Pearl Masterworks Sonic Select
We may only be a quarter of the way in, but 2017 is already looking like a vintage year for new drum gear.
Here, we take a look at our pick of the must-try gear hitting music stores this year. Let's kick off with a lush new kit from Pearl...
As if the choices offered by Pearl’s truly custom Masterworks series wasn’t enough, drummers can now choose from five optimised, studio-testeds hell and hardware formulas.
The Studio features a thin Maple/Gumwood combination with Mastercast hoops for tonal clarity. The Heritage balances the power of maple and the warmth of mahogany for enhanced lows and fat top-end.
The thin Urban shell combines birch, gumwood and maple while the Stadium features a thick maple shell. Finally, the Modern Dry shell is a maple/gumwood/mahogany blend which Pearl favour for ‘top-heavy articulation with controlled low-end for today’s multifaceted beat creator’. The question is, which would you go for?
Meinl artist cymbals
Meinl worked closely with a small selection of artists and the company’s R&D team to conjure what they describe as ‘unique and innovative sounds that allow artists to explore, create and forge ahead as leaders in acoustic music and in the art of drumming’.
The result is the Anika Nilles Deep Hats, Matt Garstka Fat Stack, Luke Holland Bullet Stack and the Thomas Lang Super Stack, each delivering their own unique sound and character. We can’t wait to try them.
Mapex Black Panther Design Lab snares
This new snare drum series applies everything Mapex has learned through years of drum building to a trio of cutting-edge, versatile snares.
The Design Lab Cherry Bomb features an 8-ply cherry shell available in either 13"x5.5" or 14"x6". The 14"x6" Heartbreaker is an 8-ply mahogany shell with 4-ply mahogany resonance rings. And finally, the Equinox has a 14"x5" 6-ply maple shell. Each drum features 2.7mm deep, 5.5" snare bed graduation and dual vents to help extract a dry, articulate and controlled tone. The snares are rounded out by 45° SoniClear bearing edges and Puresound 16-strand stainless steel snare wires.
Sabian Artisan Elite cymbals
Sabian’s newest range is worked with extensive multi-peen and high-density hammering which contributes to a lower-pitch and drier sound than other Artisan cymbals.
They are uniquely lathed leaving traces of raw metal across the cymbal surface which adds an extra layer of dirt to their sound. The Elites also feature a flatter, lower profile bell that is more integrated into the overall cymbal sound. Initially, the cymbals will be available in 20" and 22" models, and 14", 15" and 16" hats, in natural finish only.
Vic Firth Artist Milestone Limited Editions
In celebration of what would have been Buddy Rich’s 100th birthday and Carmine Appice’s 50-year career in music, two new sticks have emerged from Vic Firth.
Buddy’s stick is 16 5/16" long with a 0.59 diameter, and featuring a limited edition BR logo. The stick is available with a nylon or wood tip. Carmine’s stick is dipped in black with a gold foil logo. It’s 15 15/16" long and 0.595 in diameter.
Sonor One Of A Kind snare drums
Sonor’s Bocote and Cocobolo snare drums are handmade in its German factory and fall into the company’s limited edition, premium One-Of-A-Kind range.
The Bocote has a whopping 14"x6", 21-ply beech shell with black chrome hardware. The Cocobolo features a 14"x71⁄2" 12-ply shell, also with chrome hardware. Both snares have an exotic outer veneer and high gloss finish and are limited to 70 drums apiece.
Paiste 900 Series
Designed to offer modern, sophisticated sounds at a reasonable price, the bedrock of Paiste’s new 900 Series is 2002 Bronze.
The cymbals are worked with hand hammering and lathing, whilst a special finish darkens the cymbals and deepens the lathing grooves. The resulting sound is notably warm, whilst retaining the brightness of the bronze.
The series focuses on medium and heavy crashes and rides in 16"-20" sizes, as well as 20" and 22" rides, plus 14" and 15" hi-hats. Splashes and Chinas round out the line-up.
Alesis Strike kits
We first saw Alesis’ Strike kits at NAMM last year, but things went quiet. 2017 looks set to be the year they finally drop.
The Strike centres around a so-called Performance Module which includes 100 custom kits made from over 1,600 instruments, plus a 4.3" colour LED screen. There’s also on-board sampling, SD card storage, and USB/MIDI connectivity.
