Drum Companies : Your Perceptions

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Surely a Brit's perspective :)

SoCal kid here:

Give Ludwig a look now - those USA made Club Dates are an outstanding mid-level kit for anyone that likes the Ludwig sound.

Slingerland - Radioking snares ruled.

Premier - best marching snares produced by anyone back in 60's-70's. if a band coming down the street marched Premier then you knew that band and drumline was gonna be good.

Tama - I never heard of them in 70's. Same with Mapex. Now I own a Tama snare and kick pedal and love them. I love the look of Mapex kit finishes. Never heard or played a Mapex kit in person.

Pearl and Yamaha. Yawn. The warm tapioca puddings of the drum world.

Sonor - too expensive. Plus those weird lugs that take a special key to tune. Nice they offer snares in sizes other than 14".

Rogers - garage band dudes in 60's and 70's in my high school played beat up crappy Rogers kits with broken down snares that were untunable.

Gtretsch - what everyone wanted that played jazz. Gretsch was what was in the jazz studios. That great Gretsch sound. Now I still love the sound of any Gretsch tom or kick be it Catalina or higher end. Gretsch Renown may be best priced kit out there for the features (like die cast hoops).

DW - ugliest lugs on any drums anywhere.

PDP - cool lugs, cool drums, some great prices and great sounds.

Natal - cool lugs. Some good pricing.

Sakae - some way-cool looking maple snares in a variety of sizes other than 14".

C&C - never could get a good sound out of them. Sound like cardboard. Dud dull.

Craviotto - great looking furniture. Great sounding snares. Toms and kicks just so-so.

N&C snares - awesome sound.

INDe - some good pricing, and occasional sales around holidays are downright bargains. Great looking hardware.

Pork Pie - I like everything about Pork Pie. Some great wraps. Their Little Squealer snares sound great. I use a 12".

Dream cymbals - high quality and super sounding cymbals for jazz and blues at unbelievably low prices. I only use Dream cymbals. You should, too!!

let's dig up an old thread - it looks like fun.

I started being interested in drums in 1980, so...

Tama: had the best looking brochure I had ever seen ( and one of the first ) So much choice and incredible natural wood finishes with scaffolding - like hardware. ( Anyone remember Spartan Hardware?)
This impression has stuck: I still think of Tama as top line. And the endorsers - I never get the Metal thing from the name. Probably from the first impression being that early.

Pearl: Then: Prop level gear, their entry level before export was Maxwin, which was my first kit. I therefore began to hate the shape of Pearl's lugs and didn't want to upgrade to anything that reminded me of that Maxwin.
Now: Oh gods they are boring to me. All perfectly good but deeply unexciting and yes, I hate their tom mounts on general principle.
Oh and if you were in a screechy band with a silly name and lots of make up, you had a Pearl.

Ludwig: Then: They were what all the good guys played: Max Weinberg, Ringo, Dino Danelli, Everyone. Horrifyingly expensive. The best snares. Now though - well I have an Acrolite, but their aura has gone. They just dropped off my radar and now, ( as with many ) especially after launching very humdrum or ropey entry level kits, they just don't do it any more. I see them as undesireable.

Slingerland: Exotic. Wierd. My first top end kit. Horrible hardware. Of course now they just make me think of decades old kits sitting in two mysterious old music shops in Manchester where they didn't like you buying anything, let alone looking because you just wouldn't be good enough.

Sonor. Too expensive for me. Now, the cheap kits are horribly Mapex flavoured and the dear ones have very silly hardware. In fact Sonor have always had silly hardware. Germany is a silly place.

Premier: Oh how I wanted a Premier kit when I was seventeen. Everything looked wonderful and most of all Phil Collins played them. And on Top of the Pops ( UK chart show) every week. with the meteor that was Genista and Signia though, they burned out: now they are ( if still around ) three marketing men in an office wondering what the round things are. Depressing. I loved Signias, and they gave many a British drummer a start, but all gone.

