COLLECTORS SERIES COPPER 5x14, Snare Drum from DW Drums in the Collector's series.

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MGR/Nicky Scud 11/02/2003

DW Drums COLLECTORS SERIES COPPER 5x14 : MGR/Nicky Scud's user review

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I had DW build me a custom Laquer Specialty kit in sizes 18x22, 8x8,9x10,10x12,12x14,14x16 maple. I had the kit specially finished with a birch heartwood outer ply, so it was a maple kit with a birch outer ply for more wood grain and character in appearance. The color I picked was also completely custom- based on the awesome "Candy Black Burst" finish, which is getting too popluar now, BTW!! It's a great finish, really looks spectacular in birch. I put my own completely different twist on the finish though, and had them use a special pearlescent blue/purple instead of black and also had the clear coat specially done with a perlescence in it- the drums looks absolutely incredible and I've gotten nothing but great compliments on the looks-
More importantly, there is the sound- I'm gonna describe this in the next section:

Sound: DW drums have an incredible sound, however it is a specific sound, so unlike most of these jamokes that write a review saying "oh, they're great" I'd rather give an truly informed opinion- half of these people are probably 14 year old kids who don't even own a DW kit, but probably get off looking at the catalog- so here's a very objective look at these drums and why you may or may NOT want to guy a kit:

Even though I own these, I can be fair and objective- the DW sound is NOT for everyone. I also own a GMS kit- in short, I will say this: The GMS kit is still my choice kit for live playing in smaller venues (under 1000 people). The GMS kit projects more and has a bit more attack but also a more even tone- We'll have to take a look at shell construction...

DW shells are all maple, they are also very thin (6 ply toms, 7 ply bass) and have 3 ply maple reinformcement rings on the top and bottom near the head- this helps reinforce the bearing edges- it also serves to change to sound ALOT- which is why you may love or hate these drums. The rings make a very unique sound out of a maple drum- whereas a tradition (non-ringed) maple drum has a very warm round fat tone and rings nice a long, the rings tend to do two things- one, they help fatten the attack of the thinner shells- remember, thinner shells DO have a lower pitch than thicker shells- so their inherent pitch will be fundamentally lower- however thicker shells have greater more lively attack- they also maintain a very even ring and decay- whereas ringed shells tend to have almost a bit of "distortion" in the attack and a slightly faster more deliberate decay.

Bottom line is I love the DW sound- but I used to own 3 different DW kits, and sold them all at one point in favor on the GMS drums. GMS bass drums are like cannons- absolutely the BEST sounding bass drums I've ever heard- even more bottom end than a collectors 18x22, and my GMS is only 16x22- something just sounds magical with the GMS... However while I still own my GMS CL kit (16x22, 8x8,9x10,10x12,13x14 maple and 13x5 snare maple 8 ply) I now own the DW collectors kit (sizes listed above- my DW snares alternate between a 6x13 edge and a 7x13 10+6 collectors in matching laquer to the kit). I bought the DW's exclusively as a recording kit- I much prefer the sound of the DW's on tape- though the GMS's also sound good with a little bit of gating (I hate to gate the drums, but unless you're Simon Phillips, you basically have to...)

The DW's again have a very unique attack- the rings kick the shells into a sort of overdrive for the initial attack, and then as the sound rounds out into that warm maple tone (nice and low ringing thanks to those thinner shells) the decay tends to happen a bit faster because of a little bit of damping effect on part of the rings- you have to realize, the shell is going to resonate unevenly because the ring'ed area is thicker- unlike Premier Projectors failed attempt to use rings, the DW concept works really well - the shell's thinness and the rings smaller 3 plys do what was intended... premier projectors used the rings, but they were to thick (both shell and ring) and the woods they used were to dead- the drums always sounded like shit- the DW's sounded like a very unique maple drum- again, whether you loved it or hated it.

lastly, I can't stress the quality of their finished enough- There are very few drums with as fine a finish quality as DW. The turret lugs are trademark style- they're also pretty large- probably a bit of a factor on the decay of the drums, despite the rubber gasketing used in between lug and shell. I like the turret look- but the GMS Cl's and SE's both have a TINY lug fottprint in comparison- they also ring out substantially longer and more round and warm, more of a traditional maple sound. Finish wise, my GMS kit has another custom color- it is a metalflake electric turquoise- closer to a green, but on stage the drums have a blue glow. Also, notice I didn't say "sparkle" I said "metalflake" - the finish has a much finer flake then typical drum sparkle finished which I hate- they look to retro for my tastes. The GMS finish was done with an alsmot automotive metalflake fine-ness. The color is awesome... thought the DW color is also un-friggin-believeable because of the wood grain AND pearlescent effect I picked. I am very proud of both kits- but the DW's seem to pay even just a bit more attention to finished product detail, such as with the air vent bolts, instead of just a tin insert like on most other drums.

