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Old 10-02-2013, 10:40 AM
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larryace larryace is offline
"Uncle Larry"
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: In beautiful Bucks County, PA
Posts: 13,396
Default Guru Review

OK, as promised, here’s that thread detailing my Guru experience to date. My goal is to report the facts, warts and all, no matter what, so that’s what I will do. Andy, being the pillar of integrity that he is, wants it this way too. This is more of a short story than a review, so hunker down and get comfy.

Even before I knew of Peavey Radials, I had envisioned a drum built with an external re-ring. Just in my own head, I never told anyone. In a conversation with Andy some time ago, I found out he was designing drums using the same principle. Of course he took it way further than my imagination. So I felt a need to own one of these sets, just to see if the design really offered a better drum tone. Andy had gone ahead and built the very set I had thought about, only better, so it was a strong pull for me. Then last September when my Dad passed…. he left me some money, and I thought, well it’s now or never. So these drums hold a lot of meaning for me in more than a few different ways.
I am going to skip the whole delivery thing because the vid shows all of that.

Just a quick word about the cases. Protection Racket AAA cases. They feel like a bag but perform like a hardshell case. The only thing they can’t do is crumple up like a bag, but that’s the idea. They nest.. I like that the lid is attached to the case. My hardshell SKB’s lid is separate. The PR bags are a joy to use. Your drums truly are coddled in the substantial wooly lining and protected from drops by the durability of the stiff part. Highest marks. They look great too and the fit and finish is quality all the way.

Here’s my experience with the drums themselves. The descriptions below are basically in the order I encountered them.
Andy told me from the outset that my drums tone may be disappointing at first, because the lignums are still wet. They’ve not reached their happy place yet. This is air dried wood not kiln dried wood. It takes years to reach the desired state. So the tone will incrementally keep improving, as the wood loses moisture and weight and the lignums crystallize and harden. These drums are all about patience right now. But it’s cool that they will substantially change in probably 2 years time. That’s not hype either, it’s already been proven to me, more on that later.

OK The shells are made of steambent English Ash, lathed to a 6mm thickness. Before even playing them, I chose to disassemble them first, to see under the hood. My curiosity was overwhelming. So I started removing the rods from my (dia x depth) 10” x 7” tom. The rods are as good as they come, stainless steel and 30 Threads per inch as opposed to most drum makers who use 24 TPI. DW uses 32 TPI, but their rods are not stainless. Pearl uses stainless on their higher end drums but they are only 24 TPI. So Guru 30 TPI threaded stainless rods are the best there is IMO. Plus the washer is held captive on the rod and can’t come off. I like that. One less thing to worry about. Quality tension rods all the way. I feel the rods are a very important part of the whole tuning experience and to know that my fine threaded stainless rods will never rust or pit is a good feeling. Since we’re talking rods here, Andy designed it so there is like a full inch of thread engagement, substantially more than most manufacturers. This is so the drums hold their tunings. I appreciate those hidden design elements a lot. Andy has the highest standards in the drum business IMO. That wasn’t very unbiased was it? Sorry lol.

The lugs are made from aircraft grade aluminum that is highly polished, nickel plated I think, not chrome. I think that’s correct, Andy will clarify if that is off. I greatly like the fact that the lugs are easy to clean. Thank you for that Andy. They have a smooth surface with no hard to get at places that can trap dirt. Little things like that are thoughtful from a maintenance standpoint. (DW lugs are a royal PITA to clean)

The lugs (they weigh between 8 and 10 grams each, very light.) rely on 2 round metal pins pressed into the external ring to keep them aligned properly. The 2 round metal pins protrude from the underside of the external ring and mate with precisely drilled holes in the lug itself. The pins aren’t designed to attach the lugs to the outer ring, they simply align the lugs. So when you remove the tension rods completely from the lug, the lug falls off the pins. (The pins don’t come out) The reasoning here is that you don’t unscrew the rods completely from the lug, you unscrew just enough to release the lugs from the pins for head changes.

I wanted to remove the rods completely, just to test everything. Now when I did that, some lugs fell right off their pins, and some lugs held on to the pins, because the fit was tighter. I thought this was a pretty risqué way of aligning the lugs because of the natural movement in the wood. Andy told me that it was a very precise alignment, to a tolerance of 1/64th of an inch I think he said. This explains why some lugs had to be wiggled off the pins and some fell right off with gravity. The pins were placed correctly, but wood moves, and that can’t be helped, so some lugs had to be wiggled off the pins. It seemed to me to be a very difficult thing to do, to get those pins installed in the EXACT spot they needed to be. The lugs are fixed, so there’s like almost zero room for error on the pin alignment.

OK so I got both drum heads off. I gotta say, I love the edges Andy selected for these drums. Just everything I had hoped for. I specifically asked that Andy design my drums for maximum attack and clarity. I wanted to accentuate as much high end from the drums as I could, because I feel that low end from drums is an easy thing to get with tuning and heads. So clarity, crispness, high end, quick attack, and the purest note I could get were my main criteria. I was worried because I asked for a lot of attack that the edges would be too sharp for my liking. But the edge is the perfect combination of sharp and dull. It seems very durable, not fragile. It’s a substantial profile with plenty of meat yet nicely peaked at the edge, but not too thin and not too sharp. I love it. Expectations surpassed with the bearing edge profile Andy selected.

The external ring is made in segments, and looks like it had to be custom fit to the drum, section by section after the shells were bent. But Andy could clarify that. Needless to say, the wood joinery is first class. Joints are tight, no gaps, as beautiful as it can be. It seems very time consuming to build this drum.
As far as the seams go, where the shell itself is joined…A blind man couldn’t feel it. I mean it’s lathed. It’s as perfect feeling as it gets. Obviously you can see the seam but you cannot feel it. So it’s as perfect as it can get.

Moving on to the measure test...this was the most precise drum I ever measured. Over the entire kit, the most difference I got was 1/16th of an inch, with the majority of measurements being dead on. My DW’s were all at least 1/8th out when I first got them, and none were dead on. Pretty impressive on a steambent shell to be that close to perfect. A ply drum is a much more stable shell, and to surpass high end ply drums with a steambent shell in a measure test is a testament to the quality of the woodworking aspect of Guru shells. And the 1/16th variation is due to the natural movement of the wood, not a manufacturing issue. I mean the drums are lathed. You can’t get more perfectly round than a lathe. So again, way to go Andy.

These shells have no vent holes. I like that feature. It seems like ALL the air movement is converted to tone. Plus your drum won’t get dust bunnies inside it. Any metal on this shell is attached to the external re ring with literally no metal and no holes on/in the resonating chamber Watso-ever.

The bearing edge passed the fingertip feel test with flying colors, flawless, as should be expected. Looking at the finish of the drums…the shellac and hard wax finish seems practically zero maintenance, it doesn’t show fingerprints and it seems like even dust would not show too much. I like that. Low maintenance is a great thing. The shell is finished on the inside the same way as the outside. Andy told me than an annualish (thin)coat of Beeswax will darken the patina over time. I will definitely be doing that, inside and out.

