Dixon stands out in the mid-range kit market
If you’ve got a grand burning a hole in your pocket and you’re looking to dive in to the world of drums, Dixon’s Fuse kit and hardware package is vying for your attention. Got the hardware but want to upgrade from your starter kit? Then the shell pack and £200 change from that trouser destroying grand could be yours. But before you start spending your cash, what’s it like?
First things first: this kit is very good looking. We have the cherry black burst for review, as played by Mel Gaynor at the London Drum Show. It has a satin finish over black that bursts into natural cherry, and it looks stunning with its satin chrome lugs and rims. It seems that one of Dixon’s goals with the Fuse is to allow a player to upgrade to a performance level look without splashing out on a higher budget professional kit.
The Dixon Fuse series come in three configurations. The smallest is a jazz kit consisting of an 18”x16” kick, a 12”x9” rack tom and a 14”x13” floor tom. Then there’s the fusion version, measuring in at 20”x18”, 10”x8”, 12”x9” and 14”x13”, and finally, the product reviewed here is the rock/fusion kit with its 22”x18” kick, 10”x8” and 9”x12” rack toms, and a 16”x14” floor tom. While the rock/fusion kit usually comes with a 14”x6.5” snare, the kit I played had the 14”x5.5” snare that comes with both smaller models.
Fuse is appealing to a variety of drummers here, with kits spanning from jazz sizes to nearly-rock. It’s built from three layers of cherry hardwood and three of mahogany, giving a distinctive tonal range that favours the upper mids. With a 45-degree bearing edge and 7.3mm thick shells, it all culminates in crisp sounding drums that attack strongly and project a clear tone, so it’s apparent that we’re not looking at bowel shaking bottom end as a selling point for this kit.
So what kind of bass can we coax out of these classy looking shells? The answer is, with these factory heads, the smaller kind. While the undampened 22” kick has no problem sounding a warm low on a medium tuning, the bass-mounted rack toms are so present in the highs and mids that you have to tune down to really feel them. Personally, I felt that the factory heads needed another ply of head to release some proper punch to help round the sound. If you like ‘em to pierce and project, high tunings on these drums will emphasise the tones that they already have in abundance. For me, the sweet spot in the tonal range lies in the mids. Tune them up to ‘very medium’ and listen to the richness, and let the shells do the high work.
The rack toms have a free-hanging isolation mount design and lightweight lugs, which help the drums resonate. These are two hardware features you’d hope to find on any performance standard kit, and they’re done well here.
The 16”x14” floor tom seems to be a more versatile drum – tuning high results in the drum’s top end tones singing out – but the top end tones of this drum are the meat in the middle of the whole kit’s range. Tuning down reveals more of this drum’s lovely body – unfortunately, the factory heads prevent us from appreciating what we find when we go down further.
The characteristics of the tom shells are to be found in the snare, too, with an abundance of woody brightness and little bottom featuring once more. Tuned high, the snare is delicate and responsive in the mids and highs, but it will take some heavyweight heads to bring out enough punch for your classic rocker or your fatback hip-hop head.
If you need hardware, there is the option to purchase the shell pack and full set of light/medium weight, double braced hardware: ratcheted cymbal boom stands and a snare stand, plus a hi-hat stand of the less-than-robust variety. On the whole, the hardware is a bit of let down when the drums themselves are quite promising. The cymbal stand in particular lets the side down by having its tubes knock together when not fully extended.
If you’re upgrading and already have some decent hardware, the shell pack is a great way to get a professional looking performance-worthy kit, in sizes that will comfort all but the heavy rocker. However, the hardware is not heavy duty enough for touring or regular gigs, and not of high enough engineering quality for the studio. We’d recommend going for the £743 shell pack for a drum kit that stands on its own and excels in its niche.
Words: Tom Voce Images: Richard Ecclestone
Dixon Fuse FS-22, Satin Natural Cherry to Black Burst
Shell pack £743
Shell pack plus hardware £965
Barnes & Mullins