact Drum Center of Portsmouth today. We can direct you to all the kits we have for sale or provide more information on our Zildjian Kerope options.

    3 Sabian Artisan Cymbals – Best Cymbals for Multiple Crash Sounds


    • Multiple choices of crashes, rides and hi-hats
    • Amazing variety of sounds
    • All cymbals come with Sabian’s standard two-year warranty.


    • Some of the crash cymbals are fairly expensive
    • Not ideal for high volume settings—best used in the studio or for practice

    Sabian’s Artisan line has been newly remastered. The result is a deeper, warmer tone that is complex musically. These cymbals have a raw bell design and high-density hand hammering. This revamp makes for a superior instrument. This line is specially designed to excel in low volume settings where the complex sound truly shines.

    There are six varieties of ride cymbals available in 20” and 22”. These come in three different weights ranging from light, medium, and elite. There is also a 19’ prototype ride/crash cymbal. The range of hi-hats come in 14”, 15” and 16”, available in a light, brilliant, and elite finish. In addition, there is the 14” prototype hi-hat, which has a medium pitched jazzy sound.

    The crashes come in 16”, 17”, 18”, 19” and 20” in either a brilliant or regular finish. Plus, there are two prototype crashes in 15” and 16”. These were handpicked from the Sabian factory by our team at DCP.

    Why We Love It: Sabian has always stood by their workmanship. No matter how hard you play, Sabian’s cymbals are built to withstand a pounding. If they don’t, the company will replace any products of theirs under the two-year warranty.

    The Artisan line is available online. All pieces in the Artisan line come with Sabian’s two-year warranty. The wide selection of crash sounds that the Artisan line produces proves why Sabian is synonymous with masterpiece. They really are works of art. If you are looking for a new drum set or for any of Sabian’s excellent cymbal lines, contact DCP to see what new options are available.

    4 UFIP Experience Cymbals – Best Cymbals for Drummers on a Budget


    • Prices great for drummers of all skill levels
    • Demo deal cymbals provide the latest advances in cymbal making
    • All pieces are handcrafted for the purest sounds


    • Unlike many cymbals made in the Turkish style, these are made in Italy
    • All the cymbals are completely made by hand, so they may not last as long as machine manufactured types.

    UFiP created the Experience line based on the immense popularity of the Experience Series Blast Crashes. Made by hand in Italy, they have a very aggressive and trashy sound. They’re perfect for playing in louder settings. The large hammer marks and unlathed surface of the cymbals produce a much darker, dry and warm sound. This makes them great for experimental music and jazz.

    There is a decent amount of variations for each type of cymbal that UFIP makes. This is great for producing sounds that will work for most musical styles. The range of cymbals includes two 22” rides, 3 hi-hat varieties in 15”, 16” and a rotocast 16” demo version. They also produce 16”, 17”, 19” and 20” blast crash cymbals. The extra dry blast crash cymbals come in 16”, 18”, 19” and 20” versions.

    There are also 17” and 19” demo deal extra dry blast crashes that are rotocast. Lastly, they produce a 10” splash that can be played with sticks, mallets and even your hands.

    Product specs:

    Why We Love It: The cymbals listed as demo deals are simply too good of a deal to pass up. If you are a drummer on a budget, UFIP is the way to go.

    The rotocasting process makes for a truly unique and dynamic sound. It is surprising to have such high-quality sounds at such a great price. All their cymbals are available online. These are unlike any of the cymbals their competitors make. For more information about all UFIP cymbals, contact Drum Center of Portsmouth today.

    5 Istanbul Agop 30th Anniversary Cymbals – Best High-End Cymbals


    • Every cymbal is unique; handcrafting ensures you will only sound like yourself
    • Great for playing live and in the studio
    • Preferred choice among serious professionals.


    • On the pricier side—maybe not the best choice for beginners.
    • Limited options; drummers wanting more variety may prefer other brands

    The Istanbul Agop 30th Anniversary cymbals are true works of art. Every one of these Turkish gems has been individually handcrafted by a cymbalsmith, making no two cymbals alike. The different variations in hammer marks, color, lathing and labels all enhance the sound. Their natural beauty and unique quality make these truly one-of-a-kind.

    The hi-hats come in two different weights for the 14” and 15” models. The 16” has three weights. They produce a crisp yet dark and chunky sound when closed and a warm shimmer when slightly open. They are very quick, light and consistent to play. The Agop line is perfect for the studio where you need a perfect sounding hat with a great response.

    Their ride cymbals are also beasts to play. They offer a warm, articulate sound with a complex booming crash when you decide to let loose on them. They produce 20” and 24” versions in two separate weights. In addition, there is a 22” model that comes in 3 different weights. With a bell that produces a bright musical sound, these cymbals are in their element when used for jazz. However, they will also excel when used as a crash for rock settings.

    The Istanbul Agop crash cymbals are exceptionally versatile. They come in two 18” versions and three 19” ones. With their crashes giving you the option of thin or medium thin sizes, they produce a trashy but controlled wash with moderate decays. These crashes produce a great sound that is perfect for all musical styles.

    Why We Love It: These Istanbul AGoP are head and shoulders above other brands in terms of quality, sound and looks. We can’t sing their praises enough.

    Although available online, Istanbul produces this line in limited qualities. That means you will want to act fast unless you don’t mind a pre-owned set. Their handcrafted uniqueness means you can be assured of having your own personal sound that won’t be easy to copy. Each cymbal is signed by the cymbalsmith, so you will know who to thank for these works of art.

    If you are looking for the highest quality, get in touch with a member of the DCP team to learn more about the Istanbul Agop line.

