Joey Jordison and Virgil Donati could hardly be more different in terms of playing style. And that difference is reflected in the construction and appearance of the two players' respective signature drums.
Joey has gone for a 13"x61/2" steel shell belter finished all in black with the Slipknot 'S' logo engraved around the shell. Virgil, on the other hand, has opted to go for a 14"x5" maple and birch mix with die-cast hoops and a Smoke Flake finish. It's a case of horses for courses with these two then. Let's find out then, if we are dealing with thoroughbreds or just old nags...
To expand on the specs of each, Joey's JJ-1365 snare has a 1mm thick steel shell and black tripled-flanged hoops as opposed to the die-cast type that appear on Virge's. And where the Aussie whizz has opted for traditional-looking tube lugs, the 'Knot man prefers Masters-style bridge lugs.
They have little in common, except the strainer, the SR-107 'vertical pull' variety, that crops up on both. It's the difference between the shells that clearly sets the two drums apart of course. And Virgil's is an interesting eight-ply combination of maple and birch. Four plies of birch are used for the inner section of the snare with the same number of maple plies used for the exterior.
Brightness of tone is obviously a high priority in the case of the VG-1450, but so is instant usability - Pearl suggest that the rounded bearing edges employed here will allow most players to use the drum "wide open, without any muffling". A case of best of both worlds in terms of tone and usefulness? We'll see.
As far as construction is concerned, there's really nothing to find fault with in the case of either of these two. In fact they're perfect examples of just how far Far Eastern drum manufacture has come.
The sparkle finish on the Donati drum is beautiful, and the choice of hardware on each complements the character of the instruments perfectly. The tube lugs on the VG-1450 and all black nature of Joey's are well-judged additions, and the tattoo-like 'S' markings are exceptionally clean and mark the drum as something special indeed.
Just as they look at odds with each other, there's little sonic ground shared by this pair. Joey has arguably one of the most distinctive recorded drum sounds in recent metal history, and although nothing short of Rick Rubin, and a stack of studio processing gear will duplicate his whipcrack backbeat tone, the little 13" gets right in the ballpark.
Over the course of three albums, JJ has moved away from the spiky clank of his Slipknot debut snare sound, but he's always favoured a cranked, pistol-shot retort over flabby fatness. And, predictably, the combination of the 1365's narrow diameter and relative depth means that the drum barks out a breathtaking, high-pitched, metallic explosion with each stroke when tuned super-taut.
It's a snare drum that thrives on a very tight batter head and bogs down a little when the tension's dropped. But keep the tuning rods wound up and you can't go wrong.
Although the 'none-more-black' aesthetics and, to a greater degree, the presence of the logos might narrow the appeal of Joey's snare, it is well worth investigating if you're into super-controlled backbeats pitched just below the stratosphere.
Aggressive hip-hop and electro grooves are particularly well served by this snare. However, the black beauty is certainly less flexible than Virgil's sexy sparkler. Treated to a similarly rod-cranking level of tension as that on which the JJ thrives and the 1450 acquits itself extremely well. The extra inch of diameter broadens the scope of the tone nicely and the maple/ birch shell turns up the warmth factor a nudge, although that birch inner and the relatively shallow shell mean that the drum's voice always sounds lively.
Virgil's drum is also far happier-sounding than Joey's at medium tension. It doesn't get tubby or hard to tune, it simply indulges the player with some extra low-mid punch without losing any of its crisp responsiveness. Unless you need the real deep tone that a deeper shell brings, this is a must-hear snare.