EcHo Custom Drums' copper-shelled drum kit means you'll need to have saved up a fair few coppers - but is it worth it?
Metal-shelled kits have enjoyed a patchy history. Bonzo briefly played a monster stainless steel kit, and Carl Palmer famously commissioned British Steel to make a steel shelled kit and had a cast bronze kit made with Paiste, but on the whole metal shells tend to be restricted to snares, with wood being the preferred material for toms and bass drums.
EcHo Custom Drums channels over 40 years' worth of experience of working with metal into its custom drum lines - offering brass, aluminium, steel and copper on a completely custom basis, EcHo can cater for even the most demanding player's requirements.
The kit EcHo has sent us comprises a 13"x9" rack tom, an 18"x16" floor tom, a 24"x14" bass drum and a matching 14"x8" snare.
Straight out of the cases it's apparent that we're dealing with something a bit special: the naked copper of the shells shines like a new penny, polished to a lustre that gleams when it catches the light.
"Set up for the first time, the Cuprano looks like Brunel's idea of a drum kit"
The chrome fittings set the copper off nicely, and coupled with the brass-finish etched badges the overall impression is of some artisan masterwork - which is appropriate, given the nature of the instruments we're testing!
Each shell is formed by hand, and has two offset beads enclosing a central hammered band around the middle of the shell. The beads are hand-rolled before the central strip is hand-hammered, so no two shells are alike.
The bearing edges are hand-spun which involves drawing them from the shell material, so the round-over is all-natural and one piece. The toms and bass drum have one vent, and the snare has two.
The lugs are chromed double-post tube lugs, evoking a touch of vintage class, and are backed by hard composite washers to isolate the shell. The toms feature chromed triple-flanged hoops and the 13" has a suspension mount.
The bass drum is undrilled, and adds to the lavish finishing with solid brushed aluminium counterhoops etched with the legend 'EcHo Custom Drums' around their circumference and a branded 'EcHo' resonant bass drum skin.
All of the drums (and the bass drum hoops) on the Cuprano kit are lacquered to protect the polished finish, but as this is a custom kit if you'd prefer them to develop a patina then you're free to specify that.
The snare drum is deep, and features the same shell construction as the toms, but has EcHo's unique hand-fabricated snare beds: the bearing edges are formed the same way, but then a section is cut back to the straight shell and the edges rounded, forming a clean snare bed for the wires to lay across.
It's fitted with Puresound wires and a Trick GS007 three-stage strainer. The kit is fitted with Evans heads - coated Evans 360 G2 batters and clear G1 reso's on the toms and snare, and an EMAD on the bass drum batter, with a black Evans branded reso.
Set up for the first time, the Cuprano looks like Brunel's idea of a drum kit - ideal for those 'Steampunk' gigs! We're sure ol' Isambard would have approved of the evident craftsmanship on show.
This is a big kit, though it's nice to see a traditional 14"-deep bass drum. The relatively shallow depth means that it has a fast attack for such a large drum; just unpacked from the cases, it has a full attack, the EMAD limiting any unwanted overtones but allowing the full front head to give it a touch of 'woof' to the huge initial strike. It's a cliché, but the large diameter and unported head mean it's great for giving in to those Bonzo moments!
"Paradoxically the tone is almost woody, but with a crystalline clarity that wooden-shelled drums just don't possess"
The toms are open and resonant, the Evans 360 two-ply heads sitting flush across the bearing edges and offering easy tuning. Tuned high, the toms are full and rounded, offering a longish decay and a clear fundamental note. Tuned down a bit, there's a prominent 'thwack' underscored by a warm, full tone.
The thin shells mean that the drums sustain well but never outstay their welcome. The floor tom thunders down low but doesn't choke under fast sticking.
If the rest of the kit was a work of art, the snare is simply incredible. The thin shell, rounded edges and unique snare beds come together to make a snare that's incredibly sensitive, almost to concert snare standards.
It speaks authoritatively under light strokes allowing you to articulate ghost notes easily; hit harder and it gives a dry note with very little in the way of unwanted overtones; it sounds almost pre-EQ'd, which could be down to the hand-hammering which can dry snares out.
Paradoxically the tone is almost woody, but with a crystalline clarity that wooden-shelled drums just don't possess. Despite its depth, the snare will take a high tuning without choking, and cranked up it displays impeccable manners and a killer funk backbeat.