    6 Paiste Signature Dark Energy Cymbals – Best Modern Style


    • This line is the wave of the future; it promises a modern sound that will sound great for years to come.
    • Moderate pricing—great value for the investment
    • Suitable for drummers of all skill levels


    • Only one type of each size cymbal—limited options for different sounds

    Many experts feel that the Paiste Signature Dark Energy line is the template for all modern cymbals. They all offer full, rich sounds with a dark menacing edge to them. Their only hi-hat option is a 15’ top cymbal, but what a sound it makes. Balanced and responsive, fast and articulate, it gives an excellent feel with superb playability.

    Their ride cymbals come in 20”, 21” and 22” models. Each has a dark, multi-layered sound that emphasizes control, projection and comfort. They are extremely versatile, making them great for all modern blended musical applications. Their crash cymbals are 18” and 19” with a dark body and brilliant high tones. They offer a wide range of complex and pleasing musical sounds with an immediate, sensitive response. Their crashes mix soft, silky qualities with energy and projection. They sound great on stands or suspended, making them quite versatile.

    There are also two splashes in the Paiste Signature Dark Energy line that are 8” and 10”. They both provide a full, wet sound that is brittle and trashy. With their very responsive, soft feel, they have a splash character that is short and explosive. They are perfect for dynamic accents across most musical styles.

    All their cymbals are Mk I models with the exception of the 20” ride, which is a Mk II. The difference is that the Mk I has a tendency to be a bit darker, drier and quieter. The Mk II is a bit livelier and brighter.

    Why We Love It: Paiste’s Signature Dark Energy line really is the sound of the future. Playing these feels like being part of a secret club.

    With their versatile and modern sound, you will love playing these cymbals. The only issue may be whether to wait until there are more Mk II versions available. That way, you can have a wider range to pick from. If you are looking to replace your current kit or would like to know more about Paiste’s Signature Dark Energy, contact Drum Center of Portsmouth today.

    Cymbal Buyers Guide

    Professional drummers typically know what they want before buying new cymbals. However, newer drummers aren’t always sure about how to make the right investment. There are a few things to consider before buying a new set.

    How Do I Know I’m Ready to Buy New Cymbals?

    Typically, you buy new cymbals for two reasons. The first is that the ones you currently own may have developed cracks or chips. Or, perhaps they simply don’t sound good anymore due to heavy use and/or warping. When this occurs, it is fairly self-evident that you need new cymbals.

    The second reason is because you have gotten more proficient on the drums. At this point, you might feel that you need to start using better equipment or that you need to upgrade your sound. This is a matter of personal opinion. If you are taking lessons, your instructor should be able to give you an honest assessment of whether you are ready for a new set.

    What to Consider When Buying Cymbals

    There are several factors to weigh when buying new cymbals. You need to consider the style of music and the type of set you are comfortable playing. At the very least, you will probably need:

    • A new hi-hat
    • New ride
    • New crash

    If you play a wide variety of musical styles, you may want to add an extra crash cymbal, a splash or a china hat.

    Other factors to consider include:

    • The Material: You will need to consider the material because it affects the sound. Brass is the least expensive but sounds the worst usually. B8 bronze is a step up and B20 bronze is the highest quality.
    • Hand-Crafted vs Machine-Made: After the material, you will want to decide whether you want a machine manufactured or a hand-crafted set. Ones made by machines offer uniformity of sound between two cymbals of the same size. Hand-crafted ones tend to be much more unique in sound.
    • Individual vs Cymbal Packs: Finally, you will have to choose between buying a pack or individual cymbals. Packs are great because the manufacturer will know what sounds complement others. With packs, you get great sounds while saving money. Buying them individually provided you more versatility of sound. However, this method will generally be much more expensive.
    • Hardware: You also don’t want to overlook hardware. You might want to replace your hi-hat stand or stands with better quality models.

    Unless you really know your cymbals, a good rule of thumb is to stick with one of the bigger brands like Zildjian, Sabian, Meinl or Paiste. They are all excellent, and it is unlikely you will ever get a bad sounding cymbal from these brands.

    What Should I Expect to Spend on Cymbals?

    You must remember that you get what you pay for, and it is no different with cymbals. If you have a budget, then you may want to either go with a used set or purchase a pack. A decent pack of Zildjian A cymbals will get you a hi-hat, a crash, a ride, and a bonus crash. You could save a few hundred dollars with this option.

    If you decide to mix and match, you will likely end up spending more in the long run. You’ll need to purchase a hi-hat, crash and ride cymbal and that isn’t including the stands. If you want a quality set and can afford it, it may be better to go with a slightly more expensive option than you initially planned on buying. The pricier models generally last longer.

    If you have a budget you can’t break, then you should buy the best available cymbals for the money you have. Another option is to upgrade one cymbal at a time. That way, you can get better equipment albeit over an extended period.

    Bottom Line

    Investing in a new set of cymbals can be a difficult and expensive decision. Your best bet is to go to your local drum shop. Here at the Drum Center of Portsmouth, you can test out the different cymbals available. Our team members will help you to determine the ones you like playing the most that have that sound you desire.

    Regardless of the brand you choose, purchasing a new set of cymbals will not only enhance your sound. It also will give you a burst of enthusiasm and creativity. For more details on any of the top 6 cymbal lines reviewed here, contact our team at DCP today!

  • 10 Best Snare Drums for 2019 Reviewed

    The snare is the centerpiece of creating a complete drum kit. After all, what is a percussion set without a snare drum? Many of the greatest songs rely heavily on the snare drum, and it has actually been around for over 600 years. It started as a tabor in the medieval ages as just a wood tube with an animal skin covering on one end. Over time, it evolved into the snare drum you know today.

    Here at DCP, we know a little thing or two about drum sets. That's why we've set out to create the ultimate buyer's guide of our top 10 snare drum sets. We start off by reviewing 10 snare drums and then breaking down the factors to consider when looking to buy.

    The type of snare you end up buying depends on your needs. As you look at this list, consider your budget, what sound you want to create, your build preference, and other factors. This guide is built through the experience of our DCP staff, research, reviews, and more to create a comprehensive review and guide.

