Summer NAMM 2018: Day 1

The big NAMM convention each January in Southern California is usually where most musical instrument products coming out that year see their debut. But summer NAMM has it’s share of revelations too. Though there are not nearly as many drum companies at the guitar-heavy Nashville version of the bi-annual musical instrument convention, there’s still plenty to talk about. Here are three things Drum took note of on the convention’s first day.

1. Pearl e/MERGE Electronic Drum Kit

Pearl and Korg have teamed up on a new electronic drum set. Roland has been top dog in this realm for years, but others have been giving them a run for their money, including Alesis and now Pearl. The e/MERGE kit is five years in the making, says Pearl product manager Bob Sabellico. The module includes a new library of drum sounds comprised of Pearl kits recorded at one of Nashville’s top studios, with multiple cymbal options to customize the (Pearl) kit of your dreams. The kits and cymbals (Paiste, Zildjian and Sabian) are labeled in the module for easy identification. Korg’s Wavepad technology gives this kit a playability and feel unlike others. The hi-hat, traditionally a point of concern for acoustic drummers playing an e-kit, has been redesigned from the ground up. The hybrid look is definitely what Pearl was going for, as evidenced by the shallow wood-shelled toms and metal rack. Though it is available with a “traditional” e-drum kick pad, it was on display at NAMM with an 18″ bass drum. (The bass drum, despite it’s wood shell, is not meant to be played as an acoustic drum.) Street price is around $4,000, depending on the options you want.

2. Yamaha Lightweight Aluminum Hardware

Yamaha made a splash at SNAMM with its HW3 Crosstown lightweight aluminum hardware pack that includes two straight cymbal stands, a hi-hat pedal, and snare stand that weighs about 17 lbs. total. The cymbal stand weighs just three lbs. Aluminum hardware has been attempted before — by Yamaha, in fact — but the first thing we noticed about this series is the complete redesign. The thick tripod legs look more like those on speaker stands. Yamaha says they hold heavy ride cymbals with no problem, and that cymbals actually ring more freely due to the lower mass of the stands. We wondered about durability, but only time will tell if that is something to be concerned about. The whole set fits into a padded gig bag that’s easy to toss around the shoulder like a duffel bag, leaving both hands free. MSRP for the set is $668; cymbal stands will street for around $100 and hi-hat pedals around $150, and all should be available soon.

3. Odery Drums’ Air Control Snare

Brazillian drum company Odery got some buzz with its adorable cafe kit, which placed third in the Drummies! last year for best kits under $1,000. Their snares are also eye-catching — particularly the unique Air Control System snare, a 20-ply beast with an adjustable vent hole. The whole thing looks a little weird at first glance, and would be easy to dismiss as a gimmick if it didn’t actually change the sound of the drum. Closing the vent hole dries out the sound, and opening it lets the wood ring out more. They’re not exactly inexpensive, but they are made with quality construction, good wood, and give a lot of sonic versatility.