For the past 24 years, readers of Drum magazine have pored over the annual Drummies! ballot to cast votes in the percussion industry’s definitive gear award poll. Each individual ballot added another important voice to the vast pool of worldwide participants who collectively chose the following winners.

To those of you who cast a vote, we thank you for taking the time and sharing your opinion. To those who didn’t — well, there’s always next year. But until then, we invite you to check out what the drumming community selected for top honors among the latest crop of innovations and ideas in the 2017 Drummies! Gear Awards.

 

Tama Cocktail Jam Mini

DRUM SETS UNDER $1,000 

Winner: Tama Cocktail Jam Mini

1st Runner Up: Yamaha Rydeen

2nd Runner Up: SJC Pathfinder

3rd Runner Up: Odery Cafekit

It’s hard to mistake this year’s under-$1,000 winner for a traditional cocktail kit. Unlike those beloved stand-up designs, Tama’s Cocktail Jam kit struck a nerve in 2014 with its diminutive footprint and ability to play sitting down, just like a big ol’ kit. The 2017 Mini version trims the birch shells by 2″ to accommodate even tighter spaces.

 

 

Yamaha Tour Custom Maple

 

DRUM SETS $1,000–$2,500

Winner: Yamaha Tour Custom Maple

1st Runner Up: Ludwig Evolution Maple

2nd Runner Up: Geo. H. Way Drum Company Tradition

3rd Runner Up: PDP Concept Series Classic Wood Hoop

Just one of the many goodies Yamaha debuted during its big 50th anniversary, the Tour Custom Maple gave gigging drummers loads of pro features, like 2.3mm vintage inverted Dyna Hoops, Remo heads, one-point lug attachments, and snazzy finishes to dress up its 6-ply shells made of tried-and-true 100-percent maple.

 

Drum Workshop 45th Anniversary Series

DRUM SETS OVER $2,500

Winner: DW 45th Anniversary Series

1st Runner Up: A&F Royals

2nd Runner Up: A&F Royals Elite

3rd Runner Up: Yamaha 50th Anniversary Limited

DW unveils an eye-popping kit emblazoned with a different exotic veneer every year, but the R&D team pulled out the stops for its 45th Anniversary Collectors kit. This masterpiece is hewn from handpicked Norwegian spruce and wrapped with highly figured European sycamore discovered by John Good in the “Singing Woods” of Northern Italy’s Fiemme Valley.

 

Craviotto Johnny Craviotto Tribute

WOOD SHELL SNARE DRUMS

Winner: Craviotto Johnny Craviotto Tribute

1st Runner Up: DW 45th Anniversary Collectors Series

2nd Runner Up: Gretsch USA Ebony Mahogany

3rd Runner Up: Pearl Modern Utility

While these single-ply, steam-bent snare drums ringed by striking abalone inlays, Johnny C lugs, and chrome-over-brass hoops can’t possibly fill the void left when company namesake Johnny Craviotto passed away in 2016, they stand as a reverent tribute to one of the best custom drum builders of our era and are sure to become treasured collector’s items.

 

Dunnett Classic Gold Top Titanium

METAL SHELL SNARE DRUMS

Winner: Dunnett Classic Gold Top Titanium

1st Runner Up: Ludwig Heirloom Stainless Steel

2nd Runner Up: A&F Royals

3rd Runner Up: Pearl Omar Hakim 30th Anniversary Limited Edition

As Johnny Craviotto was known for making impeccable wood-shell snare drums, Ronn Dunnett has garnered a similar reputation for metal-shell models. Adding to his incredible track record, Dunnett’s 14″ x 6.5″ Gold Top Titanium model turned heads with its brilliant gold lugs, R4 throw-offs, cold rolled hoops, and especially its gleaming gold-tone plated exterior.

 

Gretsch Vinnie Colaiuta Signature

HYBRID/COMPOSITE SHELL SNARE DRUMS

Winner: Gretsch Vinnie Colaiuta Signature

1st Runner Up: Gretsch Steve Ferrone Signature

2nd Runner Up: Chicago Drum Company Chicago Legend

3rd Runner Up: Masters Of Maple Type M Brazilian/Bell

Once the incomparable Mr. C returned to his home base at Gretsch, it was only a matter of time before we could expect some signature instruments to roll down the line bearing the Colaiuta mark. Available in 14″ x 5″ and 12″ x 4″ sizes, these 6-ply maple/gum models come in the legendary drummer’s trademark cobalt blue lacquer.

