The snare drum is your kit’s most prominent and distinct voice. It’s the 2-and-4 bark behind a wall of distortion. It’s the sweet swish behind a crooning balladeer. It’s the force that makes your feet go funny during a tasty n’awlins second-line boogaloo. But sometimes — and let’s just admit it — your snare is simply not up to the task. If you don’t have enough cash stashed away to buy a better drum, you can dramatically improve your snare’s sound by replacing generic or worn-out snare wires. Specializing in handcrafted buzz makers, Puresound comes to the rescue with its new Twisted series.
Puresound sent me two 20-strand models, a 13" and a 14" set. Unlike your average buzzers, the Twisted series features double strands of premium-grade steel-alloy wires that are braided together, thus giving the series its distinctive look and clever name. Complemented by Puresound’s exclusive copper end clips, the dark wires are simply beautiful to behold. I think there is a certain amount of psychological influence at work here: Twisted wires simply look like they are going to make your snare sound better.
But that’s just aesthetics. How do they actually sound? Do they make a big difference? The frugal part of my drum nature tends to shy away from such add-ons and replacements. My snare came with wires, right? I mean, why should I drive a Cadillac when my Dodge has four wheels?
I have to admit that the Twisted sound hushed my inner miser immediately. I first put the 14" wires on a 10-ply, 14" x 6" maple snare, and from the first press roll, I knew I was cruising in a Caddy. Any boing in my snare was immediately erased. Sensitive to a light touch and equally responsive to a pounding, the wires sing at any level. There is a darker, crisper quality to the sound of a drum after Twisted wires are installed. The smaller set had similar effects on a 13" x 5" maple drum. There is plenty of brightness and high-end, but the overall effect is to darken the drum’s sound.
The wires also improved my 14" x 7" brass snare. They settled the drum in a way that allowed me to dial back the head and get a nice fatback sound. Tightened down, it started to approach a Bruford-esque pop. The snares worked well at both extremes.
The best benefit, however, of Puresound’s Twisted wires was near elimination of sympathetic buzz. I test-drove my new and improved 14" maple snare on a gig with two drummers. Our kits were side by side, and when the guitarist (who plugged into two amps) went low and loud, my buddy’s snare was singing right along, while mine was silently waiting for me to start — a wonderful relief for any drummer who has clutched red-faced at a snare during a particularly quiet, but sonically rattlesome, passage.
For many drummers, properly tuning the snare drum is a mystery. Thoughtfully made available with Puresound’s wires is an informative DVD that pulls back the curtain and lets in the light. With some of music’s greatest drum techs — John Aldridge, Gersh, Gary Grimm, and Bruce Jacoby — the viewer is taken on a step-by-step lesson on how to properly install snare wires and how to get a great snare sound. How many of us have learned this technique the hard way — through hours of missteps and slow progress (but then again, I still can’t work a VCR)? Taking the mystery out of the process is in itself a bold step forward for new drummers.
Are Puresound’s wires worth the bucks? Should you hand over hard-earned scratch for a twist? After cruising round the block a few times in this Caddy, I have to say (my inner skinflint now completely silenced) yes, yes, YES!
Models, Sizes, & Prices
T-1320 13" $59.95
T-1420 14" $59.95
Double strands of premium-grade steel-alloy wires, copper end clips
7412 Fulton Ave. #3, North Hollywood, CA 91605