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Old 05-15-2011, 03:21 PM
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Default Wac’d Drums free floating lugs – a review from Australia

BACKGROUND
A while ago Gary from Wac’d Drums asked me to road test his new free-floating lugs. As a user of free-floating drums (Pearl, Sleishman) and having followed Gary’s trials and tribulations to get to this stage, I was more than happy to try out his prototype model.

I had planned to make a stave shell especially for this project. In the end I decided that for the purpose of this review it might better if I used a shell that would provide more of a reference point for drummers. So I dug out this undrilled Keller maple ply shell that’s been collecting dust since I replaced it with a hammered brass shell. I spent more time than anticipated on cutting new bearing edges and snare beds, so I stripped and refinished the shell in a bit of a hurry. As a result the finish not quite up to the standard I usually set (see the Jarrah snare in my avatar as an example). Once I finish my next batch of stave shells I’ll send the Keller shell back to dust collection duties.
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:22 PM
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Default Free-floating drums - design principles

One of the most important features of the modern drum kit is a mechanism to adjust the tension of the drumhead. Most modern drum kits have lugs that are screwed into the drum shell. In this system, tension rods are used to tighten or loosen the drum hoop, which increases or lessens tension on the drum head, respectively. A disadvantage of this system is that the natural vibrations of the drum shell are inhibited by the stresses caused by the lugs attached to the shell.

The solution to this problem was the free-floating lug, which allows tensioning of the drumhead without being attached to the shell. This system allows the shell to vibrate more freely and thus influence the sound more. In my experience, this also contributes to a ‘bigger’ sound.

The Sleishman free-floating system (http://www.sleishman.com) avoids the need for attaching lugs to the shell via the suspension ring, which accepts the tension rods from the batter and the snare hoop. These kits sound great (I have one), but the suspension ring does obscure the shell, somewhat.

Pearl also offers free floating system (which as far as I can tell is only applied to snares, not whole kits) is based on a similar principle, but the snare bearing edge is incorporated into the design (http://www.pearldrum.com/Products/Sn...ing/Maple.aspx). As a result, even their wooden free-floating snares have a metal snare side bearing edge. I like their metal free-floaters but not their wooden ones.
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:25 PM
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Default Free-floating drums - the Wac'd Drum design

The Wac’d Drums free-floating lug does not require a suspension ring because each lug has a stop that prevents the lug from rotating freely and allows the tension rod to be threaded into the lug. This provides a much more streamlined look to the drum and, especially with wood shells, allows a better appreciation of the figure and grain. The other big advantage of the Wac’d Drums free-floating system is that there is only one tension rod per lug.
Here’s a photo that shows the components of the Wac’d Drums free-floating system.

I use wax to finish off the bearing edges to make sure the heads settle on the bearing edges as smoothly as possible. Generally, when I replace heads I add a little more wax to keep them smooth.
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:26 PM
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Default The test snare

The finish isn’t great, but the bearing edges and snare beds are perfect.

Shell: 14x5.5” Keller 10 ply maple shell
Vents: three 10 mm vents
Batter bearing edge: double 45 degrees with 3mm round over
Snare bearing edge: single, sharp 45 degrees
Snare bed: 2mm
Hoops: 2.3mm triple flanged
Snares: PureSound Custom Pro (20 snares)
Throw off: Trick
Butt: supplied by Wac’d Drums
Batter head: Evans G1
Snare side head: Evans Hazy 300

Apart from the Wac’d Drums free-floating lugs, this is a stock standard drum. We have all heard Keller shells and many drummers reading this will own one, so hopefully this reference point will allow you to really listen for the difference that the lugs make.

Last edited by madidus; 08-12-2011 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:34 PM
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:37 PM
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Default Putting it all together

Photo 1 shows the individual components of the Wac'd Drum free-floating system.