I do play the DW's out as well as in the studio, but as I mentioned, this is only for larger venues, where all individual drums will be mic'd. The GMS's just cut through a bit more- the slightly thicker shells have that unmistakable projection and maple tone that is just beautiful. The DW's still have the maple sound, but they are absolutely a bit more focused than the GMS- making them my choice studio drum, and my choice playing-out drum, provided each one has it's own designated SM57. My configuration is righty kit, except I play the hats with my left hand AND keep the ride cymbal on left- I've been doing this since I was a kid- got the idea from Billy Cobham- later I saw many cats start to do this, like Carter Beauford. I also keep my toms 8 10 12 up top, 16 on the floor, and then I use the 14 as a left-side floor tom for latin and brazilian pop-dance beats and some other neat cross-sticking patterns and fills..it's a useful tool if you aren't afraid to experiment. I've also always favored my left side, so much of my kit is there- If I were to keep 2 right-side floor toms, 14,16 in other words, I'd probably never use the 16- it would be too far to my right to make it comfortable to play for my taste.

There isn't much I don't like about the DW kit- that is, provided you know what you're getting into. AGAIN, I can't stress enough, DW kits have those rings and it changes up the sound ALOT. You could buy a kit in maple and request it without rings- but for that matter I'd just order a GMS kit- because the bass drums kick even lower and fatter and punchier... DW's have a trademark sound- to order a maple DW kit without rings sort of defeats the purpose- you're sacrificing that sound. DW's pacific line costs a fraction of collectors drums and has basically the exact sound of a collectors drum without rings- unless you're hellbent on a collectors finish, I would say get a GMS kit with a custom finish if you want no rings- it'll be cheaper than DW collectors and sound phenomenal. If you want the rings sound- nice a focused, with that unique attack and decay of a maple drum, get the collectors.

It has taken me a VERY, VERY long time to find heads which I dig on these drums.. It sucks too- no one really ever put up any meaningful information on heads and DW shells- so I'm gonna do it now, based on my costly, but educational experience in looking for the perfect DW head. All I ask is that I get the credit- You can read about head selection below- but as a dislike, I'll just say DWs are picky in terms of heads, and prefer much different heads than GMS drums...

I already mentioned the painstaking attention to detail and quality above- this will be the head analysis section- AGAIN, remember, all I ask for is credit. Nicky Scud- head analysis for DW and GMS maple shells:

First, back to the GMS kit- GMS's clearly sound great with a broader selection of heads than DW drums. DW's rings really make the shells picky- they prefer a thinner single ply head with some kind of SLIGHT resonance damping. The GMS shells on the other hand are thicker, so they project more inherently... they're also a bit higher pitched because they're thicker, so the lower tone you can get out of a head, the more you may like them. Clearly, I've gotten the best results out of Evans heads with the GMS shells. I've never really much liked remo- In fact I think their heads sound primarily like dog-shit, except for their powerstoke 3 heads, which I use exclusively on ALL of my snare drums. I use a P3 coated with underside mini-dot on ALL of my snares, which are all 13's, except for 1 14" which I don't like because I prefer the sharper attack and faster decay of a 13 tuned low with a deep shell.

As for toms though, the GMS sound best to my ears with Evans G2 clear batters atop of Evans Resonant 58 bottoms- The resos are nice and thin, and make a nice resonance to accompany the very wet round sound of 2 ply G2s. Some people think I'm out of my mind playing 2 plys on maple shells- until they hear the GMS toms SING... Make NO mistake though, the G2s only sound good on these drums with Reso bottoms- I've tried G2s on top of G1s on the bottom, and the G1s are too thick as bottom heads for the G2s on top. I HAVE had good results also though with G1s on top of G1s on the GMS cl's. The single ply G1 heads sounds quite nice with a G1 on bottom- a bit brighter and drier as compared to the fatter wetter sounding G2/Reso setup. Still, I like the G2 sound because I cna tune lower and good a nice low thumpy maple sound out of my toms without any intenal damping AND I can play these drums nearly ungated with this setup and they sound killer- nice warm maple tone and ring.. Classic. Killer sound.

Now for the DWs- Because when these drums are tuned right, THEY ROCK. However again, the shells ARE MUCH MORE FINICKY, and require alot more time and effort to sound great...MUCH MUCH more in comparison with the GMSs shells, for certain- but the effort is well worth it when you playback the tape and hear those things sing...