Rogers: Silly hardware.

Yamaha: Then: odd looking and that tom holder rod looked like my Maxwin one. They must be crap, I thought. Now: There are no better drums in the world than a Yamaha 8 or 9000, or, at a push , a Premier Signia. There just aren't. And the hardware on the Yamaha is not silly.
Most of all, Steve Gadd. Dave Weckl, many more, but...Steve Gadd.

Zildjian: HOW MUCH??? (then) I had never seen what cymbals were supposed to cost or why. Now: amongst the best.

Sabian: Zildjian but more so. They had to work harder and I think they still do.

Paiste: people in lab coats with frequency analysers. Bonham! Paice! And the guy who used to run the local drum shop - Tony Mann was an endorser.

Gretsch: Exotic Americana, until a shop in London got what must have been a containerload of them and sold them off for silly money - mostly concert toms, bass drums and brass snares, if memory serves.

Mapex. *dozes off*

There you go: pure unreasonable opinion, but mine.
 
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TK-421

Senior Member
For better or worse, our perceptions are really twofold: based both on the drums themselves, and on the marketing, including everything from websites, print ads and endorsers, to YouTube videos, Facebook, other social media, etc. That said, it's really only fair to evaluate current drum companies, since Rogers, Slingerland, et. al. haven't done any marketing in many years.

So here are my thoughts on some of the current companies.

Yamaha (pre Sakae split) - impeccably nice drums with flawless build quality, finishes, etc. and a very clean/clear tone throughout their product lines. Great all-around drums that work well for everything from jazz to heavy metal. And the best hardware in the business.

Yamaha (post Sakae split) - still relatively flawless quality, but they've somehow lost a bit of their "mojo". That said, I'm somewhat in love with their newest Recording Customs, moreso than with their older Sakae-built ones (go figure).

As a side note, Yamaha is the only manufacturer to make 4 out of the 6 major categories of percussion: drum set (acoustic), electronic drums, marching, and orchestral (the only categories they don't make are cymbals and hand/ethnic percussion).

Sakae - nice drums, but a very "undefined" brand that doesn't seem to know where they're going. When I think of Sakae, I can't help but to think "the company that blew it by walking away from Yamaha." Dumbest decision in the history of drum making.

Tama - great drums that my early heroes (Neil Peart and Stewart Copeland) played. Then they became a little too associated with heavy metal (Metallica, etc.) and that particular sound, but are now making some of the best drums in the world with their new Star line.

Pearl - the most "generic" of the majors. At the end of Goodfellas, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) complains about going into witness protection with this quip: "I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce, and I got egg noodles with ketchup." That's Pearl to me. Egg noodles with ketchup.

DW - highly innovative, very expensive drums that for the most part sound like cardboard boxes. And their hardware is overly complex and heavy as shit. Not a fan. Yet somehow they manage to sign the vast majority of big name drummers ("oh no, [fill in drummer name] switched to DW.")

PDP - the Squier/Epiphone of the drum world, but their highest end kits actually sound better than DW Collectors.

Gretsch - smooth, rich, buttery tone that does on for days. Like a fine wine that you can't get enough of. Made famous by the jazz greats, and the "unseen heroes" on countless rock/pop records played in recording studios by drummers who were endorsed by other companies. Big fan. HUGE.

Ludwig - saw its heyday in the Ringo/Bonham era, and have been riding that nostalgia wave a little too long. Great sounding drums though. But even with their latest Atlas innovations, they don't seem very modern to me.

Sonor - some of the best sounding drums you can buy at any price. Well, at a VERY expensive price. While the drums themselves are great, some of their hardware is a little overly engineered. Speaking of, I'm not a fan of their slotted tension rods.

Mapex - the other "generic" major. But unlike Pearl, they've gotten a LOT better over the years. And their high-end drums do sound nice, as do some of their mid-level drums. About 10 years ago, I demoed a Meridian Maple kit, and thought it sounded fantastic for the price.

