From DRUM! Magazine’s April 2017 Issue | By Brad Schlueter
For Yamaha, 2017 represents the venerable brand’s 50th anniversary of making superb drums. This milestone is marked by a couple significant launches, including a notable upgrade of the entry-level Rydeen kit. Yamaha has always made the Rydeen feature-rich, while keeping its price at a budget level, but Yamaha has managed to boost its value even further, which we discovered during a recent kit test.
Shells & Configuration
We first removed the heads on the 6-ply, 7.2mm poplar shells, which replace the line’s former mahogany shells. Bearing edges all feel smooth, and the insides of the shells were equally so, though they didn’t appear to be sealed.
The Rydeen comes in two configurations. Ours has a 22″ x 16″ bass drum, 14″ x 5.5″ snare, 10″ x 7″ and 12″ x 8″ rack toms, and a 16″ x 15″ floor tom. Yamaha’s other Rydeen setup is better suited for jazz drummers, with a smaller 20″ bass drum and 14″ floor tom. These kits are sold three ways: as a shell pack; shells with hardware; or shells, hardware, and cymbals.
Our review kit included the whole shebang: drums, hardware, and cymbals. This arrangement is perfect for parents seeking an all-in-one buy for their beginning drum student. If that sounds like you, the only other things you’ll need are a throne and a pair of sticks, and your child is off and drumming.
Most drummers will probably opt for the hardware package, which has some nice features, too. More experienced players may have a set of cymbals already, though, so it’s nice that buyers aren’t required to pay for them if they choose not to.
We received hardware from Yamaha’s 600 series, which the company offers in two versions with slightly different names: HW680 is single-braced and HW680W is double-braced. Our Rydeen kit came with the double-braced models, but buyers who prefer single-braced will find that the two packages are similarly priced.
Our package included a bass drum pedal, hi-hat pedal, snare stand, and two boom cymbal stands. Including two booms is a nice touch, since many entry level kits offer only one, along with a straight stand. For novices, boom cymbal stands make it much easier to position your cymbals exactly where you want them.
This hardware package is lightweight and well-designed. The stands aren’t so heavy that you need big biceps to move them, but are sturdy enough for all but the most maniacal drummers. Some of their professional features include three-tier cymbal stands with long cymbal boom arms, thick cymbal felts, large rubber feet for stability, and a professional hi-hat clutch. Cymbal stands employ ratcheted offset tilters, but the snare stand doesn’t, and can be angled to those in-between positions you invariably will want.
Since the bass and hi-hat pedals don’t have solid baseplates, they fold up compactly in your cases. The chain-drive bass drum pedal feels smooth, but is pretty lightweight. It’s supplied with a felt beater, though I would prefer a two-sided model with a harder secondary option. The hi-hat pedal’s legs don’t seem to be designed to rotate for use with a double pedal. However, I discovered an Allen-head set screw that can be loosened to enable this feature.
Six wrap finishes are available for the Rydeen series. Our review kit had the Fine Blue finish and all seams were glued securely, without any bubbles in the wrap.
The Fine Blue finish has a subtle sparkle, similar to the small reflective specks in an automotive finish, which catch the light in an understated way. It’s a rich shade of blue, looked nice, and I expect it will be very popular. Other available colors include Black Glitter, Silver Glitter, Burgundy Glitter, Hot Red, and Mellow Yellow.
Rydeen bass drums used to come with wooden hoops, but the new version switched to durable black steel hoops with a matching inlay strip.
A tom mount is affixed to the top of the bass drum. Two 22.2mm center-diameter pipes fit into holes on each side of the mount. These provide plenty of positioning flexibility, and will even accept other Yamaha hardware, just in case you want to modify your setup. The elbow of each L-arm features Yamaha’s large resin ball-and-socket clamp system to adjust the position of the toms. Hex rods extend from the ball to fit snugly into brackets installed directly to the tom shells, which are long enough to accommodate drummers of various heights.
Rydeen’s shallow rack tom shells make them easy to position, and they sustain a little longer than deeper ones would. This is a benefit, since the rack tom brackets don’t include suspension mounts. Air vents are located under the tom arm near the bottom of each rack tom, just above the resonant head. Some manufacturers believe this position helps transfer energy and vibrate the bottom head a little more.
During play, the knurled floor tom legs hold firmly in their brackets. They are tipped with rubber feet that are small, but do a good job of keeping the drum in place. There aren’t any gaskets on the kit other than those under the air vents. Some manufacturers believe gaskets rob drums of some sustain, and others omit them to save a little money — both reasons might be true in this case.
The snare drum has a simple yet smooth side throw-off and die-cast butt plate. The throw-off worked very well and never got stuck. I could adjust the fine-tuning knob easily without the need to release the wires first, which is a big benefit when you have to make a quick change at a gig. Beneath the snare, 20 chromed wires are held in place with black ribbon. All drums have subtly tasteful lugs: eight per head on the snare and bass drum, and six per side on the toms. Toms and snare were fitted with thin 1.5mm triple-flanged hoops.
