BY AJ DONAHUE
Trick Drums made its mark on the drum industry with aluminum. The Chicago firm carved out quite a niche by precision crafting ultra-durable and lightweight pedals, components, and drums using, per its own literature, “aerospace-grade aluminum.” Many of us are familiar with the results: Trick’s bass drum pedals are some of the most coveted among players looking for top-flight speed and power, while the company’s snares and drum sets have helped reshape the way we think about aluminum as a shell material.
But the scope of Trick’s metallurgic prowess extends well beyond the world of aluminum. Through its Precious Metals series, the company offers a selection of non-aluminum metal snare drums that feature the same craftsmanship, attention to detail, and super-lightweight components, but deliver the alternative timbres of other alloys. For this review, we received a 14″ x 6.5″ Precious Metals titanium snare drum. Let’s see how it stacks up.
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
The 1.5mm, lightly lacquered titanium shell has a deep, almost gunmetal hue that sits beautifully against the chrome hardware. Visually, it’s easy to recognize the company’s aerospace influence through the drum’s sleek but otherwise spartan appearance of expertly engineered modern machinery.
I found the shell to be beautifully made. It’s fully round with no exceptions, the slightly rounded edges are even all around, and the finish is flawless. The shell’s seam is effectively imperceptible from the outside, but has a clear weld on the inside wall. It’s smooth to the touch, and appears problem free.
With 2.3mm triple-flange steel hoops, 20-strand steel snare wires, and Aquarian Texture Coated batter and Classic Clear Snare Side heads, this drum is built for versatility. Trick’s proprietary solid milled aluminum lugs are simply designed, extremely light, and unobtrusive. And to top it off, the GS007 multi-step throw offers three different tension stages in addition to the standard dial tension for easy adjustments on the fly.
Trick’s solid lugs are milled from a single piece of aluminum, so there are no moving parts or air chambers to add or distort noise. I normally find lugs without inserts frustrating because you have to align the rod perfectly every time for it to bite, but Trick’s house-made lugs have a wide bore up top to help guide the rod smoothly. Plus, they’re installed perfectly—something not always common with single-contact lugs—and that makes a big difference.
I will fully admit I had some misconceptions about Trick going into this review. Because owner and craftsman Mike Dorfman produces some fairly adventurous drums in the past, and because of his pedals’ reputation among metal drummers, I assumed that these were instruments made almost exclusively for high-impact, high-volume playing. Well, after putting in some hours with the Precious Metals Titanium unit, it’s clear that I was wrong. This drum has range.
Sonicially, titanium is a fascinating material. To my ear it sits somewhere between aluminum and steel, and is certainly mellower and more controlled than many metal snares I’ve played. It’s got a heated-up punch that recalls some of the dryness of aluminum with the heavy upper-middle of a steel shell. But while I’m getting the snapping response of hard steel, there isn’t much of the high-end ping I normally associate with that metal. I’m also not hearing much of the low, boof-y fatness of aluminum. It’s smack dab in the middle of the two alloys.
The quality that jumps out the most, however, is the control. I noticed the even decay and lack of errant overtones as soon as I got this drum on the stand, but it absolutely blew me away when I started recording. Good grief, this thing is a killer under microphones. Check out the accompanying video demo, and pay particular attention to the low tuning. (Recorded with a close mike on the batter, two Earthworks overheads, and no muffling of any kind.) That is a ludicrous sound for a metal snare drum.
That control contributes to the drum’s extreme versatility. It’s got a broad, powerful sound, but it isn’t overburdened by excess character or color. I think the combination of a medium gauge shell, triple-flange hoops, and lightweight hardware bolsters the metal’s naturally wide response (even despite the large interior nuts used to hold the lugs in place), while the clean, slightly rounded edges and barely undersized 13.7″ shell diameter help flatten out weirder edge tones.
Across the board, it’s even, sensitive, and uncluttered. Medium-depth beds keep the response lively, but facilitate a little bit of papery separation in the wire sound. I’d love to see a wider bed here to make it easier to experiment with larger wire sets, but it’s hard to argue with what I’m hearing. This is an extremely capable drum that feels like it’s ready for anything.
Trick’s Precious Metals Titanium snare drum is magic under microphones. It’s controlled, full, and not overly colored, so it can easily blend into most mixes. It’s sensitive enough to play quietly, but really excels when the volume goes up. I found the craftsmanship to be exceptional, and I encountered no issues throughout the review period. I’m not sure I can think of a situation where it wouldn’t be appropriate—it just works for everything.
- 1.5mm titanium shell
- Chrome hardware
- 2.3mm steel triple-flange hoops
- Solid milled aluminum lugs
- Trick GS007 Multi Step Throw
- 20-strand steel snare wires with brass clips
LIST PRICE: $1,300