BY AJ DONAHUE

Canopus Drums is one of those sleeping giant kind of companies with a reputation for producing extraordinary drums, but seems only discussed in limited circles among US drummers. So we had high expectations when Canopus sent over a quartet of new for 2019 snare drums for review.

We received a limited-edition 6.5” deep Zelkova, two Stabilized Wood drums, and one R-Type maple snare. While each model certainly has its own character and tone, there are two common threads among the bunch: impeccable craftsmanship and absolutely top-notch performance. These are some real bangers. Let’s get down to business.

ZELKOVA MEANS ‘HELL YEAH’ IN THE ANCIENT TONGUE

Canopus Zelkova 14" x 6.5" snare drum in limited edition Ryuko finish

Canopus Zelkova 14″ x 6.5″ snare drum in limited edition Ryuko finish

If you like your drums thicc, the 14” x 6.5” Canopus Zelkova snare drum is for you. This drum has one of the thickest shell tones I can remember hearing—good grief, it’s like playing backbeats on a clipper ship’s hull.

These snare drums are built around a single piece of hollowed-out zelkova wood. That means no seams and no bending, so the wood is under considerably less expanding tension than the wood in single or multi-ply shells. Interestingly, the shell isn’t a straight cylinder like most drums—instead, the walls have a bowed, convex shape from the outside perspective, like a barrel. (Canopus says this adds structural stability and a more dynamic tonal response.) The drum also features extra-sharp interior edge cuts. This combination yields a drum that’s lively and resonant while maintaining an uncommonly dense tone.

These drums are pretty remarkable little units. The shells are seasoned for at least three years before drilling and finishing, allowing the wood to stabilize in order to prevent cracking. During that aging process, the moisture content of the wood is significantly reduced, leaving the shell feeling pretty light in hand despite its thicker cut.

All of those factors come together to create a drum that just doesn’t sound like many others. Those sharp edges keep it feeling responsive and expressive, while the unbent shell speaks with an explosively fat middle. It’s a real spectrum filler, but not in the way that something like a bell brass drum sounds big—it’s still warm and deep with enough subtlety to feel under control in low volume settings.

This new 2019 version we received features the limited edition Ryuko finish, which utilizes a hand-sanding and lacquer application process to really highlight the wood’s grain lines. It’s an absolute stunner of a finish that represents all the labor that goes into these drums.


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STABLE GENIUSES

14″ x 6.5″ Stabilized Wood snare drum in Bucket Purple finish with die-cast hoops

Canopus Stabilized Wood snare drums feature conventional 9-ply maple shells with a special “hybrid” finish made of a 1mm outer ply of vacuum treated, colored resin that’s capped with a clear lacquer topcoat. The resin exterior plies have a multi-colored, swirling look that recalls the marbled endpaper in fine books, or perhaps a satellite view of an alien world in a totally rad sci-fi movie. However you describe it, that eye-catching finish has plenty of room to breathe between Canopus’ diminutive hardware.

Currently, the drums are only available in 6.5” depths with either steel triple-flange or die-cast hoops. Canopus shipped over one drum with each hoop style—one finished in Bucket Purple with die-cast hoops, and another in Bucket Turquoise equipped with brass-plated triple-flange hoops and shell hardware.

Canopus Stabilized Wood 14" x 6.5" snare drum in Bucket Turquoise finish with triple-flange hoops and brass plated hardware

Canopus Stabilized Wood 14″ x 6.5″ snare drum in Bucket Turquoise finish with triple-flange hoops and brass plated hardware

Sonically, these are top flight maple snare drums. The 9-ply shells are a little thicker than other ply-maple drums currently on the market, and I think that adds attack and thickness. But for the most part, we know this sound—it’s rich, warm, and crisp, with some beautifully wide body.

Expectedly, the die-cast hoops yielded a more controlled response and a bit of extra punch behind rim shots on the Bucket Purple drum. The Bucket Turquoise drum on the other hand, with its brass-plated triple-flanged hoops, had a more open response. I think that brass plating may have added just a touch of sweet warmth to the drum’s upper register as well. Either way, these are both absolutely killer maple drums that would make excellent one-and-done, do-everything snares for just about any player.

R U READY 2 ROCK?

Canopus R-Type 14" x 6.5" snare drum in Metallic Cherry finish

Canopus R-Type 14″ x 6.5″ snare drum in Metallic Cherry finish

Finally, Canopus shipped over one of its Type-R snare drums. That “R” designation is short for “Rock,” and this bad boy lives up to its name.

This is another one that just nails the intended mark. The Type-R features a 10-ply, 8mm maple shell with sharp edges and die-cast hoops. It’s an intense, punchy drum that’s sensitive but not overly consumed by wire sound. The black-coated 2-ply Remo batter head dries up the overtones a bit while highlighting the shell’s inherent fatness. It’s an absolute monster of a backbeat drum, but it’s got plenty of range. This is a classic maple sound with just a little more meat on the bone to give it some extra cut.

Type-R drums are available with chrome or black satin hardware. Ours shipped with the latter, which looks plenty crisp next to the Metallic Turquoise lacquer finish. The only aspect I don’t care for as much is the extremely large “R-Type” graphic in the lacquer. For my eyes, it’s too modern and intense for a drum with this much range. This is definitely a rock drum, but it’s got a lot more to offer than that.

FEATURES

Zelkova

  • 2019 limited edition model
  • 14” x 6.5” one-piece hollowed-out zelkova shell
  • Ryuko finish
  • Die-cast hoops
  • 10 Brass Single-point lugs
  • Black Nickel hardware
  • Leather washers
  • Coated Remo Ambassador batter over Ambassador Snare Side
  • 20” strand Zelkova-type Vintage plated steel snare wires

Stabilized Wood

  • 14” x 6.5” 9-ply Maple shell with 1mm Vacuum-sealed resin outer ply
  • Bucket Violet or Bucket Turquoise finishes
  • Die-cast or steel triple-flange hoops
  • 10 brass single-point lugs
  • Chrome or brass hardware
  • Leather washers
  • Coated Remo Ambassador batter over Ambassador Snare Side
  • Non-plated 14” Vintage snare wires

Maple R-Type

  • 14” x 6.5” 10-ply 8mm Maple shell
  • Turquoise Metallic Lacquer finish
  • Die-cast hoops
  • 10 single-point lugs
  • Black satin hardware
  • Leather washers
  • Black coated 2-ply batter over Ambassador Snare Side
  • Non-plated 14” Vintage snare wires
STREET PRICES

Zelkova: $2,000

Stabilized Wood: TBD

Maple Type-R: $860

 

CONTACT: canopusdrums.com