Geoff Barrios founded Truth Custom Drums in 2001 in his mum's garage in Southern California. Five years later Truth moved north to Portland, Oregon, where today the company has a 2,500ft2 workshop. Like several other American custom workshops, Truth buys in shells, applies bearing edges and one of a thousand finishes, bolts on generic hardware and ships 'em out.
"We can build it all, from chambered hybrid snares, hybrid kits, custom graphic drums, sandblasted logos on acrylic, custom snare vents, wraps and stains - you've got an idea, we can build it."
"Truth excels at making fun, professional kits for youthful, rowdy rockers"
Careful finishing and flashy looks are the stock-in-trade of US custom drums - our American friends being traditionally less self-conscious than us understated Brits, and it is in this area that Truth excels: fun, professional kits for youthful, rowdy rockers.
For the past seven years, Drum Stop in Sheffield has been the exclusive UK and European distributor for Truth. Drum Stop's Joe Whittemore says, "Any finish is possible: natural finishes clear-coated to preserve the shell, sparkle, flat, swirl, pearloid, custom-designed glass glitter wraps - we can put any image onto a wrap and give it a glass glitter finish. We've wrapped kits in bed sheets, skateboard grip tapes, jeans, handbags, AstroTurf... you name it."
A visit to the Truth and Drum Stop websites will give you some idea. Joe adds that Truth drums can be seen with bands including August Burns Red, McFly, Sleeping with Sirens, Enter Shikari, Memphis May Fire, Deaf Havana, Pierce the Veil and many others.
We have a rather more conservative three-piece kit to review in fashionable sizes - 22"x20" bass, 12"x7" mounted tom with RIMS-style chromed steel bracket and 16"x14" floor tom with legs. Shells are thin six-ply 5.5mm North American maple in Satin Candy Green, a thinly applied stain that shows the grain and is expertly finished.
The natural maple shell insides are actually smoother than the outsides, and much effort has gone into sanding and finishing them with a waterproof transparent seal. However, the innermost plies of the bass drum and the floor tom do not quite butt up perfectly, and filler has been used to bridge the gaps.
In the case of the floor tom, the gap goes from nothing at one end to up to about 1/16" at the other - creating a thin, elongated 'V'. The outside plies of both drums butt up perfectly as you'd expect, and the small tom is spot on both inside and out, which unfortunately only goes to show up the minor aberrations in the other two.
"The tension claws are rather tasty: we like the way the bolt washers nestle inside - a trim, hidden design that is dust-free"
What surprises us is that these shells have been supplied by Keller, which has a top reputation and supplies huge numbers of excellent shells to custom builders the world over. Indeed these two are lovely shells and no one will see the insides, but we would be failing in our duty to Rhythm readers if we did not point out that while these shells might be acceptable on a budget kit, this is an expensive, high-end custom kit.
One of the main areas where a custom workshop makes its mark is in cutting and finishing the bearing edges. Truth's have a 45° inner cut with a smaller 45° cut to the outside. The edges are smooth and level, and of the highest standard.
As for hardware, components are generic but of good quality and will serve you well. The twin-point mount small tube lugs are neat, hewn from solid brass and set on nylon gaskets. The tension bolts thread in smoothly and have both steel and white nylon washers. The bass spurs are again standard generics, but are perfectly adequate. And the tension claws are rather tasty: we like the way the bolt washers nestle inside - a trim, hidden design that is dust-free.
We always think a decent badge goes a long way to making a kit look cool and distinctive. Especially when a kit has mostly generic parts, a strong logo badge makes a big difference. Truth's distinctive, embossed metal black and chrome cross shield does the job well.
"The polished inners are extremely reflective, freshening up the sound and creating an in-yer-face and powerful presence"
The sound of the set is defined by the sizes - that combination of overlong kick with punchy 'fast' toms that has been the contemporary sound for some time now, from indie to metal. Coupled with the admirably thin shells of hard maple, the polished inners are extremely reflective, freshening up the sound and creating an in-yer-face and powerful presence. The fact that Truth routinely fits twin-ply Remo Coated Emperor batters shows the toms are intended to be walloped hard, and they certainly respond well when they are.
In fact Drum Stop swapped the Emperors for the new Evans Black Chrome batters, which are specifically designed for highly aggressive rockers. On the small tom, the effect was a combination of warm, tight punch from the Evans with the natural open brightness of the maple, translated cleanly through the fine bearing edges.
As for the floor tom, 16"x14" is increasingly preferred to the old standard 16"x16" and it makes sense - some 16"x16" floor toms can get bogged down and sludgy. But with the 14", the slightly shallower depth makes the drum easier to play, adding that useful touch of speed and extra bite. There is so much bottom resonance from the thin shell anyway, again aided by the terse surface sound of the Evans, that the drum has a mic-friendly edge.
As the floor tom legs pass through their mounting brackets they just kiss the lower hoop. This can be easily remedied by putting a thicker rubber gasket under each bracket to clear the legs away from the hoop. Still, as it was, the drum didn't rattle or seem to suffer sound-wise.
There's no doubt that 22"x20" bass drums with thin maple shells and minimal hardware make one hell of a racket. This one's slam was fear-inducing, even with a felt beater, especially when we set up the kit to face our French doors so the sound bounced off the hard glass. It may be a big drum but it is surprisingly light in weight, which also increases the reverberation and presence. The logo head has a pair of portholes that further boost attack while not sacrificing too much front-head resonance, leaving plenty of tone and depth.