Taiwanese manufacturer Worldmax specialises in snare drums, offering a diverse range of largely metal-shelled models. Representing a conspicuously woody addition to the collection is this pair of all-maple, all-black snares.
Worldmax was started in 1991 by David Lo, an ex-Pearl employee, initially supplying components to other companies before marketing its own products under the Worldmax brand.
This pair of Traditional Maple Black Wood Hoop Edition snares was launched in the year of the company's 20th anniversary. Two sizes are available - 14x5 1⁄2-inch and 14x6 1⁄2-inch - with the choice of colours limited to black.
"This commitment to the look pays off, as the drums appear to be a vision of various shades of black."
The drums are built around all-maple 8-ply, 5.2mm thick shells which are sourced from US shell builder Keller, for years a supplier to many high-end brands.
Keller uses only premium North American maple in its maple shells; a more expensive but higher quality option. The tight grain pattern of the wood is visible beneath the gloss black lacquer that coats the exterior of the shells.
Inside, the natural hue of the wood is left unaltered, with the only embellishment being a sanded finish that is smooth to the touch.
Bearing edges are cut at 45° with a smooth back-cut, allowing plenty of head contact. Both drums boast a full complement of 20 lugs, which are Worldmax's own rectangular design.
In keeping with the noirish look they are jet black, as are the rubber gaskets sandwiched between the shell and each lug; even the lug fixing screws inside the shell are black.
The ebony theme also extends to the tension rods (and washers), snare throw-off, butt-end and wooden hoops. This commitment to the look pays off, as the drums appear to be a vision of various shades of black.
There are a few components that are regular metal - the collars inside the lugs, airholes and, bizarrely, butt-end inner fixing screws - but they take a fair amount of searching to spot.
The lacquer used on the wooden hoops differs to that used on the shells and has something approaching a greenish tinge. This works, as while being rooted in black, the subtle variation it provides prevents the drums from being an unrelenting block of single colour.
Wooden hoops are expensive components - try buying a set off the shelf - and these stout all-maple examples are made in-house. They are square in profile and are 20mm wide and 24mm deep.
Holes drilled for the tension rods are sunk deep enough to accommodate the tips of the rods entirely, leaving nothing sitting proud of the hoops.
The top hoop of each drum has a single flattened segment on the throw-off side to allow the lever to travel unimpeded, while the bottom hoops have cut-outs where the snare wire cord passes through up to the throw-off and butt-end.
Taiwanese-made Remo UT heads are fitted to the drums. UTs are the closest of all budget Remos to genuine American Remo heads, being manufactured with Dupont Mylar.
With quality shells, decent heads and solid hardware you'd expect the drums to be responsive and expressive and that's exactly what they are. Sensitivity is excellent across the batter head with the snare buzz only loosening at the very edges.
Without dampening the drums have a bright, open feel due to the wooden hoops. Even in any drum's dead spot, the centre, the sound they make is augmented by a sweet overtone - not unpleasant by any means, but not unnoticeable either.
A moongel nips back the ring without smothering the drums' inherent liveliness. Of the two, the shallower 5 1⁄2-inch drum is the more urgent, dispensing a sharp, snappy crack at the stick's prompting.
The deeper model possesses a throatier, more authoritative bark that assumes immense proportions at mid-tensions.
Both drums sing when the tuning is cranked up, slicing through anything within earshot, while brushwork is reproduced cleanly. The wooden hoops also greatly influence rimshots and cross-sticking, lighting up the former with stinging bolts of metallic energy, while shaping the latter into a hard, focused tap that projects effortlessly.