 

SJC Drums

CUSTOM DRUM COMPANY

Winner: SJC Drums

1st Runner Up: A&F

2nd Runner Up: Craviotto

3rd Runner Up: 1710 Percussion

We’ve got a hot tip for you. You might want to lay some money on SJC Drums capturing the Custom Drum company category next year, since they seem to win every year! By combining the promise to build any drum a client can imagine with new production kits, these guys cover all the bases.

 

 

Zildjian K Custom Special Dry

RIDE CYMBALS

Winner: Zildjian K Custom Special Dry

1st Runner Up: Sabian Artisan Elite

2nd Runner Up: Istanbul Mehmet Tony Williams Tribute

3rd Runner Up: Meinl Byzance Heavy Hammered

 

Zildjian K Custom Special Dry

CRASH CYMBALS

Winner: Zildjian K Custom Special Dry

1st Runner Up: Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Trash

2nd Runner Up: Meinl Byzance Heavy Hammered

3rd Runner Up: Zildjian L80/Paiste Masters Thin (tie)

 

Zildjian K Custom Special Dry

HI-HAT CYMBALS

Winner: Zildjian K Custom Special Dry

1st Runner Up: Sabian Artisan Elite

2nd Runner Up: Istanbul Mehmet Tony Williams Tribute

3rd Runner Up: Meinl Artist Concept Model Anika Nilles Deep Hats

 

 

Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Trash China

CHINA & EFFECTS CYMBALS

Winner: Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Trash China

1st Runner Up: Zildjian K Custom Special Dry 14″ FX Hi-Hat Top

2nd Runner Up: Paiste Masters Swish

3rd Runner Up: Sabian AA Mini Holy China

 

Zildjian K Custom Special Dry

SPLASH CYMBALS

Winner: Zildjian K Custom Special Dry

1st Runner Up: Sabian AAX Aero Splash

2nd Runner Up: Paiste 900 Series

3rd Runner Up: Zildjian L80

 

Can you say “sweep?” We’ve never seen anything quite like the way Zildjian’s K Custom Special Dry series dominated the votes in multiple categories this year. It must have something to do with the complex sound and distressed look of these thin models, which are defined by alternating raw-surface rings and wide-band lathing.

 

Spizz

CRASH-RIDE CYMBALS

Winner: Spizz

1st Runner Up: Cymbal & Gong 20″ MerseyBeat Left Side With Rivets

2nd Runner Up: TRX CLS


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3rd Runner Up: Cymbal & Gong 18″ Merseybeat

The Spizz name might be familiar to cymbal enthusiasts, who likely thought the trademark was retired in 2011, when Roberto Spizzichino, the Tuscan cymbal-smith behind the brand, passed away. But after a period of inactivity, the mark has returned on a line of B25 bronze models hammered and lathed in the style of classic jazz cymbals.

 

Zildjian Rock Pack

CYMBAL PREPACKS

Winner: Zildjian Rock Pack

1st Runner Up: Paiste Nicko McBrain’s Treasures LE

2nd Runner Up: Zildjian Worship Pack

3rd Runner Up: Paiste PST X DJs 45 Set

The big Z simplified decision-making for rock drummers this year by introducing the definitive prepack. By packaging 14″ A Mastersound hi-hats, 17″ and 19″ A Medium Thin crashes, and a 20″ A Ping Ride into a single buy, any rocker worth his weight in bronze can take the stage and sound perfect.

 

Meinl Classics Custom Dark 22″ Ride

CYMBAL LINE EXPANSIONS

Winner: Meinl Classics Custom Dark 22″ Ride

1st Runner Up: Meinl Classics Custom Dark 15″ Hi-Hats

2nd Runner Up: Dream Cymbals 21″ Dark Matter Eclipse Ride

3rd Runner Up: Dream Cymbals 21″ Energy Crash Ride

Slowly but surely, the German bronze specialists have methodically built an impressive array of Classics Custom Dark cymbals, made of B10 bronze and treated with special heating and lathing processes for a dark tone and edgy look. Perfect for hard rock, this new 22″ fits neatly into the collection of hats, crashes, and rides.

 

Matt Bettis Custom Cymbals

CUSTOM CYMBAL MAKER

Winner: Matt Bettis Custom Cymbals

1st Runner Up: Matt Nolan Custom Cymbals

2nd Runner Up: Craig Lauritsen Custom Cymbals

3rd Runner Up: Collingwood Cymbals

A bit of an eccentric, Bettis is known to hop into his camper pulling a trailer full of tools, park on top of a mountain or beside a river, pull out some bronze blanks, and begin hammering cymbals out in the middle of nowhere. Cool, huh? Look for a review in these pages soon.

