144 Lafayette Road, North Hampton, NH 03862 | 603-319-8109

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Shootouts

  • Canopus RFM vs. Sonor Prolite - Reinforced Maple Shell Showdown

    Anyone who knows us at Drum Center of Portsmouth knows that we love Sonor drums. The vintage maple shell design of their SQ2 and Prolite series are at the top of our list when it comes to unparalleled sound.
    What you may not know is that we are also huge Canopus Drum fans. When a customer comes into the store and asks for a snare drum recommendation from us, regardless of brand, they usually walk out with a Canopus. Also relatively unknown is the amazing sound of their RFM drum line.
    As a service to you, we decided to pit these two high-end reinforced maple shelled kits up against one another in a head to head showdown!

    Round 1 - The Stats

    Both of our kits are 5-piece configurations with similar diameters - 10, 12, 14, 16, 22. The Prolite is 10x8, 12x9, 14x14, 16x16 and 22x17.5. The Canopus RFM is a little less traditional in their depths - 10x7, 12x8, 14x13, 16x15 and 22x15.
    Advantage - n/a

    Round 2 - The Shells

    Each manufacturer creates their thin, reinforced maple shells in house from scratch. Both are flawless. The Sonor shells interiors have a subtle finish to them bringing out some gorgeous wood grain figuring. While this makes no audible difference, the attention to detail gives the Prolites an ever so slight advantage.

    Round 3 - The Hardware

    This category is a tough one. The Prolite hardware is more engineered, more practical, and better looking. The Tune-Safe lugs have 2 points of entry into the shell, and do a better job of preserving tuning.
    The Canopus lugs are a single-point solid brass lug. These simple, elegant lugs promote resonance by creating fewer holes in the shell. Brass is also inherently resonant, which may or may not increase shell vibration. Canopus tuning rods sport proprietary Bolt Tight leather washers that aid in keeping the drums in tune.
    Sonor gets the nod in this category, but only by a hair.

    Round 4 - The Heads

    This may seem trivial to some, but probably makes the biggest difference in the overall sound. Canopus RFM drum sets ship with Remo USA Coated Ambassadors on the top AND bottom. Prolites have clear Ambassador heads on the top and bottom.
    While both heads are of premium quality, the Coated Ambassadors are our drum head of choice on 90% of drum sets. They just have a smoother tone with a slightly better range. The Prolite heads sound great, just a little more direct and punchy.
    Advantage - Canopus

    Round 5 - The Finish

    The Canopus RFM kit is finished in a unique, classy looking Navel Orange Oil. It looks amazing. The Prolite drum set is a high-gloss, Chocolate Walnut Burl.
    Advantage - Sonor

    Round 6 - The Sound

    We tuned each kit high and low. The Canopus kit seemed to handle the higher tunings a little better, but this can definitely be attributed to the Coated Ambassador heads. These heads also seemed to bring out more rich, woody tone.
    The Prolites brought more thump and defined articulation, most likely due to the clear heads and slightly deeper sizes. They seemed to choke up a bit when we asked them to go higher, but this also could be blamed on the clear heads.
    Advantage - Canopus, with an *asterisk

    Overall

    Both of these kits are professional level, high-end examples of handmade quality and craftsmanship. Each have a slightly different voice and vibe to them. All things being completely equal, the winner is not clear. The Canopus RFM will a pleasant surprise to most people, as they are still relatively unknown here in the US. If they can keep up with the sound of Sonor, they deserve to be near the top of your list when shopping for a high end maple drum set.
    We stock and sell more high-end Canopus and Sonor drums than anyone. If you have any questions about these two brands, feel free to give us a shout. We’d love to help you out!

  • Ludwig Super Series Snare Drums

    Originally released in 1960, the Ludwig “Standard” model snare quickly became popular for its incredibly unique tone. Super Ludwig series drums pay homage to the original workhorse, with the convenience of modern manufacturing techniques.
  • Keplinger Snare Drums - Stainless Steel vs. Black Iron

     

    The Keplinger Story

    Gregg Keplinger is a rare hybrid of drumming talent and percussive artisan. After finding a 1930s Ludwig 6.5x14 steel snare with an otherworldly tone, Gregg was inspired to improvise and innovate his own snare drum. Sourcing stainless steel from an industrial pipe manufacturer in Seattle, Gregg set to building the first of many custom snare drums.  Thus the "Keplinger" vision - for hefty metal-shell snares, and percussion with an industrial personality - was born.