The new Strike Software Editor also enables you to create your own custom samples into multiple velocity layered and round robin instruments and transfer them to the module.
On the hardware front, Alesis’ dual hoop mesh heads and hybrid birch shells come in standard acoustic drum sizes (8", 10", 12", 14") alongside 16" ride, 14" crash and 12" hi-hat pads. The standard Strike is a five-piece kit with three cymbals, whilst the Strike Pro is six-pieces with five cymbals.
Gretsch Vinnie Colaiuta signature snare drums
It’s been less than a year since Vinnie rejoined Gretsch, but they’ve clearly been working hard behind closed doors leading up to the NAMM launch of two new signature snares.
The first, with a 12"x4" 6-ply maple/gum shell, features a 30° bearing edge, die-cast hoops and a micro-sensitive throw-off. The drum is said to be sharp, dry and ideal as a side snare. Conversely, the 14"x5" model has the same shell make-up, but with a double 45° bearing edge and lightning throw-off, giving it a great dynamic range and bags of sensitivity.
Promark Sliver Essentials and Transport Deluxe bags look set to bring the style back to the drum accessory game.
Both are made from weather-proof ballistic nylon and synthetic leather which will not only cut a dash on stage, but will also handle touring life. The Sliver Essentials bag is designed to house four pairs of sticks, more than enough for most gigging situations where space is lacking.
The Transport Deluxe features leather carrying handles, a large front-zippered pocket and a zippered interior pocket. For the business-savvy drummer, it even includes a leather business card slot, a metal key leash, a pencil slot, a deluxe leather pocket for your wallet and phone and, of course, loads of room for your sticks.
Dixon Motion Blue Burst kit
Sometimes all it takes is a wild finish to turn our heads…
This stunning new, limited edition Motion Blue Burst kit from Dixon features a unique electric finish that ‘moves’ as you change your view around the kit, creating a lava lamp effect, and the black hardware sets it off nicely. Sizes are 12"x9", 16"x16" and 24"x14".
LP Aspire Havana Café bongos, congas and cajon
We love the striking cappuccino-style finish on the Siam Oak shells of these LP congas and bongos.
The matching cajon features a maple body with Para wood faceplate in the same frothy finish, plus three sets of DW snare wires and rounded corners for playing comfort.
Ludwig 45th Anniversary Vistalites
The Vistalite is undoubtedly one of the most iconic drum kits Ludwig ever created, and this year the acrylic wonder hits the grand old age of 45.
To celebrate, Ludwig has launched two new finishes and configurations: the Tri-Band Black Edition Vistalite will be available in 22"x14", 13"x9" and 16"x16". Bonham fans will want to get their hands on the striking Green Sparkle Vistalite Pro Beat Plus (pictured). This kit will be available in 24"x14", 13"x9", 16"x16" and 18"x18".
Meinl cymbal tuners
Meinl’s Cymbal Tuners would undoubtedly earn ten out of ten for innovation.
Designed in collaboration with Benny Greb, the tuners are a very simple but brilliantly effective concept, consisting of two-part magnets which are placed on either side of a cymbal, anywhere from the edge to the bell, to alter its tone, sustain and volume. Cymbal Tuners come in packs of two.
Yamaha Rydeen series drums
Having spent much of the last few years refining and updating the celebrated Recording Custom Series, for 2017 Yamaha is looking to the entry-level.
Inspired by The God of Thunder, the Rydeen Series is designed to offer features and quality to the aspiring but budget-conscious drummer. Six-ply 7.2mm poplar shells sit at the heart of the kit, alongside a pair of Yamaha’s original ball-clamp tom holders for set-up flexibility and stability, and steel 1.5mm triple-flanged drum hoops.
Two five-piece configurations will be available: 22", 10", 12", 16", plus 14" snare; and 20", 10", 12", 14" and 14" snare drum. There are six solid and glitter finishes include Black Glitter, Silver Glitter, Burgundy Glitter, Fine Blue, Hot Red and Mellow Yellow, and Yamaha is throwing in a 600 Series double-braced hardware set too.
Tycoon Gig Box cajon
The Gig Box builds on the original Tycoon Practice cajon by adding a 5W amp and 4" speaker, making it perfect for band practice or small venue gigs.