The DW rings again cause a unique phenomena in terms of shell resonance and overall attack and decay. The body of the sound is very different in comparison the a standard maple drum, like the GMS CL toms. Because of this quasi-distortion in the attack, 2 ply heads are basically out of the question- they will sound muddy and basically like shit.. G2's on top on anything sound like the inside of an ass on DW shells- sorry- just doesn't work. No matter how thin you make the resonant head. Additionally, G1s, depsite being single play, don't work too brilliant on the DW shells either- I don't know exactly why, but I imagine it has alot to do with the way they sit atop the bearing edge. Even with the DW countercut, evans heads just don't sit right on DW shells- the result is a "hurried" sound and a but of a burried voice, even with G1's on top fo resos- so that considered, I leave the Evans heads to the GMS- that's where they belong, because they sound MINT.

DWs come stock with a specially made Remo head (uugggghhh, Remo, grrrr..) but believe it or not, they actually sound pretty god-damned good. The stock DW head is a modified Ambassador- a nice single ply head with a small coated circular area which serves to dampen the resonance slightly, and contribute to that trademark DW maple sound. I've gotten good results with the DW heads and they tune a bit quicker than most of what is out there. Despite being remo made, the DW heads are towards the upper portion of my list.

I've tried regular ambassadors on the DW's- I don't like them, they ring to much without damping area of the DW head. Emporer heads actually sound ok on the DWs, if not a bit dead and thuddy- Listen to Toxicity- to me, I HATE the tom sounds on this album- I describe it as the "wet cardboard" sound... very dead and muffled- no body or ring at all. The emporer sound is clsoe to this- but at least it has a little life. I actually was surprised, with some work emporers could sound decent on the DWs- however you really have to realize you'd be looking for a thuddy low sound- mostly attack and FAST FAST almost unnoticable decay- there is nearly no ring to decay- this is a "wet cardboard" type of sound. Not for me- but worth mentioning, as enough guys like this sound. Emporers need to be tuned low to get any results- even a bit too high and they choke. enough said.

pinstripes: I have never liked pinstripes- but for sake of fairness, I tried them on the D-dubs. My initial impression was "this blows" and I thought it was just more money wasted on my seemingly never-ending search to find a good friggin head for these drums.. However with some work, the stripers sounded pretty decent. more warmth and ring then Emporers- but another fast controlle decay. I liked these heads- but they still seemed a bit to thick for these shells... However paying close attention to construction and results with the damping patch, and then moved on to the heads that so far work best: AQUARIAN

Aquarian heads just never got popular like remo or evans- it's a damned shame too- they're made VERY VERY well and they've given superb results on BOTH my GMS and DW kits. The two most logical choices for me (since I like clear heads on toms WAY more then coated) were the studio x- with their controlled sound thanks to double damping- but still a medium weight single ply head offers nice warmth and big round sound- good way to pull as much bottom end maple out of these DW toms. I also tried the Aquarian "double thin" a unique head with a great concept- put the thin head sound in a more durable package- great thinking, GREAT RESULTS- prehaps even better on the GMS than on the D-dubs... Double thins had the same type of body and attack on my GMS as the G2s, except they were just a tad more alive sounding. Great combo with reso bottoms just like the G2- picture the difference between G2/reso versus g1/g1 on the GMS shells- now stick somthing in between, but preserve that wet double-ply fatness without sacrificing too much liveliness ... that's the double thin effect. A GREAT HEAD and still dynamic, even as a double ply. On the DW shells the double thins were the best sounding double-ply head I've tried. They still sing, even atop the stock DW bottom heads. If you want the wettest DW sound possible, but without taking on the "wet cardobard" sound, this is as good as it gets, as far as what I've discoverd- one of the few souble ply heads that sounds good on DWs- well done aquarian.

and finally, the best sounding head in general on the DW shells: the aforementioned Aquarian Studio X heads- Excellent construction, a mid-wt skin with double-damping rings on the resonant patches- these heads are CONTROLLED CONTROLLED CONTROLLED- BUT, somehow with sounding subdued. The besy way I can describe it is to say they sound like someone took ALOT of time to tune and make these drums sound perfect for a recording- even when they're live. As it happens, the studio x's are one of the fastest tuning heads- you can get good results without breaking your ass looking for a sound, even on the DW's-which as I mentioned, require alot of time to sound knock-out.

In general, the best 2 heads so far are the studio X and the stock DW batters made my remo. If aquarian made the studio x's such that they sat on top of DW shells as well as the DW heads, they would be the best thing ever.. but they are still the BEST sounding head on DWs, even though I'm sure in my head that if they sat the same as the DW heads, they'd be even better than they already are. So far the studio x's are my choice on the collector shells and until I find something better, this is what I'm sticking with.

I sincerely hope all this helps you immensely in making a choice- either on drum shells or on heads. If this did help you, feel free to email:

I enjoy hearing feedback- I also plan on doing an even more through head analysis on my upcoming web-page. If you wish to contribute, by all means- EMAIL me, you will be credited at the end. And remember, you got this hear first.

Thanks for Reading and Best Wishes on your Drumming!

-Nicky Scud

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com