DW Drums from a Non-DW Player's Perspective

Okay, I'm probably going to get flamed for this. But, here it goes. I know there are people out there who have spent a lot of money on DW drums and people who genuinely like them. To each their own.

But, every time I see them, hear them or play them, I am left asking myself "what's all the hype about?" I think the lugs on the collectors series (and to a lesser extent the performance series) are pretty ugly. And, the toms usually sound like cardboard on the collectors maples I have played or heard. Even when they sound good (room, player, tuning, mics etc. being the variables) they still sound boring, IMO. I will give DW credit for their kick drums. From behind the kit at least, they usually sound thunderous when I play them. On recordings, not so much.

These are obviously subjective opinions. But, what is not a subjective opinion is that DW is charging a ton of money for these drums (the collectors series, at least). The construction, hardware, finishing etc. seems no better than all the other major drum companies are turning out. It seems people are just paying for the status of owning what has become an industry standard drum kit. It's a free country, and people should spend their money however they want. But, I don't get it.
 

Bernhard

Founder Drummerworld
Staff member
Leica M Cameras cost about 7000$ without even a objective, compared to DSLR which much more qualities, which cost only a quarter of this.

Only very few of real photographers use them, much to pricey....but something magic about the pictures and bokeh really exists

But there are rich boys loving to show the red Leica dots on their camera - nobody likes these guys, but they keep this little manufacturer alive....
 
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GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Opinions are like navels. We all have one. I have heard every brand out there at some point I think and some have been good, some bad. I tend to think my drums sound good and I don't think anyone on this forum would admit to their drums sounding bad unless they were here to get advice as to how to make them sound better. If they sound bad to you then you have eliminated one brand the next time you go shopping.
 
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Basswood

Senior Member
I like DW drums for many reasons, but one thing I dislike about them are those
cheap zinc plated screws which fix the lugs on the shell. Not okay on a drum set that costs several thousand $s.
 
F

funkutron

Guest
Okay, I'm probably going to get flamed for this. But, here it goes. I know there are people out there who have spent a lot of money on DW drums and people who genuinely like them. To each their own.

But, every time I see them, hear them or play them, I am left asking myself "what's all the hype about?" I think the lugs on the collectors series (and to a lesser extent the performance series) are pretty ugly. And, the toms usually sound like cardboard on the collectors maples I have played or heard. Even when they sound good (room, player, tuning, mics etc. being the variables) they still sound boring, IMO. I will give DW credit for their kick drums. From behind the kit at least, they usually sound thunderous when I play them. On recordings, not so much.

These are obviously subjective opinions. But, what is not a subjective opinion is that DW is charging a ton of money for these drums (the collectors series, at least). The construction, hardware, finishing etc. seems no better than all the other major drum companies are turning out. It seems people are just paying for the status of owning what has become an industry standard drum kit. It's a free country, and people should spend their money however they want. But, I don't get it.
I don't know, my best kit is a DW Pacific MX kit in Green to black fade, and it's had the bearing edges done so it's like a "big boy's" DW....the bearing edges are double cut instead of the single 45 degree edge which comes with the Pacifics. The kick has ten lugs, as well as the snare, and the floor tom has eight, and to ME, it's a damn good sounding and playing kit. The wood snare is fantastic! It has factory suspension mounts for the rack toms, and I use the same heads I use on all my drums, Evans EC 2's on the top, and Evans Hydraulics on the bottom. On the kick I use the Evans E-Mad single ply. Thedrums sound great! I traded an old Tama Superstar birch kit from the 70's for this kit, and never regretted it. I don't haul this kit around, it's a permanent fixture in my rehearsal room, but I love it. If I got a gig with the Stones or something when Charlie decides to pack it in I'd use it, but to me it's too pretty to bang it around the club scene and get it all dinged up. Very well made drums! The original DW Pacifics were made so well who would pay more for the other ones?! Now they have "cheapened" them by having fewer lugs, etc., but originally, they were fantastic!
 

Stroker

Platinum Member
If I were a betting man, I'd bet the farm on the fact that a brand new DW-CS Exotic kit will grace one end of my library by years-end, and my decision to move on such a kit will have no bearing on the name, it's rank or status (or lack there-of in the drum-world), or how expensive it is.

I moved on a DW-CS Snare Drum last year and love it. In the over 40 years that I've been drumming, never have I played or owned such an outstanding sounding drum, so for me choosing a full-on DW-CS kit just feels right, money be damned.
 

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
I have a DW Collectors kit and a PDP Concept Maple in the exact same sizes. I re-cut the edges on the PDP and overall both kits sound about the exact same. I like the floor tom of the PDP better, and the rack tom of the DW better. Bass drums are pretty much equal, and the snares just have different characteristics that I can't fault either of them, they are just different. Which is the better kit? Tough to say. The DW is built better, but the PDP costs less than 1/3rd of the DW...

