Yamaha HexrackII: I'll Put A Spell On You

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With some notable exceptions, drum set hardware has remained largely the same for the better part of the last century. The needs of today’s drummers, however, have not. With everyone from the weekend warrior to the globetrotting professional incorporating an ever-increasing variety of instruments, accessories, and gadgets into their daily setups, the need for highly adaptable, reliable, and consistent support is more important now than ever before.

That growing diversity appears to have inspired a bit of a rack renaissance, and with it, another evolutionary step in the course of hardware history. No longer relegated to the octopus kits of the past, these new racks are equally capable of serving 4-piece sets with a few extra toys.

This, at least in part, seems to have been the motivation behind Yamaha’s new HexrackII. With a series of ultra-strong, lightweight, and extremely adjustable components, version 2.0 of the Hexrack system offers a mobile hardware package designed to streamline sets of all shapes and sizes.

Hex-treme Makeover

In response to artist feedback from the much-celebrated original Hexrack, Yamaha retooled the entire system from the ground up in an effort to trim weight, improve stability, and increase setup options. The HexrackII features a selection of curved and straight hexagonal pipes similar to its predecessor, but the new components are machined from an ultra-strong, lightweight aluminum alloy with a sleek brushed finish. More interesting, however, are the grooves cut into the sides of the pipes – four of the six faces of each rail feature an end-to-end groove designed to help stabilize plastic spacer sleeves that fit between clamps and pipes. It may not seem like much, but it’s a pretty ingenious appointment (more on that later).

Yamaha also upgraded its selection of mounting tools and accessories to help drummers create absolutely any setup they can imagine. With only a few of the included split clamps, the HexrackII was more than capable of some pretty wild configurations (which led to a lot of hours spent simply screwing around with oddball layouts). At first glance, the HRII was immediately intriguing and loads of fun, but let’s see how it fared in action.

A Worthy Investment

Yamaha sent over what appeared to be a fairly basic assortment from the HexrackII lineup, including the HXR2LII basic rack comprised of two legs, two tom or cymbal arm clamps, and a single curved 44" rail; the HXREXII, which added a third leg, a 36" curved connecting pipe, and two more tom or cymbal holders; and four cymbal boom arms. The package easily replaced my current hardware (excluding the snare and hi-hat stands), and even allowed me to add a few extra instruments with no additional parts. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for what I’d seen got the best of me. On my very first day with the HexrackII, I packed it up and headed for a weekly rehearsal. I arrived about 15 minutes early to give myself a little extra time to get everything up and running without cutting into practice. My mistake.

The basic skeleton went up in a matter of minutes, but once I started getting down to the particulars, the HRII’s seemingly infinite adjustability really slowed me down. Because all of the clamps and extra parts were attached to the circular sleeve mentioned above rather than the hexagonal bars directly, they all had complete 360 degree mobility. Meaning, each and every connecting bit could be turned or angled any way you’d like because the spacer sleeves form a round bar that doesn’t slip (the sleeve’s ridged insides are depressed into the pipe grooves when clamped to keep them from moving). Even the clamps linking the leg and foot pipes were capable of angling, allowing users to put an entire rack on an angle if desired.

Because I had so many points of articulation and adjustment to contend with (each with its own memory lock), fine-tuning the positioning of every instrument took longer than I would have liked. For about 30 minutes, my very patient bandmates watched me run around my 5-piece drum set, trying to make sure everything was just right. Not quite as easy as I’d expected.

But, then came the payoff. While the initial setup ruffled my feathers a bit, the second run through was an absolute breeze. With everything memory-locked and loaded, the entire rack was ready to go in about two minutes. Then, before I knew it, everything was securely in place with no adjustments needed.

Round one may have been a little tedious, but I immediately understood the benefit every time I had to set up or break down after. Time well spent.

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The Little Things

While the convenience and consistency of the HexrackII were the main attraction, it was the smaller updates that really helped make the product shine. First, each split clamp and pipe receiver came with a mating, horseshoe-style memory lock that blended cleanly with the unit itself. This made the whole package very stylish and visually appealing. All the heavy-duty steel accessories also had a textured, raw finish that looked great with the rough aluminum bars. Classy all around.

Next, each of the leg pipes featured a receiver on top that accepted a standard 22.2mm mounting bar, adding a few extra spaces for cymbal arms or tom mounts. The included HXTCII mounting clamps offered 360 positioning range, and also fit standard pipes for easy accessorizing. The extra slots are actually what made me realize how handy the rack could be, as it allowed me to very quickly and cleanly integrate electronic drums into my acoustic kit – something that never felt comfortable with regular stands. With only one additional clamp and an L-bracket, I was able to add almost an entire electronic drum set with no spacing issues.

Finally, the main rack shipped with a clip-on logo piece that would have been entirely extraneous were it not for the circular level mounted on top. When I first saw the level, I kind of chuckled, thinking it was a solution without a problem. But, the HexrackII’s near-infinite adjustability made it easier than you might expect to end up with a few cockeyed connectors. The level proved extremely helpful throughout each new configuration, and drew plenty of praise from fellow musicians. A nice touch.

Verdict

Racks may have a bad rap among some drummers, but the HexrackII could easily find work on most any drum set. Offering consistent, easy setups while saving space on the floor, this next-gen rack affords excellent flexibility, reliability, and even a fair amount of visual appeal. The excessive articulation could prove overwhelming at first blush, and making minor adjustments can be a tad tedious with so many key bolts and memory locks, but the payoff is well worth the work.

Details

Model & List Price
HXR2LII $589
HXREXII $379
CH755 Cymbal Boom $75
Features
Strong, lightweight aluminum pipes with cut grooves for added mounting stability; backwards compatible with original Hexrack; snap-on plastic sleeves eliminate metal-to-metal contact and allow for near-infinite positioning; modular accessories and additions available for expansion; mating memory locks.
Contact
usa.yamaha.com
714-522-9000