By Brad Schlueter Originally Published In DRUM! Magazine's November 2010 Issue
Editor’s Note: Last week we reported that Shine Drums had gone out of business. So I thought you might be interested to see our final review of the company’s drums, and what they were working on just before having to close their doors.
Shine is a custom drum company with a great feel for the tastes of younger drummers. The company offers many types of shells, hardware, and finishes, and is dedicated to making high-quality custom kits at reasonable prices. Since Shine is smaller than some, it can turn around a custom kit in far less time than many other custom drum builders. I’ve reviewed the company’s kits before and was very impressed with their workmanship and beautiful finishes. Realizing that drummers may need to watch their expenses a bit more closely, Shine has created a new line of high-quality drums that sell for a very affordable price.
Dubbed the Shine Select Custom series, this new line features 7-ply 100 percent maple shells that use cross-glue technology and tight hydraulic compression to create the tightest plying possible. This manufacturing terminology means Shine can create a slightly thinner shell on the Select Customs than on its other kits, while retaining all the full tone and rich low end its drums have become known for. While assembling the kit I checked and found that all the shells had very even and sharp bearing edges. Sharper edges tend to add more brightness and sustain to drums.
The Select Custom line has just one basic configuration, with add-on drums available allowing you to tailor the kit to your needs. The basic configuration is a 5-piece one-up/two-down kit with a 22" bass drum and A 6.5"-deep rock snare. There are add-on toms available and sold separately in sizes 8" x 7", 10" x 8", 13" x 10", 18" x 16", and the double bass option of adding a second 22" x 18" bass drum.
It occurred to me that removing one of the floor toms and offering a 4-piece instead of the 5-piece basic configuration would allow buyers to get into Shine’s drums at an even lower price. It would also give them even more latitude when designing their kits, especially for drummers like me who’d rather have a second mounted tom and omit a floor tom, since I often lack the stage depth (and car space) to comfortably use two floor toms. Of course, this one-size-fits-all approach of offering just one configuration is a good way to keep the price down for everyone.
Shine offers four striking modern lacquer finishes: Copper Sparkle (with two thin center white stripes), Turquoise Sparkle (with one middle white stripe), White Sand Sparkle (with two low black stripes – one thin, one thick), and Platinum Silver Sparkle. At first, I thought there were four finishes with different striping options available for each, but Sean Staples, Shine’s helpful CEO, straightened out my misunderstanding. Each finish has its own unique striping pattern so each kit has a different look from the others. This gives the impression of a truly custom kit but at about half the price! If you don’t like stripes, the solid Silver lacquer should greatly simplify your choice.
My finish was well done with very smooth lacquer and straight, sharp edges on the striping. The bass drum hoops were finished to complement and match the kit’s finish. I took the snare out on a couple of gigs and the finish got many compliments from the other musicians. I liked all the finishes I saw on the company’s Facebook page, but Shine may be adding additional finishes in the future, so check its Web site for updates.
These kits are offered as shell packs – drums only, though they do include floor tom legs and a tom suspension mount. The drums feature 2.3mm-thick triple-flanged hoops. They have vertically aligned pairs of mini-tube lugs, except the snare, which uses a single longer one. Tube lugs are more expensive than the lugs most drums use with a housing and a separate nut. Tube lugs have a classic, expensive look to them, but since the lug itself is threaded, a little extra care must be taken to avoid cross-threading one. I’ve never done that but if you do, you’ll have to replace the lug itself, which is more expensive than just getting another receiver nut.
The snare has ten lugs per head (a pro feature) and a simple throw-off that worked smoothly and was easy to fine-tune with the snares engaged and even had a nice die-cast butt plate. All the drums have die-cast air-vent grommets that add a beefier, masculine look to the drums.
