AD Drums Padauk snare review

Another imaginative build from the UK custom brand

  • £449
The shell (left) is stave-constructed from red African hardwood padauk

MusicRadar Verdict

Carl's design prowess and attention to detail never wavers or wanes.


  • +

    Cutting sound that carves through walls of sound. Easy to tune. Decent value for money.


  • -

    Tone could be gutsier.

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For around eight years AD's Carl Haffield has been making his mark in the drum world with a range of custom drums.

In this relatively short space of time, he has successfully built a reputation for his imaginative and sometimes outlandish colour and material combinations and his inventive use of materials, finishes and hardware produces drums as stunning as they are individual.

"Preferring to be played with conviction, the result is a carving through walls of sound ensuring every second and fourth beat is clearly heard"

Up for review is a snare example from AD Drums' Malvern workshop, which appears to be erring slightly on the conservative side for AD. Especially when you consider the many off-the-wall drums designs such as the 'Plybrid' - an unearthly combination of wood and acrylic plies, or, if that's not enough to convince you, how about his split shell snares - where the drum is literally separated into two sections with nothing but fresh air in between the two parts? Enough said?

On test is the stylish and elegant 14"x7" stave construction padauk finished in a natural, beautiful deep red hue typical of this exotic African hardwood. The antique copper finish of the tube lugs and triple-flanged hoops is the perfect complement to the dark wood, giving this drum an incredibly solid but quite understated appearance.

While the padauk drum is made from solid stave segments, Carl says it is not constructed in the same way as most stave shells - as the individual sections, created on a CNC machine, form a tongue and groove system to lock each piece together into the familiar cylindrical shape of a drum.

Once fashioned "like a barrel", the shell is sanded smoothly and treated to a hardwood oil to preserve the lustre and protect the drum.

The head of choice for this is a Remo Ambassador. Carl says the make of head is really up to the customer, he admits that he just likes to experiment with different head combinations - a bit like his shells, then!

Hands On

The hoops make it easy to pin-point and adjust the slightest pitch differences. Initially, where there is a slight drop, there's noticeably less resistance from the tuning bolt, fortunately confirming we're at the right lug. Also, the opposing side of the drum can also be affected - where necessary, this is also adjusted.

For all its bulk, the padauk isn't quite as ballsy as its stature may suggest - the combination of thick shell and single-ply Ambassador creates more cut but less guts. The head also maintains a wide-open drum with plenty of overtone and bags of volume, ensuring this has far-reaching projection to the back of the venue.

While this isn't the most subtle of drums, preferring to be played with a bit more conviction, the result is a carving through walls of sound ensuring every second and fourth beat is clearly heard.