Gary sent me replacement clips that are smaller than the ones that came with the lugs. I used these as shown on the right lug in Photo 2 (excuse my photography skills – I simply could not get the damned thing to focus on the clips):

Photo 3 shows how unobtrusive the smaller clip is and the order in which to assemble the components.

I used pliers to remove the clip from the lug and to reinsert it. Now, a word of warning to prospective users of the Wac’d Drums free-floating system: make sure you hold the metal and plastic washers firmly while removing the clip. If you don’t you might find them being launched across the room by the spring, which won’t be far behind. And they are an absolute bugger to find.

Assuming you haven’t lost any bits and pieces, this is what you will end up with (photo 4). This photo illustrates the advantage of the free-floating system: you can swap and change shells very easily and quickly.

Each of the plates onto which you attach the snare throw off and butt fit over the top of two lugs. To avoid any vibration rattles, Wac’d Drums supplies plastic sleeves that fit between the lug and the plate, as shown in photo 5.
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:40 PM
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Default Enough already - show me the drum!

OK, here it is: three different views of the finished product, each of which confirms that I have the photography skills of a gnat.

I LIKE THE SOUND! As with other free-floating drums, the absence of lugs and throw off attached to the shell allows it to resonate. The rounded over batter bearing edge really allows the maple warmth to come through. As previously shown (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtK0fEiLbCs) detuning or tightening a single lug dramatically changes the tone of the drum. This is a significant bonus for live situations. I’ll post sound samples in the next few weeks.
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:41 PM
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Default Wac’d Drums free floating lugs – some considerations

WHY YOU WOULD WANT FREEFLOATING DRUMS
Ease of tuning! The Wac’d Drums system has a single tension rod per lug. This cuts down tuning time. I’m not sure if it’s because of the spring, but I found it a breeze to get even tension across the batter head. When I checked the snare side head, it was also evenly tensioned across the head. Nice!

Although the free-floating system does not allow independent tuning of batter and snare side heads, I can confirm what Gary has mentioned previously: the thinner snare side head is stretched tighter than the thicker batter head. This is exactly how I’ve always tuned my snares.

I imagine the same will apply to toms so that by using different batter/reso head combinations you could get the same tension across batter/reso heads. Alternatively, by using heads with different thicknesses you could achieve different tensions across batter/reso heads.

WHY FREEFLOATING DRUMS MIGHT NOT SUIT YOU
Some drummers tune batter and reso/snare side heads to specific notes. Unless these notes are achievable with specific batter/reso head combinations, the free-floating system may not suit.

Some drummers may not like the additional resonance that flee-floating systems provide. These drummers may prefer the traditional drums with hardware attached to the shells.

WON’T THE STOPS ON THE LUGS DAMAGE MY DRUM FINISH?
The pressure placed on the shell is minimal so I’ve seen no evidence of this. However, if you are concerned about marks made over time by repetitive use, then you could add a buffer material to the part of the stop that rests against the shell while you’re tuning the drum. When you’re done tuning, you can turn back the tension rod to take the stop away from the shell.
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:42 PM
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Default Next steps

Over the next couple of months I will be using this snare in rehearsals, gigs and for recording. So I will be able to update this review with:
- how well the lugs stay in tune during regular use;
- sound samples;
- how the lugs and plates handle the stresses of regular use; and
- anything else I find as I give this drum the beating it deserves.

If there’s anything in particular you’d like to see reviewed, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.
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Old 05-15-2011, 04:17 PM
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Default Re: Wac’d Drums free floating lugs – a review from Australia

I have been using Gary's lugs for more than a few months on my Steambent Vaughncraft shell and I love it. I have the original lugs but do no have the floating snare assembly. So my shell is still drilled for that piece. Here is the link for my sound test.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtK0fEiLbCs
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Old 05-16-2011, 03:42 AM
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Default Re: Wac’d Drums free floating lugs – a review from Australia

Harry, Thanks for the supurb write up ! I know you are very familiar with the other floating systems out there so this makes you a perfect person to help with the testing. If our lugs give you the same results with more freedom of choice, easier use, and results you are happy with, then we are very pleased and have accomplished the goals I have set forth.