I guess this is the place to put this part of the story in. At the 11th hour, I asked Andy to use Remo heads on these drums instead of the original speced in Evans. I thought it was going to just be a head swap, but it turns out that Andy wanted to optimize the bearing edge to best fit the Remo collar profile. (Andy can explain why better than me) So he literally redid the bearing edges on the toms. In doing so, he also needed to take some more material off the external re rings because of the depth of the Remo collar. (He never mentioned a thing to me about it when I asked for Remos. That crazy buzzard just took it upon himself to redo my edges. Hats off to you sir. Who does that? What a work ethic.) Anyway, the extra milling of the re ring affected the tension rod length which now meant he needed 40 shorter tension rods. Minimum order is 1000. Poor guy. I felt so bad when I heard that. He’s so friggin uncompromising that he shot himself in the foot. He claims he has uses for the extra 960 rods. I hope so because I wanted to throw up when I learned this and I’m sure he did too. I don’t have the revised rods, but I ordered a whole second set of rods that are the right length for when I experiment with the metal hoops. So right now I am using the metal hoop rods with my wood hoops. They work fine, but ideally Andy wants more thread engagement so the longer rods are due later this year.

So now that I got the drum disassembled, measured, photographed and scrutinized it’s time to put it back together. I should mention that I found a bit of glue on the inside of the shell, not near the seam. (It came off with my fingernail.) I also noticed some round clamp marks in the wood from (I’m assuming) when they clamped the external ring to the shell. I wondered why they didn’t put something in between so the shell wouldn’t get marked. They were about an inch below the bearing edge. You have to hold it up to the light to notice them. Purely cosmetic. Another thing is these drums have no serial number. I was hoping I would have a nice low serial number just because. I was also hoping Andy and Dean would sign the shells but that fell through the cracks.
So, now to put the heads back on. Put the head on the shell and spun it to try and detect any resistance or binding, and there was none. It spun freely and unrestricted, and was not loose or sloppy. A quality fit for sure. I did the same thing with the head inside of the wood hoop. The wood hoops were cut out perfectly for the drum head hoop and the head spun within the wood hoops, again, with no binding anywhere, and no slop. Beautiful fit. That’s important. In my experience, a head that’s tight in the hoop won’t tune well. A head that binds on the shell when spun isn’t the best case scenario either. None of that here.

OK so head on drum, wood hoop on head, it’s rod and lug time. This is where I had my first learning curve thing. Some of the lugs were hard to get back on the pins. It seemed when I ran into a tight lug, I just swapped it for another, and the next lug went on easily. I didn’t quite understand this. At the end, I still had like 2 tight lugs on this 10” drum. Luckily, the way the lug is shaped, it’s easy to take an old drumstick, and place the tip of the stick on the underside of the lug, and whack the butt end of the stick with another stick, and get the tight lugs onto the pins that way. You have to ensure that both pins are engaged fully into the lug before tuning. I noticed after initial tuning, that I hadn’t seated some lugs all the way, there was a small gap, so while still tuned, I used the drumstick to tap them on better. I have to say, I would prefer it if the lugs didn’t come off the pins. In the end, if the lugs stayed on, taking the rods all the way out would be easier than dealing with making sure any tight lugs are seated. If the lugs all went on loose, this wouldn’t be an issue. But tight fitting lugs need to be seated fully before tuning. I don’t want to take a chance on putting any unintended forces on the pins.

The way the drum is designed, I don’t think the lugs need to come off. I mean why do you take lugs off anyway? To clean the shell easily, right? This shell is easily cleaned with the lugs in place, and the lugs are easy to clean right on the shell. It’s a beautiful design. Plus if you unscrew the rod too much, (not likely) onstage it’s possible that the lug can drop off and fall to a place that you can’t get it. That would suck. So I think the lesser of the 2 evils is to have to remove all the rods for a head change like I’m used to rather than fiddle around with the tight lugs. I’d give up the faster head removal for less ag on the seating part.

I haven’t had a set of drums yet that I didn’t mod in some way and I am thinking of making it so the lugs don’t come off. Or making the holes in the lugs just the tiniest bit bigger to allow for wood movement. Sorry Andy! But all this must be taken in context. 99.9 percent of the time, you are not dealing with this. Only when the lugs come off the drums does this happen.
Moving right along, the hoop hole/rod/lug /alignment was flawless. Andy got this down perfect, they dropped right in and turned without binding with the exception of 2 or 3 rods spread across the whole kit. On those rods, they binded slightly at a certain point on the turn. As far as I can tell it’s the rods and not the lugs or the alignment, because other rods worked in that lug, but the tight rod was tight on other lugs. Andy said that most manufacturers use steel rods and brass receivers and that is a very good combination as far as smoothness goes. Guru has stainless steel on aluminum and it can take a little more time for the threads to “bed in” (Andy’s words). I’m a little unclear as to which side needs the bedding in. I assumed the aluminum side. But it seems like some rods weren’t smooth turning.

I remember when I first got my DW’s. I had a hell of a time tuning them. I don’t anymore, but in the very beginning I did. I blamed it on the thin shells flexing. I went through the same thing with the 10” tom, the first drum tried. Not that the shells were thin. A 6 mm is a medium thickness shell IMO. The 12 and the 16 I had an easy time tuning, really easy, but the 10” tom was fighting me. Now these are segmented wood hoops. These hoops are exquisite works of art. No one has a hoop like this. They are just gorgeous. How they color the sound compared to metal I don’t know yet because I haven’t had the metal hoops on these drums yet. But I am guessing that the wood imparts a unique flavor to the tone.

So let’s see, the last time I worked with ovangkol segmented wood hoops was….NEVER! So it took me time to get used to the feel of them. They are like the complete opposite of metal hoops in almost every way. The metal rods against the wood hoop felt different compared to what I’m used to. Plus I had a tight rod on my 10 and I couldn’t feel it right on that rod, which is enough to screw the whole tuning up. I was using a Drum Dial, and I couldn’t get it even everywhere. Well I could, but one rod would be totally loose. I was getting wonky overtones and generally having a tough time with it.

So I disassembled it and put Vaseline everywhere because I like a smooth tuning rod experience. I shouldn’t have to lube it for a very long time, because these lugs are small and can’t leak. So that goo is stuck inside there. Cool. Mainly, I wanted to lube the inside of the wood hoops where the rod and washer bears against it. I’m sure it will get smoother over time, as the wood gets compressed and smoothed by the rod and washer action. Not that it was rough, but it was a different feel compared to metal and I had to adapt to it. Again, patience. I have to point out that all the trouble I was having was my own learning curve. I had just come off learning how to work the lug/pin design, and now I had another brand new wood hoop feel and a tight rod slope to climb. My emotions were sky high that night, and it was basically my own doing why I was having the trouble with the 10.

