Rumor has it this concrete blend might actually be composed of a material closer to soapstone should any handy drummers reading this be tempted to make a trip to Home Depot and attempt a little DIY-ing.
The shell and edges are completely smooth to the touch. No, there aren’t any grains of sand or grit in the shell. Blindfolded you might think you were stroking a satin-finish wood drum, though I didn’t actually do this lest someone see me – thus requiring a quick explanation.
Appropriately, this drum looks like it’s made from concrete. The drum is gray, though our drum has a slightly darker tone toward the bottom head that gradually gets lighter toward the top head. I suspect its been painted, and is the most attractive concrete snare I’ve ever seen. Of course, it’s also the only concrete drum I’ve ever seen.
The hardware on our drum had DW’s Satin Chrome finish, which I found to complement the shell color very nicely. The drum is about as attractive as one can imagine given the shell material. Presumaby, it would be easy for DW to paint or wrap it, but leaving it in its “natural” state like this helps remind you this ain’t no ordinary wood drum.
The features of both review drums are nearly identical other than their dimensions and the shell materials. Both share the same superb hardware. The concrete drum features a 5.5mm cast shell with a standard 45 degree bearing edge and snare bed. The edges look quite sharp, in fact.
Going into this review, I read some comments in online forums and wanted to address the principal concerns drummer’s voiced about concrete shells:
It’s hard to know how durable the drum shell will prove to be. It feels solidly made and I imagine it will be quite durable if you never drop it from great heights or leave it out in the open in a rainforest throughout the monsoon season. The methodology and timeframe of our reviews precludes such torture testing, but of course, few drums wouldn’t be damaged in such situations. In a hardshell case and with a modicum of care it should last a lifetime. Another big question, which ties in with the durability issue should it be dropped, is its weight. The concrete drum weighed in about 11lbs., versus about 9.5lbs for the aluminum drum. Keep in mind the concrete drum is also an inch deeper than the aluminum, so weight shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, when the drums arrived for review in two boxes, I couldn’t tell which was which from their weight, and both proved quite easy to carry, unlike some thick bell brass snares I’ve lifted.
DW says this drum is very different from wood or metal drums and has a dry, focused sound but also has a lot of volume.
If your back were turned you might think it was a heavy brass-shelled drum. It certainly is crisp but also has warmth and bottom.
The concrete drum doesn’t sound that different from some thick bell-brass snares I’ve played in that it was loud and had a meaty and crisp tone with lots of ring. I liked the drum’s articulate sound but found off-center rimshots to have a loud metallic clang that may require dampening.
I take exception to the claim that this drum is in any way dry. It has oodles of ring. Even dead center hits at a mild volume are followed by a noticeable decay of a few seconds. Off-center hits or rimshots create as much ring as impact, and will make you run for your gaffer’s tape. I’d rather have too much ring than too little, simply because you can always reduce it, but can never add it. A rounder bearing edge might have offered more balance between the impact and decay as would using a thicker or pre-muffled snare head.
Metal drummers take note: DW is correct in claiming it is capable of producing loads of ear-damaging volume, so be careful out there!
The features are exceptional and I think DW has done a good job creating two new voices to its already extensive offerings.
The aluminum drum would function very well as your primary “workhorse” snare drum. The concrete drum has a one-of-a-kind shell, whose creation is amply justified by its larger-than-life sound and crisp yet meaty tone that’s ideal for rock music.
Model, Size & List Price
DW Collector’s Series Concrete Snare Drum
14" x 5.5" and 14" x 6.5" $1,231
Aluminum Thin 1mm Rolled Shell
14" x 5.5" $662
14" x 6.5" $693