After reviewing the seemingly slim pickings from NAMM this year, I'll venture an opinion that the revised Yamaha Stage Custom (birch) kits and the Crush Eminent Birch or Acrylic kits are the best quality-to-purchase options. These kits seem to have super solid quality at very affordable prices, and they all sound pretty darn good.
- The Yamaha Absolute Hybrid Maple: far too overpriced, especially for its Chinese-made location/labor. $2,999.00 for the most basic 4 pc. kit? Really??
- Tama, to my knowledge, has zero kits to offer--nothing in Starclassic range--and no new finishes, really, in the SC range. Only the 40th Anniversary snare line looks cool.
- Pearl has the BCX kits, which are affordably priced around $1499, but a meager three finish options that each leave something to be desired (the bronze and silver glitter lacquer are eye-destroyingly bright).
- The Mapex Armory line and the new bearing edges sound cool, but, again, the finishes are hideous or average/decent at best.
What do folks think? I'm really hard pressed to see anything that beats the Stage Customs or Crush Eminents/Acrylics, and of this grouping the new Stage Customs would seem to be the winner: they sound good, quality/hardware has been improved, finishes are pretty good, and drums sizes good and flexible (e.g., Crush Eminents offer no 18", I believe).