Drum Workshop Collector’s Series Birch Tested!

The Finish

Man-oh-man, the finish was S-W-E-E-T! This drum set features a DW Specialty Lacquer finish called Candy Black Fade over birch (with chrome hardware). Basically, the finish is a black lacquer mist at the top and bottom of each drum that fades gradually towards the center to reveal the natural color of the birch, which is similar to maple, but with a warmer, more mellow or aged appearance. This color combination screams class. Drum Workshop raised the bar with this one.

These drums were buffed to a mirror-like finish that really grabs the eye. Unless you were bothered by the pronounced grain characteristics of this birch, you would be hard-pressed to find a flaw on this drum-set’s finish. The inside of the drums had a natural finish without an over-spray mist or rough feel like other drum sets I’ve test driven.

The Audition

Now came the time to test drive these bad boys! I shifted things around in my drum studio (making room for another set of drums has its own challenges) and was chomping at the bit to get a groove on.

I set up the drums using the provided stands. This allowed three suspended (or mounted) toms with two suspended floor toms. Granted, the stands would have allowed me to be more creative, but I went with this standard setup. I popped in my favorite music-minus-drums CD, cranked the volume, and let ’er rip.

The bass drum … can you say sonic boom? I was stunned. I didn’t expect such a huge sound from a birch bass drum. Perhaps it was because I typically play a maple kick in a 20" size – I don’t know, but I liked it. Kicked my chest!

The toms were equally powerful. They reminded me of the sound out in “front of house” when you have a great soundman at the helm of the board. The tone was more fundamental with hardly any overtones – pure attack, and immediate warm decay.

I normally use an O-ring on my snare drum, so I automatically slapped one on the birch snare. It really didn’t need it. This was the first snare that I have played in a long time that could be played without the aid of a muffling device.

Equally impressive was the fact that these drums were perfectly tuned right out of the boxes. I did tweak the snare a bit, as I like a pretty high crack from that drum. I really liked the warm d-o-o-m of the toms. These drums just had great tone, thanks in large part to DW’s STM system. I like how DW has stepped away from the common copy of the original R.I.M.S. mounts by incorporating the mount into the design of the lug casings. It is aesthetically pleasing, and more importantly, it works.

Then came the true test: a full-blown rehearsal with sound engineer. I didn’t tell anyone that I wasn’t going to bring my maple DW’s. I wanted to get a true off-the-cuff reaction. Oohs and ahhs abounded as the band mates arrived. “Hey, you got new drums!” “Killer drums!” I had to be the bearer of bad news that these were on temporary loan for review.

Then I played

Talk about eyes popping everywhere! The sound engineer didn’t have to use gates on the drums. Ya-hoo! “Dude, those drums sound gorgeous,” cried the engineer during sound check. “Can’t you keep these drums?” my bass player teased after the first tune.

“I wish!”

Birch vs. Maple

Just so happens that I have a DW Collector’s Series Maple kit, so I thought it would be fun to A-B the maple and the birch kits. Both were equipped with the same heads. The main difference – my 20" bass drum and 15" suspended floor tom verses the 22" and 16" on the test kit.

Still, I was able to get a pretty clear picture of the sound characteristic differences. Maple has a longer, slower sustain with lots of overtone, and birch has a shorter, faster sustain with more pure tone roll-off. The other slightly noticeable difference was volume. The maple drums were just plain louder and projected the sound more.

The Other Hardware

The kit came supplied with all the stands necessary to rack and rock. The combination tom/cymbal stands hold one or two toms with a cymbal arm attached. There was a single tom/cymbal stand, a boom/straight combination cymbal stand, and a snare stand, which allowed seemingly infinite adjustments. Personally, I sit low and prefer to mount my toms lower than this set allowed, but my options were limited by the 22" bass drum’s height.

The real hardware treat was the bass drum pedal and hi-hat stand. I received the Delta II Accelerator Double Pedal that came in its own travel bag. Now, I have seen the ads for this pedal’s elevator heel platforms featuring nine different heel platform positions, but I thought this was just marketing hype. Consider my foot removed from my mouth. This adjustable heel really made a difference. I preferred the heel platform with two elevators. And the heavy duty Delta II two-leg hi-hat was already my hi-hat stand of choice when I play out, except that the new stand comes with two pull rods: one long and one short.

This hardware pays great attention to little details that really makes the professional drummer sit up and take notice. These features may or may not mean much to the hobby drummer, but they aid the drummer who plays out regularly.

Birch Impressions

Now, I am confused. I love my maple drums, and now I love these birch drums. Oh, the woes of a drummer. So I turned to the good old American Heritage Dictionary for their definitive definition of birch. Here’s what they wrote:

(burch) n. 1. a. Any of various deciduous trees or shrubs of the genus Betula, native to the Northern Hemisphere and having toothed leaves and bark that often peels in thin papery layers. b. The hard close-grained wood of any of these trees. 2. A rod from a birch, used to administer a whipping.

Aha! They took the words right out of my mouth! This DW birch kit administers a whipping!I


Model: DW Collector’s Series Birch
Sizes and Price: 8" x 7" Tom ($912), 10" x 8" Tom ($977), 12" x 9" Tom ($1,068), 14" x 11" Tom ($1,221), 16" x 13" Tom ($1,378), 22" x 18" Bass Drum ($2,387), 14" x 5" Snare ($825)
Shell: 100-percent birch
Finish: Candy Black Fade over Birch with chrome hardware
Hoops: Flanged steel
Plies: 8", 10", and 12" toms = 6-ply; 14" and 16" toms = 7—ply; 22" bass-drum = 7-ply; 14" snare = 10-ply
Bearing Edges: toms = 45°, bass drum = 60°, snare = 60°
Heads: DW Coated/Clear (manufactured for DW by Remo)
Throw-Off: DW’s Drop-Style
Tom Mounts: DW’s STM (suspension tom mount) system
Additional Hardware & Prices: DWCP9999 Heavy Duty Single Tom & Cymbal Stand ($254), DWCP9901 Heavy Duty Low Double-Tom Stand ($198), DWCP9934 Double-Tom Stand w/ 934 Cymbal Boom Arm ($264), DWCP9300 Heavy Duty Snare Stand ($172), DWCP5500TD Heavy Duty Delta II 2-Leg Hi-Hat ($299), DWCP5002ADPB Delta II Accel. Double Pedal w/bag ($599), DWCP9700 Heavy Duty Straight-Boom Cymbal Stand ($198)

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