Premier - great British drums that all of a sudden disappeared, but never fully went away. I was a big fan of their Signias back in the 90s, I wish they'd reintroduce those. Like Yamaha, they also have seemed to lost their "mojo".

OCDP - overly "gimmicky", like those idiotic 5-inch front bass drum hoops. Doesn't do anything for me, as they're mostly for the ska/punk fanbois.

C&C - the darling of indie rock drummers everywhere. Don't know much about them other than that.

INDe - the new kids on the block, with a very nifty tom mounting system and some clever innovations throughout. They sound great in videos, but I have yet to see/hear/play one in person.
 
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Fritz Frigursson

Senior Member
My pre-conceptions are based on specific drummers I remember from my past. e.g.

Ludwig = Ringo
Yamaha = Dave Weckl
Tama = Stewart Copeland
Premier (was) Virgil Donati
Pearl = Wannabe rock drummers at my local drum shop
Gretsch = no-one I'd ever heard of.
DW = bass drum pedals
DW had Don Henley too
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Sonor -strong pedigree for high quality shells but can't stand to have a series in production for very long.

Ludwig - American heritage. very familiar to the ears of the populace. Innovation...

DW- shell construction hype, endorsements, marketing.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I've never thought about it too much. I started out with a Ludwig kit back in the 80's. My parents bought it for me. My next kit was a Slingerland that I played for years. Back in those days, just from word of mouth in the circles I lived in, Sonor and Premier were the bee's knees, for lack of a better term. But that was back then. Sonor has remained strong and Premier has faltered a bit.

Then I went off to college in Arizona and left my Slingy's behind. When I came back, I went and bought some American Custom drums from West Coast Drum Center. It was their own brand, but the drums were made by Pearl. Loved those drums. They sounded great! I had to sell them soon after though and I eventually got the Slingy's back from my uncle. They went back and forth a couple times between me and him. Then again I left the Slingy's behind and Uncle Bill got them back again. Finally, a few years later I bought his Tama Rockstar drums and played them for about 9 years, then I sold them and got an old Imperialstar kit. Played that for about 5 years. I left those behind in Indiana to cover some rent I owed. Then I was drumless for about one year.

I started on Drummerworld that year. In a couple months, I put together a Franken-kit made from stencil kit drums. A year later I got another Rockstar kit, a Rockstar Pro, and I modified it a bit. I played these kits awhile. I still have the Tama kit, but I bought a Ludwig kit in 2015 for giging. It was a killer deal for an all birch kit, and they sound great and look great. The Tamas are kinda heavy, but they're great for home studio purposes. I still want to fix them up. In late 2016 I bought a used Yammy Stage Custom based on reviews in here and I sold the Franken-kit. I am very impressed with the sound of these SC's, even though they are the Nouveau style. I need them for my cover band practice place so that I don't have to set up and tear down every week. I'm that lazy. And my Tamas are in storage along with another project Franken kit.

Now this is just the story of my Drum kits. My snare drum story is a little different, but I'll get into that some other time.

As for other companies...

Gretsch - I've had a snare drum for years. I'll never get rid of it. I almost bought a '57 Renoun a couple years ago. I also remember playing my friend's Catalina kit which I was impressed with, but I can't see myself playing anything less than a Renoun.

Ddrum - I had a snare drum for awhile during my Imperialstar years. I don't think it interested me too much. It was a drum. It worked. Honestly, I never gave that drum much of a chance. It wasn't bad in a sense that it didn't really disappoint me.

Mapex - I've played my friend's Meridian kit one night and I remember it being a great sounding kit. Well built too. Unfortunately there was a vintage Slingerland kit there that night too, which I liked much better.

DW - The only DW kit that I've played on was the Design kit at Guitar Center. I remember being very impressed with the kit and really liking the sound coming out of it. Somebody there knows how to tune. Edit- Tonight (Sunday night) I played on a DW Collector's kit at a Blues Jam. I was really hoping it was going to blow me away, but the Custom Session kit by Pearl that I played yesterday sounded much better. So, there you go.

