SuperNova Custom Snare Drums

SuperNova Custom Drums (SCD) are the work of Jersey drummer Chris Troy. Chris builds three lines of drums: the flagship Trojan; the Apollo, which is aimed specifically at jazz drummers; and the Nebula which has Acrylic shells.

Build

SuperNova is a custom build company and Chris Troy offers customers a choice of four types of his own wood ply shells, or, if you prefer, solid wood stave shells.

"SuperNova builds to order and you can specify whatever you fancy."

He doesn't make his own acrylic shells but gets them from RCI Starlite. Full shells are constructed from a single type of wood, while Half-Half shells have one type inside and another on the outside.

Blended shells have two different wood types alternating throughout the shell, and Sandwiched shells have one type of wood on the inner and outer side and a different one sandwiched in the middle.

For review we have a 14"x5 " Trojan Sandwiched oak and birch ply with a light oak stain and satin oil finish; and a 14"x6" Nebula Navy Blue Acrylic.

Both drums have 10 of SuperNova's own design Vortex Lugs, which are made using a CNC (computer numerical control) machine. The lightweight circular lugs give SuperNova a distinctive image, something which not all custom makers achieve. Each lug is fixed internally with just two small, high quality bolts.

The drums are fitted with expensive Trick GS007 strainers and 20-strand PureSound Blaster snare wires. Hoops are heavyweight 2.3mm triple-flanged steel.

The 14"x5 " Trojan Sandwiched shell in oak and birch is 5-ply and 6.6mm thick. It has a handsome satin oil finish which shows off the broad-grained oak pattern at its best.

The inside is also oak (with birch sandwiched in between) but is a lighter colour, lightly sealed and sanded to a satin smooth finish. There was the tiniest of splintering around a couple of the internal fixing nuts and the butt-join of the innermost ply was very slightly raised from half way up the shell.

Bearing edges are expertly cut to a 45° peak two-thirds of the way towards the outer edge. They are sharp and level and there are narrow snare bed dips just around the snare ends.

For the 14"x6" blue acrylic snare SuperNova obtains  " thick acrylic shells from RCI which are the best available since they are acrylic-welded at the seams. The shell was slightly out of round by about 1/8". Once again the edges are a sharp 45° and flat but, I have to say, somewhat ragged to the touch.

SuperNova builds to order and you can specify whatever you fancy. Sourcing rare hardwoods is a fraught business, so SuperNova has signed up to the Trees For The Future Organisation, pledging to plant 100 trees for every drum sold and guaranteeing all plywoods are sourced from sustainable supplies.

Hands On

The 14"x5 " Trojan Sandwiched shell in oak and birch is not only a seriously cool-looking drum, it has the performance to match. Fitted with a coated Evans G1 batter it has a lovely crisp tone and I would happily play this drum in just about any musical setting, it's that versatile and attractive.

It's extremely difficult to pinpoint the contribution and flavour brought to a drum by any hardwood, but it's probably safe to say the birch gives the drum its cut and control, the oak its mids and warmth.

At any rate there is an almost creamy tone to the centre-smack, while catching the rim brings out the full resonance of the medium-thin shell. It helps that Chris has cut accurate 45° bearing edges which makes tuning easy and reliable.

Despite being  " deeper than the wood, the acrylic drum has a slightly brighter timbre, a little cleaner and less complex. With clattering rim shots you'd almost believe it was a metal shell drum - it has that fresh, metallic clank. B

But lamp it in the centre and it is as warm as many a wood drum. The sound has possibly fewer overtones, but it is not cold or clinical, which is always the suspicion with a synthetic material. It does feel capable of giving a bit more volume than wood if necessary. I can well understand those who say acrylic is an ideal material for drums.

SuperNova's unique lugs give its drums a distinctive look often missing from drums with generic hardware. The exterior finish on the oak drum and the bearing edges are superb. Chris Troy has the expertise and passion to make great drums.

MusicRadar Rating

3 / 5 stars
Pros

Distinctive look. Exterior finish. Sound great.

Cons

Ragged acrylic edges. Imperfection on wood interior.

Verdict

Despite one or two slight glitches, these drums sound the business. Add SuperNova to your list of UK makers to check out.

Snare Lugs

10

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.