    A Quick Overview

    Our choices for the top 10 snare drums for 2019 bring you the best of the best in a wide range of categories. For the beginners, the Pearl Modern Utility is an excellent entry level kit. For the pros, the Hendrix Archetype is unbeatable. Besides playing level though, we’ve reviewed snares across a range of brands to find you the best choices for different sounds, craftsmanship and more.

    With this general overview in mind, let’s dive into the full review of the 10 best snares from DCP for 2019.

    1 Best for Entry Level Kits: Pearl Modern Utility Steel Snare Drum


    • Well built, sturdy design
    • Affordable price
    • Durable build


    • Better suited for entry level kit use
    • Doesn’t produce the same deep sounds as wood

    First on the list is a no-frills snare drum with a sleek steel design. The Pearl Modern Utility in steel creates a great sound that operates well as an added or primary snare. It works well with entry-level sets or as a way to upgrade performance. The affordable price really helps make this drum useful for utilitarian purposes.

    Product specs:

    • Blasted satin texture coating
    • CL Arch Lugs
    • SR700 Snare Strainer
    • 1 mm beaded steel shell
    • Untamed and open throaty tone
    • 14” x 6.5” steel model
    • 6 mm hoops
    • CL65 Hoops

    Why We Love It: The Pearl Modern Utility definitely works well for entry-level drum kits, especially in terms of price. If you are just starting to explore drumming, consider this one as you kick off that new set.

    The Pearl Modern Utility is available online through the Drum Center of Portland. We offer free shipping, so check out this great quality snare drum.

    2 Best for Long Time Drummers: Hendrix Archetype Stave Bubinga Snare Drum 14 x 6.5 Gloss


    • High-quality
    • Durable finish
    • 3 position swing lever for 3 different snare sounds
    • Lightweight


    • High price
    • No internal muffler

    The Hendrix Archetype Stave Bubinga has been in circulation for around 20 years. Even if you aren’t familiar with it, you have definitely heard it in many songs from well-known bands and musicians over the past two decades. The Stave creates a tone, focus, attack, and clarity of sound many drummers look to create. It is definitely a great addition to any kit.

    Product specs:

    • Available in mirror gloss or satin finish
    • Features S-Hoops
    • HD Solid Aluminum Distance Adjustable Chrome Lugs
    • Dual Adjustable Wires
    • Tight Screw Tension Rods

    Why We Love It: The Hendrix Archetype Stave delivers a classic sound heard in many of the great rock ’n roll songs of the past two decades. Built to last and with only high-quality materials, the Stave has been the preferred choice of many professional drummers.

    This well-known product is available online through DCP. It produces such a great sound and is definitely worth checking out. It is a bit pricy, so we recommend it for people who have been around drum kits for a while and are willing to make the commitment. Any drum is a commitment of sorts, but durable ones like the Hendrix Archetype Stave Bubinga are worth that investment.

    3 Best for Snappy Sounds: Tama Starphonic Aluminum Snare Drum 6x14


    • Strong brand reputation
    • Durable design and high quality
    • Lightweight


    • Not new user friendly
    • Could be pricey for some people

    The Tama Starphonic Aluminum produces a snappy and upbeat sound through the Line Drive Snare Strainer as well as the Super Sensitive Hi-Carbon snare wires. When struck, the wires reverberate against the bottom of the drumhead to create various sounds. The snare uses a Freedom Lug, linear-drive strainer, and a detachable butt plate. All around, this creates an extremely drummer-friendly option. It lets you focus on the music without the hardware getting in the way. You can even change out the head without having to loosen the tension rod. All of these factors create snappy sounds. It is perfect for experienced drummers looking to up their snare game.

    Product specs:

    • 5 mm bearing edge
    • 2 mm beaded shell
    • 6” x 14”
    • Matte Natural Cordia

    Why We Love It: Overall, the Tama Starphonic brings a strong sound with a sleek design. The Matte Natural Cordia is key in that design. You’ll be able to see why this comes from “the strongest name in drums” and why it is in such high demand.

    Our verdict? It looks great and sounds great. Check it out online or come into DCP to test it out for yourself.

    4 Best for Mid-Range Sound: A&F Maple Club Snare 14 x 5 10 Lug Charcoal Grey


    • Strong brand reputation
    • Durable design and high quality
    • Creates a low, mid-range tone


    • Not carried in every location
    • Could be pricey for some budgets

    The A&F Maple Club comes from a small boutique drum company out of Austin, Texas. The design has a reverse baseball bat bearing edge. It is also created with a patented raw brass hardware finish. The aesthetic is very clean, round, natural, and woody. The company itself is well-known for its high-quality products.

    Product specs:

    • 14” x 5”
    • 10 lugs
    • Maple build
    • Baseball bearing edge design

    Why We Love It: The A&F Maple Club produces a great mid-range sound, which is why we highly recommend it for that purpose. The woody base is wonderful for creating this distinct sound.

    This boutique snare is new to DCP but has already made such a hit. We’re excited to carry this product, and we want you to come in and hear it for yourself! The boutique company doesn’t carry products in every music store, so it is a privilege to have the A&F Maple Club on our shelves.

    5 Best Hand-Crafted Snare from the UK: British Drum Company Merlin Snare Drum 14 x 6.5


    • Dual wood shell
    • Created from sonically superior materials
    • 5-star review in Rhythm magazine
    • High-quality design
    • Brand reputation
    • Versatile sound


    • High price point

    This hand-crafted snare from the United Kingdom is highly rated and has even been given an award from the Music Industry Association. The British Drum Company promises the Merlin is one that can do it all. It is comprised of alternating horizontal and vertical veneers and is a combination of two hardwoods. The maple creates warmth while the birch creates brightness. The ability to create both warm and bright sounds is part of what makes this option such a strong choice.