Fibes - Another friend of mine has a vintage Fibes wood shell kit which I really like the sound of. It's made with gum wood and Jasper maple I think. Just awesome sounding drums.

Pearl - I just never got the whole Pearl vibe with Exports. It just passed me by. Recently though I played a Session Custom kit and a Reference kit. Unbelievable good sounding drums. The mounts just bug me though. If I went Pearl, I would go with a virgin bass drum to avoid the whole mount thing.

These are just a few kits I've tried that have impressed me. If I was looking to buy, I'd be looking at an INDe kit or possibly a Starclassic. I'm happy with the drums I have for now.
 
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eamesuser

Silver Member
Pearl I now associate with country music for some reason.I think they make some great sounding kits though.Ironically they were the first MIJ company to try and penetrate the U.S.Pro market,but it seems Yamaha and Rama beat them to it,but Pearl responded with the Export and became the entry level kings.Rama has had times when they have been innovative,starting with Billy Cobham and his input.But by the late 80's the endorser roster was heavy on the Rock and metal guys,but it got young players into the brand and sold them a lot of entry and mid level kits,and I bet a lot of those players moved up to the premium lines.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
let's dig up an old thread - it looks like fun.

I started being interested in drums in 1980, so...

Tama: had the best looking brochure I had ever seen ( and one of the first ) So much choice and incredible natural wood finishes with scaffolding - like hardware. ( Anyone remember Spartan Hardware?)
This impression has stuck: I still think of Tama as top line. And the endorsers - I never get the Metal thing from the name. Probably from the first impression being that early.

Pearl: Then: Prop level gear, their entry level before export was Maxwin, which was my first kit. I therefore began to hate the shape of Pearl's lugs and didn't want to upgrade to anything that reminded me of that Maxwin.
Now: Oh gods they are boring to me. All perfectly good but deeply unexciting and yes, I hate their tom mounts on general principle.
Oh and if you were in a screechy band with a silly name and lots of make up, you had a Pearl.

Ludwig: Then: They were what all the good guys played: Max Weinberg, Ringo, Dino Danelli, Everyone. Horrifyingly expensive. The best snares. Now though - well I have an Acrolite, but their aura has gone. They just dropped off my radar and now, ( as with many ) especially after launching very humdrum or ropey entry level kits, they just don't do it any more. I see them as undesireable.

Slingerland: Exotic. Wierd. My first top end kit. Horrible hardware. Of course now they just make me think of decades old kits sitting in two mysterious old music shops in Manchester where they didn't like you buying anything, let alone looking because you just wouldn't be good enough.

Sonor. Too expensive for me. Now, the cheap kits are horribly Mapex flavoured and the dear ones have very silly hardware. In fact Sonor have always had silly hardware. Germany is a silly place.

Premier: Oh how I wanted a Premier kit when I was seventeen. Everything looked wonderful and most of all Phil Collins played them. And on Top of the Pops ( UK chart show) every week. with the meteor that was Genista and Signia though, they burned out: now they are ( if still around ) three marketing men in an office wondering what the round things are. Depressing. I loved Signias, and they gave many a British drummer a start, but all gone.

Rogers: Silly hardware.

Yamaha: Then: odd looking and that tom holder rod looked like my Maxwin one. They must be crap, I thought. Now: There are no better drums in the world than a Yamaha 8 or 9000, or, at a push , a Premier Signia. There just aren't. And the hardware on the Yamaha is not silly.
Most of all, Steve Gadd. Dave Weckl, many more, but...Steve Gadd.

Zildjian: HOW MUCH??? (then) I had never seen what cymbals were supposed to cost or why. Now: amongst the best.

Sabian: Zildjian but more so. They had to work harder and I think they still do.

Paiste: people in lab coats with frequency analysers. Bonham! Paice! And the guy who used to run the local drum shop - Tony Mann was an endorser.