But I got over the hump and got a pretty even tuning on it. By this time I was really in no good headspace to evaluate this drum, I just had a half hour of tuning frustration. The drum did not knock me out as much as I had thought it would at first, but it was was still better sounding than my DW 10” tom. Then it came time to put it on the mount, and another disappointment, the mount cut the sustain in half. Long story short, I solved that issue, it was a nylon bushing on the RIMS mount itself that went between the half circle hoop part and the vertical part where you bolt on the tom bracket. I removed that nylon tone robber, restoring the metal to metal contact between those 2 components of the RIMS mount and then the drum sang as if I was holding it by the rim.

Phew! Geez Louise! It seemed like it was a fight at every turn on this drum. I was a little frustrated that the angels didn’t sing straight off the bat. Most of it was my own skewed perceptions. I was over stimulated, a little frustrated, emotional, and a little spent. I needed some distance away from all that before I could feel things normally in relation to the drums. I thought I was going to hear a sound that has never been heard before. But after all it is a 10” drumhead making the sound. So it’s going to sound pretty close to what I am used to. By the time I got done with the 10” tom, it was late and I went to bed. I needed a break. Will hit the kit again with a fresh perspective.

Two days later it was 12” x 7 tom time, disassembled it and inspected and lubed it and everything was essentially the same as the 10, except it tuned right up. Tuning it was a breeze, smooth and responsive, easy to get even. No problems at all. I love these hoops, they are really special. Oh and the angels are singing. The tone had that crisp papery attack I was going for and the fundamental was just so well defined and rich sounding. I like Ash! A very good combination of warm lows and clear highs. And the overtones…Oh! They were all in tune with each other it seemed. All working together. Nothing stray or dissonant. A really pure, well balanced tone that sounded rich and full. It’s voice is clear as a mountain lake. The note it makes is completely easy to hear because it’s so pure.

Now I’m comparing these tones to my 76 Luds and my 2008 DW’s, so I’m not evaluating in a vacuum. The Luds overtones sounded more stray. Dissonant by comparison. Also the Luds tone was a harder tone, clearer. I actually like that quality. The lignums are hard in the Luds. In the Gurus, the tone was softer. More mellow. But fuller and richer. You could almost tell that the wood was not as dry. The Guru’s sounded more like drums you would hear on a recording and the Luds sounded more errant and high endy by comparison. I expect the Guru tone to become harder sounding and more lively as it ages, with more lows and clearer mids and highs, according to Andy. Right now they are a very pleasing mellow sound but with great attack that has a wide appeal right now. But I know that these drums will sound like they are on steroids in a couple years. How do I know this? I’ll give you a hint. It’s the snare drum. I will be recording these drums every few months, trying to document the tonal changes.

One nitpicky thing I had to get used to is when toms are in the RIMS mount, and you need to adjust the angle of the drum, you can’t grab the drum by the rim and unloosen the mount, because the drum lifts right out of the mount. So you kind of have to hold it by the RIMS mount to adjust. It’s a little awkward. It’s easier when the drum is out of the mount, but then you can’t see exactly how the drum is angled if it’s on your throne. I mean once you get it adjusted, you shouldn’t have to mess with it. Just another part of the learning experience and the adjustment process to a new set of drums.

So the next day I do the 16 x 15” legged floor tom, disassemble, lube, reassemble. Again, basically the same experience as the 12, it tuned up beautifully for me first time. The floor tom brackets are drum key operated. There are 4 screws, but you only really need to tighten down 2. Still, I would prefer a wing nut there for ease. I don’t feel that a little extra weight is a detriment because all of the metal is off the resonating shell part. I would gladly accept a few more ounces of weight for the convenience of a wing nut. The floor tom legs are beautiful and the top of the legs are shaped like the lugs. The legs are made from the same aluminum as the lugs, with the same polished nickel finish as the lugs. They are light and strong. You can tell they are not Drumfactorydirect legs lol.
OK so I got the floor tom all tuned up how I like it and now it’s time to hit it.

I have to say, when I first hit this thing…..truly, sincerely, hand on heart, other palm testifying,….. this drum dropped my jaw like no other floor tom has, ever. It was like HOLY SH%T WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? It was a tone I hadn’t experienced before and it was a feeling I never got from playing a floor tom before. Clearly, this thing blows both my Lud and DW 16’s out of my studio. Literally, I just sat there hitting it, for like 10 minutes straight, pretty much in heaven…marveling at the tone. MARVELING. I love this drum like you wouldn’t believe. I realized that the bigger the shells get, the more you can readily hear what the solid steambent shell tone is all about…. right now….and the more of a hint you get on the future tone to come. Man, if this thing liquefies my nuts at this early stage, I can’t friggin wait to hear what this thing will sound like 2 years down the road. I wish I would have ordered an 18 now. WHAT a powerful clear tone this drum has. It speaks with a friggin purpose. So I’m heels over head crazy about this 16” floor tom.

OK so at this point, I am finally starting to really get excited over this kit. My emotions were back to normal and the 12 and the 16 were really doing it for me. I went back to the 10” tom and tried detuning it and retuning it and I had a much easier time with it this time around, and it sounds a lot better than what my perceptions had me believe the first night. So I have the 3 toms set up and I am just playing them for a few days, experimenting with tunings. I didn’t try going marching band tight because what’s the point of that? I did find that the Gurus sounded less cut off at higher tunings compared to the Luds and DW’s at higher tunings.

I like higher tunings. It is a given that almost any drum can get that low thunderous sound and Guru’s are no different. (OMG the floor tom tuned low is really something to hear) These drums have a richness of character and a one-ness of tones and overtones that I have been seeking for my whole life. I know now that solid steambent is my preferred construction type because of the tension in the wood. I didn’t want a relaxed grain, I wanted a shell in agony lol. They do have a distinctive voice like no other plywood drum. Big is one way to describe it. Rich too. Full. Dominating and authoritative compared to my other kits.

OK so the next drum is the bass drum. Before disassembling, I gave it a quick and dirty tuning and put a foot pedal on it. Immediately I knew the Evans EQ 3 (I think) head would have to go. It was just not my tone at all, too thick. The EQ3 has an inside muffling ring and while I don’t mind that on a batter head, I don’t like it on a reso at all. So I tried to razor blade the muffle ring off, and oops! I slipped and slit my Guru logo reso head. Oh well. I ordered 2 new reso heads, a chrome and gold Remo Starfire head. (I thought the gold would kind of match the hue of the drums, and it does, but it’s a little too much of the same hue. The chrome looks better)The tight lugs on the bass drum, I had 2, were really tight. I was wondering if I was even going to get them back on the pins. I did though. So this is probably the hardest part with the Guru’s for me, the lug/pin arrangement. If they were all loose then it wouldn’t be an issue. As it is, I had to look at every one to make sure they are seated all the way before tightening. The bass drum had a scuff on it, like a black rubber heel mark almost. Also cosmetically, it looked like there were fine scratches, at right angles to the grain, all the way around the drum. The rack toms weren’t like that. The floor tom had it a little bit, not as much as the bass drum. This puzzled me as to how they got there and what they were. Some of the scratches were arced. You don’t notice them unless you are right on top of the drum looking for imperfections.