There’s also a guitar input enabling an additional musician to plug in and jam along without drowning out the cajon. On-board you’ll also find controls for volume, tone and overdrive. Three finishes are available; Hand Painted Siam Oak, a Makah Burl/Bubinga combo and Tobacco Burst.
Tama Starclassic bubinga and maple Exotic finishes
Tama has always been known for its classy kit visuals, and this year it takes things up a notch with new Exotic wood lacquer finishes for Starclassic Bubinga and Maple drums.
New Bubinga finishes include Jungle Quilted Bubinga Burst, Midnight Tigerwood Fade, Garnet Quilted Bubinga Burst and Crimson Tigerwood Fade (pictured). Starclassic Maple gets Figured Caribbean Blue Fade, Emerald Pacific Walnut Burst, Figured Maple Gloss and Natural Pacific Walnut Burst.
Pearl Omar Hakim and Eric Singer snare drums
New signature drums from Pearl bear the names of session great Hakim and Kiss cat Singer, both celebrating 30 years as Pearl artists.
Hakim’s drum centres around a beaded 1mm 14"x6.5" steel shell. That spectacular colour is achieved by a process called Physical Vapor Deposition, which adds a layer of Titanium Nitride to the exterior and transforms the shell into a harder surface and gives it that metallic purple hue.
Singer’s drum is modeled on a vintage favourite - the Pearl Jupiter chrome-over-brass. His snare begins with a dual-beaded Jupiter-style 1mm chrome-plated brass shell, with Pearl’s Click-Lock throw-off and low-contact CL bridge lugs.
Zildjian genre boxsets
Cymbal boxsets are nothing new, but this year Zildjian has carried out rigorous testing and research to match appropriate cymbals into genre boxsets.
The Rock Pack features a collection of A Zildjians, whilst the Country Pack opts for K Zildjians. The Worship Pack focuses on K Custom, while the Gospel Pack is loaded with A Customs. The Rock, Worship and Country Packs include hats, two crashes and a ride, while the Gospel Pack supplements one crash with an EFX.
SJC Foundation hardware
Investing in your own hardware line can be an expensive venture, so SJC clearly has its sights set high with the new Foundation hardware series.
The Foundation X line is designed to withstand the needs of most drummers, from the the heavy-duty steel tubing to gearless tilters and hinged memory locks. The Foundation Flatline is aimed at the drummer wanting a more compact or vintage-style set-up, with double-braced flat bases and oversized feet.
Finally, the Foundation Shadow is for players looking to shave a little weight and cost from their set-up. The Shadow is finished in black, too.
Remo Felt Tone bass drum heads
Here’s one for the vintage drum fans.
Remo’s newest Powerstroke 3 bass-drum head features a free-floating dampening strip built into the drumhead - rather than glued on - to mimic the old-school method of dampening drums with a strip of felt. The head is available with your choice of Hazy or Fiberskyn film and in 18", 20", 22", 24" and 26" sizes.
Sabian Mini Holy China and AAX Aerosplash
Plenty of new effects options incoming from Sabian in 2017, but these are our top picks.
Chad Smith’s AA Holy China was an absolute monster when it was released in 2010. Consider the AA Mini Holy China a pocket-sized version, packing the volume and trash of the original into a compact format. 8", 10" and 12" options are available in natural or brilliant finish.
The AAX Aero splash delivers a wash of musical white noise, with bags of high-end cut and decay. It’s available in the same sizes and finishes as the Mini Holy China.
TRX CLS series cymbals
TRX’s new CLS cymbals are made using extra-thin B20 bronze to produce a dark and warm sound, aided by the cool grey finish.
Also notable is that TRX has weight-matched the top and bottom hi-hat cymbals in the range, an approach favoured by rock drummers in the ’60s.
Ludwig 8" snares
Go big or go home seems to be Ludwig’s motto in 2017, evidenced by this trio of 8" deep snares.
Firstly, the famous Black Beauty is now available as an 8"-deep monster. There’s also an 8" version of the Copper Phonic. What’s more, Ludwig has launched a 14"x8" beast in the shape of the 7-ply Classic Maple snare drum. Limited Edition colours on the Classic Maple will include Mojave Cherry and Black Flame.
Vater Acorn tipped sticks
The stick giant has widened the scope of its popular Los Angeles 5A, Power 5A and Power 5B model sticks by adding an acorn tip option to each one.