    The Keplinger Sound

    You may not know about Keplinger Snare Drums, but you probably know their sound.  Gregg worked closely in-studio and on stage with a young Matt Cameron during Soundgarden's "Superunknown" glory days and continued on with Matt to work with Pearl Jam. That unmistakable crack on many of Matt’s most famous tracks - that’s the Keplinger sound!

    Keplinger Steel Snare Drum - 14x7

    The Keplinger Shootout

    Gregg’s snare drums became most well-known when he worked primarily with stainless steel. Today, Keplinger snare drums are sourced from all kinds of alloys.  For our latest snare drum showcase, we focused on our 2 best selling Keplinger metal snare drums - Stainless Steel and Black Iron.

    Steel or Black Iron?

    The Keplinger Steel snare drums project the legendary “crack” that is so familiar from Matt Cameron’s recordings .  Both 7 inch and 5.5 inch drums are exceptionally sensitive despite relatively underwhelming stock snare wires. The steely overtones are heavy, smooth and very pleasing to the ear. They are bright, but with a smear of darkness that give them a remarkable complexity.  And yes, they are loud af.

    Keplinger Steel Snare Drum - 14x5.5

    Keplinger Black Iron snare drums share similarities with their steel siblings - just darker.  These drums are MEAN. They have an uncanny low end projection and a built-in reverb sound that is unique.  The 4 inch Black Iron snare has a huge tuning range, and sounds great tuned down low or cranked high. The 8 inch model is an absolute BEAST that sounds like an evil church bell.

    Keplinger Black Iron Snare Drum - 14x7

    We are super-impressed with all 5 Keplinger Snare drums we currently have in stock.  Each one would make an incredible studio workhorse.  They would also be right at home on any (large) stage, we just recommend you get a roady to haul it around for you!

    Get Your Metal On at Drum Center of Portsmouth!

    Surprisingly versatile 14x4 Keplinger Black Iron Snare Drum

    We are huge fans of Gregg’s snare drums.  They are not made to be admired for their aesthetics.  They are no-nonsense instruments meant to be wailed on.  There are many boutique builders, but very few legendary studio sounds.  Keplinger is one of those sounds. Get yours at Drum Center of Portsmouth!

     

  • Canopus Snare Drum Showcase

    Our #1 Selling Snare Drum Brand

    When a customer visits Drum Center of Portsmouth and is searching for the best sounding snare drum, we invite them to try out all the major manufacturers. Eventually, we'll invite them to take a Canopus Snare drum for a spin.  7/10 times, they will walk out of our shop with a Canopus.  So, what exactly is it about Canopus snare drums that make them sound so good?

    Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

    Canopus snare drums are made by a small group of master craftsman in Japan.  Every component on their drums has been R&D'd with the sole purpose of creating the best possible sound.

    Canopus Snare Drums feature SOLID brass lugs

    Their single point solid brass lugs are designed to sympathetically resonate with the shell, unlike Zinc lugs.  The tuning rods are held firmly in place with their "Bolt Tight" washers.  Canopus Bolt Tight Washers are made from premium leather, and reduce unwanted overtones due to loose rods.  Canopus typically favors 8 lugs as opposed to 10 on their snare drums to promote a more open tone.

    Canopus Bolt Tight Washers

    Canopus snare wires are also the best wires in the business, as far as we're concerned.  They manufacture a variety of snare wires from dry vintage to fat backbeat.  Each model provides incredible sensitivity and excellent dynamic range.  Add all of these components together and you end up with the premium sound that is unmistakably Canopus.

    Canopus Snare Wires - 30 Strand

    The Shells

    Canopus shells are designed and handcrafted in-house.  The variety of materials and composition are seemingly endless.  Each shell provides a unique sound that offers something for every style of drummer.

    Canopus Bubinga Ply Shell

    Canopus is perhaps most well-known for their Zelkova snare drum, which is made from a hollowed out tree-trunk.  While this is an extreme example of their creativity, they also make what we consider to be the industry standard maple snare, simply named "The Maple."  Canopus also offers everything between these 2 extremes, including carbon fiber, stave bubinga, birch, steel, brass and much more!

    Canopus Custom NAMM Showcase Snare Drums

    For our latest video, we are featuring ten 1 of a kind snare drums featured at the 2019 NAMM show.  These magnificent instruments showcase a variety of exotic materials including beech, bubinga, chestnut, Birdseye maple, Olive Ash and more!

    Canopus One Of A Kind Beech Snare Drum 14x6 Gloss Walnut Burl

    Each one of these unique Canopus snare drums sounds absolutely KILLER, and would make an excellent workhorse (and conversation piece) for some lucky drummer!

    DCP Knows Canopus Drums

    We carry more Canopus drums than anyone else, and our staff can help you find the perfect Canopus snare or to inspire your creativity. Give a call or send us an email to get started on your Canopus journey today!

