New Gear 2009: Snare Drums Part I – A Love Story

New Gear 2009: Snare Drums Part I

By DRUM! Staff Originally published in DRUM! Magazine's 2009 Trade Show New Products Report

The DRUM! crew hit the 2009 NAMM trade show with a full complement of photographers, video gear and extra freelance writers designed to help us cover every single new product our readers might see in the coming year. At the end of it all, we had amassed specs and info on more than 450 products. Here's part I of our Snare Drums report. Look for related stories on drum sets, hand drums, cymbals, hardware, accessories, electronics ... well, you get the idea.

Steam-Bent Maple. Ahead, the multifaceted West Coast drum distributor, has built upon the success of its Black On Brass snare drums with three new releases. This single-ply maple model features a high-gloss finish with S-Hoop drum hoops, Tight Screw tension rods, Fat Cat Snappy Snares, and a Dunnett R Class throw-off ($899).

Chrome Over Brass. A logical addition to the line, this model is a new chrome-finish version of the Black On Brass snare, with new lightweight tube lug design, S-hoop drum hoops, Tight Screw Tension Rods, Fat Cat Snappy Snares, and a Dunnett R Class throw-off ($419.99).

Wenge Vert.This showpiece is made of thin vertical staves of exotic hard wood imported from the forests of West Africa. The drum includes S-hoop drum hoops, Tight Screw Tension Rods, Fat Cat Snappy Snares, and a Dunnett R Class throw-off ($899).

Kosaka. The mere fact that Australian craftsman Chris Brady once again helmed the Brady Drum Company booth, after years of absence and controversy, seemed newsworthy enough. But the Kosaka snare drum stood out among the company’s sea of gorgeous exotic hardwood snare drums. Named after Tat Kosaka, the late president of Pro-Mark Japan and an old friend of Mr. Brady’s, the drum is made of bamboo fashioned in block construction, and features oil finish that is hand rubbed with an application of high-grade carnauba wax and then buffed to a high gloss. Available in 14" diameter and 4.5", 5.5", and 6.5" depths.

Diamond Copper Shell. We already knew that nothing is done halfway at Craviotto. So after making a big splash in 2007 by partnering with Adrian Kirchler of AK Drums on the handcrafted nickel-over-brass Diamond series snare, the same dynamic duo returned this year with a copper-shell version that will rock your world. Offered in 14" x 5.5" and 14" x 6.5" sizes, these snares feature Craviotto’s signature nickel-plated hardware and the new Craviotto/AK Diamond Three-Point Vintage strainer. Only 50 will be produced, so collectors had better step up to the plate ($3,250).

Carmine Appice Signature. The legendary drummer for Vanilla Fudge and Rod Stewart was a constant presence at Ddrum’s booth, showing off his new signature snare drum, among other things. Available in 14" x 6" size, the snare features a heavy-duty 6.5mm brass shell, brass hoops and hardware, a Nickelworks throw-off, Remo Ambassador heads, and a gorgeous custom-engraved Carmine Appice design ($599.99).

Vinnie Paul Signature. Ddrum scooped up the former Pantera legend late last year and in short order designed a brand-new Vinnie Paul signature snare drum. Available in either high-gloss black lacquer or with a wicked Dragon Fire wrap, the 14" x 8" North American maple drum features a Nickelworks throw-off, Remo Ambassador heads, and a special Vinnie Paul signature badge. The Dragon-shell model comes with die-cast hoops and Ddrum’s Bullet lugs in Satin Chrome, while the black lacquer model features triple-flanged hoops and Ddrum’s new Face-Off lug, which demands a little explanation. The surface of the round, spun Face-Off lug is tapped, allowing users to screw a variety of unusually shaped “faces” onto the lug. The lug is being launched with a bold spike design, and Ddrum promises to introduce a selection of interchangeable options in coming months (can you say “skull?”). Both models retail for $479.99.

Limited-Edition Maple/Ash Burl. Fans of natural wood will run for the nearest cold shower after seeing the outer ash burl ply on this otherwise 8-ply maple snare drum. Finished in high-gloss lacquer and available in 14" x 6" and a cool little 13" x 7" size, the drum comes with Satin Chrome tube lugs, a Nickelworks throw-off, and die-cast hoops. Retail prices are $579.99 for the 14" and $559.99 for the 13".