The way the bass drum pedal attaches is unique to Guru. These ovangkol hoops are not thin like a regular bass drum hoop, so you can’t just slide a pedal on them. On the batter side bass drum hoop, there is a special cutout in the hoop that accepts a metal plate. The profile of the plate is horizontal vertical horizontal. The plate has 2 holes in the lower horizontal section that mate up with pins pressed into the underside of the batter hoop cutout. The plate is held captive when the head is tightened down, but it is free to wiggle around, but held in alignment by the pins. It is supposed to be that way to accommodate different footpedal clamps. You can’t take the pedal plate off the batter hoop with the head on. But if you take the batter hoop off to change a head, the plate falls right off. The bugger is if you forget to put the plate back on the hoop before you tighten the hoop down… if you forget to install the plate and tighten the hoops down, you have to loosen the whole hoop to get the plate back on. Which means now you have to deal with the lug/pin arrangement again. The plate also sticks up when stored in the case. I didn’t like that. It’s a lever waiting to be torqued. I feel it should be able to be removed and reinstalled without loosening the hoop, for transport. Plus it would make bass drum head changes idiot proof. It works well but needs a small tweak IMO.

When I got the bass drum back together with the new reso head and hit it, OK now that’s my tone. What depth. And clarity. And pureness of tone and note. I only had one other 22 to compare to set up, my DW. The Guru just plain beats the snot out of it. The Guru is almost on par with my 24” Ludwig. I had my son play the 24 x 14 Ludwig while I hit the 22 x 16 Guru. I was sitting at the Guru kit with the Ludwig reso head right next to me, and the frequencies were very similar. Of course the Guru had a way more defined note and a purer tone, with about 50% more sustain. Sitting behind the Ludwig, OK then you more clearly heard the bass frequencies that only a 24” drum or bigger can make, but as soon as you got out front, the frequencies seemed very similar between the 22 Guru and the 24 Lud. Pretty impressive.

So now I had the bass drum and all 3 toms set up. THIS is where everything comes together, as a set. These drums sound so unified as a kit. All the overtones are similar in timbre and it just really sounds cohesive. Playing linear trips on these drums is like my ears taking a magic carpet ride on bassy tone-ey airy pillows. This is the kind of tone that vibrates your clothes. The DW’s and the Luds don’t vibrate my clothes like the Gurus. The deepness and the richness hit you right in the gut. And the DW’s are on my riser. Gurus and Luds are on carpeted concrete. Plus the Gurus have the wood hoops which tend to mellow a drum compared to metal. I am really looking forward to hear what the metal hoops are going to do to the tone. I expect the drums to have even more attack, be even brighter, to just bite your head off with attack, punch you in the gut with the fundamental, and envelope your whole body in bass. But I love these wood hoops. I could be happy with them just as they are. Plus the look is like nothing else. I’m hoping there will be a big difference in tone between the wood and metal hoops just so I have multiple voicing options with this kit.

OK the snare. 14 x 5.75. Same ovangkol hoops as the toms. Even though it was the first drum opened, I just tapped it untuned and haven’t touched it all week. I didn’t disassemble this drum yet. It’s been a week and I’m tired of waiting. I needed to play the Guru’s as a full kit. The drums really didn’t need to be disassembled, that was my choice. This snare drum has more of a standard construction, with improvements. It came outfitted with a Trick strainer. The lugs (love the look of these lugs) are indeed drilled into the shell and screwed on just like every other snare drum. There are no external re rings on this drum, no pins to deal with. There is an internal re ring that has been formed with a lathe, not glued on like the other manufacturers. Pretty cool. This milling removes the “compressed” portion of the wood (except at the rings) and leaves the “stretched” part of the wood remaining. The snare drum was made from a completely different tree than my toms. My toms and kick all came from the same tree, grown in the north of England. This is a good thing, the snare being different. I don’t want my snare to resemble my toms too much. Again, Andy’s understanding of how to voice a kit is apparent here. The snare grain has a curly feature in it, like the most expensive guitars. Just gorgeous. Also, this snare has had a lot more time to cure than the toms. The lignums are much further along in the hardening process.

So I tuned the snare up tight tight tight like I like it.

Then I hit it.

OMG, shut the front door, tears immediately burst out from my tear ducts lol. Angels with harps appeared and circled my head. This drum was the biggest surprise of the bunch, and that is saying something. From the first hit…it was amazement at first hit. TBH, I don’t know if this drum sounds so different than my toms because the lignums are harder (this drum was the first built) or because they milled the compressed grain from the shell, but it would appear that Guru really has something special with this In-Tense series. This snare has a quality to it that’s hard to put into words. You really have to be in the same room to understand what I mean. I can’t quite describe it. It’s got more Z factor than any drum I’ve heard. More Z factor is better than less Z factor. Z factor is a Larry made up term that refers to a certain sonic character a drum has when struck dead center with just a stick tip. I can’t really explain it, it’s something you have to hear for yourself. Even with the wood hoops, this drum has far and away,the clearest, most articulate voice I have ever heard in a snare drum.

It’s so clear. I cannot, no matter how light I touch this thing, I cannot get the snares to not respond. At first it was almost too snare-ey, like I thought of putting 12 wire snares on it, but after a short while, I came to prefer the clearness and sensitivity of this drum. I really can’t tell you how excited I am over this drum. Although I never played one, I imagine that my snare drum is similar to the most sensitive orchestral snare. I think this would make an exceptional orchestral snare. I mean, I mainly bought this kit for the toms and kick. I just got the snare so I would have a complete matched set. Little did I know the treat that was in store for me. If this drum records as well as I think it will, I will be forced to gig this snare. I’ll just take it in with me every night and leave the maple in my van in case I forget the Guru.

Monday night…I just had to hear this snare in a band situation so I took it to a rehearsal with my 6 piece band. Pretty quickly, the drum got noticed by the B3 player. He said, “Is that a new snare drum? It sounds so articulate and clear.” Lol. OMG this drum….made some tones that were just heavenly at practice. Have you ever left playing and could not wait to play a certain drum again? Last night I really felt that in a major way. I need more time with this drum in a band setting. Some of the sounds I was pulling out of this thing were making me giddy. It truly is all that and a cup of coffee too.
I cannot wait to play this snare drum again at a real gig. I have a gig Friday, and this might be the drum that uncrowns my trusty maple drum
Bravo Andy. The snare is Ah-mazing. I will be getting more In-Tense snares I am certain of it. I want a 6.5 deep next. We’ll talk.

This is the main review. I will add miscellaneous thoughts and the photos I have to resize later but this took me over 8 hours to get down on paper and edit to my liking. Pics to follow in later posts.
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Old 10-02-2013, 11:33 AM
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Wow Larry. I just spent the last 25 minutes reading this amazing in-depth review and analysis of your time spent with these thus far. This should be published some place.

I'll probably have more questions as time moves along but I'm more than looking forward to your next post with miscellaneous thoughts and the photos. Also looking forward to hearing some sound clips.

