Thick wood-shell snare drums for less than £270? This we had to investigate…
Words: Nick Carter Images: Thru-A-Lupe Photographic
When PDP informed us that they would like to send us through a selection of their new snare drums, we were particularly excited, especially after investigating the range on the company’s website. However, once the drums arrived, our excitement levels were taken up a fair few notches, especially when we sat down to put them through their paces.
The snares come in four different sizes: 13”x7”, 14”x5.5”, 14”x6.5” and a whopping 14”x8”, with each constructed from an 18-ply mixture of four-ply bubinga (two inner, two outer ply) with a core of 14-ply maple, making for a solid-feeling, thick shell. Each drum features highly polished dual turret lugs, with the two shallower models featuring a single central band of lugs to secure both top and bottom heads, while the two deeper drums sport dual sets (top and bottom). The 13” diameter model features eight lugs, while the 14” models all sport 10, with triple-flanged hoops prevalent throughout holding in-place Remo-made, PDP/DW branded heads with DW’s handy tuning guide printed onto the coated batter head, which is accompanied by a thinner, clear snare-side head on the underside. Each drum is equipped with a 20-strand set of copper ended snare wires, held in-place and operated via one of DW’s MAG throw-off mechanisms. Inside each shell is a large rectangular badge of authenticity stating the drum’s construction methods, while outside things are finished nicely courtesy of a classy looking round badge bearing the monikers of both PDP and DW.
The first thing to note about these drums is their weight. Thanks to the thick 18-ply shells, these are particularly heavy drums, but that’s in no way a negative – in fact, quite the opposite as the weight associated with each model only goes to add to the feeling of quality that oozes from these drums. This is amplified further thanks to the drums’ appearance: the natural matte-satin lacquer finish of each shell looks exquisite, with the gleaming chrome hardware standing proudly from the shells. Similarly, the MAG throw-off mechanism is a welcome inclusion: turning the snares on/off is smooth, silent and simple.
Playing with the tuning at a medium tension reveals a full-sounding, warm note that combines masses of depth and body with crispness and attack. Well-projected with plenty of volume, the snare reacts well to the slightest of touches, making for a dynamically versatile drum. Take the tuning up a notch and you get a slightly drier sound still with plenty of body and slightly more projection, with the warm tones of the thick shell evident in every note you play.
This model is very similar in terms of sound produced as the 5.5” deep model, but with slightly less in terms of attack. This is more than made up for as the drum is slightly warmer than its smaller stablemate. Again, taking the tuning up a notch adds an element of dryness to the overall sound, with dynamics, articulation and warm, woody tones being the order of the day.
This model really is a beast: not only in terms of its overall size and weight, but also in the deep, loud, warm tone it effortlessly produces. At a medium tuning, it provides a full-sounding, low note, which works really well not only in a rock setting, but when coupled with a loose snare tension, for New Orleans-style rolling funk patterns. Taking the tuning up a couple of twists provides a drier, more focused tone, which combines the warmth and depth of the thick wood shell with attack, clarity and projection. This model also deserves special mention for the sound produced when playing rim-shots – not only are they incredibly loud, but the mixture of warm, woody tones and high-pitched, ringing overtones gives a sound akin to a gun being fired in an empty warehouse.
The final model of the quartet offers a crisp, clear and incredibly focused sound, with the smaller diameter combining perfectly with the shell’s depth to give warmth and depth aplenty as you play. Rim-shots are loud, full and well projected, adding a healthy amount of ring to proceedings. That said, like the other models, this drum is articulate, giving a full, responsive sound at lower volumes – perfect for those funky ghost notes in the style it suits best.
PDP Ltd Edition Bubinga snare drums
14” x 5.5” – £225
14” x 6.5” – £239
14” x 8” – £269
13” x 7” – £259
0844 326 2000