    Product specs:

    • 14” x 6.5”
    • 20 ply maple/birch with tulip veneer shell
    • Maple pinstripes over natural tulip finish
    • Brass wires
    • Palladium fittings

    Why We Love It: The recognition alone for the Merlin is a great reason to come check it out. The 5-star review from Rhythm magazine, the award from Music Industry Association, and overall dynamic design create a great snare drum. The shell is created with a black tulip veneer finish with a double pinstripe maple. Use the Merlin to create a crisp and funky sound that you can’t find anywhere else.

    Curious to see just what the British Drum Company Merlin can do? Check it out at the DCP today or online!

    6 Best for Classic Design: Noble and Cooley Alloy Classic Snare Drum 14 x 6


    • Aluminum shell
    • Versatile sound
    • Consistent and durable


    • High price point
    • Better for professional use, not entry level drummers

    The Noble and Cooley Alloy is an industry classic with a cast aluminum shell. It creates a dense and focused sound using lower tunings in a wood shell. It is very versatile between the studio or the stage, making it a must-have for the professional drummer’s arsenal.

    If you constantly move between the stage and the recording studio, consider the Noble and Cooley Alloy Classic. It has a traditional design you won’t find with other snares.

    Product specs:

    • 14” x 6”
    • Aluminum shell design
    • 45-degree bearing edges
    • Die-cast hoops

    Why We Love It: This drum is not created from rolled sheet metal, which makes it different from other metal drums. The result is a much denser and thicker sound. At the same time, looser tunings give a sound similar to a wood shell.

    It really is versatile! It is great to see how this drum can move between loud bands and the light sensitivity of a jazz set. It is highly sought-after for recording and performing drummers.

    To hear this sought-after sound for yourself, come into DCP today or

    7 Best for Deep Sounds: Ludwig Supraphonic Raw Brass Snare Drum 14” x 6.5”


    • P88 Throwoff
    • Versatile sound
    • Consistent and durable
    • Reputable company


    • Mid-price range
    • Brass can show wear and tear sooner

    The Supraphonic Raw Brass from Ludwig is in high demand and for good reason. The classic product is known as the “Black Beauty” and has graced the shelves of many studios around the world.

    The Ludwig Supraphonic Raw Brass lives up to that iconic status. It has a brass shell that makes it durable and able to produce a variety of sounds. The overall design is engineered to produce deeper snare sounds than any other on the market today.

    Product specs:

    • 14” x 6.5”
    • Seamless brass shell
    • 9 mm triple flanged hoops
    • 10 imperial lugs

    Why We Love It: As the winner of the Metal Snare Drum at the 2018 Drummies! Gear Awards, this snare has earned its legendary status. The sound and quality are great, and it is a better choice for deeper sounds.

    Curious to hear it in action? Order online or see it at DCP in person today!

    8 Best in Class for an Ageless Look: Schagerl Antares Snare Drum 14 x 8 Brass, Custom Dark


    • Bold design
    • Great for conventional playing
    • Reputable company
    • Works with orchestral playing


    • High price
    • Slightly larger than standard snares can be inconvenient

    The name here is a cool story on its own, on top of the great sound. It is named for the brightest start in the Scorpius constellation, Antares. It is also named for the Greek God, Ares. Both origins are bold, just like this snare drum. The heavy brass tube lugs are part of making this bold design. The Antares is akin to Grecian armor, battle worn and laden with subtle ageless elegance.

    Product specs:

    • 14” x 8”
    • 7 mm Yellow Brass Tube Lugs
    • 3 mm triple-flanged
    • Raw finished brass
    • Modified TrickDrums multistep strainer

    Why We Love It: It has a unique shape as it is undersized on top and bottom, creating a tympani effect. This results in great resonance. It has a finished brass covered in lacquer for a beautiful look. This is great in comparison with unfinished brass options that tend to show wear and tear as well as spots sooner.

    Come into DCP today to see the Schagerl Antares in person or view the product in our online store.

    9 Best Choice on a Budget: Canopus ‘The Maple’ Snare Drum 14 x 6.5 Natural Oil w/ Cast Hoops


    • Great price point
    • Great for experienced drummers
    • Highly resonant


    • Not great for new drummers

    If you’ve been keeping up with DCP, you’ll know that we’ve showcased Canopus before as a staff favorite for several reasons. The 8-ply shell design creates maximum projection and will really do it all. It has a great balance between tunability and openness through the brass plated single point lugs. It hits the overtones very well. It has really great snare wires as well.

    Product specs:

    • 14” x 6.5”
    • 8 ply shell design
    • Die-cast hoops
    • Maple design
    • Vintage snare wire

    Why We Love It: This drum lives up to its name of “The Maple” due to the natural brilliance and the good sound projection. It creates a controlled, high-pitched overtone while the vintage snare wires also give a sensitive feel. The shell construction has been crafted for the best sound production that has a precise bearing edge.

    This popular drum is available online and in store. Talk to the staff at DCP today to see why this is a staff favorite. Once you hear the great sound from Canopus’s “The Maple,” you will understand what makes this a popular choice for drummers of all musical styles. Plus, the price is great for a professional sound at an affordable rate.

    10 Best Stainless Steel Choice: Dunnett Classic Stainless Steel Snare Drum 14 x 6.5


    • Great for experienced drummers
    • Highly resonant
    • Versatile sound for a stainless-steel drum


    • Unfinished nature will show spots and marks
    • Aging shows on the shell

    The Dunnett Classic redefined metal snares over 25 years ago. It revolutionized the industry by proving a stainless-steel shell can be just as rich and warm as a wooden one. It transfers energy very well. The Dunnett Classic is handmade with care and high-quality materials. It creates a timeless tone through the 2.3 double-flanged hoops.

    Product specs:

    • 14” x 6.5”
    • Stainless steel
    • Boutique, high-end drum
    • R4 Strainer
    • GW triple flanged hoops
    • Polished finish
    • Tube lugs

    Why We Love It: The versatile sound between snappy metal snare and warm wood makes the Dunnett Classic Stainless Steel a standout. It does show aging, but it will still last a while. It is handmade with high-quality materials. Your drum kit would look great with this vintage design.