By the way - this is a great phrase...."if this thing liquefies my nuts "

Thanks for sharing!

ETA: I can't tell you how excited I am for you!
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Old 10-02-2013, 01:56 PM
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What a great story. They really do sound like some beautiful drums.
Looking forward to pictures and other details!
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Old 10-02-2013, 02:58 PM
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Really great in depth analysis and review Larry, surprisingly this was fast I thought you needed more time.

That snare part was my favorite.
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:12 PM
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Please tell me you were high when you wrote this thesis. I can't imagine any straight person zooming in that close.
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:31 PM
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This reads like a soap opera, Larry. You laughed, you cried, were angry at times, etc., etc. I can't view videos where I am so a coupla photos would be nice too. Sounds like the story ended well. Everybody is happy and no cliffhanger.
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Old 10-02-2013, 04:38 PM
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Wow Larry, I've never read a review that made me just want a new drum set (not that I can afford a Guru any time soon).

I am looking forward to pictures!
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:01 PM
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The first time I played a Guru kit was before I met Andy in person. I went to the Jobeky drum show on the way back to University. This was before the Origin range and when Andy was making 'standard' drums (albeit of exceptional quality). Sadly, he was at lunch at that point.

I sat down at the kit, started playing and I had to stop. I had a huge grin on my face for hours afterwards and this was in a show environment when I couldn't hear the drums for what they were. They were just superb. I now own a Guru snare (an older model - steambent Oak) and it's the best snare I have ever and probably will ever own - inheritance grade. The instrument of a lifetime.

I've played Andy's 'prototype' kit and I've played a Classic Origin now and each time, I've come away with that same grin. At least years LDS, the original 'Cappucino' was there and I took every opportunity to play with the bass drum that I could! I was also amazed at how light the toms were.

Owning one of those kits and being able to play it every day has to be incredibly gratifying. Andy, I promise you that I'm not simply being a sycophant, I genuinely love what you're doing.

Thanks of the stream of consciousness, Larry. I'm really pleased for you - very minor niggles aside. I hope they give you many years of enjoyment, fun and playing. Your experiences match my (limited) experience and that's why I'm so eager to be around you guys at the LDS in a week or so.
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:06 PM
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Larry, I cant believe you took it apart. Not that that's bad, I just never do anything like that. Reminds me of Arky and his axis pedals. I cant wait to see a full kit picture. Did this come with hardware or do you have stuff in mind for that? You need to compliment a kit like this with one of those Ford drum thrones. You took a leap of faith ( one that I would NOT have any problem with) by not seeing these in person and playing them like a lot of people suggest to people buying kits. You knew Andy wouldn't steer you wrong!!
Also, did they come with a diagram from Andy on proper windchime placement??
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:10 PM
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This is almost a dissertation. Would love to hit that floor tom for 10 minutes myself.
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Old 10-02-2013, 06:35 PM
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My goodness. I hope you never buy a Ferrari! lol
Paul.
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Old 10-02-2013, 06:53 PM
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So....did you like them? :)

Andy should take this review, print it on acid-free paper, frame it in 24k gold and hang it on the wall at Guru headquarters with a spotlight shining on it!

Seriously though, I'm so happy for you, Larry. You have truly found your pot of gold at the end of the drumming rainbow. Your emotion and passion about this kit is palpable and brings a warm, fuzzy feeling to my heart. You sound like a proud papa!

Reading this, I realize that I am truly not worthy of such a kit at this time. It will be years before I'm even able to have this type of understanding and appreciation for all of it. I will just be humbled to be able to play a few seconds on it next fall when we all meet (that is if you haven't decided to enshrine it behind glass by then!).

Enjoy and I can't wait to see the pics.
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Old 10-02-2013, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by BacteriumFendYoke View Post
when Andy was making 'standard' drums (albeit of exceptional quality).
Thanks Duncan, but just to be clear, it was Dean making the drums, not me. This was at the start of our association I believe.

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Originally Posted by The Old Hyde View Post

did they come with a diagram from Andy on proper windchime placement??
I should have expected that ;) ;) ;)


Larry, well, what can I say! I applaud your candor, & both Dean & I are extremely keen to hear about the negatives. They may be minor, but they matter, & hearing about them is the only way we can improve.

I'm just sorry that the 10" tom frustrated you at first. I never tested it on a mount, as you were supplying those yourself. That said, what you observed with the plastic spacer in the RIMS construction is consistent with our findings on so called isolation materials. Exactly why we never fit gaskets to anything. Gaskets under compression just don't work as isolators - period,

Anyhow, I'm intrigued about your journey, & thank you for trusting us to build something special. BTW, we're excited about the new In-Tense series too. They're surprising us, & performing way beyond their brief.
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Old 10-02-2013, 07:34 PM
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A drum kit for a lifetime that will hopefully be passed along from one generation to the next. Congrats on this exquisite instrument and I'm eagerly anticipating the pics.
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Old 10-02-2013, 07:45 PM
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Some of the lugs were hard to get back on the pins. It seemed when I ran into a tight lug, I just swapped it for another, and the next lug went on easily. I didn’t quite understand this. At the end, I still had like 2 tight lugs on this 10” drum.



More about the 'pins' please, you mentioned them being metal, are they steel?

I've taken apart quite a few drums and my advise to anyone doing so is try and keep the parts mated together, meaning the same lug screw w/the same lug and hole it came out of, even the same lug back in the same place on the drum. Its a lot more time consuming but worth it in the end, the process will run more smoothly with less chance of damage.



.............................................
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Old 10-02-2013, 07:57 PM
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Some of the lugs were hard to get back on the pins. It seemed when I ran into a tight lug, I just swapped it for another, and the next lug went on easily. I didn’t quite understand this. At the end, I still had like 2 tight lugs on this 10” drum.



More about the 'pins' please, you mentioned them being metal, are they steel?
The locating pins for the lugs are 4mm ground finish stainless steel. As Larry points out, there's no real need to remove them, but if you do, it's true, some can be a bit tight to get back in place. We're working on a solution to that, & that solution will appear in Origin II constructions. In fact, I've just bought a very special drilling machine to increase accuracy even more. The main battle is movement of the wood. All wood moves, even multiple ply shells (although less so), so when you're trying to hold a tight tolerance over the long term, it's a challenge. One solution may be to prevent the lugs from being removed. Something we need to think about, however, to put this in context, it's mostly a moot point in normal application, & certainly not detrimental.
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:10 PM
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Larry, congratulations!! And thank you so much for your thorough review and for sharing it. It's obvious you've put in a crazy amount of time to write all this.
Enjoy playing those drums.

Reading your review (I'm glad I made it through its entire length, haha) made me feel that I participated in a historical incident - thanks for this experience.

Andy, you've created an unbelievable instrument (as always).
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:26 PM
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Larry, congratulations!! And thank you so much for your thorough review and for sharing it. It's obvious you've put in a crazy amount of time to write all this.
Enjoy playing those drums.