I am not sure where the "cardboard, boxy, DW sound" comments come from. I am guessing most people play DW kits at Guitar Center (a place where I have never heard a well tuned kit) or are watching videos where someone tunes their drums JAW. Most kits will sound boxy if they aren't tuned well, or don't have enough tension on the heads to sustain. I have mine tuned up to jazz tunings and they sing.

Are Collectors kits worth the money? Well that can only be decided by the buyer, but to give some perspective on what you can do with a collectors kit that most high end drums kits never give you the option of:

1) Shell material choices (pretty much any wood you want)
2) Shell ply layup choices (6 ply, 7 ply, 8 ply, 10 ply, VLT, HVLT, X, VLX, VLX+, etc)
2a) Would you like re-rings with that???
3) Shell size choices (any size or depth you want)
4) Bearing edge choices (You are not limited to what the manufacturer chooses)
5) Hardware finish choices (5 choices with mixing and matching as an option)
6) Hoop choices (3 choices)
7) Throw off and snare butt options (2 options each in various finishes)
8) Tension rod thread pitch options (seriously, you can get this detailed)
9) Floor Tom leg options
10) Tom mounting options (virgin, sliding bass mount, vintage rail)
11) Finish options (I would break the internet listing how many finish options you can choose from)

Its very easy to look at a DW Collectors kit and say its "run of the mill", but when you call DW and talk with John Good (yeah, the actual guy and not some kid he hired to deal with customers) the level of detail you can get in to one of these kits is mind boggling. There is nothing run of the mill about a DW Collectors kit.

If you say they are overpriced, I get it. I'm not trying to be snobbish in my reply. To many people, having this many options to choose from is not what they are looking for. However, having this many options and working directly with the Senior VP of the company developing your fully customized kit costs money. Is it a crazy amount of money? Well, when you consider a Yamaha PHX kit or a Tama Star costs more and you don't really get much (if any) customizing, the DW's actually sound like a pretty good deal if you are looking for a custom kit.
 
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cornelius

Silver Member
... the toms usually sound like cardboard... every time I see them, hear them or play them, I am left asking myself "what's all the hype about?"

... But, what is not a subjective opinion is that DW is charging a ton of money for these drums (the collectors series, at least). The construction, hardware, finishing etc. seems no better than all the other major drum companies are turning out...

I’ve been playing DW’s for a while now, and I always get compliments on how they sound - in the studio and live - Jazz or Collector’s series...

As far as their quality vs. other current companies - keep in mind that over time, all of the other companies have now caught up to DW’s high quality level, that they set years ago...
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
I don't know, my best kit is a DW Pacific MX kit in Green to black fade, and it's had the bearing edges done so it's like a "big boy's" DW...
The CX, LX, and MX lines were made of the same maple as the Collector's Series drums. The truck would stop at the DW factory first, and take the "seconds" to the Pacific factory.

Those drums sound great, because they were essentially DW drums with 2 more plies and no re-rings. I liked them better than my DWs I had at the time, which was one of the reasons I decided to sell my DWs...
 

VitalTransformation

Silver Member
High end DW drums are fairly uncommon in Europe (in case someone thought they were overpriced in the US) so I've only ever played one Collectors kit that I can remember (a one up, two down kit in a very nice wavy green translucent finish). I recall the kit sounding pretty great, especially the kick and snare, but I couldn't get the 12" rack tom to sound open and bright even though it had a new clear Emperor batter on it. The sound guy that night agreed with me!
 

Groov-E

Silver Member
I have a DW Collectors kit and a PDP Concept Maple in the exact same sizes. I re-cut the edges on the PDP and overall both kits sound about the exact same. I like the floor tom of the PDP better, and the rack tom of the DW better. Bass drums are pretty much equal, and the snares just have different characteristics that I can't fault either of them, they are just different. Which is the better kit? Tough to say. The DW is built better, but the PDP costs less than 1/3rd of the DW...

I am not sure where the "cardboard, boxy, DW sound" comments come from. I am guessing most people play DW kits at Guitar Center (a place where I have never heard a well tuned kit) or are watching videos where someone tunes their drums JAW. Most kits will sound boxy if they aren't tuned well, or don't have enough tension on the heads to sustain. I have mine tuned up to jazz tunings and they sing.

Are Collectors kits worth the money? Well that can only be decided by the buyer, but to give some perspective on what you can do with a collectors kit that most high end drums kits never give you the option of:

1) Shell material choices (pretty much any wood you want)
2) Shell ply layup choices (6 ply, 7 ply, 8 ply, 10 ply, VLT, HVLT, X, VLX, VLX+, etc)
2a) Would you like re-rings with that???
3) Shell size choices (any size or depth you want)
4) Bearing edge choices (You are not limited to what the manufacturer chooses)
5) Hardware finish choices (5 choices with mixing and matching as an option)
6) Hoop choices (3 choices)
7) Throw off and snare butt options (2 options each in various finishes)
8) Tension rod thread pitch options (seriously, you can get this detailed)
9) Floor Tom leg options
10) Tom mounting options (virgin, sliding bass mount, vintage rail)
11) Finish options (I would break the internet listing how many finish options you can choose from)

Its very easy to look at a DW Collectors kit and say its "run of the mill", but when you call DW and talk with John Good (yeah, the actual guy and not some kid he hired to deal with customers) the level of detail you can get in to one of these kits is mind boggling. There is nothing run of the mill about a DW Collectors kit.