    The retro design is a great aesthetic for any set, so check it out online or in the store to see what we mean.


    How They Stack Up: Top 10 Snares Comparisons

    Snare Drum

    Material Design


    Price Range

    Pearl Modern Utility Steel Snare Drum Steel snare 14” x 6.5” $180 – $315
    Hendrix Archetype Stave Bubinga Snare Drum Wood 14” x 6.5” $800 - $1400
    Tama Starphonic Aluminum Snare Drum Aluminum 6” x 14” $500 - $800
    A&F Maple Club Snare Maple 14” x 5” $1000+
    British Drum Company Merlin Snare Drum Maple and birch 14” x 6.5” $700 – $1100
    Noble and Cooley Alloy Classic Snare Drum Cast aluminum 14” x 6” $810 - $1350
    Ludwig Supraphonic Raw Brass Snare Drum Brass 14” x 6.5” $700 - $1000+
    Schagerl Antares Snare Drum Brass 14” x 8” $1800+
    Canopus ‘The Maple’ Snare Drum Maple 14” x 6.5” $587 - $840
    Dunnett Classic Stainless-Steel Snare Drum Stainless steel 14” x 6.5” $795+


    Buyer’s Guide to Everything About Snare Drums

    No matter what you are looking for in a snare drum, the process of choosing the right one can be tough. There are just so many options! As a drummer, you also recognize how important the snare drum is in terms of the drum kit and performance. It is the heart of the percussion when creating the perfect beat behind great songs. Producing quality music stems from the drum, which in turn stems from the work of the snare drum.

    So, what do you need to think about when choosing a snare drum? The answer? Use your ears, think about what sound you are trying to create, and follow this guide.

    Depending on the snare, you could be looking at a hefty investment, so it is essential to know you are making the right choice.  If in doubt, reach out to the experts at Drum Center of Portsmouth to learn about snares and how to pick the right one for your style, ability, and overall sound.


    What to Consider When Buying a Snare Drum

    So, with all the lingo here, what exactly do you need to consider when buying a snare drum? From size to build, there’s a lot more to snare drums than meets the eye. Since it is a central piece of the drum kit, you’ll want to know the details before making a commitment.



    Snares are made of different shell sizes, which will determine what the sound ends up being. Shell sizes are made for specific genres.

    For example, the “rock” snare will be around 14” in diameter and have a 5” or 6” depth. Rock snares will be made of steel or maple and have metal hoops.

    Marching snares have higher tension on the head, producing a snappier sound and will be made of light aluminum.

    Piccolo snares are either wood or steel and created with thin depth for a super snappy and dry sound.

    Orchestral snares will be made of wood with medium depth and have calfskin head for generous muffling.



    As mentioned above, snares are made of a variety of materials. Snares can be made of wood, metal, aluminum, bronze, brass, hammered, and not hammered. Each material is pivotal in creating certain sounds.

    Wood snares create better bass. Steel, brass, and bronze create high-end responses. A hammered snare has a dark tone and non-hammered snares create bright tones.

    As mentioned in the reviews, some materials are designed to be more versatile with the sounds they create. This isn’t true for every snare, so definitely test it out first.


    Unmuffled or Muffled

    When it comes to controlling tone, moon gels are essential. Controlling the tone through moon gel allows for flexibility on your end. To create a subtle sound with the snare, you can use moon gels to muffle the sound. You can also use drum rings, drum gum, business cards, or electrical tape. With an unmuffled sound, you create a raw sound.



    When looking at snare drums, consider what your budget is going to be. The worst feeling is finding the perfect snare drum and then realizing it is hopelessly out of your budget range.

    If you enter with a clear idea of what you are willing to spend, you will be able to narrow your choices to what you can afford. The budget can be crafted based on your drumming experience, desired sound, and other factors.


    How Do I Know I’m Ready to Buy a Snare Drum?

    Buying a snare drum is making an investment in the overall drum kit you are building. Still questioning whether you are ready to buy one? The experts at Drum Center of Portsmouth can help in answering this question.

    You’ll know you are ready after you do the appropriate research, weigh your options, and go in store to test out products. How are you doing so far? Let DCP help answer this question and stop in today.


    What Parts Make a Snare Drum?

    As mentioned earlier, the snare drum has been around for over 600 years. It started as the tabor and later evolved into what we know and use today. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the snare drum had a lot of innovations. This is where the developments really began to match what we use today. The snare is essential to musical arrangements, which is why it has successfully evolved over 600 years.

    Those parts tend to be consistent across snare designs and consist of parts like the shell, tension rods, lugs, snare wires, and snare strainer:

    • The Shell: One of the main parts of the snare is the shell, which is created from wood, bronze, aluminum, or steel. It also uses rims/hoops to create overtones and limit the drum ring. Typically, the rims/hoops material matches the shell material, but that is a personal preference. Some designs, including the ones on this list, mix shell materials and types to create unique sounds.
    • Tension Rods and Lugs: Snares also use tension rods and lugs. This design influences the sound of the drum and seeks to control how much metal is in direct contact with the shell.
    • The Strainer: The snare strainer holds the snare to provide a way to adjust the wire tension.
    • The Snare Wires: Snare wires are fragile strands that help give the snare its characteristic sound. The wires interact with the snare to create a bright sound. The wires are the defining feature of a snare drum and help to create the crisp sound. Coiled wire is stretched across the drumhead on the bottom so that when struck, it will vibrate crisply against the bottom drumhead.


    How Much Should I Expect to Spend?

    It is hard to predict exactly what to spend on the snare. It depends on what level you are at, what you are looking for, and what sound you are trying to create. It typically ranges between $500 – 1000 with some pricier snares going over $1000. They are designed to be durable, so expect this investment to last.


