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Winter NAMM 2014 Special Report: Drums
By: Scott Kahn


DW Direct Drive Pedal Best of NAMM AwardDrum Workshop
Forget your toms, your snares, cymbals and whatnot. Sure, DW has new stuff in the drums category every year, but we have to talk about one of the most exciting things we saw at Winter NAMM (across all instrument categories) — DW’s first Direct Drive pedal!

This machined aluminum pedal is a world-class work of art that belongs in the Museum of Modern Art as much as it belongs behind your kick drum. It is such a marvel of machine tooling and mechanical engineering that it had multiple non-drumming editors of ours saying they wanted one… just because.

That said, these pricey pedals will be abhorred by the chain drive pedal crowd, but for both speed demons as well as finesse players, the immediacy of the direct drive response can’t be understated. The pedal borrows many features from 9000-series hardware, but also has new tricks up its sleeve. We love the user-replaceable weights that install into the beater to customize head speed as desired, and the ability to adjust tension/response with your drum key without having to get off your throne is just one of the many tiny little details that make this hardware special. Kick your drum or just put it on a pedestal. It’s a work of art either way.

DW Icon Series Snare Drums

But oh, yeah… drums. DW had us lining up to buy some snare drums, too. New for this year is a limited edition range of snares honoring the work of a few of rock’s masters. The Icon series pays tribute this year to Neal Peart in the Time Machine snare, Queen’s Roger Taylor gets his due with Queen’s crest and logo, and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason has a snare with some classic Dark Side of the Moon treatment.

Don’t be fooled by what looks like pretty graphics on a snare drum wrap: There is no wrap! All of the colors and designs you see are actually crafted with laser-cut, color died, inlays! You can bet these sound great, as they are based on the actual snare drums these guys play. They each feature DW’s MAG throw-off system with a three-position butt plate, True-Tone snare wires, True-Pitch tuning.  Place your orders now: with only five hundred units of each being produced, they will sell out fast, especially considering that they’re supposedly going to sell for around $1,500 each, including a DW snare bag and certificate of authenticity.

Pearl Session Studio Classic series

Last year saw the re-introduction of the classic Export line of drums, and this year Pearl showed off the Session Studio Classic series. Kapur wood surrounding six-ply Birch delivers the tone. Pearl’s OptiMount Suspension System is used on the toms, and they each feature SuperHoop II rims and classic session “RL” series lugs.

We’re fans of Pearl’s ePRO electronic drum range, and we like the configuration packs now available that let you convert any existing acoustic drum kit into an electronic kit. Unlike adding triggers and a brain to your kit, these packs replace your heads with the actual TruTrac electronic drumheads and of course include the RedBox drum module.

Tama 40th Anniversary Snare Drums

Celebrating Tama’s 40th Anniversary, Tama released a line of commemorative snare drums perfect if you need to capture the sound of a particular decade. With one snare per decade, there is some great stuff to be found across the collection, whether you’re after a classic Bell Brass snare (yes, they’re as heavy as they are pricey) or a vintage Superstar Birch snare drum. We’re fond of the Rosewood snare drum re-issue simply because it’s got a sound that isn’t, well, birch, brass, or steel. It’s easy on the eyes, too.

Yamaha Absolute Hybrid Maple

Yamaha Absolute Hybrid Maple Drum Set
We like Yamaha’s hybrid blend of woods to create a more unique tone than just releasing another set of drums with familiar configurations. This year’s hybrid shells combine a Wenge wood core with North American Maple outer plies. The drums have a hook lug design borrowed from the PHX series, and this small footprint design supposedly provides more precise tuning and faster head changes. The snare drum features a new piston-drive strainer, and the kit has spurs similar to the Live Custom series. It really is a hybrid in more ways than one!



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