Sonor's Martini Kit Makes Big Impression
Every now and then, gear arrives at my home for a Soundlab review without advance warning. This happened recently when I received a box marked “Sonor” that was an unusual size: 32" x 16" x 16". I thought, “This box isn’t big enough for a drum set, but it’s too large for a snare – so what is it?”
I anxiously opened the mystery package, and was almost shocked to realize it contained an entire 4-piece drum set consisting of an 8" x 8" tom, 13" x 10" floor tom with legs, 12" x 5" steel snare, and a 14" x 12" bass drum. Yes, you read that right: 14" x 12"!
Before assembling this kit, its diminutive dimensions made me wonder if it was designed for children. But, having now spent some time playing it, I can affirm it can be played by an adult, and will take a beating. During my testing process, the toms did not move and the bass drum stayed in place – even under the assault of my double bass drum pedal.
Plus, it has a slick name that evokes the hipness of a James Bond movie: the “Martini Special Edition.”
Sonor Kept Your Bar Tab Low
In a world dominated by 22" bass drums, a kit with a 14" kick is clearly designed for a niche market segment. In my view, Sonor has therefore wisely introduced the Martini kit with a very low price point – MSRP $612/street $359.
Of course, because the Martini kit is budget friendly, many of its specs fall into the “no frills” category. For example, the tom and kick shells are poplar (not maple or some exotic wood), heads are Remo UX (made in China, not Remo’s U.S.A. heads), the snare strainer is generic looking with a black plastic tension knob, the steel hoops are 1.6 mm (instead of 2.3 mm or die-cast), and the grommets that cover the air vent holes on the shell exteriors don’t have any corresponding fastener on the interiors. This made me wonder if the grommets could eventually fall off, but they feel like they’re firmly in place, so I suspect they won’t. Despite it all, the Martini kit’s less-luxurious features still seem to have decent quality.
More importantly, the Martini kit impressed me with some of its high quality components. Among other things, the bass drum mount and tom arm are chromed heavy-duty units that are very sturdy. They have three memory locks, including one that encloses the bottom circumference of the tom bracket. The hex-shaped tom L-arm includes a ball mechanism that allows for almost infinite angle adjustment. The entire unit held the 8" rack tom firmly in place.
The Martini kit employs the same circular shaped hinged mounting brackets for the tom mount, floor tom legs, bass drum legs, and bass drum riser mechanism. This is, incidentally, the same mounting bracket found on some higher priced Sonor kits, like the Ascent series. Although, unlike the Ascent series, the tom mount bracket on the Martini kit attaches directly to the shell without any sort of suspension system. The bracket is easy to use, clamps tight, and has nice looking chrome with no pitting.
The lugs on the Martini’s toms and bass drum are chrome units that attach to the shells via two screws. In similar fashion to the lugs on Sonor’s higher end kits, the Martini’s lugs are shaped like mallets. Unlike the lugs on the higher-end kits, Martini lugs do not have the raised bridge between screws that avoids lug-to-shell contact. Instead, the entire length of the lug sits flush against the shell. The lugs do, however, include Sonor’s internal patented Tune Safe mechanism, which helps keep the tension rods from slipping out of tune. I put quite a bit of practice time in on this kit, and it stayed in tune without much slippage. I’m sold on the efficacy of Tune Safe lugs.