Alesis introduced a ton of new electronic drum kits with some interesting updates. We’re already impressed by their DM-10X Mesh kit, which is a six-piece kit with full mesh heads. The new Strike Pro kit has toms in multiple physical drum sizes, complete with slightly deeper shells that are designed to look just like acoustic drums. In addition to the new Strike Performance Module (brain) with a color LED screen, there’s also a software editor that you can use to easily create custom kits and instruments. And, you can sample and load your own .WAV files, too!
While we weren’t wowed by the look of the faux-wood shells (we prefer the modern look of their standard mesh pads), we were wowed by Alesis’s new cymbals, which have an awesome, rubber-ish kind of feel that has some real give when you strike them, and a nice bounce when you play them. The bane of our existence is plastic cymbal pads, and outside of the real stick-on-metal feel you get from Zildjian’s Gen 16 line, the new Alesis cymbals have the best feel we’ve ever experienced for players utilizing an all-electronic kit. Bravo! — SK
This year, the Ludwig booth proved quite surprising! They released multiple American-made kits that ranged from the classic Vistalite drums all the way to modern maple kits. One of our favorite kits was the Classic Maple Exotic kit, which is finished beautifully and has many options available. New to the classic series is an electrostatic finish that comes in a few different colors including blue, red, orange, green, yellow. and black. This kit sounded huge, with that very authentic maple sound that we are used to hearing, with a very tight and quick response.
Ludwig also released some classic, vintage-voiced kits for 2016, and this included re-releasing the tequila sunrise Vistalite kits. They will be available in either a three-piece or two-piece kit, and only 100 of these kits will be produced. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to snatch one up.
After talking to one of the representatives from Ludwig, it was apparent that Ludwig is making American-made drums a renewed priority, with fewer imports in the product lineup. This was welcome news, and we hope it spurs a trend among other builders. — SJK
This is a big year for Sonor, with many great things announced. We were pleased to see the return of legendary drummer Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden return to the Sonor artist roster (not to mention checking out his kit). Sonor also added a new classic finish to their Vintage series drums (the line played by Steve Smith). The finish is a Red Oyster wrap that was first used by Sonor in the 1950s and 1960s, and it adds another stylish highlight to the existing range of colors (semi-gloss, lacquered Vintage Natural and Vintage Onyx, Vintage Pearl wrap).
Also new to the Vintage series for 2016 are new bass drum brackets that are designed to look like the original ones from the 1950s and 1960s. Even more exciting was the new One of a Kind series of snare drums. These special drums showcase Sonor’s ability to produce drums that are as much pieces of art as they are functional and extraordinary sounding. — SJK
Those tricky guys were up their usual jaw-dropping manufacturing of drums cast from aluminum as well as expertly machined drum hardware for players in need of extreme precision. We loved the Pro 1-V Bigfoot double kick pedal in its limited edition red finish. The range of micro adjustments is pretty phenomenal in this pedal, and the super smooth and silent operation don’t hurt, either. Yes, the $1,000 price hurts a bit, but for uncompromising pedal performance, it’s hard to ignore this one. — SK
The legendary Recording Custom kit is back! Developed in collaboration with equally-legendary jazz drummer Steve Gadd, the new kits feature six-ply, North American Birch, with 30 degree bearing edges, triple flange hoops, Yamaha’s Y.E.S.S. tom mounting system, and newly designed Hi Tension lugs.
Snare drums will be available in a variety of materials: brass, stainless steel, and aluminum, in a variety of sizes. The 14”x5.5” snares will include Steve Gadd’s signature ten-strand snare wires. Kits will have an MSRP of $4,500, while the snare drums will retail for $679, with ship dates in February and March. The one detail that drummers interested in these kits are sure to notice: these kits aren’t coming from Japan (like the classic models). Yamaha has a new factory in China producing these kits, but don’t worry. It’s a Yamaha shop—not subcontracted to a third party builder. Oh, did we mention the limited availability? Only 500 kits are supposedly going to make it to the USA this year. Get in line… behind us, please. — SK
We constantly found ourselves coming back to the Zildjian booth, drawn to the new A Avedis collection. They are just so pleasing to listen to, easily some of the best sounding production cymbals we have heard since the Constantinople line. They deliver a gorgeous balance between washy and dry, with that class A attack. One really interesting thing we enjoyed about this line: under the bell of each cymbal, the gram weight is hand labeled! The April 2016 launch can’t happen soon enough. — SJK