 

DW 5000 Series Low Boy Hi-Hat Stand

PEDALS

Winner: DW 5000 Series Low Boy Hi-Hat Stand

1st Runner Up: Trick Pro 1V Bigfoot Metal Patriot Pedal

2nd Runner Up: Tama Iron Cobra Lever Glide Hi-Hat Stand

3rd Runner Up: Tama Speed Cobra Lever Glide Hi-Hat Stand

Q: Why would Drum Workshop resurrect a hi-hat design that went out of style decades ago? A: Because they can. So while it’s hard to say exactly how much demand there is for a hi-hat pedal that doesn’t extend much higher than your kneecap, DW earns a win this year just for being so damn cool.

 

THRONES

Winner: DW Santa Monica Trap Case Throne

1st Runner Up: Tama 1st Chair Ergo-Rider

2nd Runner Up: Ahead Spinal G

3rd Runner Up: Tama 1st Chair Round rider XL

If you happened to just finish reading the blurb above about DW’s new take on the low-boy hi-hat, you can just replace the word “hi-hat” with “canister throne” and you wouldn’t be far off the mark — except that the inner compartment is actually a really practical way to stow your hardware between gigs.

 

STANDS

Winner: DW Ultralight Boom Stand

1st Runner Up: Tama Iron Cobra 900 Hardware Kit

2nd Runner Up: Tama Stage Master Hardware Kit

3rd Runner Up: Canopus Hybrid Snare Stand

We’re way past the fascination with heavyweight double-braced stands built to survive a herd of charging elephants. That’s why DW wisely introduced the two-tier, single-braced Ultralight boom stand, which comes with a compact 6.5″ boom arm and Glide Tilter for perfect positioning, and clocks in at a mere 2.9 lbs. Your back thanks you.

 

HARDWARE

Winner: Tama Quick-Set Hi-Hat Clutch

1st Runner Up: Dunnett Bass Drum Microphone Holder

2nd Runner Up: Pearl Rapid Lock Quick Release Clutch

3rd Runner Up: Pearl Uni-Lock Long Boom Cymbal Holder

Old-school drummers will relate to the hassle of having to tighten your hi-hat clutch’s threaded nut on the fly between songs while the entire band looks on. Tama’s solution is the Quick-Set Hi-Hat Clutch, which secures the top cymbal with a simple click of a button so you can quickly get back to work.

 

Vic Firth Modern Jazz Collection MJC1

STICKS

Winner: Vic Firth Modern Jazz Collection MJC1

1st Runner Up: CooperGroove Black GrooveGrip

2nd Runner Up: Vater Power 5A Acorn Tip

3rd Runner Up: Vic Firth Modern Jazz Collection MJC2

Created with the input of such cats as Greg Hutchison, Lewis Nash, Jeff Ballard, and Joe McCarthy, Vic Firth’s new Modern Jazz Collection is tailored to deliver the technical finesse needed for modern jazz play. One of five models, the hickory MJC1 is 16.125″ by 0.580″ with a 55A shaft, medium taper, and long oval tip.

 

Vic Firth Benny Greb SBG Signature Stick

ARTIST MODEL STICKS

Winner: Vic Firth Benny Greb SBG Signature Stick

1st Runner Up: Vic Firth Buddy Rich LTD Nylon Tip

2nd Runner Up: Promark Anton Fig Active Grip/Vic Firth Carter Beauford Signature Stick (tie)

3rd Runner Up: Zildjian Josh Dun Artist Series Stick

You might not be familiar with many of the bands with which German drummer Benny Greb has played, but his name has nonetheless become synonymous with masterful chops on these shores. Now he has his own signature stick with a 5B-style 0.595″ shaft, 16″ length, medium taper, slightly longer neck, and acorn tip, and it’s a winner!

 

Vic Firth Cajon Bru-llet

BRUSHES & BUNDLES

Winner: Vic Firth Cajon Bru-llet

1st Runner Up: Vater Percussion Woody Wire Retractable Brush

2nd Runner Up: Noble & Cooley Twist Rods

3rd Runner Up: Headhunters Fat Bastards

The Cajon Bru-llet is a perfect solution for any cajon fanatic who doesn’t always want to play with bare hands. It provides two easily accessed striking options — a synthetic brush and soft mallet head — to spice up your grooves with contrasting sounds and colors, and you won’t ever need to put down the sticks.

