GMS Special Edition Drums Tested!

Keeping Your Edge

The bearing edges have been designed to help enhance drum tone. GMS’s Tony Gallino explained that a sharp, thin bearing edge enhances brightness but can offer too much attack while a thicker and rounder bearing edge enhances fullness. The bearing edges on all GMS drums are cut at 45ยบ, though the snares and rack toms receive a slightly thinner edge to enhance the tone characteristics desired from those drums, while the bass drums and floor toms receive a rounder edge to enhance their low end and fullness.


The snare features a ten-lug die-cast hoop and 20 strand snares. The drum is sensitive from edge to center and the die-cast hoops seem to enhance the midrange of its tone a bit while providing great rock rimshots. By tightening the snares, I could enhance the crispness and brightness of the drum to my taste. This allowed me to play this drum wide open without the ring becoming overbearing. A touch of tape can tame it if you prefer an even drier drum sound. Rim clicks on this drum were clear and loud and woody, just the way you want them. The strainer is sturdy, quiet and is designed to hold the snare tension where you set it. It did exactly that. I had to release the strainer to make any adjustments to it because it’s so firm, but it held its setting for as long as I wanted. I have recorded several GMS snares in my studio and without exception they have been stellar performers.


The toms came with Evans single-ply batter and resonant heads and all feature the GMS suspension system. Combined with the GMS Suspension tom mounts, the drums rang with a strong fundamental and had a long, smooth decay. All the drums tuned nicely and were a joy to play. Initially, I had a bit of trouble with the 14” tom, but once I replaced the top head I got a pleasing blend from drum to drum. They needed no muffling, unless you prefer a shorter decay.

Bass Drum

The 22” x 18” 20-lug bass drum had a huge, deep sound. The included EQ 1 and black Resonant logo head complemented the drum well. I got plenty of attack out of the drum plus a deep fundamental pitch that would perfectly suit any rock song. It wasn’t too boomy and could be played wide open providing you tune the drum low. I tried a ported Aquarian Regulator front head that has a small felt ring attached to it with an additional bit of foam rubber against the bottom of the batter head and was very pleased with the results. The drum felt a little better to me since I usually use a ported head and the sound was exactly what I wanted.

The tension screws are drum-key operated and not the T-handle variety, which can be easily loosened in transit to a gig or get caught when putting into a case. The claws on the bass drum are functional, though I’d love to see die-cast claws on the kit. The hoop did not have a hoop guard to protect it from becoming chewed by your bass drum pedal, though GMS is developing one. I think GMS should include a generic one in the meantime. The hoops are finished with the same care as the rest of the kit and have the same Tangerine sparkle inlay as the shells, which I’d hate to see damaged. There was no tom mount on the bass drum shell as is the case with most professional level kits. You can mount your toms on a rack or from cymbal stands.

GMS Suspension System

GMS’s suspension system works quite well. The T-shaped GMS suspension mount attaches to two lugs on the top hoop of the drum allowing adjacent toms to be put as close to each other as you like. The suspension mounts accept 10.5 mm posts, so Premier tom arms won’t fit; though many other brands will. Memory locks prevent the drums from turning once set. The system also contacts the bottom hoop to stabilize larger toms that can bounce around with other suspension systems. This might be overkill on smaller drums, but you can easily remove the bottom section if you wish to save a little weight.


GMS sent along two racks and clamps to attach to my cymbal stands. The tom arms were L-arms attached to cymbal booms. These are too long to place directly over the bass drum and necessitate mounting the toms from either side of the bass drum, which puts the bottom of the boom arms in a position where it’s possible to scratch the bass drum. I recommend cutting these down with a pipe cutter and mounting them above the bass drum to eliminate a potentially heartbreaking event. The clamps have rubber inserts that are designed to protect your hardware, but tend to force the screw to hinge outward and could cause a drum or rack bar to fall. These can be easily removed and I recommend doing so. GMS doesn’t manufacture this hardware and you can supply tom arms from other manufacturers if you like. The fairly heavy black aluminum GMS Rack bars are hexagonal in shape, which prevent the clamps from rotating and allowed me to position the drums exactly where I wanted them. Combined with the GMS suspension mounts on the toms this was a very solid setup.


The GMS Special Edition Drums are a treat visually and sonically. The low-mass lugs reveal the superb finishes of the drums and let their tones speak clearly without dampening shell vibration. The drums sounded great. They weigh noticeably less than GMS’s Grand Master Series drums and depending on the extras you’re willing to forgo, can save you a bit of money too. This is a completely professional drum set.


Model: GMS Special Edition six-piece kit with optional Tangerine sparkle lacquer finish and ten-lug die-cast snare hoops.
List Price: $5,720. For standard finishes subtract 15% or $4,970. For standard non die-cast snare hoops subtract $160.
Sizes: 22" x 18" bass drum, 14" x 5 1/2" maple snare, 8" x 7", 10" x 9", and 12" x 9" mounted toms, and a 14" x 12" suspended tom.
Shells: 8-ply maple shells with no reinforcing rings.
Standard Finishes: Natural Satin Finishes offered: Natural, Walnut, Chestnut, Rosewood, Honey Maple, Midnight (black), Forest Green, and Blue. Classic Wrap Finishes offered: White Marine Pearl, Black Oyster, Black Diamond and Charcoal Oyster Blue Swirl.
Optional Finishes: Any GMS hi-gloss lacquer drum finish or custom finish can be ordered for a 15% surcharge.
Heads: Evans coated G1 heads for tom batter, clear Resonant on tom bottom; coated G1 for snare, snare side 300 Hazy for the bottom; EQ 1 batter on the bass and black Resonant for the logo head.
Hardware Package: 40" Aluminum Rack Bar with four included clamps $210. 36" bar with three included clamps $170. Individual tom arms are $48.

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