Gretsch: Exotic Americana, until a shop in London got what must have been a containerload of them and sold them off for silly money - mostly concert toms, bass drums and brass snares, if memory serves.

Mapex. *dozes off*

There you go: pure unreasonable opinion, but mine.
I still have that brochure Stuflyer, I flicked through it recently and the memories came flooding back. It was my first brochure too and I spent hours poring over the kits, to this day I still lust after an aquamarine stained and lacquered finish.

This is an interesting thread which shows that a person’s opinions are shaped entirely by the country (or even region of that country) they lived in perhaps in their formative years, along with the time they first took an interest in drums.
As a UK resident who took his first interest in music in the late 70s then Premier was my first love. The way the company has spiralled downwards in recent years and the recent destruction of their iconic Wigston factory (it had a cylindrical tower on the front with a massive Premier logo on top and a kit on show just below it) have saddened me.
AC/DC posters adorned my bedroom as a teenager and when I got a Sonor 3005 mid range kit in my forties I still found myself slightly awestruck at having that Sonor reso head logo on a kit that I actually owned.
Maxwin kits were pretty horrible BUT there was a time when they were the only entry to new kit ownership and for that fact alone I salute them.
Ditto Pearl Export, except that they weren’t horrible at all. I never owned one but as a keen fan of taking context into account when discussing anything I also salute them as the most notable drum kit in terms of bringing quality new drum ownership to the masses in Britain. Despite my love of Premier, the fact that their competitor APK kits are still going incredibly strongly on the used markets and the bundled snare drum of the time being in many peoples opinion the better of the two, Pearls business acumen saw them as the winners in that arena.
Mapex kits emerged as my drumming started coming to end in the late 80s. They piqued my interest and I liked that they were the “little guy”. When I started playing again, the local shop had a good stock of them so I learned about them and was happy to see that they’d kept progressing. Two Saturns and a couple of Black Panther snare drums later I consider myself as a ‘Mapex Man’ and also think that they’re the closest thing to what Premier should have been, a company making good quality offerings across the spectrum of price bands without entering the truly pint-spilling price categories at the top. As an aside, that same shop we’re also big on PDP and despite never owning one I had a soft spot for the LXE models of around 10 years back that had the outer exotic wood veneers, kind of like a Sonor but at a fraction of the cost. And there’s an example of the power of advertising from a high quality brochure.
 
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CommanderRoss

Silver Member
If it sounds good, I buy it. If it doesn't, I steer clear.
This is me as well. I have a poster on the wall in my studio that shows a cross section of the inner ear. At the bottom it says, "Your ear is the only endorsee that matters".
Something I've lived by my whole drumming career.

I don't like things that are over-engineered (such as Pearl's tom arms), but I also don't like under-engineering or "made to break" gear either (such as the majority of budget hardware).
I used to love Tama for their over engineering (King Beat pedals anyone?) and that fact they were the "Toughest name in drums", but have come to learn it was never necessary. A drummer can play fast and hard without being abusive and todays hardware is leaps and bounds above anything from the past as far as durability. Even the entry level stuff is good to go in my book.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
This is me as well. I have a poster on the wall in my studio that shows a cross section of the inner ear. At the bottom it says, "Your ear is the only endorsee that matters".
Something I've lived by my whole drumming career.



I used to love Tama for their over engineering (King Beat pedals anyone?) and that fact they were the "Toughest name in drums", but have come to learn it was never necessary. A drummer can play fast and hard without being abusive and todays hardware is leaps and bounds above anything from the past as far as durability. Even the entry level stuff is good to go in my book.
Acthally, back then, it WAS necessary. A lot of the hardware being made was crap and Tama really raised the bar (closely followed by Yamaha and a few others).... Tama also made a lot of very simple but well made pedals, hi-hat stands and accessories. They also made some killer single braced stuff that I still use to this day....

