New Gear 2009: Snare Drums Part II
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 II of our Snare Drums report. Look for related stories on drum sets, hand drums, cymbals, hardware, accessories, electronics ... well, you get the idea.
Revolution. It’s tricky to come up with entirely new ideas in drum manufacturing, but GMS pulled a coup with the new Revolution series snare drum. Available in 14" x 5.5" and 14" x 6.5" sizes, Revolution snares feature a thin coating of real bronze, brass, copper, steel, or nickel on the inside, outside, or both sides of the company’s maple drum shells. Adhering to the wood with a chemical cross-link bond, the metal is so thin that it makes only a negligible difference in the shell’s mass, and yet has a noticeable impact on the drum’s tone.
G-5000 Series Solid Wood. For the first time in more than 80 years, Gretsch has introduced a line of single-ply snare drums made of maple or walnut finished in clear nitro cellulose gloss lacquer. Each includes solid maple reinforcement hoops, die-cast counterhoops, 20-strand snare wires, 30-degree bearing edges, and a choice of Lightning or Dunnett throw-off and butt plate. The maple snares are available in 14" x 5.5" and 13" x 6" sizes, and the walnut model is offered in 14" x 6.5" and 13" x 7" sizes. The 13" drums feature six lugs while the 14" drums have ten.
G-4000 Series Phosphor Bronze. Newly added to the G-4000 metal snare drum range, the Phosphor Bronze models have straight sides and are 5mm thick, weighing in as the thickest and heaviest shells in the Gretsch catalog. The drums feature die-cast hoops, a knurled shell pattern, Lightning throw-off and butt plate, snap-in key holder, and 42-strand snare wires. G-4000 Phosphor Bronze snares are offered in 14" x 5" (8-lug), 14" x 6.5" (10-lug), and 13" x 6" (8-lug) models.
100th Anniversary Black Beauty. They said it couldn’t be done, but Ludwig did it anyway by improving upon the time-tested design of the classic Black Beauty. This 14" x 6.5" anniversary edition is spectacularly appointed with a black nickel-plated brass shell hand-engraved by master craftsman John Aldridge. It comes in a leatherette carrying bag with brass-plated die-cast hoops and tube lugs, Millennium throw-off and butt plate, and a Chief Keystone badge. Snatch one up, because only 100 will be produced.
100th Anniversary Black Magic. While it’s still a relative newcomer in the company’s snare stable, Ludwig has introduced a 100th anniversary edition of the Black Magic snare drum (Ludwig’s official Black Beauty copycat). Available in 14" x 5" and 14" x 6.5" sizes, the anniversary version features an intricate design laser etched into the black nickel-plated shell, as well as chrome tube lugs, chrome die-cast hoops, and a chrome snare throw-off and butt plate.
"The Chief" Supraphonic. We will forever miss Bill II, but his memory will remain in “The Chief.” His well-received 14" x 6.5" Titanium Supraphonic snare is now joined by a 14" x 5.5" version made in a limited run of 100 pieces. It features Ronn Dunnett’s (what, him again?) beaded thin shell, piston snare throw-off, adjustable air vent, and the newly minted “Chief” Keystone badge.
Black Panther Special-Edition Mayan.You could tell something was unusual about this 14" x 5.5" snare drum from 20 paces. Its 1mm steel shell is embossed with a striking Mayan eagle/human mask design and sports a rounded-over bearing edge for greater head-to-shell contact. It is equipped with black hardware that has been brushed with bronze, die-cast hoops, specially designed Remo Fiberskyn batter head, and a Black Panther Deluxe padded carrying case ($623.99).
Chris Adler Signature. It’s hard to believe that this petite 12" x 5.5" snare drum drives Lamb Of God’s take-no-prisoners sound — at least until you give it a whack, and the 5.1mm walnut shell opens up with a mighty craaaaack. Mapex’s first-ever signature snare drum features black chrome hardware, a Black Panther throw-off, 2.3mm Mapex Powerhoops, Aquarian HE12 batter head/CCSN12 snare-side head, 20-strand snare wires, and a powerful eagle graphic with high-gloss lacquer finish ($522.99).
Thick Maple. Remember the Mapex Thick Flame Maple model that won last year’s Drummies! Readers Poll Award in the snare drum category? Well, even though it wasn’t broken, Mapex decided to fix it anyway by spraying Silver Sparkle over the 12mm-thick shell, and fitting it with die-cast hoops, black chrome hardware, Remo Ambassador heads, and 20-strand snare wires.
MPX Series. From the other side of the price spectrum comes Mapex’s MPX line, a budget-priced series that includes eight new models available with steel, maple, or birch shells. All MPX snare drums have low-mass lugs, flanged-steel hoops, fully adjustable throw-offs, and Remo drumheads. MPX maple comes in 14" x 5.5" and 13" x 6", birch is available in 14" x 5.5", steel shells are offered in 14" x 5.5", 13" x 5.5", and 10" x 5.5" sizes. What’s the coolest feature? All retail for just $239.99. No, that’s not a typo.