    Bottom Line

    The bottom line here is that there are snare drums for every sound, genre, skill level, and need. Figuring out what is right for you means deciding what direction your drumming is headed. What genre are you going for? What sound are you creating? How committed are you to drumming? How can the right snare drum make that all come true?

    If you aren’t positive on how to answer these questions, you can rely on the team at Drum Center of Portsmouth. We carry these products online and in the store, so you can check out our products and figure out the best snare for you. Check it out today!

    The Ultimate Guide to Snare Drums

    There are many ways to set up your snare drum. You can have a warm wooden sound as a result of using birch to build a set. Alternatively, you can attain a higher pitch and metallic timbre from an all-metal snare drum. There are the sharp, staccato bursts that come from a piccolo snare. Then, there is the machine gun explosion of a rim shot performed on a Yamaha Free Floating marching snare.

    No matter the type of sound you are seeking, you will find it at Drum Center of Portsmouth. The following are the three different snare drum types and their sounds in the DCP collection. This guide will break down each type to help you choose a snare for your set.

    Marching Snare

    This is the type of snare drum that marching bands use. These drums can endure higher tensions and produce a deeper sound than orchestral or kit snares. The newest models feature free-floating devices. These allow you to attach the rim to the opposite rim. The result is a drum tightened to the highest possible level.

    This is important due to most snare heads being made of Kevlar now. These will endure no matter how heavy you play. They will last through changes in temperature and humidity. The marching snare is the biggest of the snare drums available.

    There are also similar drums like a pipe band snare or a field drum. A pipe band is similar to a traditional marching band snare. However, it has an extra snare added to the head. This gives it a crisper sound. Mostly these drums are useful for marching bands. On occasion, set drummers will use one to create a sound effect like a gunshot going off.

    Kit Snare

    Most musicians grew up with a traditional wooden shell drum. This probably had a head over one end with a snare held tight. The sound produced would have been a high-pitched rasping sound. This is the distinct drum sound we all grew up hearing in most traditional music.

    There are many different types of wood that make the drum heads.

    • Maple - The most common is maple. Maple produces the typical kit snare sound. Birch presents a much brighter sound.
    • Mahogany - This is the most vintage wood used for making kits. Beech and poplar are both softer woods. These give a warmer sound. They are similar to birch but not quite as powerful.
    • Oak - Lastly, there is oak. Oak is the loudest of drum materials. It can last on the negative register the longest. This means it takes a bit longer for those deep bass sounds to wear away.

    There are many ways to change up the sound. However, the biggest difference comes from the metal on the body. Metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, steel, and bronze offer different sounds.

    Aluminum is the closest to the traditional wooden snare sound.

    Brass creates a bright cracking sound with mellow overtones in the follow-up tones.

    Copper bodies offer a warmer but darker tone. It also is cleaner than copper sounding snares.

    Finally, there is steel. This is the material of choice for drummers in rock bands. Some say steel produces the ugliest of all the snare sounds. However, that’s what makes it perfect for rock and heavy metal music.

    Piccolo and Popcorn/Soprano Snares

    Piccolo snares are smaller than a traditional snare due to their shell being much shallower. Most piccolo snares act as an accessory for kit applications. The depth of most piccolo snares isn’t much deeper than 4” to 4.5”. The small shell size tends to bring about a higher pitch and a faster response than a traditional 5” drum. This leads to a sound with less body and bass.

    Soprano/popcorn snares are similar than the piccolo snare. They feature non-standard shell dimensions. The typical soprano snare runs between 5” to 7” deep with a diameter of around 10” to 12”. These drums generally have a high pitched sound with slightly more body to the sound than what a piccolo could make. Usually, the snares come in the shallowest sizes.

    Different Snares for Different Needs

    Ultimately the snares that you choose to purchase will depend on the specific sound that you desire out of your kit. You might also just need it to replace a drum you already use. There isn’t one drum sound that will work for every application. That’s why it is important to look at all drum types before settling on the one you think will best suit your needs.

    Rock drummers may be looking for a steel snare to provide a dirty muddled thunderclap sound. Jazz drummers may want the bright warmth of a wooden drum or a piccolo snare. This is why it is so important to try out the drums you have an interest in. Even one drum sound can change the way you sound as a whole.

    Style Impacts Sound

    It also helps to know the style of drumming you wish to play. This will help you decide upon the type of drum set to settle on. Gretsch and Slingerland are historically great drums for a jazz setting. Premier and Pearl make excellent marching band drums. The options available are truly staggering. It is easy to see why so many different drums need looking after.

    Which to Choose?

    Deciding upon a snare drum is a task that can be extremely difficult. There are many different ways to convey the same style of note. The entire process can make it hard to differentiate between the top picks.

    However, it is safe to say you know a good sound when you hear it. The previous sounds described are among the many available to choose from. Picking a sound and making it into a signature sound is one of the ways that the team at DCP can help you out when looking at new snare drums.

  • 4 Best Electronic Drum Sets for 2019 Reviewed

    Looking to invest in an electronic drum set? With so many options available on the market, we know how overwhelming it can be to choose to the right one.

    Here at Drum Center of Portsmouth, we know a thing or two about drum sets. That's why we've set out to create the ultimate buyer's guide for our top 4 drum sets.

    For each set, we break down some of the product specifications, provide a pros and cons list, and describe why we love and recommend the set. In addition to reviewing some of our best drum sets, we also tell you everything you need to know about buying an electric drum set in our buyer’s guide.

    Reviews at a Glance


    Who It’s Great For

    Why We Love It


    Available Online?