  • The Great Gretsch Drums Shootout

    USA Custom vs. Brooklyn vs. Broadkaster

    Most drummers have heard of “That Great Gretsch Sound”.  Gretsch drums have been producing the most sought after tones for over 135 years.  When many of us think of the classic Gretsch sound, we immediately think of the Gretsch USA Custom line.  However, Gretsch has 2 other high-end offerings that are also handmade in their Ridgeland, SC factory.

    Once again, we’ve put together the most comprehensive shootout video on the internet to help you decide which Gretsch kit is perfect for you!

    Part One: Downbeat Configuration - 12/14/20/14x5.5

     

    Part Two: Bop Kits - 12/14/18/14x5.5

     

    Part Three: Rock Configuration - 12/16/22/14x6.5

     

    Part Four: BIG Rock Configuration - 13/16/24/14x6.5

     

    Gretsch Broadkaster

    From the 1920s through the 1950s, Gretsch flagship drum set was the legendary Broadkaster Series. The thin, three-ply shell produced that original "Great Gretsch Sound". Drum Center of Portsmouth was influential in the prototyping of the Gretsch Broadkaster, when we visited the folks at Gretsch and discussed the possibility of a relaunch of the classic line.

    These new classic Broadkaster shells are made with a North American maple/poplar/maple formula. Each 6.7mm shell includes an interior-ply scarf joint that adds structural integrity to the thin, musical shells. Like all USA-made Gretsch drums, shell interiors are finished with classic Gretsch Silver Sealer. The bearing edges are an exclusive reverse roundover, which allows greater surface contact with the drumhead. Toms are outfitted with Gretsch's "302" 3.0mm, double flanged steel hoops. The result is tone that is incredibly deep and warm, or "That Great Gretsch Sound."

    Gretsch Brooklyn

    Gretsch Brooklyn Series drums are proudly hand-crafted in their Ridgeland, SC, USA factory. This 4-piece shell pack produces a tone that is immediately recognizable, yet distinctively reinvented.

    Brooklyn drums feature 6-ply North American maple/poplar shells and are slightly thicker than Gretsch's USA Custom Drums and have a 30-degree bearing edge. The inside of these shells are finished with Gretsch Silver Sealer. Each shell comes with a distinctive Brooklyn internal shell label that identifies the drum shell model number and serial number. The toms feature classic 3mm, double flanged Gretsch "302" hoops. Brooklyn delivers classic Gretsch tones that are full, punchy and warm, yet slightly more open and satisfyingly ambient. If the USA Custom line isn't quite your cup of tea, give the Brooklyn Series a shot.

    Gretsch USA Custom

    For over 65 years, Gretsch USA Custom Round Badge drums have been the classic American drum sound. At the heart of "That Great Gretsch Sound" is the legendary 6-ply maple/gum shell with its expertly formed 30-degree bearing edge, the exclusive "Silver Sealer" interior finish and rugged die cast hoops. These custom drums are handmade in Ridgeland, South Carolina using the highest quality traditional finishing techniques. You simply won't find a higher quality drum than a Gretsch USA Custom.

    The Verdict

    “That Great Gretsch Sound” is inherent in all 3 USA-made offerings.  The differences in sound are subtle across each line despite pretty big differences in shell composition.  “That” sound is a woody, shell heavy and articulate tone that makes itself known and gets right out of the way.  These drums are incredibly musical and sit perfectly in any mix. It’s these qualities that make Gretsch drums so desirable in a studio recording environment, as well small coffee houses and the big stage.

    Drum Center of Portsmouth is your home for Gretsch Drums

    Here at Drum Center of Portsmouth, we know that great Gretsch sound. Many of us own at least one Gretsch kit, and can help you identify the drum set that is perfect for YOUR needs.  Give us a call at (603)319-8109 today to find the USA Gretsch Drums of your dreams!

  • Ludwig USA Drum Set Shootout!

    Our latest in-depth video shootout features all 5 Ludwig USA drum set lines head to head in order to help you find YOUR ideal Ludwig sound!
  • DW Collectors Series Showcase!