Solid-Shell Air Control System. Talk about high tech, Odery’s snares with Air Control System — a technology that lets you control shell ventilation with the flick of a wrist — is now available in solid-shell snares. Rotate the brass lever on the drum’s side to open or close four large ventilation holes in the side of the drum. These exotic-wood fetish objects are studded with rock-solid brass shells, wood hoops, and choice of wood from 5.5" shells depths on up.
Masters Maple In Liquid Amber Finish. Once again, Pearl has launched a special limited-edition snare drum-of-the-month program for select dealers. In June you can look for this 14" x 5.5" Masters snare drum in a Liquid Amber finish splashed onto a 6-ply maple shell. It comes fitted with ten CL-65 lugs, MasterCast hoops, and an SR-017 throw-off ($459).
African Mahogany. It’s going to heat up in July when Pearl releases this limited-edition snare, which features a 14" x 9" shell made of 6-ply African mahogany in a natural finish. It is fitted with ten TB-80 Lugs, SuperHoop II hoops, and an SR-017 throw-off ($899).
Masters Exotic Burl Maple. Fans of exotic wood figuring will ogle this 14" x 4" snare drum, which features a 6-ply maple shell with an outer ply of exotic burl enhanced by a ruby finish. The limited-edition drum comes with ten CL-05 lugs, 1.6mm steel hoops, and an SR-018 throw-off. Look for this baby to land in your local drum shop in September ($589).
8-Ply Maple. Pearl decided to unleash the beefiest model in its snare drum-of-the-month program in September. Its 14" x 8" 8-ply maple shell is fitted with ten TB-80 lugs, SuperHoop II hoops, an SR-017 throw-off, and comes with a natural finish ($829).
Piano Black Birch. If you’re looking for a nice, tight pop, this 13" x 9" 6-ply limited-edition birch snare is bound to please. Slated for an October release, it is finished in piano black, and features eight TB-80 lugs, SuperHoop II hoops, and an SR-017 throw-off ($399).
Definition Birch. Shine made a gutsy move this year by being one of the only custom drum companies in recent memory to launch a mid-range line of imported drums. The company’s new Definition Birch snare drums feature 6-ply shells, die-cast hoops, lacquer fade and color finishes, die-cast and gasket lugs, cast mono-action throw-off and butt plate, Remo heads, and 20-strand snare wires. Look for them in 14" and 13" widths and 6" and 7" depths.
Danny Carey Artist Series. The 2009 Winter NAMM show had its share of big, beefy snare drums, and Sonor jumped into the fray with the new Danny Carey Artist series snare. The 14" x 8" behemoth has a 1mm bronze shell, Artist series lugs, 2.3mm power hoops, chrome hardware, laser engraved talisman symbols, and Carey’s laser-engraved signature. And when you compare its $1,099.99 list price to many of the other new metal snares that debuted this year, it seems pretty darned reasonable.
STANTON MOORE DRUM COMPANY
Spirit Of New Orleans. One of the biggest bombshells dropped on the Winter NAMM show was the debut of the Stanton Moore Drum Company. His new titanium snare, crafted by Ronn Dunnet, is a beaut, with a polished shell, antique pewter badge, traditional brass tube lugs, single-flanged hoops with clips or regular triple-flanged hoops, the Dunnett R2 snare throw-off system with keyless snare wire release, Dunnett Hypervent adjustable air vent, and Puresound Metrix 20-strand snare wires.
Titan Warlord. The Warlord legend lives on with Tama’s new Titan model snare drum. This 14" x 6" titanium-shell treasure weighs significantly less than other Warlord releases, and yet sacrifices nothing when it comes to sheer volume and projection. The Titan Warlord model comes with Tama’s Resonant Sound Edge bearing edge, die-cast hoops, and a hard-shell case. You’ll be in business if you can just scrape together the list price of $2,849.99.
Riffing on its signature Black Dog snare, the 10-split-lug "beadless" has a smooth solid shell with no center bead for a claimed sonic nuance ($699.95). The 10-tube-lugged 1mm Steel Shell snare is powder-coated in off white and is laser-engraved with a hot rod-style pinstriping and S-3 throw-off. The 3mm cast hoops sit lower than the standard-height brass shell hoops ($749.95).
X Max. If it’s the head-turning factor you’re after, the X Max series has it in spades. These monochrome powder-coated snares in four loud colors are clad in 2.3mm power hoops, S-3 throw-off, offset/staggered lug pattern, and 1mm steel shells. Comes in 10" x 6", 12" x 6", and 13" x 7" sizes ($269).