The bass drum also has ten lugs per head but no tom mount, so you’ll have to mount your tom off your hardware or in a separate snare basket, Stanton Moore style. The bass drum has unlined stamped steel claws that nicely fit their thick hoops, though I think Shine should consider cushioned claws to help protect the nice hoops. The bass drum has foldout spurs with retractable spikes and, like the tom brackets, uses a gasket to isolate it from the shell.
Shine didn’t get chintzy with the head selection, opting for top-of-the-line heads from Remo, not the cheaper overseas versions that grace many imports. The bass drum came with a clear Powerstroke 3 batter head and a coated white Emperor resonant head that was already ported and ready for a microphone. Shine even included a Holz bass head port, you know, that snap-on plastic ring that not only looks good but also keeps the port from tearing due to clumsy soundmen. Very thoughtful!
The snare had an Emperor X head, which you may know is a 2-ply head with a dot underneath that adds extra reinforcement so it can withstand the onslaught of really heavy hitters. The toms had coated Emperors on top and clear Ambassadors underneath.
The bass drum rocked my world. This drum had a great blend of attack, bottom and punch. The low end hung around for a bit after each stroke, making my grooves sound awesome and giving them a bit of extra oomph. I’m not a fan of wide-open, overly boomy bass drum sounds since that just means I’ve got to muffle the drum a bit. This drum had just the right amount of hang time, no doubt due in part to the 2-ply heads and the port out front. Sound engineers have dreams about bass drums that sound this good.
The 6.5"-deep maple snare was another winner and had a fat bottom beneath each note that would work quite well for rock at middle tunings. Think AC/DC. If you play heavier music and want a drum that can get loud and still emit a warm tone, this drum will do the job. The snare’s warm tone is also a bit forgiving, and I enjoyed playing buzz rolls on it since it seemed to smooth out my buzzes a bit more than an overly crisp metal drum would.
I took the snare out on a couple of gigs: a wedding gig with my event band that plays standard wedding fare along with Journey, Lady Gaga, and AC/DC; and a Live Karaoke gig that covers a few hundred tunes from different genres. I brought up the head and wire tension to make it more of a crisp oop snare and the drum worked marvelously at both events. I’m sorry to report that I actually preferred it to my regular snare. No, I cannot buy another snare drum!
The snare drum had just the right amount of ring and rimshots never got out of hand and sounded like I was pounding an anvil. It had a dry sound, but wasn’t dead. It was just right on both gigs. It would be perfect for recording and sounded great in my in-ear monitors. The hoops were thick enough to give a good rim-click too. If I wanted a bit more ring, a thinner head would do the trick.
The toms were also really nice. I particularly like the floor toms, which when tuned low were meaty beasts with a good attack and a deep pitch but without any unwanted boom. They begged me to play jungle tom grooves, and I repeatedly gave in to their demands. The high tom sounded good, too, with a nice tone and not too much hang time. The heads and thin shells helped give the drums a fat tone with ample bottom, though if I wanted a bit more brightness and a touch more sustain I’d switch the batter heads to clear Emperors.
These drums have a wonderfully fat tone with lots of low end that would work for many styles of music, especially rock. The styling of the drums, with the mini tube lugs, stripes, and great colors, is both hip and professional, and the finish was very well done. Best of all, the generous pricing brings the dream of owning a high-quality kit within the grasp of a lot more drummers.
SHELLS 100 percent 7-ply maple
CONFIGURATION 12" x 8" mounted tom and 14" x 14", 16" x 16" floor toms, a 22" x 18" bass drum, and a 14" x 6.5" matching snare drum.
FINISH White Sand (with black stripes); Copper Sparkle (with white stripes; Turquoise Sparkle (with white stripe); and solid Platinum Silver Sparkle.
FEATURES Tube lugs; suspension tom mount; die-cast grommets for the air-vent holes and butt plate; four mod finishes; lightweight shells; high-quality Remo drumheads; add-on toms are available.
LIST PRICE 5-piece shell pack: $1,998
CONTACT Shine Custom Drums & Percussion, shinedrums.com