    DW Collectors Series Drum Sets offer so many different shell configurations, it can be a little confusing. Drum Center of Portsmouth is here to help! We demo 5 variations of DW Collectors Series Drum Sets in our latest comparison video.
  • Modern Takes on the Classic Ludwig Black Beauty Snare Drum

    We've put together a video comparing 3 modern snare drums that were influenced by the classic Ludwig model.  As a bonus, we included a demo of an original vintage Black Beauty from the early 1930's!
  • A&F Snare Drum Showcase at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    Vintage Vibes with Modern Sounds

    A&F snare drums blend old-world craftsmanship with new world sounds.  The boutique drum company out of Austin, Texas creates instruments with exceptional sound and a beautiful aesthetic.  In their relatively short history, they have burst on the scene with a totally unique vibe unlike anything we've seen at the Drum Center of Portsmouth.  They locally source all available materials and hand-make their shells, hoops, lugs, and badges.  A&F uses Italian leather washers between anything that makes contact with the shell and hand stamp every badge for each drum with its own exclusive serial number.

    We've put together a comprehensive showcase of 10 amazing A&F snare drums we currently have in stock!

    A&F Prototype Raw Bronze Snare Drum 14x7 10-Lug

    These particular A&F Snare Drums are a Drum Center of Portsmouth EXCLUSIVE!

    This 14x7 A&F Raw Bronze Snare Drum is innovative, gorgeous, and completely handcrafted from scratch in Austin, Texas. A&F cuts, rolls, welds, and sands their own shells, then treat them with a patented oxidizing formula to jumpstart the patina process. The edge is a 45 degree cut with a 3.5" snare bed, and the drums are fitted with 10 in-house machined raw brass lugs. This deceptively heavy snare is hyper-sensitive, with a fundamentally bright and "cymbal-y" tone with projection and articulation that is second to none.

    We also included the 14x6 and 14x4 Prototype Bronze A&F Snare drums in our video showcase.

    A&F Solid Core Mahogany Snare Drum 14x6.5

    The next A&F Snare Drum tested was their exclusive 1/4 inch one-piece seamless core shell carved out of single tree trunk, hence the vertical grain! It has no re-rings, and it features their 45-degree edge and comes with A&F handmade raw brass hoops and lugs. It has a deep, throaty, woody tone with incredible snare sensitivity and response. We think this is one of the finest wood snares currently on the market!

    A&F Nickel Over Brass Snare Drum 14x4 8-Lug

    This 4x14 A&F Nickel Over Brass Snare Drum is an absolute knockout. This particular brass shell was sent to a nickel plater in Texas who's family has been plating nickel since 1930's. The edge is a 45 degree cut with a 3.5" snare bed. This deceptively heavy snare is hyper-sensitive, with a fundamentally bright and crispy tone with projection and articulation that is second to none.

    A&F Raw Brass Snare Drum 14x5 10-Lug

    This particular A&F Snare Drum is one of our best sellers.  The 14x5 Raw Brass Snare Drum has 10 lugs and projects a classic vintage brass tone with more volume than you'd expect.  Both visually and sonically stunning, this may have been our favorite recorded sound of the showcase.

    A&F Raw Steel Snare Drum 14x6.5 w/ Nickel Over Brass Hardware

    Have you ever seen a more beautiful steel snare drum?  We were absolutely blown away by this magnificent 14x6.5 Raw Steel A&F Snare Drum.  The nickle over brass hardware is a fantastic contrast to the shell's raw finish.  The tone is raw, sharp and energetic.  Simply amazing!  We also tested this raw steel shell in 14x4.5 with raw brass hardware and were equally impressed.

    A&F Steam Bent Maple Snare Drum 14x6.5 Charcoal Grey

    A&F Snare drums also include a solid maple shell in their lineup.  This 14x6.5 has a very low pitch with great sensitivity and a dry, woody tone. It comes built with A&F's raw brass hoops, 10 lugs, no reinforcement rings, 45 degree bearing edges, and a whole lot of sass!

    A&F Maple Club Snare 14x5 10 Lug Charcoal Grey

    Rounding out our A&F Snare Drum showcase is the 14x5 Maple Club snare drum in Charcoal Grey.  The Club shells are cut with an outside reverse baseball bat bearing edge and do not use re-rings. This drum is finished with patented A&F raw brass hardware. The lower mid-range tone you get when striking this drum is clean, natural, round and woody. This particular snare is 14x5 with 10 lugs.

    Drum Center of Portsmouth is Your Home for A&F Snare Drums!

    We are very excited to be carrying the A&F line at Drum Center of Portsmouth. Once you play them for yourself, you'll understand why!  If you have any questions about this high-end, boutique drum company give a call at (603)319-8109.  We are happy to help!

  • Sonor Snare Drum Shootout!

    150 Years of German Precision

    Nothing sounds like a Sonor snare drum.  For nearly 150 years, Sonor has been crafting some of the finest percussion instruments available.  If you ask anyone at the shop what their go to sound is, many of us will say it's Sonor.  Most of us own (at least) one Sonor.

