BY AJ DONAHUE
One of our favorite parts of NAMM season is keeping track of all the new and different wood types used in drum construction. This year saw no shortage of fresh timber on the show floor, and we rounded up a few standouts to whet your appetite.
NECESSITY DRIVES CHANGE
In some cases, shifts in global lumber availability and quality can force drum makers to restructure their offerings. Take Craviotto for example; the steambending stalwarts made a decision to shift away from genuine South American Mahogany due to declining quality of importable product. Seeking a replacement for the warm, broad tones afforded by Mahogany, Craviotto settled on European Beech. Solid, one-ply Euro Beech kits are being added to the Crav catalogue (Cravalogue?) now, and The Killers’ drummer Ronnie Vannucci has already claimed the first one.
Similarly, when Bubinga became much more difficult to import for commercial use, Tama had to take a hard look at its celebrated Starclassic Birch/Bubinga line. After some significant R&D, the company elected to replace the series with a reconfigured Walnut/Birch formula. The new shells feature four outer-plies of European Birch (five plies for bass drums), and two inner-plies of American Black Walnut, offering a balanced blend of Walnut’s rich lows and warmth alongside Birch’s punchy presence. Starclassic Walnut/Birch shell packs will be available soon, and ship standard with die-cast hoops, Star-Cast tom mounts, and Quick-Lock tom brackets. A selection of lacquer and wrap finishes will be available.
ALL ABOUT OPTIONS
Alternatively, several major manufacturers rolled tubs from fresh timber this year just to give us more options to explore. Drum Workshop’s John Good has been out among the Ents again, listening to their voices and trying to determine which will sound best as a 22” x 18” bass drum. This year, he settled on Almond, a wood (as far as we can tell) previously untapped for drum set construction. Almond is extremely hard, and as such, produces a sharp and cutting tone akin to oak and purpleheart. To balance some of that aggressiveness, DW is assembling the shells using a new Staggered Tandem Core method that kind of splits the difference between vertical stave alignment and ply-construction, resulting in an increased presence of low frequencies. Collector’s Series Pure Almond drums will be limited to 50 six-piece drum sets, and 50 snare drums, with a variety of sizes are available.
Finally, Pearl is adding a six-ply Maple/Gum shell to the Masters line after the success of the Masterworks Sonic Select Studio Recipe shells. The Maple/Gum combination, long loved by studio drummers and engineers around the globe, made a big splash among Pearl artists as part of the Masterworks series, so the company decided to make it available as part of the Masters line, but only for a limited time. It’s the same shell featured in the Masterworks kits, but with a few less finish and hardware customization options to make that iconic sound more affordable. Select configurations and finishes are hitting shelves soon.