    Roland TD-17KVX-S V-Compact Drum Set

    The Beginner Drummer

    - Affordable

    - Improves drumming skills



    Yamaha DTX720K Electronic Drum Set

    The Drummer on a Budget

    - Low cost for high quality

    - Effectively mimics acoustic sets



    ATV aDrums artist Standard Set aD5

    The Home Recording Artist

    - Produces great recordings



    Roland TD-50KVX-S V-Drums Set

    The Tech Lover

    - Many fancy tech features included



    Every drummer is different, so we’ve considered your different wants and needs when creating our guide. If you’re a new drummer, the Roland TD-17KVX-S V-Compact Drum Set is the way to go. Drummers on a small budget will appreciate the Yamaha DTX720K Electronic Drum Set. Drummers looking for a drum for recording purposes will love the ATV aDrums artist Standard Set aD5, and tech lovers will go crazy for the Roland TD-50KVX-S V-Drums Set.

    Read on to learn more about the best drum kits on the market and how to go about choosing the one that’s right for you.


    1 The Best Electric Drum Set for Beginners: Roland TD-17KVX-S V-Compact Drum Set


    • Amazing sound for a great price
    • Built in a way that accommodates beginners
    • Features allow beginners to improve skills
    • Great for practicing at home
    • Built to last


    • Not ideal for gigging/use outside of your home
    • Pedal and Hi-Hat stand are not included
    • Felt beaters might quickly wear down the mesh kick drum pad

    Everyone has to start playing somewhere, so why not go with one of the best electric drum sets for beginners? The Roland TD-17KVX-S V-Compact Drum Set is perfect for those who are new to drumming or still looking to refine their skills.

    The parts were designed to make it easy for beginners to improve their playing. The VH-10 Hi-Hat is thin enough to allow for controlled footwork, and the PDX-12 Snare Drum Pad is appropriately sized. The KD-10 Drum Pad minimizes noise through its soft rubber coating.

    Pros & Cons

    To summarize, here’s a pros and cons list for the Roland TD-17KVX-S V-Compact Drum Set:

    Product Features

    Aside from being quiet, the Roland TD-17KVX-S V-Compact Drum Set is ideal for at-home practice because of its many built-in features. This drum set comes with everything you need to improve your skills and become the best drummer you can be. Some of these cool features include:

    • Coach mode. This feature is like having your own personalized trainer for drumming. It’ll encourage you to practice every day and complete your warm-ups properly. Additionally, coach mode will monitor your techniques, track your progress, and motivate you to get better.
    • Bluetooth connectivity. You can connect headphones/monitors and your smartphone via Bluetooth to the drum’s system. This way, you can easily watch and listen to a video lesson while being able to hear yourself play.
    • Built-in recording system. Simply hit the record button, play, and hear what you just played. Listening to what you actually played is a great way to improve your skills rather than relying on what you THINK you played.

    Where to Buy

    The Roland TD-17KVX-S V-Compact Drum Set comes in at $1,699.99. Considering its great sound and many cool features, this drum set is reasonably priced for those new to the drumming world. It’s available for online purchase, so be sure to consider getting one if you’re a beginner looking for a reliable drum set.

    2 The Best Electric Drum Set for a Small Budget: Yamaha DTX720K Electronic Drum Set


    • Great quality for an affordable price
    • Components give the set a very natural feel
    • Effectively mimics an acoustic drum
    • Ideal for both at-home use and gigging purposes


    • Kick pedal is not included
    • Relatively low memory space (64 MB)

    Who says that you have to break the bank for a quality electric drum set? The Yamaha DTX720K Electronic Drum Set is a great purchase for drummers on a budget.

    For starters, the sound quality is fantastic. The DTX700 module works with the DTX-PADs to deliver expressive, realistic beats. The set’s DTX-PADs effectively mimic the experience of playing regular acoustic drums. Additionally, they are constructed in a way that allows for quiet practice sessions at home.

    Product Features

    • Hi-Hat and cymbals. The complete Hi-Hat system comes with a pad set onto an included stand. It can play both open and closed sounds and is even capable of authentic foot splashes. The Hi-Hat’s 2-zone design further adds realism to playing because of its edge and bow sections.
    • Three-zoned cymbal pads. The three-zone cymbal pads are of a professional grade. The bow, cup, and edge zones are capable of expressing different sounds and have good stick feel. The cymbals’ natural swaying motion and “mute” and “choke functions” also allow them to sound very similar to that of a traditional cymbal.
    • Sound effects. The system comes with almost 1,400 sounds spanning instruments, percussion, and other sound effects. It also includes many sounds from Yamaha’s renowned MOTIF XF synthesizer. The sounds are of high quality, and there’s even room for your own. One of our favorite parts about this drum set is its use of the free DTX700 Touch app. With the app, you can easily customize your set to make it sound exactly how you want it to!
    • Built-in sequencer. With the Yamaha DTX720K Electronic Drum Set’s built-in sequencer, you can easily start and stop band sequences. So along with being a great at-home practice set, this sequencing feature also makes it practical for gigging if needed.


    Where to Buy

    The Yamaha DTX720K Electronic Drum Set is available online for just $1,999.99. This is a great price as far as electric drum sets go, especially considering all the features it has. Less expensive electric sets tend to be geared towards beginners, but this is a great kit even for more advanced drummers. Here at Drum Center of Portsmouth, we definitely recommend this set for any drummer on a budget.

    Pros & Cons

    In short, some major pros and cons of the Yamaha DTX720K Electronic Drum Set are listed below:

    3 The Best Electric Drum Set for the Home Recording Artist: ATV aDrums artist Standard Set aD5


    • Great for recording music at home
    • Plenty of storage (32 GB)
    • Sleek and compact design
    • Components tailored to an authentic acoustic drumming experience


    • Slightly on the pricier side
    • L/R only outputs (no separate channels)

    If you’re looking to take your at-home recording more seriously, the ATV aDrums artist Standard Set aD5 is the way to go.

