Mapex Black Panther Retrosonic Snare review

Vintage tones and the luxury of 100 percent walnut

  • £465
  • $799

MusicRadar Verdict

This is a funky drum, you can imagine it on dirtier, bluesier grooves and New Orleans second line rolls, not to mention smoky nightclub jazz.


  • +

    Perhaps the most gorgeous of all the Black Panthers. Sophisticated balanced tone.


  • -

    Nothing of note.

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The name Black Panther, conjuring up speed and power allied to velvety sleekness, has been a winner for Mapex over the past decade. Now Mapex has given the entire range an overhaul with 14 brand new models. You can read every Black Panther snare drum review here.

Each drum has either single-ended shield-design cast lugs, or elegantly sculpted twin-point mounted tube lugs. The patented 'Sonic Saver' hoops lie between flanged and die-cast hoops. Recalling the classic Slingerland 'Stick Saver' concept, the top lip of each pressed stainless steel hoop bends over and in, not out as on standard hoops.

The handsome throw-off is a smoothly operating pull-away lever with adjustable strainers at both ends. Micro lock knobs click silently as you turn them for sensitive adjustment of the stainless steel wires. There are several new bearing edge profiles, and capping it all a new die-cast, chrome-plated Black Panther badge.

You can watch a video overview of the new range with Craig Blundell and Steve White below. Scroll down for the full review.

Black Panther Retrosonic


The 14"x5 1/2" Retrosonic is a real looker, perhaps the most gorgeous of all with the glorious swirling grain of rich walnut finished to a satin-smooth sheen.

It's a relatively hefty 8.1mm all-walnut shell and has Mapex's so-called 1:9 bearing edges where there is a 45 degree slope right up to the sharp outer edge. Extremely shallow snare beds are cut almost imperceptibly, but this seems to be enough for them to work just fine. The micro sensitive new strainer plays its part in this.

Chrome hardware and tube lugs compliment the dark wood perfectly.

Hands on

Rather like the Velvetone, this drum has a sophisticated flavour with a dusky undercurrent. There is a good balance of bright and dark. Attack-wise, rim shots and cross-sticks cut the mustard with a tasty balance of woody and metallic tones.

It's easy to be led on by the dark hue of the wood, but the drum does feel deeper than maple or birch, somehow a bit richer and thicker.