 

Low Boy Standard Felt Daddy

BEATERS

Winner: Low Boy Standard Felt Daddy

1st Runner Up: Vic Firth VKB4 Cajon Beater

2nd Runner Up: Switch Kick Square Felt Bass Drum Beater

3rd Runner Up: Low Boy Lightweight Felt Daddy

We live in an era of custom-made everything, but who could have predicted the emergence of custom bass drum beaters? But just one look at the sharp lines and precision workmanship of Low Boy’s Felt Daddy and it suddenly won’t matter if the audience can’t see your nifty new beater, because you can!

 

Evans UV1 Series

DRUMHEADS

Winner: Evans UV1 Series

1st Runner Up: Aquarian Reflector Series

2nd Runner Up: Remo Classic Fit Series

3rd Runner Up: Remo Powerstroke 3 Felt Tone Fyberskin Bass Head

Considering the abundance of drumhead models on the market, you have to give Evans credit just for coming up with a new film. But the benefits of the UV-cured coating on the UV1 series surpasses the novelty factor with punchy sounds, crisp articulation, and remarkable durability — a combination many drummers want under their sticks.

 

ACCESSORIES

Winner: Tama Drum Rugs

1st Runner Up: Dunnett E Key

2nd Runner Up: Spinbal

3rd Runner Up: Tune-Bot Bot Studio

What you need in a drum rug is a textured surface that hardware feet can dig into, a rubberized non-slip base that constrains your setup from sliding, a compact design you can stow and store easily, and enough real estate to accommodate your entire kit. Tama scored this year by delivering the goods.

 

TONE CONTROLLERS

Winner: Drum Dots Mini

1st Runner Up: Big Fat Snare Drum Donut-XL

2nd Runner Up: Big Fat Snare Drum Bling Rings

3rd Runner Up: Meinl Cymbal Tuners

You’ll never need to scrape sticky residue off batter heads thanks in large part to the makers of Drum Dots — a flexible polymer disc that affixes to any head without being sticky, and controls unwanted over-ring while letting the head breathe. And with the introduction of the Mini version, they’re even easier to install.

 

Meinl Woodcraft

BONGOS

Winner: Meinl Woodcraft

1st Runner Up: LP Aspire Havana Café

2nd Runner Up: LP Aspire Santana Lion

3rd Runner Up: LP Uptown Sculpted Ash

A rose might be a rose, but bongos are something altogether different. A great set has to look and sound authentic while delivering sturdy construction, which is why Meinl’s Woodcraft bongos took the prize this year, with their Free Ride suspension system, True Skin cowhide heads, chrome-plated hardware, and American white ash shells.

 

LP Aspire Havana Café

CONGAS

Winner: LP Aspire Havana Café

1st Runner Up: LP Galaxy Fiberglass Fausto Cuevas III Signature

2nd Runner Up: LP Uptown Sculpted Ash

3rd Runner Up: Meinl Designer Series

It’s important to sound good, but in the competitive music business, it’s also important to look good. LP covered both bases with the new Aspire Havana Café congas, which are made of Siam oak and feature brushed nickel hardware, rawhide heads, EZ Curve rims, and the unique Havana Café finish treatment.

 

LP Matador Whiskey Barrel Tumba Stave

CAJONS

Winner: LP Matador Whiskey Barrel Tumba Stave

1st Runner Up: Meinl Maple Bass

2nd Runner Up: LP Aspire Havana Café

3rd Runner Up: Meinl Headliner Designer Series Snare Cajon

Cajons have become the favorite choice for percussionists who seek expressive and portable drums, and the market responded with fresh ideas for this old-world instrument. Few are as interesting as LP’s Whiskey Barrel model, whose rounded belly offers an expanded sonic range, increased resonance, and boosted bass frequencies, while retaining distinct slap tones.

 

LP Fausto Cuevas III Signature

TIMBALES

Winner: LP Fausto Cuevas III Signature

1st Runner Up: Meinl Hybrid

2nd Runner Up: Toca Eric Velez Signature Series

3rd Runner Up: Tycoon Antique Gold

LP scored a big endorsement when high-profile percussionist Fausto Cuevas joined the roster. The team got to work on a full line of signature instruments, including this striking timbale set featuring 14″ and 16″ by 6.5″-deep brass shells finished in a distinct nickel plating and fitted with five lugs for a larger cascara target area.