    Product Features

    aDrums uses only the best materials that allow their sets to look great while lasting as long as they should. Some of the best features of this particular set are:

    • Attractive wooden appearance. This set, like their other ones, comes with an authentic birch wood shell with a solid black lacquer finish. The set’s attractive visuals and relatively compact size make it the perfect addition to any home studio.
    • No-contact sensor. The cymbals and Hi-Hat included feature a timeless design that eliminates incidental frills so that your playing can be as accurate as possible. In particular, the Hi-Hat’s non-contact sensor (which works effectively even when the pedal is closed and opened rapidly) also allows for a playing experience similar to that of an acoustic set.
    • Easy recording features. When it comes to recording, you’ll not only be able to play accurately but also get the best sound possible. The USB port supports computer and MIDI connectivity, allowing you to easily record your beats. The module inputs and outputs allow for a reliable connection, and the SD card reader allows you to upload and store high-quality sounds. There’s even a mini aux input for audio and MP3 playback.


    Where to Buy

    Online, the ATV aDrums artist Standard Set aD5 is priced at $3,499.00. This might be a bit pricey for drummers who just need a practice set, but if you want to start recording high-quality tracks, definitely consider getting the ATV aDrums artist Standard Set aD5.

    Pros & Cons

    We’ve compiled a list of the main pros and cons for the ATV aDrums artist Standard Set aD5:

    4 The Best Electric Drum Set for Tech Lovers: Roland TD-50KVX-S V-Drums Set


    • Amazing tech features that allow for realistic playing and sound
    • Awesome recording abilities


    • One of the more expensive electric drum sets on the market
    • Slightly cumbersome

    Like with our first recommended drum set, this last recommendation also comes from Roland. The company is recognized for its quality electric drums, and the Roland TD-50KVX-S V-Drums Set is no exception.

    Product Features:

    This set takes electric drumming to a whole new level. It is packed full of a variety of neat features that any tech lover will go crazy for, such as:

    • TD-50 Drum Sound Module. Thanks to this, the sound is as realistic as it can get. The high-resolution elements result in vivid, bold performances.
    • Prismatic Sound Modeling. The sound is also very dynamic because of the use of Roland’s original “Prismatic Sound Modeling.” The V-Drums advanced trigger-sensing technology is cleverly integrated for a kit that faithfully responds to how the drummer actually plays. In short, this set’s tech will allow you to play with realistic clarity, resonance, and dynamic expressiveness.
    • Personal practice assistance. This might seem like a feature found on a beginner drum set, but even the professionals can benefit from a reliable practice system. The innovative system allows you to easily practice and develop your internal clock.


    Where to Buy

    The Roland TD-50KVX-S V-Drums Set is available for purchase online for $7,999.99. It’s one of the more expensive electric available but know that you are getting so many cool tech features with it. Here at Drum Center of Portsmouth, we can certainly appreciate a technologically advanced electric drum set and know you will, too.

    Pros & Cons

    The big pros and cons of the Roland TD-50KVX-S V-Drums Set are as follows:

    Buyer’s Guide: What to Consider When Buying an Electric Drum Set

    Our reviews give you a good overview of each recommended drum set and who they are best suited for. Each drummer, however, is unique in their needs and skill level. Keep in mind the following factors when making your decision:


    As seen with the less expensive Roland TD-17KVX-S V-Compact and Yamaha DTX720K Electronic Drum Sets, you don’t have to spend a lot to get a quality drum set.

    However, you should take into account your budget and playing experience. If you have been playing for a while and feel that it’s time to upgrade, it might be worth getting a more expensive and higher quality electric drum set.


    The material your electric drum set is made of can make a huge difference. Rubber on the drum pads, for instance, can allow for a quieter practice session. Different materials, however, might be more ideal for a more realistic feel. Be sure to do your research to determine what material will best fit the sound you’re going for.

    Also, make sure that whatever set you end up going with is made with high-quality material. You’ll want one that not only sounds and plays great but will also last you a while. Be sure to consider any warranties that might come with the product you choose.


    It is amazing how many great features are built into today’s electric drum sets. Many sets have some of the same features, but make sure the one you go with has features you will actually use. If you’re a beginner, go with one where the features help you improve your playing. If you’re a more advanced drummer, you might want a set with great recording abilities for production purposes.

    Your Needs

    Are you looking for something to practice with at home? Do you need a new set to gig with? Electric drum sets can be a big investment, so look for one that will accommodate you


    How do electric drum sets work?

    Without knowing how an electric drum set works, owning one might seem intimidating. Their mechanisms, however, are actually quite simple.

    Sensors are located underneath the rubber or mesh pad, and when the pad is hit, the sensor sends a voltage value to the “brain” (sound module). The sound module then converts that value to trigger a certain sound based on the set up of the sound module. The module is also able to make sounds louder or quieter based on the velocity of the strike.

    Some pads come with two or even three sensors under the pad. This allows a single pad to produce multiple sounds, again depending on the set up of the sound module.

    What’s the transition from an acoustic drum set to an electric drum set like?

    Depending on their skill level and personal preferences, drummers might find the transition from traditional acoustic sets to electric ones difficult. Elements such as pad sensitivity, latency, and distant sound all affect the playing experience.

    Many electric sets do a great job at mimicking the feel of acoustic ones, so be sure to keep that in mind when searching for the right set.

    How do I know I'm ready to buy an electronic drum set?

    Beginners can take advantage of electric sets as many of them come with programs that facilitate learning. If you are a more advanced drummer, an electric set might benefit you in terms of live gigging or recording.

    If you have access to a friend’s or one at a music store, it might be worth testing out an electric drum set. This way, you’ll know exactly how it feels different from an acoustic one and if it’s something you feel ready to start playing on your own.

    How much should I expect to spend on an electric drum set?

    As previously stated, this is going to depend on the kind you get. Typically, electric drum sets can be anywhere from $500-$10,000.

    Bottom Line

    In short, these are our recommendations here at Drum Center of Portsmouth for the beginner drummer, drummer on a budget, the home recording artist, and the tech lover. Take into account our expert reviews along with the other mentioned considerations to choose the one that is right for you!

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