The name Black Panther, conjuring up speed and power allied to velvety sleekness, has been a winner for Mapex over the past decade. Now Mapex has given the entire range an overhaul with 14 brand new models. You can read every Black Panther snare drum review here.
Each drum has either single-ended shield-design cast lugs, or elegantly sculpted twin-point mounted tube lugs. The patented 'Sonic Saver' hoops lie between flanged and die-cast hoops. Recalling the classic Slingerland 'Stick Saver' concept, the top lip of each pressed stainless steel hoop bends over and in, not out as on standard hoops.
The handsome throw-off is a smoothly operating pull-away lever with adjustable strainers at both ends. Micro lock knobs click silently as you turn them for sensitive adjustment of the stainless steel wires. There are several new bearing edge profiles, and capping it all a new die-cast, chrome-plated Black Panther badge.
You can watch a video overview of the new range with Craig Blundell and Steve White below. Scroll down for the full review.
Black Panther Velvetone
Mapex has gone to town on the Velvetone, with its 8.1mm hybrid shell which is made up from a 3mm exterior of burl maple, enclosing 3.4mm walnut in the middle and 1.7mm of maple on the interior.
The inner maple should boost the brightness and projection, while the walnut core adds a tiny bit more depth. It's a standard 14"x5 1/2" shell with 45 degree bearing edges cut sharp to the exterior.
Velvetone is a good name. Although it has quite a thick shell, our first impression was it was deeper and softer, less crunchy and crisp than the all-walnut Retrosonic. The centre backbeat is thicker, deeper and softer.
Unlike many snares it is happy tuned high or low. When tuned down and struck in the centre sweet spot it can feel like your stick has sunk in a half inch, it's so cushion-like. Yet it's still distinct and musical.
You also get the best pressed roll, absolutely buttery at the edges, a seamless razzle. To top it off, when tuned down like this the cross-stick produces a thick, deep and woody timbre.