This month we welcome a brand new name into our reviews section - Forecast Drums. Well, almost brand new.
Forecast is in fact an offshoot firm set up by Carl Haffield of AD Drums and Jamie Cross of JC Drums. The difference between Forecast and this UK drum building duo's respective brands is that Forecast produces nothing but acrylic drums.
After causing more than a ripple of interest at the Manchester Drum Show earlier this year, Forecast carted a kit down to Rhythm HQ for the review treatment.
The kit we have here is a four-piece in distinctive Amber Orange. We have an 18"x14" bass drum, 10"x7" tom, 13"x10" floor tom and 13"x6" snare. The toms are both stand-mounted. While the bass drum is forged from 8mm-thick acrylic, the toms and snare are 6mm thick. Evans heads and PureSound snare wires are supplied as standard.
"The amber shells looks fantastic and the gold hardware adds a real touch of class"
We asked Carl about the making of the kit, and he said:
"All of our shells are cast so there is no seam, this makes them solid as can be. All shells are trued/squared and then measured/marked out for lug placement, we pilot-hole each mark and then set to work on any finishing, whether it be external or internal. This could be adding wraps, decals, paint etc.
"Once finish is applied we edge all the drums with a 45° bearing edge unless another is specified. We then drill through all the pilots using a range of special drill bits which reduce tear-out. Attach all the lugs and hardware, add heads and away we go!"
One of several eye-catching aspects of the kit is the White Marine Pearl hoop on the bass drum. Carl tells us that this was produced in-house. He explains:
"I have spent a lot of time in the printing and graphics industry and created custom wraps for many years, the chance came around to invest and buy the machinery needed to print and create everything in-house.
"I think what sets the wraps I create apart from other people creating them is the artwork. As it's all done in-house by a drummer who is in the custom building industry, I know what I want to see, making it easy to create a custom product that resembles wraps we all know and love."
Forecast offers snares from £199 and kits starting at £899. This review kit was sold at an introductory price of £999.
Acrylic drums have a long history in the drum world. They will, of course, forever be linked with John Bonham thanks to the Ludwig Vistalites that the Led Zeppelin giant used to batter on stage. But, plenty of other big-name players have also been wooed by acrylic.
Chad Smith, for example, can often be seen playing a Pearl acrylic kit live. But there's the rub, Chad may play his acrylic live, but in the studio he reverts back to wood. Can this kit from Forecast make us ditch maple, birch, bubinga et al?
First impressions are that the kit is certainly visually striking. The amber shells looks fantastic and the gold hardware adds a real touch of class. It looks even better once we have the kit set up at our rehearsal space.
As a matter of personal preference we usually opt for a floor tom with legs rather than the stand-mounted tom we have here, but given that going the latter route removes the need for any further drilling into this seamless acrylic shell then we can see why this choice was made.
"It's a ridiculously versatile kit, a rocky pocket rocket one minute and a refined performer the next"
The snare is the first of the drums to get the playing treatment as we subject it to a few sturdy smacks to the heart followed quickly by a couple of buzz rolls. It handles both with aplomb.
The depth of its tone is something of a surprise, and within a couple of minutes we've gone from a pingy shriek to a barbarically fat attack. If we're being picky it would have been nice to have included a sturdier snare strainer, but this is just about the only issue that we have with the snare build. So far, so good.
So, onto the rest of the kit. The 10"x7" rack tom has attack to burn but is also coupled with more body than we'd usually expect from such a small drum. A whack to the centre produces a pop full of character, again far more lively than we would have expected from an acrylic drum of such size.
Rolling from the rack to the 13"x10" floor instantly shows that the latter has even more focused sound, with the kind of depth we've come to expect from a 14"x12" or even a 14"x14". It is this kind of performance that allows the kit to be deceptively versatile, a much-welcome attribute in these days of financial frugality.
The real star of the show though, is the diddy kick drum. At just 18"x14" it looks mildly comical amidst our ample cymbal set-up, but one kick of our bass pedal and it becomes clear that this is no laughing matter.
While one would expect the shallow nature of the drum would vastly reduce the volume, it absolutely explodes into life with punchy sound that has smirking guitarists quickly running for cover. And this is the sound right out of the box.
Over the course of the next week we spend a fair old whack of time fiddling with the tuning, but we find that this original tuning is as good as it gets, and that is just fine with us.
While the kick fights against its diminutive specifications to deliver a satisfyingly punchy sound, it does comply to some of our usual expectations. The shallow depth, as expected, produces a focused tone free of wild overtones.
Special mention must go to the supplied Evans Emad head, which does superb job at taming the tones, and the same can be said for the rest of the kit. Evans Level 360 heads are supplied as standard - a nice touch, especially for a UK-custom acrylic kit that is being sold for less than £1,000.
Throughout our test we try to put the kit in as many musical situations as possible, and it comes through each and every one with flying colours. At our rehearsal studio it powers '80s rock, '90s indie and '00s pop with ease and makes just as impressive a fist of some funk and jazz staples.
It's a ridiculously versatile kit, a rocky pocket rocket one minute and a refined performer the next. It's also a joy to look at, drawing second glances from fellow drummers time and again.
It's not just in its versatility that this debut from Forecast surprises us. As a package it shows us the very best of acrylic kits, without any of the tonal concerns that have dogged such set-ups for decades. It has the focused punchy attack that such kits have always possessed, but there's also a definite warmth to its tone.
Oh, and it of course looks absolutely sublime. This is a kit that Bonham would have surely been proud to beat all kinds of hell out of.