    What makes Sonor Snare Drums so unique?  To start, they hand craft their high end lines the way they have been doing for decades.  Unique shell construction using proprietary molds produce slightly undersized shells.  This allows for the drum head to float on the bearing edge, yielding greater resonance and sensitivity.  Sonor snare drums have an incredible dynamic range.  At the slightest touch the drums open up and produce clear tone.  The high quality components and gorgeous finish options make these drums as beautiful to look at as they are to play.

     

    Sonor SQ2 Beech Snare Drum 13x5.5 Birdseye Maple

    This handsome little guy features a heavy beech shell that projects crisp, clear tone.  It has beautiful birdseye gloss veneer on the outside, and a matching veneer inside!  18-Strand steel wires and 2.3mm Power Hoops allow the beefy shell to breathe and articulate.

    Sonor SQ2 Maple Snare Drum 13x7 Scandinavian Birch w/ Gold Hardware

    Our next SQ2 snare drum is quite stunning with its eye-catching gold hardware.  The versatile 13x7 heavy maple shell packs a a ton of powerful pop with some serious mid range tone.  With matching Scandinavian Birch veneers inside and out, this is one of the most beautiful examples of SQ2 craftsmanship you'll find.

    Sonor One Of A Kind Maple/Beech Snare Drum 13x7 Mango

    This 9-ply, 7mm maple/beech blended shell is veneered inside and out with a ply of elegant vertical mango wood. Combine this deep, thin shell with triple flanged hoops, 45 degree bearing edges, precision snare beds, and Dual Glide Strainer, and you have a staggeringly dynamic, world-class instrument that sounds as good as it looks. Seriously, the level of detail on the badge alone will blow your mind. Just 99 of these were produced worldwide, and they come with a luxurious custom Hardcase and "Welcome Box". It takes a lot to stand out on the Drum Center of Portsmouth showroom floor, and these immaculate instruments might just be the crown jewel in our collection!

    Sonor Phonic Reissue Beech Snare Drum 14x5.75 Rosewood

    Sonor Phonic reissue snare drums are faithful recreations of the legendary Sonor beech shell snare drums of yesteryear. Boasting a 14x5.75, 12-ply beech shell with a rosewood gloss veneer, this snare drum is meant to stand out both sonically and visually! The beech shell provides a sound that is classic Sonor; balanced and versatile, with a warm low-mid body and controlled overtones. Ten Phonic lugs, German die cast hoops, slotted rods, classic Phonic strainer, and 20-strand steel wires round out the vintage experience this drum offers. Get your hands on one of these beautiful Sonor Phonic drums at Drum Center of Portsmouth today!

    Sonor SQ2 Heavy Maple Snare Drum 14x6 Ebony Gloss

    This 14x6 combines many of our favorite Sonor specs into one beefy drum.  A heavy maple shell, ebony gloss veneer, and the fattest diecast hoops in the industry makes this drum visually and sonically stunning.  With articulation and volume to spare, this may be the only snare drum you'll ever need.

    Sonor SQ2 Maple Snare Drum 14x6.5 Signal Grey

    This Medium Maple Sonor SQ2 Snare drum is a well-rounded workhorse.  We ordered this Signal Grey lacquer finish from their RAL color options list.  Man, were we pleased when we saw it in person.  This drum features triple flanged hoops and 24-strand steel wires that give it extra sensitivity.

    Sonor Phonic Reissue Beech Snare Drum 14x6.5 Mahogany

    This Phonic Reissue has a 14x6.5, 9-ply beech shell with a mahogany veneer in matte finish.  Like the 5.75 we tested earlier, the beech shell projects a sound with drier body and balanced overtones. Ten Phonic lugs, German die cast hoops, slotted rods, classic Phonic strainer, and 20-strand steel wires round out the vintage experience this drum offers.  This may be our favorite recorded sound from the video.

    Sonor SQ2 Beech Snare Drum 14x8 Gloss Rosewood

    We saved the biggest, and possibly best, for last.  A few of us have owned some version of this 14x8 heavy beech shell.  It simply has all the low end tone and beefy projection you could ask for, along with surprising sensitivity.  This particular Sonor SQ2 has an immaculate Gloss Rosewood finish on the exterior along with a matching matte veneer inside!  Diecast hoops and 24-strand steel wires round out this monstrous beauty.

    Drum Center of Portsmouth has YOUR Sonor Waiting for You!

    We know Sonor drums, and we carry a massive selection in stock at all times.  If you are looking for a German engineered instrument that will do it all, look no further than Sonor.  Get it from the pros at Drum Center of Portsmouth!

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