Reading your review (I'm glad I made it through its entire length, haha) made me feel that I participated in a historical incident - thanks for this experience.

Andy, you've created an unbelievable instrument (as always).
Thanks Arky :) Just to remind everyone though, I'm only half of the Guru team. Although things are evolving at Guru (I'll be running the separate finishing/inspection shop), it's Dean who crafts the shells.
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:28 PM
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You couldn't afford such an advertisement in any press, so Larry maybe you can hope for a huge deduction on your next purpose. Well done Sir. To both Sirs
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:49 PM
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I really appreciate some of the people here, and this thread illustrates why Andy and Larry are two of the most important to me. Where else can you find stuff like this? Andy's (and Dean's) passion poured into crafting this incredible instrument and then the remarkable integrity Larry demonstrates trying to craft the most objective review.

Kudos to both of you guys. Really, this is one of the great examples of what sets Drummerworld apart from the other sites, in my book.
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Old 10-02-2013, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
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Please tell me you were high when you wrote this thesis. I can't imagine any straight person zooming in that close.
OK if it makes you feel better lol. London will be the first time I am forced to do without in 13 years so there you go.
Just imagine thinking about something in your head for years, then meeting someone who is actually creating what you envisioned, then knowing that this persons standards are way higher than your own, and then being in the position to acquire this creation, then waiting 9 months for them, then seeing pictures of them in all their glory, then having to wait another 2 weeks after seeing them, then finally getting them, but you're not home...I know they are just "things". I don't care. They're works of art to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Old Hyde View Post
Larry, I cant believe you took it apart. Not that that's bad, I just never do anything like that. Reminds me of Arky and his axis pedals. I cant wait to see a full kit picture. Did this come with hardware or do you have stuff in mind for that? You need to compliment a kit like this with one of those Ford drum thrones. You took a leap of faith ( one that I would NOT have any problem with) by not seeing these in person and playing them like a lot of people suggest to people buying kits. You knew Andy wouldn't steer you wrong!!
Also, did they come with a diagram from Andy on proper windchime placement??
Old Jekyll, windchime placement insructions were laminated inside the 12" tom case lol. I was champing at the bit to deconstruct these drums for over a year now. As far as hardware, I had to buy 2 Tama combo tom holder/cymbal stands to hold the racks. Other than that I'm just using what I used on my DW kit which will have to get stacked somewhere. When I move them on a riser, the tone should be even more impressive. If I put metal hoops on them on the riser, they should even sound more aggresive. When the lignums harden with the metal hoops on the riser, it will be like musical semen lol.

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This is almost a dissertation. Would love to hit that floor tom for 10 minutes myself.
Stop by next summer. Bring the kids. And your favorite snare.

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Originally Posted by skunkendilly View Post
My goodness. I hope you never buy a Ferrari! lol
Paul.
Lol, no way would I attempt that. I don't care about cars like I do drums :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryO View Post
So....did you like them? :)

Andy should take this review, print it on acid-free paper, frame it in 24k gold and hang it on the wall at Guru headquarters with a spotlight shining on it!

Seriously though, I'm so happy for you, Larry. You have truly found your pot of gold at the end of the drumming rainbow. Your emotion and passion about this kit is palpable and brings a warm, fuzzy feeling to my heart. You sound like a proud papa!

Reading this, I realize that I am truly not worthy of such a kit at this time. It will be years before I'm even able to have this type of understanding and appreciation for all of it. I will just be humbled to be able to play a few seconds on it next fall when we all meet (that is if you haven't decided to enshrine it behind glass by then!).

Enjoy and I can't wait to see the pics.
Thanks Mary. Yea, it is the closest thing I have to a materialistic dream come true. Yup, it's all downhill from here lol. Actually the journey has all of a sudden, become more interesting. I am seriously considering gigging these drums. Definitely will gig the snare, it's just a crime to save it for practice.

And Mar, it's not a matter of deserving...it more of a desire thing. You have to really deep down want something like this, and I did. If you want something bad enough, you'll get it eventually. Yea, let's go with that lol.

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post


Larry, well, what can I say! I applaud your candor, & both Dean & I are extremely keen to hear about the negatives. They may be minor, but they matter, & hearing about them is the only way we can improve.

I'm just sorry that the 10" tom frustrated you at first. I never tested it on a mount, as you were supplying those yourself. That said, what you observed with the plastic spacer in the RIMS construction is consistent with our findings on so called isolation materials. Exactly why we never fit gaskets to anything. Gaskets under compression just don't work as isolators - period,

Anyhow, I'm intrigued about your journey, & thank you for trusting us to build something special. BTW, we're excited about the new In-Tense series too. They're surprising us, & performing way beyond their brief.
Andy, you've done so much. I don't know how to properly express my gratitude for all the blood, sweat, stress, frustration and god knows what else you've endured making these steambent kits. Hey everyone here's something that may interest you. Grea, (Anon) took delivery of a 3 piece kit (plus snare). Andy went through 7 drums to make Grea's 3. 4 boards snapped. He's so humble, he could have trumpeted that fact to show everyone that this is no easy process and how hard he works. But he didn't, he's too humble for that. What does that tell you? Andy really went through a birthing process with these steambent drums. They are really hard to make. He calls it a black art. I am so dam privileged to have these. Words fail.

And thank you for making me feel so comfortable about telling the whole truth about my experience. You know how I am and I must call them like I see them or I will be a fake. I was stressed over it because there's some things that needed tweaking IMO and I didn't want to appear ungrateful or boarish or anything like that. You sir are what I want to be like when I grow up.

And any frustration was aggravated by me. My expectations were so unrealistically sky high that there had to be a storm before it evened out. It's all good now and the 10 inch tom is just as resonant as it can be.

At a gig is really the place to evaluate a set of drums, not in a sterile environment. I am not crazy about my maple snare in my studio, but at gig? Nothing sounds or records better. Well that could change soon. We shall see what my recorder says.

The In-Tense series, based on this snare I have...is a friggin GRAND SLAM Andy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by steadypocket View Post
A drum kit for a lifetime that will hopefully be passed along from one generation to the next. Congrats on this exquisite instrument and I'm eagerly anticipating the pics.
This kit is specifically going in my will to stay in the family. It is already an heirloom. I've never felt this way about a "thing" before. Not sure how I feel about that. I do know that it feels good to know that THEY ARE MINE, THEY ARE ALL MINE MUU HA HA HA HA!!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Arky View Post
Larry, congratulations!! And thank you so much for your thorough review and for sharing it. It's obvious you've put in a crazy amount of time to write all this.
Enjoy playing those drums.

Reading your review (I'm glad I made it through its entire length, haha) made me feel that I participated in a historical incident - thanks for this experience.

Andy, you've created an unbelievable instrument (as always).
Hopefully, everyone here is witnessing the growing pangs of a drum company that will send shockwaves throughout the drumming community and raise the bar across the board. I'm tickled that I am aligned with such a company. This can only benefit us as drummers. To be able to play an instrument that GIVES SO MUCH BACK...well, it's pretty much the very thing that everyone is chasing. It would be very cool to see Guru attain global recognition on the scale of, or surpassing, a Craviotto. Would LOVE to do a side by side with a Craviotto. I've never had the op to play a Crav. Thanks Arkster.

