Black Swamp Percussion Dynamicx Live! Series snare drum review

Solid-shell snare handmade in the US

  • £799
Black Swamp Percussion Dynamicx Live! Series snare drum

MusicRadar Verdict

Black Swamp Percussion’s handmade Ambrosia Maple ‘Unibody’ snare delights with both its looks and its playing qualities, displaying a symphonic percussionist’s acute awareness of tone and dynamics.


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    Characterful, solid-shell sound

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    Additional snares and case included


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    Nothing at all

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The Michigan based Black Swamp Percussion (BSP) was started two decades ago by craftsman and percussionist Eric Sooy. Refreshingly, the BSP team has a strong classical percussion background, but their drums will happily grace all genres from symphonic to thrash metal.


BSP’s website displays eight ranges of wood and metal snare drums of the highest calibre. Today we have a single snare from the Dynamicx (started in 2010) Live! range. Its 14”x6½” ‘Unibody’ shell is traditionally handcrafted from a single plank of maple, steam bent and held in the round by thick reinforcing rings. Including the re-rings it’s 15 mm thick.

The angled scarfed shell joins are well disguised and expertly crafted. Bearing edges are 30 degrees with a minimal round-over to the outside providing a smooth, level and not-too sharp (though sharp enough) edge. 

Black Swamp Percussion Dynamicx Live! Series snare drum sterling silver bead

Black Swamp Percussion Dynamicx Live! Series snare drum sterling silver bead

Star of the show is the greenish snake-like streaking, the result of boring activity by ambrosia beetles which introduce a fungal discolouration into the honey brown maple wood. Set off by a fine sterling silver bead around the midriff and smoothly finished, the shell is stunning. (Alternatives include Birdseye maple, walnut, cherry and brass.)

Adding much to the standout image are 10 minimal-impact tube lugs with elegantly curved arch supports. Inside, the shell is signed by Eric Sooy and date-stamped. The drum is presented in its own padded case with certificate, soft buffing cloth and drum key. Plus there’s a spare set of 14-strand stainless steel woven cable Dynamicx ‘ballad’ snares for ultra-sensitive playing.

Hands on

After that build up it would be tragic if the drum did not deliver – but fear not, it sounds as lush as it looks. Gigging with the drum proves to be a joy. There is something about snares made with a single steam-bent plank, with its special resonance and tone, aided and controlled by those hefty re-rings. The sound has a thick treacly body with a clean edge – a velvety deep backbeat graduating to a precise clip as you approach the outer edges. It just feels lovely and rounded at all dynamics - woody, fat and responsive. Although designated Live!, this drum will work in any situation, the ballad snares offering a more subdued and less abrasive timbre, ideal for lower volumes, brushes and rods.

Black Swamp Percussion Dynamicx badge

Black Swamp Percussion Dynamicx badge