Unlined stamped steel claws hold the bass drum hoops in place, and a rubber strip protects the batter-side steel hoop at the pedal’s attachment point. Bass drum spurs have a rubber foot with a protruding spike, but neither seems to be adjustable. Some spurs on more high-priced kits feature spikes that are retractable by rotating or pulling the rubber foot. I mention this only as a warning to be sure the bass drum is set up on a thick drum rug, so the spikes don’t gouge carpets or hardwood floors.
I’m surprised Yamaha not only included a drum key, but a pair of spare tension rods and washers for the snare and the bass drum, as well as a spare receiver if one should strip out. Nice touch! The kit is dressed up with professional-looking badges.
The supplied drumheads are unbranded. Toms have clear, single-ply heads on the top and bottom, and the snare has a coated batter over a clear resonant. The bass drum has a pre-muffled black solid logo head and pre-muffled clear batter head.
Our kit arrived with Wuhan 457 Rock cymbals, consisting of a pair of 14″ hi-hats, a 20″ ride, and a 16″ crash. All I can say is that entry-level cymbals have sure come a long way! The 457 Rock models have a modern rock look — starting with their brilliant finish and polished bells, to the circular hammering in the middle, and fine lathing near the edges. The 92-percent copper/8-percent tin alloy is nicer than those used for many beginner cymbal sets, which helps them look and sound better than you might expect.
Speaking of sound: The ride has a strong bell with good stick definition and a slightly dark undertone. When you repeatedly crash it, the wash doesn’t overpower your groove, although, like many entry-level cymbals, the ride’s decay seems to lose high-end before the midrange and low frequencies die out. I found the hi-hats to be nice, too, with a clean “pea-soup” open/shut sound. They aren’t as loud as a pro cymbal, but hold their own at their price point.
The crash was a little disappointing, although entry level crashes invariably are. It had a slightly muted sound and brief decay, rather than the longer, smooth decay you’d ideally want from a more expensive model. Most kids and parents wouldn’t know the difference, at least until they’ve played long enough to graduate to the next level.
I didn’t have any trouble tuning up this kit, although the tension screws felt dry. If this were my kit, I’d add a little lubrication to each rod to make them turn more smoothly.
The supplied heads seem thinner than what I’m used to, and make me question their durability. I’d suggest replacing all the tom batter heads with 2-ply heads and put a bass drum patch on the kick’s batter head. However, for beginners, these heads will work just fine to get started.
They still sounded good after a little tuning. All three toms have decent sustain, even without suspension mounts. If anything, the heads seem to add brightness to the toms and enhance their hang time. Replacing them with 2-ply heads would bring out a little more fullness in the lower-midrange. Obviously, there’s a bit of a pitch leap when moving to the 16″ floor tom, but this configuration is perfect for rock jungle beats.
The bass drum sounds great, with a punchy attack and deep undertone, even with the felt beater. Its pre-muffled P3-style heads do a good job of controlling decay, so no additional muffling is needed. The matching wood snare sounds just as good, with a fullness under the crack, and a balanced tone. Even though the snare drum has 1.5mm hoops, I got loud and woody rim-clicks and lively rimshots, just as I like them. I never felt the need to put any extra muffling on the snare.
Rydeen may seem like a strange name for a drum kit, but this set looks and sounds surprisingly good — and it will only improve with better heads. The hardware has lots of nice features and the cymbals are solid for an entry-level set. Yamaha has done well with their improved Rydeen line, offering a kit strong on looks, features, and sound. I’m sure the parents and neighbors of those who buy them will agree they live up to the Japanese “God Of Thunder,” which they kits are named for.
Shells: 7.2mm 6-ply 100-percent poplar drum shells.
Configuration: RDP2F5 has a 22″ x 16″ bass drum; 16″ x 15″ floor tom; 12″ x 8″ and 10″ x 7″ mounted toms, and a 14″ x 5.5″ snare drum.
Features: Shallow tom design, ball and socket tom clamps, 22.2mm tom holders, new attractive finishes, matching wood snare drum, 20-strand snare wires, side throw strainer, die-cast butt plate, pre-muffled bass drumheads, durable steel bass drum hoops.
Finish: The six wrap finishes offered include Fine Blue (as reviewed), Black Glitter, Silver Glitter, Burgundy Glitter, Hot Red, and Mellow Yellow.
Hardware: Lightweight HW680W double braced hardware includes snare stand, two cymbal boom stands, hi-hat stand, and chain-drive bass drum pedal.
Cymbals: Wuhan 457 Rock cymbals with 20″ ride, 16″ crash, and 14″ hi-hats.
Prices (MSRP): Shell pack $670; with hardware $1,080; with hardware and cymbals $1,330