Vater also announced a new Abe Cunningham (Deftones) signature stick called The Cool Breeze, which sits somewhere between a 5B and 2B and is aimed at the heavy hitter.
Natal Meta snare drums
The British company had a huge range of its affordable Meta Series snares on display at this year’s NAMM show.
From 13"x5.5" up to huge 14"x8" sizes and in a host of materials ranging from hand-hammered brass, steel and bronze, to copper and brass. Each snare comes decked out with brushed nickel hardware, Natal’s own Tri-Throw, Evans USA heads and a wide range of finish options.
SJC Josh Dun Spooky snare drum
Twenty One Pilots and their sticksman Josh Dun have had a huge couple of years since releasing Blurryface in 2015 and now, quite rightly, Josh is putting his name to some killer new signature gear.
This 14"x6" snare drum features a unique red alien/skull finish that matches Josh’s current tour kit and comprises a 10-ply maple shell, 3mm hoops and flat black hardware.
Paiste Color Sound 900
Paiste was the first brand to bring colour coating to cymbals in the ’80s.
The results were bold and striking, but they fell out of vogue in the ’90s and it was only available on custom orders or signature models. In 2017 Color Sound is back, better and bolder than ever, in the form of Color Sound 900.
The finishes - including striking red, purple and blue - are available on the newly launched 900 series and have the effect of drying out and shortening cymbal attack.
Drum Workshop ‘The Black Page’ Icon snare
DW’s Icon range is now expanded to include this limited model in conjunction with long-time endorser Terry Bozzio.
The 14"x6.5" shell is built from an outer ply of white Birdseye over an 11-ply HVLT shell, without reinforcing rings. On the outside are laser-engraved notes from Zappa’s infamous Black Page piece, plus a Zappa Moustache logo.
The package also includes a limited pressing vinyl of Bozzio’s ‘Black Page’ performance, a DW deluxe snare bag and DW/Remo USA Black Suede head.
Pearl Modern Utility snares
Whilst experimentation is good, it’s important for any drum company to offer a brace of affordable snare drums aimed squarely at the workhorse drummer.
Each Modern Utility snare features the reliable combination of a 6-ply/5mm all-maple SST shell, CL bridge lugs and SR700 strainer, and come in sizes to suit most playing scenarios – 12"x7", 13"x5", 14"x5.5", 14"x6.5" and 14"x8".
Remo Classic Fit drum heads
The vintage drum scene is thriving, but owners of pre-mid-’60s drums still face the headache of finding heads to fit the oversized shells. Remo’s Classic Fit is the answer.
The clever heads feature a narrower flesh hoop and step design whilst maintaining a standard outside diameter that doesn’t interfere with the counter hoop. The heads will be available with coated, clear or Fiberskyn film and in 12", 13", 14", 16" and 18" sizes. 12" and 13" Ambassador Hazy reso versions will be available too.
Gretsch Steve Ferrone signature snare drum
Vinnie isn’t the only Gretsch artist getting a signature snare this year.
Tom Petty and Average White Band legend Steve Ferrone has worked with Gretsch to produce a 14"x6.5" 3-ply maple/poplar shelled beast of a snare. Reverse roundover bearing edges and 302 double-flanged hoops help give the drum a warm sound with a wide tuning range. There’s also a tone control on the batter side of the drum to give drummers extra control over their sound.
Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Collection
The big Z’s well-established K Custom line has been ‘remastered’ to align it better with modern musical styles and offers an earthy look that’s matched by a dry, funky sound.
The extra thin weight cymbals employ Zildjian’s 80/20 bronze alloy and are worked with a unique three-step hammering process.
The launch line-up looks like this: 10" Dry splash, 13", 14" and 15" K Custom Special Dry hi-hat pairs, 14" K Custom Special Dry FX hi-hat top, 17", 18", 19" and 21" K Custom Special Dry Trash crashes, 16", 18", 19", 20" and 22” K Custom Special Dry crashes, 18” K Custom Special Dry Trash China, 21" and 23" K Custom Special Dry rides.
DW Collectors Series Stainless steel kit
DW can now make you 1.5mm folded stainless steel shells with rolled bearing edges in 8", 10", 12", 13", 14", 16", 18", 22", 24" and 26" sizes!
