Worldmax Vintage Classic Black Snare
A bit of a ghost company, you won't find a website dedicated to WorldMax, although the company is held in high regard. Based in Taiwan, it supplies drum parts at budget prices to many other companies, and also makes snare drums, although not whole kits.
For review we have four snares: a cheap steel shell model and three more expensive Vintage Classic brass shell models. Top of the class is a hammered brass shell 14"x5" with expensive looks that would grace a top line drum. It has a great solid feel about it with its deep profile die-cast hoops and nicely proportioned steel tube lugs.
In the middle are a 14"x5" and a 14"x6½", which are very much in the image of Ludwig's Black Beauties. Again, they both have tube lugs, plus a central strengthening bead. The 5" has chrome lugs and triple-flanged hoops. The 6 ½" is totally finished in black nickel plate, including the die-cast hoops.
Real Black Beauties have shells that are spun in two halves, top and bottom, and joined at the central bead. This pair is a third of the price, with shells made from a single sheet that's bent into the round and welded with a butt join. The cheaper, steel drum is 14"x6½" with 10 full length bridge lugs and triple-flanged hoops.
The lugs are reminiscent of Pearl's and, although they are big, the bridges ensure minimum shell contact. All four drums have the same strainer, which is a familiar generic, side lever job. It's stout and quiet with a positive feel, if not luxurious.
The three brass drums have die-cast butt plates and WorldMax's own, excellent German-made, brass-ended snare wires. The steel drum has a cheaper butt plate with basic steel wire snares, attached by plastic straps.
The hammered brass model performed well while gigging - there's a darkness and thickness to the brass timbre that is attractively musical, although we wondered if this particular drum was maybe a bit too dark - towards the end of the night we were thinking about swapping to a steel or aluminium snare for a little brightness and light relief.
The extra darkness is prbably due to the hammering, the effect of which is to create a complex surface for the sound waves to bounce off inside the drum. There's a lot of cancelling out, which makes the sound even drier than with a smooth shell. As a result the other 5" is a fraction brighter. Still, we were torn between these two drums since the die-cast top hoop of the hammered shell drum gives cross sticks and rim shots a poppy sharpness with a lovely woody tone.
Both the 6½" drums were ringier than the 5" models. It took longer to achieve a satisfactory sound with the 6½" brass drum than with any of the others. You may need to tighten up both the resonant and batter heads to control the ring. Once again we liked the high pitched, tight cross stick sound of the diecast hoop.
The high profile means you have to adjust your stick angle slightly, but the extra clearance gives the sound more clarity. Compared with the 6½" brass model, the steel drum is boxier in the centre but even ringier and higher pitched at the edges and on rim shots, with less controlled and more open overtones.
Expensive looks that would grace top-of-the-line drums. Excellent quality on a budget.
The hammered brass model may be too dark for some.
There's a dependably honest air about WorldMax products. They offer excellent quality on a budget. The Vintage Classic black nickel drums sound almost as good as Ludwig's Black Beauties, the hammered brass drum looks amazing and has a dark and fruity tone, and the steel shell snare, slightly less refined than the brass models, is a steal.
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