Written by Daniel Lamontagne
Montreal – January 26th, 2020
The Chronicle Blog was at NAMM 2020 in Anaheim, and although I was blown away by the diversity of exhibitors, I had to focus on what I know best, which is drums. Here I report my top 5 favorites.
Best looking drum: TAMA Starclassic Walnut/Birch Drum Kit in Turquoise Pearl wrap
Yes, I put look first, because we shop music instruments with our eyes first! The Turquoise Pearl wrap is to die for! The craftmanship of the hardware like the Star-Cast Mounting System and the Die-Cast Hoops, with delicate engravings, is astonishing. The shell two American Black Walnut inner layers make them among the best looking drums from the inside (and clear resonant heads a must!).
Best sounding drums: WFLIII Drums
Look is one thing. Sound is everything! William F. Ludwig III is the founder of the WFLIII Drums Co. and the grandson of the cofounder of the Ludwig & Ludwig Co., which became the Ludwig Drums Co. that we know now. Needless to say that drums flow in is blood. He wanted to reproduce the classic drum sound developed by his grandfather. He did succeed. With a thin wall consisted of 1 ply of North American Poplar sandwiched between 2 plies of American Hard Maple, reinforcing rings, and a classic 45 degree bearing edge with round over, these drums are really resonant and full bodied. They come with Remo Ambassador heads, which contribute to the classic sound. And they look great also, with Satin, Gloss and Wrap finishes (the Antique White Pearl wrap is by far my favorite).
Best innovative snare drum: Sonor Benny Greb Signature Snare Drums
These snare drums are 13” by 5.75” and come with either a Beech shell with outer veneer of Scandinavian Birch and Bubinga inlay or a 1.2mm Brass shell with a Vintage Brass Finish. They look amazing, but the clear innovation is the two new “MonoRail” dampening devices. You simply untighten the knob, apply the pressure that you want, and tighten it. You have the choice of Benny’s favorite dampening materials: “The Felt” and “The Sheep”. You can use either one of them, both, or none. And since there is no spring in these dampeners, you won’t have any rattling noise when you are not using them.
Best sounding cymbals: Amedia Cymbals
Being less widely distributed than their competitors, the Amedia cymbals were a total revelation to me. They have a wide range of cymbals suitable for all musical genres, all hand-made the traditional Turkish way. It’s difficult to describe how they sound, so if you have the chance to see them in a store, you certainly should try them.
Best innovative hardware: Gibraltar Stealth Docking Station
Stay tuned for more coverage of NAMM 2020 in The Chronicle Blog.