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Old 08-04-2009, 09:19 PM
Mr. Compactness Mr. Compactness is offline
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Default Whitney Sidekick Penguin + Pics of construction and Audio

This is not really just a "hey look at my new set" thread, but really a more in-depth look at these drums, how they're constructed, and how they sound, which is something I know a lot of people who haven't seen these drums first hand have wondered about for years. So I did my best to document what I could. Here goes...

AUDIO (more to come eventually including some in a band setting)- http://www.barebonesband.com/upload/...ck_penguin.mp3

The heads/muffling on this recording are Aquarian Coated Focus X/Clear Snare Side on the snare, Texture Coated/High Frequency on the Tom which all came with the kit, and Performance II (based on recommendation)/Coated Studio-X on the KickTom which I bought myself. The kit comes with Force II/Texture Coated standard. The only muffling I used on the "KickTom" is some cotton balls thrown in the drum and two strips of foam weather stripping on the underside of the Studio-X.

Coming in at just under 6 weeks build time, JT Whitney made me this gorgeous SideKick Penguin kit in a Mahogany Finish with natural wood hoops, which is also a nesting kit, a feature that his drums are most noted for. I'll just say right now that JT's communication and professionalism is top notch and he did everything he could to make sure I got what I needed and was a happy customer. He went the extra mile from start to finish including tracking down and altering memory locks to fit the tom and floor tom brackets, and even taking extra time to get the kit to me before he was to leave town for about a week knowing that I had a gig coming up. Awesome.

My kit was made in the standard Sidekick Penguin sizes (depth first): 14x16 "KickTom", 7x10 Tom & 5x12 Snare.

Lets take a look at how these drums are constructed:

Each drum essentially is made up of three different elements:

1) 6-Ply Maple Rings at each end which provide the bearing edge (which to me looks to be about 45 degrees).

2) 9 Ply Birch collars at each end which have embedded metal inserts to accept the tension rods instead of lugs.

3) A 3-Ply Birch center section which is only 1/8" thick and because it's so thin, is 2" bigger than the head size itself. JT says that this allows you to use a shallower drum and not sacrifice the dynamic range you would get from a deeper drum. The drum also has a warmer, rounder tone and is easier to tune because the fundamental frequency of the drum is enhanced.

The only hardware on JT's drums are of course the snare strainer, tom mounting brackets for toms and snare, and in my case, floor tom legs as well, though JT usually makes the "KickTom" as a hanging drum. I should note that on the snare I found that I didn't like the tom-like bounce that it had from it being bracket mounted, so I took the bracket off, plugged the holes with the bracket screws and am using a snare stand. I should also note that the hardware JT uses is Pacific (PDP). I didn't ask why he uses Pacific hardware but I'm suspecting it may just be because the hardware is very sturdy and functional, smaller and lighter, and may be more affordable to keep the cost down without sacrificing quality, which is important.

When it comes to mounting the hardware, in order to reinforce the shell only as much as needed, JT uses either a thicker wood block or wood strips glued into the shell.

JT also uses reinforcement in the snare drum because of the higher tension in the way of wooden dowels between the collars at both ends, right in front of where the tension rods are placed.

Finally, the "KickTom" and nesting function of the drums:

The only difference in construction that the "KickTom" has vs. the other drums is that since this is a nesting kit, there has to be a way to get the smaller drums inside the KickTom without detuning the head and taking the whole drum apart .JT achieves this by what he calls a "Stay-Tuned" head placed at the top end of the drum (though I believe on sets without floor tom legs it would be placed at the bottom of the drum). The "Stay-Tuned" head is essentially one of the 9-ply birch collars which contains the tension rod inserts, and 4 plastic thumb screws to secure the head to the drum. This end of the drum also has a sort of ridge or "shelf" which has 4 metal inserts for the thumbscrews, and holes for the tension rods to pass through.

This being a cocktail type drum, this feature is also useful for adjusting any internal muffling quickly and easily as well.

As far as transport goes, both the snare and the tom nest inside of the "KickTom" and are protected by felt towels draped over each drum, and then 2 styrofoam blocks are wedged in between each drum and the inside of the KickTom to keep them from moving during transport. Simple, but effective. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of this :-)

All three drums now fit into a single 14x16 padded bag and while I don't know the exact weight, feel to me to weigh the same as either a standard floor tom with die-cast hoops or a small bass drum (18" or smaller). Awesome! :-)

You can check out all of JT's drum models and pricing at www.WhitneyDrums.com. This particular model also comes with a custom folding rack that comes with all the necessary hardware to mount the snare, tom, kicktom, and two cymbals, but you can opt not to buy it as I did. This will bring down the price of course. The price also includes a padded hardware bag (though if you don't buy the rack, the bag is no longer included and the price drop reflects that), and a DW "SideKick" pedal which JT designed himself btw. You can opt not to get this as well if you want to use a more traditional reverse modified kick pedal. I did buy the pedal but I found I preferred the feel of the modified pedal to the SideKick pedal so I'm not using it.

I realize these drums aren't for everyone, visually for sure (but you can't deny their uniqueness, but they are very well made and sound phenomenal. They're round, warm, and fat and are no fuss drums. Sure the "KickTom" will take some tweaking with muffling and tuning to get both sides of the drum where they're ideal, but as of right now I'm very happy with how everything is sounding.

Thanks for reading this long (but hopefully informative) post. I hope I was able to shed some more light on these unique instruments!
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:31 PM
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frank0072 frank0072 is offline
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Default Re: Whitney Sidekick Penguin + Pics of construction and Audio

Wow, unique is the right word. Those drums look amazing, really something else. Great post. Will listen to the audio later.

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Old 08-05-2009, 11:51 AM
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radeq radeq is offline
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Default Re: Whitney Sidekick Penguin + Pics of construction and Audio

coooooooooooooooooooooool, if i would have saw a kit like this, i would defenitely try it1 looks great
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Old 08-07-2009, 03:43 AM
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freebirdgdw freebirdgdw is offline
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Default Re: Whitney Sidekick Penguin + Pics of construction and Audio

Great post. I've always wanted a more in-depth look at the Whitney nesting kits.
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:57 PM
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Deathmetalconga Deathmetalconga is offline
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Location: Boise, Idaho
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Default Re: Whitney Sidekick Penguin + Pics of construction and Audio

Highly innovative and beautiful drums. I have never seen a cocktail-type setup combined with a seated setup like this. Really neat.
Ironwood kit Tiki kit Openhanders Vids
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:10 PM
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bobdadruma bobdadruma is offline
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Default Re: Whitney Sidekick Penguin + Pics of construction and Audio

That is one great looking and sounding mini kit! I can't wait to hear the band tracks.
I kind of like old drums:)
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