Chambered. Gear freaks will want to stick their heads inside this limited-edition 14" x 7" shell, available in either maple or sapele wood. The shell is constructed of six outer plies and six inner plies — essentially two distinct shells — separated by two 2-ply reinforcement rings, which creates a chamber inside the shell. The air hole is ringed by a wooden grommet, and the drum is fitted with Satin Chrome tube lugs, die-cast hoops, and Remo heads. Retail prices are $1,199.99 for the maple model and $1,247.99 for the sapele.

Segmented. Yet another limited-edition snare drum, this time with a 14" x 6" maple segmented shell available in maple or ash. Both models are finished in a high-gloss lacquer and feature Face-Off lugs, die-cast hoops, Remo heads, and the Trick throw-off at a retail price of $999.99 (and not a penny more).

Birch Sparkle. Standing out from the profusion of natural-finish snares that dominated Ddrum’s booth, this 13" x 6" 8-ply birch model caught our eye with its attractive Olive Sparkle lacquer finish. It comes with the Bullet lug, chrome triple-flanged hoops, and Remo heads ($349.99).

Steel. Beautiful in its simplicity (as well as its low price), this 14" x 5" chromed steel-shell snare comes with rolled bearing edges, chrome die-cast hoops, Ddrum’s Bullet lugs, Remo heads, and a Nickelworks throw-off — all for just $192.99 — retail! Can you imagine what that will street for?

Rosewood. It’s been remarkable to watch Dixon slowly evolve from a budget-priced hardware brand into a full-service drum maker. Last year the company introduced three drum kits in the beginner and mid-price range, and now has upped the ante with a classy 13" x 6" 9-ply vertical grain rosewood snare drum. It comes equipped with 2.3mm Power hoops, Evans G1 coated batter and Hazy 300 snare-side heads, a Dunnett throw-off and butt plate, and a padded bag ($779).

Collector's Series Super Solid. If any company qualified to win the “what the hey?” snare drum award, Drum Workshop led the pack with its new Super Solid snare drum. John Good personally walked us through the proprietary compression-bending process that makes solid wood so pliable that you can literally twist it into curlicues with your bare hands. But even then, it was hard to believe our eyes. Available in maple or red oak, Super Solid snares were introduced in 14" x 5.5" sizes and 0.5" and 0.75" shell thicknesses. They feature integrated reinforcement hoops, DW heads by Remo, Swivel throw-off, True Tone 14-strand wires, and 3-gauge steel counterhoops. Prices range from $1,299 for a FinishPly model to $1,499 for an Exotic finish.

Collector's Series Stainless Steel. The name says it all: This thin-gauge rolled stainless steel shell is outfitted with stainless steel hoops and tension rods, as well as nickel-plated lugs, Delta Ball Bearing throw-off, and butt plate. It comes with DW heads by Remo, True Tone 14-strand wires, and 3-gauge steel hoops, and is available in 13" and 14" diameters and 4.5", 5.5", 6.5" depths — all at a $699 retail price.

Collector's Series Solid Stave. Here’s a no-brainer. DW has been producing Gon Bops percussion for years and finally married the two brands with this snare drum. Its 14" x 5.5" quarter-sawn North American red oak shell is made by Gon Bops California series craftsmen and features integrated reinforcement hoops. The snare comes with DW heads by Remo, a Delta Ball Bearing throw-off, True Tone 14-strand wires, and 3-gauge steel hoops. Available in all DW custom finishes and hardware options, the drum retails for $1,499.

Treebronze. Meet Treebronze — the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Jeff Ocheltree’s uber heavy-duty metal snare drum companies. The alloy du jour is bronze, and like past Ocheltree designs, these beautiful beasts are big on mass and gargantuan on sound. Available in Satin, Dark Bronze, Antique Bronze, and Dark Satin finishes in 14" x 5" ($2,799), 14" x 5.5" ($2,899), 14" x 6.5" ($2,999), and 14" x 8" ($3,099) sizes, the seamless shells are sand-cast (not spun). Each comes with a Nickelworks throw-off, Puresound snares, Ocheltree Signature heads, and a certificate of authenticity.

Steel. As usual, the Dunnett booth was stuffed with gorgeous snare drums, including this limited-edition, ornate steel model made in cooperation with James Trussart of Trussart Guitars.

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