Yamaha: Lean Green Gigging Machine
Yamaha recently reintroduced its entry-level GigMaker kit with lots of improvements over the original version. The new kit features sturdy hardware, five nice finishes, and lots of subtle improvements that should perfectly suit beginners or intermediate drummers looking for a quality kit that will last them years.
Shells And Configurations
The GigMaker features basswood and poplar shells that were designed to enhance the midrange and low end of the frequency spectrum. The bass drums are 7-ply and the snare and toms are 6-ply.
My review kit featured a 22" bass drum, 12" and 13" toms, a 16" floor tom, and a 14" matching wood snare drum. Thoughtfully, Yamaha has made the bass drums in a 16" depth and also offers another configuration with a 20"-diameter bass drum and 10", 12", and 14" toms, which may be more appropriate for younger drummers or gigging drummers with smaller vehicles.
Unlike the original GigMaker kits, these can be purchased as a shell pack, with hardware, or with hardware and Paiste cymbals. These additions will certainly make a more appealing package for parents bewildered by the plethora of options that can overwhelm first-time buyers. My kit included all these goodies.
These drums are green, too. No, I don’t mean the color, though the White Grape glitter finish is an option. Wood is often treated with chemical preservatives and pesticides during processing and plywood is glued using formaldehyde-based glues. Formaldehyde is linked to many allergies and is a possible human carcinogen. Yamaha uses low-formaldehyde-content plywood for these sets and has certified that all its wood suppliers conform to environmental laws in California and elsewhere, and can guarantee that its drums meet the highest international standards. Bravo!
The GigMaker comes in a choice of five glitter wraps, all of which look excellent. A few are fairly subdued yet tasteful, like my review kit’s Burgundy finish, and a few are pretty wild, like the White Grape (bright green) and Blue Ice glitter. The finish was tightly applied without any ripples. The wood bass drum hoops are finished with the same glitter wrap on the outside and have a satin black interior and are smooth to the touch. Wood hoops are preferred over the metal hoops often found on entry-level kits.
I remember some of Yamaha’s entry-level finishes from several years back that I found unappealing and I’m glad to see the company has put cool-looking finishes on these kits. My younger students couldn’t care less about what kind of wood the drums are made from, and will often try to direct their parents’ purchase based solely on the color and finish. I’m sure these finishes alone will please many such prospective buyers.
The 600 series stands on the kit are all double-braced, sturdy, and lightweight — really professional quality. The snare drum features a ratchet-less tilter for precise positioning. The boom stand is a three-tiered model with an offset ratcheted tilter, good height, and a medium-length boom arm perfect for a crash cymbal. The straight stand has two tiers and is more suitable for the ride cymbal. Though you might not notice it at first, the stands also have large, stylish-looking rubber feet.
The bass drum pedal is a lightweight belt-drive pedal with an old-school felt beater, which is certainly fine for beginners or intermediate drummers disinterested in metal drumming. It felt smooth and fluid and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it on a gig. The hi-hat stand has a professional clutch and very smooth action, though the tension is not adjustable. I’m a double bass–pedal player and the tripod base is very narrow and doesn’t rotate, making slipping the slave side of a double pedal under a leg very difficult, if not impossible. I wish Yamaha had made the base capable of rotating for weekend warriors interested in using the GigMaker as a working kit.
I like the lug design and think it adds subtly to the overall impression of quality that the kit gives. The lugs are sleek and stylish and use gaskets to isolate them from the shell, like what you’d find on more expensive drums. The rest of the shell hardware is equally attractive and of similar quality. The tom mounts are attached directly to the shell (no YESS mounts here), but the double tom holder features Yamaha’s ball-and-socket tilters for precise adjustments. This is nice-looking, solid performing hardware with big wing screws and memory locks to remember your tom heights from gig to gig. It would have been nice if the tom hardware had a third hole like Yamaha’s TH945 model to easily add a boom arm, but at this price you can’t have everything.