The reason why it is not necessary TODAY is because of Tama's example in my opinion... Every one had to step up their game to stay competitive.
 
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yammyfan

Senior Member
Fritz, that's kind of a button-pushing signature.

Why in the world would you want THAT to be the thing that everybody associates you with?
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
I can't figure Fritz out. In his zillion threads he started about buying a kit, he intimates he hasn't owned an actual kit and his experience is all with electronic kits. So that signature, well, I'm not sure what experience he has to make that statement:"Unpopular opinion: Stage Customs are over rated". If he hasn't owned played gigged it how can he say that.

Well, apparently he just doesn't know any better.
 

T_Weaves

Silver Member
Since it's just perceptions. Mine will be comparing them to motor vehicles. This is a fun exercise only.

Rogers - Oldsmobile
Slingerland - Studebaker
Pearl -Chevy pickup
Ludwig - Ford Mustang
Yamaha - Honda Accord
Tama- Pontiac Trans Am
Gretsch USA-Lincoln Town Car
DW - Harley Davidson
Craviotto - Ducati
Premier - Austin Healey
Guru- Jaguar
Mapex - Tesla
Oriollo- DeLorean
PDP- Chevy Cavalier
Sonor - Mercedes Benz
SJC - Prius

Feel free to add on. I had some laughs doing this and NO DOUBT it will offend some brand fan boys. Again, it's all in fun.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
From a French point of view who started in the nineties :
The market at that time was Pearl Tama Premier, a newcomer Mapex, and more high end Yamaha and Sonor.
The perception :

Tama was definitely in the metal scene, Slayer, Metallica, Dream Theater, Queensryche, Anthrax, Aerosmith,... Typically the big double bass kit. The badass kit that cut through. Perception was also that Tama had and still has great hardware, well engineered. I remember when the Starclassic came out with power Tom and the starcast, the sustain was incredible.

Pearl : the typical pop kit, well made but sounded too soft, I despised the penetrated tubes in the toms. Every time I had to compare with Tama and Premier, the Pearl sounded to mellow by comparison.

Premier : very nice drums, with a specific touch of class and great sound, even on the first price APk (I tried APK, XPK, Genista, Signia,...) all of them were noticeable. You'd see those kits quite often.

Sonor : hard to find, but one of the best kit I played in the 90's : the Sonor 3000. Cutting and powerful, bloody heavy, perfect quality but penetrating hardware in the toms too and none standard screws.

Yamaha : a bit the highbrow boy kit, not appealing, we didn't and still don't see much out there. I Came to listen to a 90's maple custom recently, it was gorgeous and perfect sounding, ...beautiful. And the worst drums I played was the Rydeen.

Mapex : ugly name ugly logo and often ugly kit, a bit the image of the teenager kit with flashy fade colours and dark hardware.

Ludwig : the American dream kit you never see in France in the 80's 90's 2000's. Also the image of often rusted or pealing snare, but still the snare you should own and play.

Gretsch : don't see much at that time but really jazz oriented, you'd not imagine a twin bass Gretsch kit ;-). Known to be great sounding drums with bad hardware (Spurs or Tom mounts). In the 90's they seemed vintage kit, they came back big time at the same moment Premier came down in the 2000's.

Slingerland Rogers : ancient brand nobody knows. I saw more Staccato than Rogers or Slingerland !

DW : over thought and over priced drums, very good pedals. Not popular or even known in France when I started. But typically, it was for artists, not for the "people". Still I would be happy to order one.

PDP : a "new" brand I only heard good opinions on. I'm not very attracted, but the concept series seems very good.
 
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Stuflyer

Junior Member
Surely a Brit's perspective :)

Oh definitely :)

As for Ludwig, I have to admit that the limited edition Club Date they did a couple of years ago with the bowtie lugs and cherry shells really quite peeled my banana, so to speak. I know they make good stuff, but it just doesn't do it for me these days.

*Strokes his 402 and Acro...*

Yeah, except the snares. Good snares.
 
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