If you thought Roland and Yamaha had the electronic drum market cornered, think again. Ddrum has been making some of the finest electronic drum equipment out there for 25 years, products often chosen by touring professionals for their simplicity of use, realistic sounds, and rock-solid reliability. The company’s expansion into the realm of acoustic drums initially raised some eyebrows, but those who’ve seen and played the acoustic drums know something the skeptics don’t: Ddrum was able to do for acoustic what it had long been doing for electric.
Unlike some newer companies, ddrum is making a full range of drum lines suitable for any budget, which, incidentally, all begin with the letter “D” — Dios, Dominion, Diablo, and so on. Some of its kits are perfect for niche players wanting a punk kit with a tartan finish, or a glam drummer looking for a colorful acrylic kit. But ddrum drums aren’t only about image. A year ago I reviewed two high-end yet mid-priced kits from the Dios line. One kit was made from bubinga and the other from walnut, and frankly, I’m still kicking myself for not buying one or both of those kits. Luckily, I got another crack at a ddrum acoustic kit, this time in the Dominion maple line. I wasn’t going to let this one get away so easily.
From the Dominion Maple series, I received a Dorian configuration, which is a “one up, two down” 5-piece kit consisting of a 14" x 6.5" snare, a 24" x 18" kick, a 13" x 9" rack tom, and 14" x 14" and 16" x 14" floor toms. This kit is clearly a rock kit, but if you require an even more insanely huge bass drum and toms for added sonic boom, ddrum’s appropriately named Dominator configuration is the kit for you. There’s also a more general-purpose kit with two hanging toms and one floor tom with a modern 22" x 20" bass drum. As of 2008, these kits are available as shell packs only, though ddrum does include its new line of DX Touring hardware.
As mentioned, the shells are 100-percent maple, with 6-ply 6mm toms, and 8-ply 8mm shells for the snares and bass drums. The Dorian configuration I received is available in several high-gloss lacquer finishes: Natural, Wine Red, Black, Orange Sparkle, Tobacco Sunburst (5-percent up charge), and Dark Blue. The other configurations offer different finish selections. The kit I received had the new Dark Blue finish — a rich blue lacquer that reveals the grain of the maple under bright lighting. It was an attractive and classy, if understated finish. On four of the drums the gloss was very smoothly finished, but oddly, the 14" floor tom had some subtle striations in the gloss, making me wonder if someone went out to lunch and forgot a buffing step on that drum.
I preferred this Dorian configuration over the very ’80s-feeling and fairly massive Dominator configuration. Since the 13" mounted tom was a shallow 9" deep, I could still get the drum into a comfortable playing position. Deep toms placed over large bass drums force drummers to set everything up at steep angles (think Lars Ulrich), which quickly results in dented heads. You could also set them very flat and high, which forces more arm movement into your technique. That looks cool for rock, but if you’re more of a finesse player and like to minimize unnecessary motions, that could introduce technique issues. Moving the rack tom further to the left, a la Tommy Lee, widens the distance between the high tom and the floor toms, requiring more effort to move between them. This configuration solved all of these potential problems simply by keeping the rack tom on the short side. The kit as a whole is also more compact.