We have completed the dies for the snare and butt plate so everything will be uniform throughout. I am expecting to have us in full production within the next month, and will be releasing pricing within the next couple of weeks.

Our thanks to those that have participated in the testing so far and we look forward to hearing the results from a few others that we have sent some to.

Again Thank You Harry and we are looking forward to your on going testing results!

Gary
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Old 05-16-2011, 03:43 AM
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Default Re: Wac’d Drums free floating lugs – a review from Australia

Quote:
Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
I have been using Gary's lugs for more than a few months on my Steambent Vaughncraft shell and I love it. I have the original lugs but do no have the floating snare assembly. So my shell is still drilled for that piece. Here is the link for my sound test.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtK0fEiLbCs
We'll have to remedy that floating plate situation for you G.D. !
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Old 05-16-2011, 10:13 AM
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Default Re: Wac’d Drums free floating lugs – a review from Australia

Harry, superb writeup, & the knat takes great pictures, lol! I'll be very interested to hear your sound files.

Gary's offered to send me some stuff. My intention is to try it on a tom shell, rather than a snare. I'm interested to see how the lugs work out from a measureable sustain pov. I've got a 10" drum that should do the job perfectly. As it already sings like an angel, it'll be a tough A-B. Resonance on small toms is often an issue, so we'll see if Gary's lugs yeild an improvement.

I like Gary's innovation, have done from the start. Got to say Gary, I'm not into the "Hammerite" style finish. Sorry mate, you'll always get the bottom line straight from the heart from me. I take it you'll be offering a range of electroplated finishes?
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Old 05-16-2011, 01:56 PM
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Default Re: Wac’d Drums free floating lugs – some considerations

Quote:
Originally Posted by madidus View Post
so that by using different batter/reso head combinations you could get the same tension across batter/reso heads.
What I meant to say here is that by using batter and reso heads of the same thickness you should be able to achieve the same tension on both heads.
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Old 05-30-2011, 04:17 PM
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Default How are the lugs holding up?

Since posting my review I've used the snare in 6 live sessions ranging from 45 minute to 3.5 hour sessions.

How do the lugs hold their tuning? As well or better than any other lugs I've used. I noticed no noticeable detuning at the end of each session - even the long ones. So apart from some fine tuning to get the best sound from the snare in each venue, I had no issues at all. And even this fine tuning was a breeze given how easy it is to achieve even tension across the heads.

One of the things I am really liking about the lugs is the ability to very quickly tighten or loosen tension by turning a single tension rod (also check out GD's review http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtK0fEiLbCs). This is a great feature if, like my band, you have a variety of sounds in your repertoire. I've attached a sound sample demonstrating this. Just some info about the sample:
  • Two mics, one over the batter head and one underneath to pick up the snares. This is an unmanipulated recording.
  • The recording at each tension is of me tapping the snare starting in the centre and moving toward the rims.
  • The recording is real time so includes the tightening/loosening of the same tension rod. As you can tell by the voices I wasn't exactly in a hurry to do this (it was at the end of a session) so it could be done much quicker between songs.
  • The first set of taps is at the tension I used in that particular venue (pretty loose, but sounded great in that venue).
  • The second set of taps is at a tension two full key turns tighter.
  • The third set of taps is after loosening the same tension rod by 2 full turns (demonstrating that I achieved the original sound).
  • The fourth set of taps is at a tension two full key turns looser.

Next time I have recording gear attached to the snare I might try more than two full turns of the tuning key and check the evenness of tension across all lugs (as per GD's review).

So to date I'm really happy with the lugs and the extra functionality they provide. Although it's early days, the lugs are holding up really well. The lightweight of the aluminium lugs also makes the snare much lighter.
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File Type: mp3 Snare drum.mp3 (483.1 KB, 163 views)
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