Back in 2006, Ahead made its snare debut with the impressive Black on Brass models. Soon it was amassing rave reviews and industry awards. Previously, Ahead would have been better known for its hi-tech aluminium sticks - its inventory now includes the Armor soft cases, wood snare drums, custom moulded ear protectors etc.
The shell is made from 3mm cast bell bronze, an alloy used in many high-end cymbals. The black chromed, un-beaded shell has a 45° bearing edge with a slightly rounded profile. It sports some of the finest ancillary components available - a tried and tested formula, found on many of Ahead's snares: a Trick GS007 snare throw-off, S-Hoop counter hoops, Fat Cat snare strainer and Tight Screw tension bolts.
With roller bearings and helical gearing, the superb Trick throw-off allows a totally smooth and rapid operation. The unique Tight Screw tension bolts are designed to help avoid detuning. They have a strip of nylon inserted into a vertical milled slot, effectively gripping the bolts into the lugs.
The triple-flanged S-Hoops have a 'fourth' flange which protrudes inward towards the centre. The profile creates a hoop which is strong and rigid and gives "consistent tuning characteristics of a die-cast". Its flat edge should enhance cross-sticking and rim shots.
This weighty snare comes well-tuned and sounds impressive straight out of its box. It only takes a couple of strikes to realise this has the potential to go 'loud'! This impending volume is not just confined to a few metres - the combination of single-ply head, thick brass shell and S-Hoops creates a formidable projection machine.
Apart from a slice of Moongel, there is little need to tame it - once familiar with the way the drum reacts, it becomes controllable. A centre-strike stops any spurious overtone dead, then, moving outwards, we bring in some of that cutting overtone. Rim-shots are ridiculously explosive - even a poorly-aimed wallop can send your ears into turmoil.
It's not at all raucous or brash though, it has a full fundamental tone and, played with finesse, can be melodic. By taking the head tension down and slackening the Fat Cat snare 'centre' strands, this creates a much beefier beast, proving it both muscular, musical and, with its wide dynamic range, versatile.
This drum is a capacious brass beast with a suitably vast tuning range. It is equally happy crisp and dry (with Moongel), or wide-open and fat (without it).