The best drum gear of the year: 2013
19th Dec 2013 | 16:10
Drum kit of the year
After back-to-back wins for the Black Panther range in our kit of the year category, DW has finally broken Mapex’s dominance.
The Design Series is DW’s latest line of wares that take the company’s boutique approach to creating top quality drums, but these gorgeous shells come with a more wallet-friendly price tag than the US firm’s Collector’s Series. We were wowed by the kit’s superb build quality and stunning sound.
The win is all the more impressive as there were some seriously tasty kits released this year. A particularly honourable mention must go to Sonor’s deliciously dark Prolite kit.
Also in the running
Budget drum kit of the year (under £1,000)
Finding a killer kit for under £1,000 is impressive. Getting one with change from £500 is a darn right steal.
Ludwig offered just that this year with the launch of the Breakbeats kit. Designed in conjunction with The Roots’ sticksman Questlove, the diminutive kit was built with ease of transportation in mind, with Questlove wanting a set-up that could easily be shoved in the back of a New York cab on the way to a gig. Don’t worry, it’s also perfect for being lugged into the back of an old Ford KA en route to your local.
We must also doff our hats to the re-launched Pearl Export, which allows drummers to get their hands on an iconic range for sub £700.
Also in the running
Electronic drum kit of the year
Yamaha treated us with a brace of new e-kits this year, the budget conscious DTX522 and the slightly more bells and whistles-laden DTX562.
Both kits come into Yamaha’s mid-price range, utilising the new DTX502 module. The DTX526K really caught our eye thanks, in part, to the excellent response we got from the kit’s textured cellular silicone playing surfaces and the fact that it’ll all set you back just a whisker over £1,500.
Even better, the new and improved module features more than double the memory and around 250 more sounds than its predecessor.
Read: Yamaha DTX562 review
Budget electronic drum kit of the year (Under £1,000)
Last year Roland impressed us with the mind-bogglingly pricey TD-30KV, this year we love a kit right at the other end of the spectrum.
The titchy TD-4KP is one hell of an option for newbies, or simply those with limited space. The P in the name stands for portable, and this rig is certainly that. The entire kit can be neatly folded away and packed down into the provided gig bag, which is perfect for jumping on the bus with to your next gig.
Now, you couldn’t do that with a Terry Bozzio-esque acoustic set-up, could you? Not without causing some serious back pain, anyway.
Read:Roland TD-4KP review
Cymbals of the year
Paiste takes our Cymbal of the Year gong for the second year in succession. This time it’s the Paiste Precision range that has impressed us.
These metals share many characteristics of Paiste’s iconic Signature line. They are, in fact, made from the same phosphor bronze as the Signature cymbals but come in around 20-percent less expensive. And that cheaper price point doesn’t mean a sub-standard product, we loved the Precision range for its brilliant warm sound and cutting clarity.
Snare of the year
Premier has done a whole heap of work in the last few years in returning to the top table of the drum world, and the One series snares only added to its resurgence.
The latest snares to be made by Premier’s UK-based drum building guru Keith Keough, the One range impresses thanks to sheer scope.
With a seemingly never-ending array of exotic woods and finishes to choose from, this line of one-off drums is a bold undertaking by Premier, but deserves to be a massive success, and one that sees Premier reclaim its place as a major player on a global scale.
Acoustic percussion of the year
Ever since global giant Marshall took over the Natal brand back in 2010 we’ve seen plenty of stunning kits and snares from the rejuvenated company, but not so much in what Natal built its name on - percussion.
This year that all changed. As well as a smattering of cajons, bongos and cowbells (the ridiculously affordable Natal NSTC line particularly excelled on the latter front), Natal unleashed these frankly beautiful Classic Series fibreglass congas.
The stunning gloss white finish piqued our interest, but it was the rich tones that the congas delivered and their wide tuning range that really impressed.
Electric percussion of the year
We’ve seen a veritable feast of Wavedrums launched from the Korg stable since the electro percussion device was re-introduced in 2010 - the Oriental, Mini, Black and now the Global.
While so many updates in three years may seem excessive, the Global is a damn fine device in its own right. And what a versatile instrument it is.
You can just about do what the hell you want with it - play it like an acoustic drum, hit it with sticks, tap it with mallets or bash it with your own fine hands to access some of the many sounds on board.
Speaking of sounds, there’s loads of them jammed into the Wavedrum Global, with 140 loop phases, reverb and delay effects and plenty more.
Yes, at £599 it does carry a premium price tag, but if you want quality you, more often than not, need to put your hand in your pocket and shell out a wad of cold, hard cash.
Drum heads of the year
It’s pretty rare that any drum company completely overhauls its production methods, but that’s what Evans did with its Level 360 revolution.
Now, each and every head to come out of Evans’ New York factory features the Level 360 design, which utilises a newly-designed collar that gives a snug fit on drums of all shapes, sizes, makes and vintages.
In turn, this means that your days of over tensioning heads just to get the things to sit evenly are over. You certainly won’t want to go back to your old heads after giving these a whirl. And for that, we salute Evans.