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Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
You couldn't afford such an advertisement in any press, so Larry maybe you can hope for a huge deduction on your next purpose. Well done Sir. To both Sirs
Thanks John. (said like Eddie Murphy) It's a happy, happy day!

Andy has done so much. He didn't make any profit on me at all. I threw him some extra money but if I had it I would have given him double what I paid. I can't say enough good things about the guy. Buy Guru In-Tense drums. They are so much better than anything you've ever heard, you can take my word on that.
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Old 10-02-2013, 10:07 PM
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The locating pins for the lugs are 4mm ground finish stainless steel. As Larry points out, there's no real need to remove them, but if you do, it's true, some can be a bit tight to get back in place. We're working on a solution to that, & that solution will appear in Origin II constructions. One solution may be to prevent the lugs from being removed.
That would get the nod from me, I'd rather remove tension rods than lugs. As Larry already stated the lug design in minimal and easy to clean. I vote for non removable lugs.
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Old 10-02-2013, 10:09 PM
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Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed post Larry!

So often there is something more to a new kit or piece of gear than "just" the newness factor. Being in a position to get the sound in your head in an actual instrument is a very special thing, and I'm sincerely happy to read about it!

Thanks for sharing! :)
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Old 10-03-2013, 02:25 AM
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Glad to hear about it! Sounds like about what I expected :) also, good to know about the nylon piece in the RIMS mount. More convincing to remove all those types of things from my drums.
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Old 10-03-2013, 04:06 AM
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Wow Larry. you sure talk a lot :)
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Old 10-03-2013, 04:25 AM
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Congrats, Larry.

I've never read such an emotional response to an inanimate object before.... but hey, we're talking drums, right? But, I suppose that if my dream came true like your's did it would strike a deep emotional chord within me too.

I'm sure I speak for everybody when I say, "Post some pics and give us all some sound bites."

Cheers!!
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Old 10-03-2013, 04:27 AM
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congrats Lar.

from the clips i have heard, the Gurus are the best sounding drums i've ever heard.
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Old 10-03-2013, 05:57 AM
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Wow Larry. you sure talk a lot :)
Oh and there's some stuff I forgot to put in too. Oh yea, I can blab on when I have stuff to say to people who are interested in hearing it. Don't worry, I'm not like that in real life. I won't pin you in a corner and force you to endure my rambling lol.

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Congrats, Larry.

I've never read such an emotional response to an inanimate object before.... but hey, we're talking drums, right? But, I suppose that if my dream came true like your's did it would strike a deep emotional chord within me too.

I'm sure I speak for everybody when I say, "Post some pics and give us all some sound bites."

Cheers!!
I do tend to get emotionally caught up in things and perhaps puff things up sometimes. That's just my nature so I'm going with it. Sound clips when the lignums harden.

NOT!

I think early next week before I leave for London I will do recordings...as long as I get a day off. I was thinking of doing them outside, so the room can't color the tone, and nothing can reverberate.

Quote:
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congrats Lar.

from the clips i have heard, the Gurus are the best sounding drums i've ever heard.
I gotta say, my vintage Luds come close. But the Guru's have a wider overall frequency output. More Oomph. I cannot get enough of my snare. The Black Beauty that I'm comparing it to, again, is close, but the Guru snare is clearer, more defined, out Z's it, (Z meaning afterglow quality and duration) out snare responses it, out sustains it. For an analogy, it's like the difference between standard and high def TV. More detail and clarity. The ring on the In-Tense snare shell is in a class by itself. It gives a lot back. I actually yearn to play it just so I can hear it again. It's like love I swear.

I made an observation just today about a possible benefit of the non vented shells....I'm not entirely sure yet, but preliminary reports suggest that my single ply heads aren't denting as easy. I played them pretty damn hard today and the heads have no dents at all, not even the beginnings of one. You figure, if the air can't escape, and is trapped inside, it puts more back pressure on the batter head. More cushioning. I'm pretty sure it may help to resist dents. Like I said, this just occurred to me today. If this turns out to be true, that's a very big deal in my book. I would love it if my heads don't dent. I love the single ply head tone, but I will dent them after one gig.

That back pressure really creates a responsive feel to the heads. Like I said, they give back...Tonally and feel wise. My Bass drum beater flies off the head more than a vented drum it seems. Maybe it's me but I'm glad Andy didn't follow the pack and vent. Gretsch round badges aren't vented. I'm wondering if that might anything to do with why they are so sought after.
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Old 10-03-2013, 08:44 AM
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I made an observation just today about a possible benefit of the non vented shells....I'm not entirely sure yet, but preliminary reports suggest that my single ply heads aren't denting as easy. I played them pretty damn hard today and the heads have no dents at all, not even the beginnings of one. You figure, if the air can't escape, and is trapped inside, it puts more back pressure on the batter head. More cushioning. I'm pretty sure it may help to resist dents. Like I said, this just occurred to me today. If this turns out to be true, that's a very big deal in my book. I would love it if my heads don't dent. I love the single ply head tone, but I will dent them after one gig.

That back pressure really creates a responsive feel to the heads. Like I said, they give back...Tonally and feel wise. My Bass drum beater flies off the head more than a vented drum it seems. Maybe it's me but I'm glad Andy didn't follow the pack and vent.
Ok, now this is something I hadn't thought of. Very interesting indeed. If you think about it, the mechanics make sense, but I have zero experience of this. I'm very interested to hear if this actually works out to be the case or not Larry. I'm completely sold on the sonic differences not venting makes as part of an overall design & shell construction though :)

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The Black Beauty that I'm comparing it tothe Guru snare is clearer, more defined, out Z's it, (Z meaning afterglow quality and duration) out snare responses it, out sustains it.
The more sustain bit is a given with the In-Tense shell, but to hear a wooden shell with wooden hoops is clearer than a metal shell snare, is quite something :)


Larry, ambient recording outdoors & expecting to pick up a full tone is a big ask, no matter how good the kit is. Take away the room, & for sure, it strips back everything to the source. The bottom end produced by drums, especially the bass drum, becomes richer by loading the room. If you're running A-B recordings outdoors, that's a fair comparison though. Any kit outdoors, & especially recorded from a distant single source, is going to sound thin & dry. Tough ask, & I'm curious as to the results.
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Old 10-03-2013, 03:05 PM
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Yea Andy regarding the recording comparison, If I can swing it, I will do both indoor and outdoor. Definitely will be comparing to the other sets for some point of reference. I'm debating whether to use the riser or not. The riser will make for more sub freqs I think. Not sure. It's either set each kit up on the riser and record, or keep the kits on the carpeted concrete. If I keep them on the carpet, I can jump between drum sets. Otherwise, I will have to stop the recording to swap sets on the riser.