What’s more there are five Custom Shop hardware colour options available and the drums come topped with Double A 2-Ply DW heads.
Meinl Pure Alloy cymbals
This all-new, made in Germany cymbal line is augmented by computerised hammering and treated to a traditional finish to produce a more traditional sound compared with Meinl’s more cutting-edge offerings.
Pure Alloys produce a clean sound applicable in a wide range of musical settings, and the range so far includes 14" and 15" Medium hats, 16", 18" and 20" Medium crashes and 20" and 22" Medium rides.
Gon Bops Walfredo Reyes Sr ‘El Maestro’ cajon
When working with Gon Bops on this new cajon, Walfredo’s goal was to make it easier for drummers to play while also using hi-hats, foot bells or other instruments requiring pedals.
To achieve this, he conjured a unique triangular shape which allows the player to sit in a normal playing position without having to straddle awkwardly. Two side panels deliver big bass tones, while a front panel features a bright bass tone at the center and cutting slap sounds at the top.
Sabian XSR Fast Stax
A new option comes to the affordable B20 Bronze XSR line in the shape of the aggressive Fast Stax. The stack pairs a thin 13" X-Celerator top over a high-profile, wide-lipped 16" Chinese bottom, producing plenty of attack.
Mapex Saturn V Tour Edition kit
The new Tour edition of Mapex’s impressive Saturn V line is designed to offer groove drummers who favour the less-is-more approach a reliable, great sounding three-piece configuration.
The Saturn’s resonance-promoting SoniClear bearing edges remain, cut into new hybrid maple/walnut shells. Shell packs are available with a 20", 22" or 24" bass drum and four vintage-style finishes.
Drum Workshop Purpleheart kit and snares
Purpleheart is an extremely hard South American tonewood that’s used in drum building to provide excellent projection and volume, and DW has used it to create a limited run of kits and snares.
Act fast and you’ll be able to get your hands on 8”-13” 7-ply tom shells and 14”-18” 8-ply tom and bass drum shells. Snares, available in 14”x5.5” and 14”x6.5” sizes, feature 13-ply, 100 percent Purpleheart shells.
Paiste Nicko McBrain Treasures
On the current Iron Maiden tour, Nicko’s cymbal set is printed with elements of the Book Of Souls album artwork, including the date January 9, 1983 - the day of Nicko’s very first Maiden session - written in Mayan calendar glyphs.
Now, Paiste is making 83 sets of these cymbals available to super fans. The set consists of Signature Reflector 14" Heavy hi-hats, 15", 16", 18", 19", 20" and 22" Heavy Full crashes, 22" Bell ride, 22" Heavy China, a Signature 20" Fast Medium, a Rude 17" crash/ride and a Formula 602 13" Heavy bell.
This beast of a set will arrive in a custom branded wooden crate featuring a laser-engraved bronze plaque, plus loads of other signed goodies.
VK Drums aerospace aluminium kit
Talented British builder Alan Van Kleef has been busy.
Most striking is a new kit made entirely from lightweight, aerospace-grade aluminium (12”x8”,16”x14”, 22”x14” and 14”x6.5”). Shells are finished with antique bronze powder coating inside and out, tom and snare hoops are laser cut and finished in black powder coating, while tension rods, washers, bolts, spurs, floor tom legs, mounts and memory locks are all black anodised. Simply stunning.
We were digging Alan’s black magnesium snare with titanium hoops too. Stay classy, Alan!
NAMM 2016 was the first outing for ATV’s standalone aD5 drum module, which focused on premium acoustic drum sounds and was compatible with most trigger pad brands.
The next logical step? An ATV kit, of course. The aDrum features lacquered wood shells and silicone cymbals designed to work in harmony with the aD5 module. The drum and cymbal pads use multiple sensors to extract maximum dynamics from the module, and the hi-hat pad uses what ATV call a ‘no-contact’ sensor which detects every last nuance of pedal input.
Tama Peter Erskine signature snare
Peter has only been a Tama endorser for a couple of years, but his innovative spirit is already shining through.
Last year he worked with the brand on some cool lightweight hardware, and this year sees the launch of his 10"x6" signature snare. This side snare features a 10mm, 12-piece stave shell and comes with Tama’s Star Super Resonant Mounting System so it can be positioned anywhere around the kit.