If you say they are overpriced, I get it. I'm not trying to be snobbish in my reply. To many people, having this many options to choose from is not what they are looking for. However, having this many options and working directly with the Senior VP of the company developing your fully customized kit costs money. Is it a crazy amount of money? Well, when you consider a Yamaha PHX kit or a Tama Star costs more and you don't really get much (if any) customizing, the DW's actually sound like a pretty good deal if you are looking for a custom kit.
I feel this answer about sums it up. Infinite possibilities. A collectors kit should sound as good as the sum of its parts, and those need to be carefully chosen. And then carefully tuned.

Of course if you buy a 6 000$ Ply kit crafted from different kinds of wood, 38.2 degree bearing edges and s-hoops only to tune it jaw (and unless one had calculated this before ordering for that specific purpose), then I fail to see the point.

My only other reserve has to do with the shell ply layup options. Without exhaustive empiric evidence of a major difference to the human ear, grain orientation in a ply drum is not a big selling point for me.

I do not have enough knowledge about drums and their build characteristics to order such a specific kit, and would honestly settle on sizes and finish and then talk to the builder about the sound I have in my head for it, work with him on his suggestions and take the time do my homework.

And for all of those reasons, I consider dw collectors kits to be objectively reasonnably priced.

For the moment production kits I can play then deal are good enough for me.
 

incrementalg

Gold Member
I think that DW sound people dislike is due to the DW batter heads they come with. Switch the heads out to something to your liking and they'll do anything you want sound wise. I recently got to
Play a collectors set with G2 batters and they sounded fantastic.

I'd love to hear one of the collectors cherry kits in person.
 
I think that DW sound people dislike is due to the DW batter heads they come with. Switch the heads out to something to your liking and they'll do anything you want sound wise. I recently got to
Play a collectors set with G2 batters and they sounded fantastic.

I'd love to hear one of the collectors cherry kits in person.
Well, I will admit I've never hit a collector's tom with anything but a stock head on it. But, I've heard lot's of collector's kits with other heads on the toms and I still wasn't impressed.

I totally get that people like certain drums, even if I don't. It's completely subjective. There are no correct answers. And, I totally get that people will place value on things based on their subjective preferences. I'm not bashing. I'm into the stuff I'm into and I'm willing to pay for it.

That's why this post was written from a non-DW player's perspective. Speaking for myself, I still just don't get it. And I certainly don't get why people would want to drop $3-5K on a ply drumkit just because it says DW on it. But, if someone else likes DW collectors kits enough to spend that kind of money and their playing is more enjoyable and inspired because of it, then cool.

On the other hand, marketing is a tricky thing. Us consumers can be tricked into thinking this ply drumkit is worth 3x this other ply drumkit for no other reason than the marketing got us. It all comes down to what the drums do for you when you play them and how much you are willing to spend to get that feeling.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It's really hard to buy a bad set of new drums these days, least of all DW.

Any boxy sounding DW's are not the drums fault. It's all user error.

Frankly, I can't believe how long my Collectors set resonates, even with the heavy lugs.

You can get great deals on used DW's.

I never had a problem with them, and they lived in my van uncased. Hot summers and cold winters. Mine hold a tuning like nobody's business either.

Lacquer finish, exotic veneer. No checking, no issues.
 

Superman

Gold Member
I am a non DW player (I own a Collectors maple snare that doesn't get a ton of use). I feel like people love to hate on DW but I don't see why. They are fantastic drums. The performance series is priced similarly to other drums in its league (Saturn, Starclassic ect) and the Collectors is priced higher due to endless options available. So why the hate? Just silly and ridiculous.

BTW, there are pretty much no drums sold these days over the $600 mark that sound bad or "like cardboard".
 

double_G

Silver Member
i was actually very impressed when i played a hi-end maple DW kit as a back-line kit for a fall festival last year. i was worried about the thin / flat tom reputation (Chad Wackerman's sound from the 90s). completely NOT my experience...singing / resonant tones w/ clear heads. BIG & phat BD sound. 16" floor tom was bananas thru the wedges.
 

MusiQmaN

Platinum Member
I played a DW (first production model) and the PHX. And yes the PHX cost a bit (depending on location and store) but you get much more and usable sound. And thats where its at for me. The options are nice, but why options if what you have is working perfectly and the sound is better.

And when adding all those custom options a DW can cost even more then a standard PHX.

So after in depth experience I do have to say DW's (especially in Europe) are overpriced for what the sound you get.

I do have to add you will notice this mostly in the studio and do like some of the DW hardware products.
 
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