Andy, regarding the metal hoops, do you think the metal hoop on the reso will make much sonic difference compared to the wooden hoop on the reso? Obviously the batter side will make a difference but will the reso side?
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Old 10-03-2013, 03:27 PM
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Yea Andy regarding the recording comparison, If I can swing it, I will do both indoor and outdoor. Definitely will be comparing to the other sets for some point of reference. I'm debating whether to use the riser or not. The riser will make for more sub freqs I think. Not sure. It's either set each kit up on the riser and record, or keep the kits on the carpeted concrete. If I keep them on the carpet, I can jump between drum sets. Otherwise, I will have to stop the recording to swap sets on the riser.

Andy, regarding the metal hoops, do you think the metal hoop on the reso will make much sonic difference compared to the wooden hoop on the reso? Obviously the batter side will make a difference but will the reso side?
In short - yes. The reso side will make a difference, but not as much as the batter. I never advocate mixing hoop types, especially on an instrument that majors on a pure fundamental. Mixing hoop styles creates imbalance IMHO.

A riser can add a degree of sub, depending on it's construction. That sub is usually near field though. Bigger drums such as your 24" Luddy bass drum will benefit that's for sure, especially if it's tuned fairly low.
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:02 PM
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Great review, Larry. Great drums, Andy. I've really enjoyed reading this whole thing.

I think I'd done a pretty good job convincing myself that beyond a certain point, drums are just drums due to the law of diminishing returns. For example, I've been playing the same maple Keller ply kit for almost 15 years now and they still sound great, though much of their tone gets lost when mixed with the band, especially live. Under the microphone in a studio setting, I can still get them to sound pretty good withou too much effort so I reached a point where no matter how much I might like the latest ply offerings from X, Y, Z drum company, I never feel like it will be worth the major coin.

Until now.

I know Andy's gone to great lengths in describing various design details along the way but to get it all in one post really cemented it all in my mind - perhaps for the first time - just how far these drums are beyond what's available. I mean, 30 tpi SS rods with washers that will never get lost in a machined aircraft-grade nickel-plated aluminum lug with a full inch of mated threads - just wow. Who does that?

Upgrading my kit to just about anything else would be only an incremental improvement, so I gotta think that if I do ever go for an upgrade, it'll have to be something of this quality. Only, Guru seems to have the market cornered on drums of this quality.

Hat's off to Andy and Dean, and to Larry - a most worthy owner of their achievement.
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Old 10-03-2013, 09:33 PM
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Great review, Larry. Great drums, Andy. I've really enjoyed reading this whole thing.

I think I'd done a pretty good job convincing myself that beyond a certain point, drums are just drums due to the law of diminishing returns. For example, I've been playing the same maple Keller ply kit for almost 15 years now and they still sound great, though much of their tone gets lost when mixed with the band, especially live. Under the microphone in a studio setting, I can still get them to sound pretty good withou too much effort so I reached a point where no matter how much I might like the latest ply offerings from X, Y, Z drum company, I never feel like it will be worth the major coin.

Until now.

I know Andy's gone to great lengths in describing various design details along the way but to get it all in one post really cemented it all in my mind - perhaps for the first time - just how far these drums are beyond what's available. I mean, 30 tpi SS rods with washers that will never get lost in a machined aircraft-grade nickel-plated aluminum lug with a full inch of mated threads - just wow. Who does that?

Upgrading my kit to just about anything else would be only an incremental improvement, so I gotta think that if I do ever go for an upgrade, it'll have to be something of this quality. Only, Guru seems to have the market cornered on drums of this quality.

Hat's off to Andy and Dean, and to Larry - a most worthy owner of their achievement.
Mike, this really is a great reply, & thank you very much for the kudos.

I still have my Keller shell Spaun kit. It's well made, & sounds great - certainly as good as just about any ply kit out there, with maybe a few exceptions. So I'm with you on this, & also agree, if I could only play a well finished Keller ply kit for the rest of my life, I'd be happy enough :)

As for Guru Origin. It's good, great even, & certainly distinctive in sonic terms. It stands on it's own. Better? well yes, but it should be, given the cost & the effort that's gone into the design & into the crafting of these instruments. Perfect? No, there's still a number of small improvements to make, & that's an evolution I expect any series to undergo. What I'm especially happy about is how Origin sits within our now completed range. Up until this week, we were known primarily for one unique instrument, now we have a full range on offer, & each has it's own distinct place. Origin is pure like no other drum. Almost devoid of errant overtones, but harmonising overtones that you do want to fatten the sound & make it both musical & satisfying. It's got balls too, big ones, & does sub frequencies in perfect balance with attack.

Compare that to the new In-Tense series, & you really have polar opposites. In-Tense is a stallion of a construction. Wild, resonant, dynamic to the enth degree. In need of constant reigning back, it has more attitude than a spoilt child - & we love it :)

So I'm happy, but now we have to succeed as a company. The success of the In-Tense snares program is business critical. We can't survive indefinatley on kits alone, mainly because we can only make 10 Origin & 25 In-Tense kits a year maximum! It's been tough until now, very tough, but I suspect the hardest times are yet to happen.

Nothing is easily won out there, but watering down our zero compromise approach is something we'll never do. That said, I do believe in the right tool for the job. We're currently considering a road pro kit & snare range using In-Tense shells, but bespoke made Asian sourced shell hardware instead of the UK crafted high end hardware that will remain on Origin & In-Tense series instruments. Something that sounds great, but is also more aligned to touring & playing under live mic's. Obviously, if we make such a range, it will be considerably less expensive. I don't view that as watering down our principals, I view that as offering an appropriate instrument for the job, & keeping the quality where it will be appreciated in that specific application.

Sorry, I'm rambling :(
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Old 10-03-2013, 09:49 PM
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That wasn’t very unbiased was it?
Not at all Larry :)

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Watso-ever.
I see what you did here...

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OMG, shut the front door, tears immediately burst out from my tear ducts lol. Angels with harps appeared and circled my head...
The first time I played all the origin lines, it's how I felt inside... especially the "cappucino" kit, for the first time over the past 25 years, I see a reason to purchase a new kit, it says it all in my mind...

Congrats again Larry, to say I'm jealous is an understatment :)

I really look forward to hear/play a In-Tense kit at the LDS...
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:04 AM
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The first time I played all the origin lines, it's how I felt inside... especially the "cappucino" kit, for the first time over the past 25 years, I see a reason to purchase a new kit, it says it all in my mind...

Congrats again Larry, to say I'm jealous is an understatment :)

I really look forward to hear/play a In-Tense kit at the LDS...
You're welcome to try them Henri, but your old friend the "Cappuccino" will be there too. It's that kit's last show. After LDS, Michele Drees will take that kit & use it at the London Jazz festival in November. From there, the kit will be retired. I'm not sure where or with who yet.

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Reading this, I realize that I am truly not worthy of such a kit at this time.
I think one of our artists would disagree with that Mary. He's already ahead of you ;) ;) ;) (sorry Larry. Just been sent this, & couldn't resist ;)
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