Leedy Drums NRG Rock Kit

This is a Chinese-made Leedy set-up with hardware quality far beyond the kit's beginner status

Leedy is one of the oldest and most respected names in American drum history. The company was started by Ulysses Grant Leedy in 1895 and was the front runner for the first couple of decades of the last century. Several major innovations in the development of the drum kit came via Leedy and the company's vintage drums are beautifully crafted instruments, highly prized today.

However, Leedy never made it past the '60s and this kit has nothing to do with that history except in the logo on the badge. Britain's Active Music owns the right to use the Leedy name in all territories except the USA. Over there an upmarket Leedy is available, but Active's kit - reviewed here - is a typical Chinese-made beginner's outfit. But as it turns out, it's a rather good one.

Deep red

The kit is a standard rock five-piece, 22"x16", 13"x11", 12"x10", 16"x16" with 14"x51/2" matching snare drum. It's finished in deep Wine Red - a plastic wrap infused with tiny pinpoints of sparkle that catch the lights rather fetchingly. The overall appearance is up to date, with small oval lugs that look, from a distance, not unlike those on DW's Pacific kits.

As is increasingly the case, the package is complete with everything you need to get started. That includes a stool, three cymbals and even a pair of 5A sticks. This is the way it should be with starter kits, and we once again applaud the drum business for taking this route.

In the past, a weakness of budget kits was the cheap heads that they came fitted with. Many name companies have managed to improve the situation by fitting budget Remo heads. The review kit still had a couple of the cheap shiny plastic heads of old adorning the snare drum and bass drum, but these were upgraded before the kit hit the shelves.

The toms already have clear heads top and bottom and these are noticeably better than the shiny heads on the snare and kick. The bass drum has a black front logo head which is sensibly intact with no miking/damping hole.

Matching Snare

The wood shell snare is in matching red finish with eight double-ended lugs. The throw-off is a pull-away cam design which may not be destined for old age. Pushing the lever up to engage the snare is a rough and ready operation as the lever grates over the retaining pin. Even when engaged there is a bit of play and we can see this wearing loose.

The triple-flanged metal rims are relatively thin gauge steel, which is to be expected at this price, and rim shots and cross stick sounds are correspondingly slight. Despite this, we were pleasantly surprised by the sound of the drum. It is a touch dull in the centre and a mite too ringy towards the edges, but the overall sound is warm and pleasant, if a bit thick and plodding.

You can't expect too much from a rock bottom priced snare, but this will surely excite a first time buyer.

The bass drum has eight single lugs on each head and drum key-tightened tension bolts, fitted with white nylon washers, as are all the drums. Savings are made on the number of lugs fitted to the toms. There are five (rather than six) top and bottom on the two small toms, and six on the fioor tom rather than eight.

Fret not though - you could argue it makes the drums more resonant by having to support less hardware and fewer bolts. It even makes tuning quicker and easier.

The shells are medium thin and the fittings light, so you get good resonance. The innermost ply is laid vertically which speeds attack. The toms certainly have a rounded tone and a deep fat blast when you thump them. The white wood 'mahogany' is lightly sealed and the bearing edges are sanded pretty smooth, all par for the course at this price point.

Cymbals thrown in with starter kits are usually terrible, but these are better than previous examples suffered. They are heavier with a more subdued brassy colour and are even lathed.

You get a pair of 14" hi-hats and a 16" all-purpose crash, but no ride. The hats are rather dark sounding and neither too clear nor loud when closed, but open them up and they take your head off.

The 16" crashes pleasantly but lacks sustain, which is as to be expected. Full marks for trying, though.

Stand Firm

Finally, we come to the hardware. This is the most impressive aspect of the whole package. Good quality double-braced stands all round with attractive designs. The section housings of the stands have a sexy curved shape reminiscent of upmarket stands like those by Pearl.

There are also proper solid memory locks with notches to slot into the housings so nothing can droop or twist. This is the sort of refinement you would have found only on pro kits just a couple of years ago.

The bass drum has tough fold-out spurs which are adjustable for length and have retractable rubber feet so they won't tear up your carpet. The handsome double tom mount is height adjustable and the resin ball and clamp design allows you to angle your toms anyhow you prefer.

The snare drum stand basket is offset with a large plastic knurled knob that screws up from beneath causing the triple supporting arms, with their soft rubber grips, to caress your snare without constricting it. Stool height is adjustable, which is essential, especially for rapidly ascending teenagers.

The bass drum pedal has a single chain and cam design. There's a single spring adjustment and an attractive footplate casting with hinged heel plate. The twin spurs should anchor your bass drum under the heaviest booting. The hi-hat has a similar hinged footplate and direct heavy chain pull giving a firm action.

The clutch design is also neat. There is a large wing nut and non-slip clamp which encloses your top cymbal between two hemispherical, minimum contact rubber washers. It is rather sophisticated and there is no chance of slippage.

MusicRadar Rating

4 / 5 stars
Pros

Terrific hardware package makes this a contender for the best value starter kit around.

Cons

The snare throw-off looks suspect – a straightforward lever would perhaps be preferable.

Verdict

Forget the Leedy name - how many 15-year-olds buying their first kit will have any idea who/what Leedy was anyway? The shells are the standard fare, but what makes the kit stand out is the quality of the hardware - a cut above most other kits at this price.

Colour

Red

Floor Tom Lugs

6

Floor Tom Size

16 x 16

Snare Lugs

16

Snare Size

14 x 5.5

Tom Lugs

5

Tom Size

12 x 1013 x 11

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.