 

Meinl Artisan Edition Tongo Carved

DJEMBES

Winner: Meinl Artisan Edition Tongo Carved

1st Runner Up: Meinl original African Style Rope Tuned Wood

2nd Runner Up: Pearl Hand Carved

3rd Runner Up: Pearl Top Tuned

Traditional rhythms from the African diaspora weren’t created on an acrylic djembe tuned with drum set lugs, which explains the thinking behind Meinl’s utterly authentic Tongo model. From the mahogany shell to the hand-selected goatskin to its Mali-weave tuning system and ornamental carving, you can be confident you’re playing the real deal.

 

LP Chad Smith Signature Ridge Rider

COWBELLS

Winner: LP Chad Smith Signature Ridge Rider

1st Runner Up: LP Santana Lion Timbale Bell

2nd Runner Up: Meinl Steelcraft

3rd Runner Up: Pearl Horacio Hernandez Signature II

Okay, first it has the LP logo on it. Second, Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith endorses it. Third, it’s a Ridge Rider cowbell, one of the first ever designed for use within the context of a drum set, with a durable Jenigor bar that dampens the sound and prevents denting. What’s not to love?

 

SHAKERS

Winner: Meinl Wood

1st Runner Up: LP Big Egg

2nd Runner Up: LP Duoshake Medium

3rd Runner Up: Gon Bops DDLR Shakers

Sometimes you have to build a box to think outside of the box. That seems to be the story with Meinl’s new (and modestly named) Wood Shaker, which is available in three sizes and two models — Baltic birch with exotic zebranto veneers on the top and bottom, and Siam oak with black makah-burl veneers.

 

LP City Series

TAMBOURINES

Winner: LP City Series

1st Runner Up: Pearl Orchestral Series Professional

2nd Runner Up: Meinl Traditional Wood

3rd Runner Up: Remo Artbeat Collection/Meinl Professional Heel Tambourine (tie)

LP’s iconic Cyclops tambourine has been an industry standard for decades, so the company introduced this moderately priced version, which has the patented Cyclops shape for natural arm and wrist motions, a single row of jingles held firmly by a patented pinning system, and a rubber handle for an easy grip.

 

DW Design Series Pancake Bass Drum

PERCUSSION

Winner: DW Design Series Pancake Bass Drum

1st Runner Up: Meinl Snarebox

2nd Runner Up: Pearl Ocean Drum

3rd Runner Up: LP Hand Held Jam Block

While it’s designed as a drum set add-on, this 20″ x 2.5″ is just as cool in any multi-percussion rig. Crafted from North American maple and finished in a flat black, the single-headed model comes with removable claw hooks and packs and sets up with ease.

 

 

Ahead Compact Hardware Case

CASES & BAGS

Winner: Ahead Compact Hardware Case

1st Runner Up: Gator Fusion Drum Set Bags

2nd Runner Up: Protection Racket Nutcases

3rd Runner Up: Tackle Instrument Co. Backpack Cymbal Bag

Busy drummers want to load their gear in and out as quickly as possible and with a minimal hassle factor. That’s where this lightweight hardware case comes in handy. With its padded shoulder strap, PVC lining, and fleece divider, it keeps your precious cargo safe without wasting space in the trunk of your car.

 

Roland TD-50KV

E-KITS & MODULES

Winner: Roland TD-50KV

1st Runner Up: Roland TD-50 Drum Sound Module

2nd Runner Up: Pearl Mimic Pro Electronic Drum Module

3rd Runner Up: ddrum Acoustic/Electronic Drum Set

Roland’s V-Drums set the bar for all electronic drum kits that followed, and the new TD-50KV represents the company’s latest and greatest addition yet. Built on the foundation of the new TD-50 module with Prismatic Sound Modeling, it delivers the most impressive and wide-ranging sounds, playability, and expressiveness in Roland’s already impressive fleet.

 

Yamaha DT50 Series Drum Trigger

CONTROLLERS & TRIGGERS

Winner: Yamaha DT50 Series Drum Triggers

1st Runner Up: Roland SPD:ONE PERCUSSION

2nd Runner Up: Roland SPD:ONE ELECTRO

3rd Runner Up: Roland SPD:ONE KICK

What do drummers look for in a drum trigger? Not much besides an accurate sound, dual-trigger capability, isolation between head and rim sensors, sturdy design, nonslip mounting, a small trigger footprint, and a soft interface material that won’t impede the drum’s acoustic sound. That’s exactly what you get with the new DT50 Series.

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