DW Drums from a Non-DW Player's Perspective

notvinnie

Senior Member
They are cheap?
I have experienced at least a dozen of their bolts (over the years) breaking in half or stripping. If you never have to remove any of them, or adjust/tighten anything, you'll be fine though. One day I may buy another set of Gretsch, and just immediately replace every single bolt with one of decent quality. The screws holding the straps/cords to the strainer are notoriously fragile.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
Yep, these drums sound horrible!!

I just love when everybody gets all up in arms when their favorite brand gets criticized. You wanna get defensive? Buy a Mapex kit. I was playing my Saturn V Exotic 5 pc kit today for about 2 hours after having swapped the clear Emperors out for clear G2s and they sound terrific. But there's 50+ guys on here that will tell you they suck. Get my point?

BTW, I've heard some DW kits that sounded really good but that clip of Sheila E? Ewww, really awful. And versus that Sonor kit of Gavin Harrison's? Sorry but it's more than just tuning and heads.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
I have experienced at least a dozen of their bolts (over the years) breaking in half or stripping. If you never have to remove any of them, or adjust/tighten anything, you'll be fine though. One day I may buy another set of Gretsch, and just immediately replace every single bolt with one of decent quality. The screws holding the straps/cords to the strainer are notoriously fragile.
Out of curiosity, which Gretsch kit are you referring to? I'd totally believe it if it were in reference to a Catalina kit. Or even an older USA kit, from back when their quality had dipped (somewhere around mid-80s through early 2000s). But I'd be very surprised if you had that experience on a newer Renown, New Classic or USA-made kit.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
I just love when everybody gets all up in arms when their favorite brand gets criticized. You wanna get defensive? Buy a Mapex kit. I was playing my Saturn V Exotic 5 pc kit today for about 2 hours after having swapped the clear Emperors out for clear G2s and they sound terrific. But there's 50+ guys on here that will tell you they suck. Get my point?

BTW, I've heard some DW kits that sounded really good but that clip of Sheila E? Ewww, really awful. And versus that Sonor kit of Gavin Harrison's? Sorry but it's more than just tuning and heads.
DW isn't my favorite brand but I do own them and others brands as well. They are an American success story as other US drum companies have failed or are barely hanging on. I would rather support the economy of the country I live in than another.

I guess I could buy a made in China drum set to reward them for unleashing Covid 19. How'd that be?

I agree Sheila E's drums sounded bad. So? You can make any drum set sound bad.

The DW bashing gets old perpetuated by people who can't afford them, There are some who prefer something else but they are usually not the I hate DW cheerleaders. Whatever.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I respect your opinion. So what is your impression After playing those Gurus for a while?
I gotta be honest, the DW's are in the same class as the Gurus sonically...just a different tone. Gurus aren't magical. They're drums. There's only so far a drum tone will go on it's own. Maple DW's to segmented walnut Gurus isn't an apples to apples comparison. The DW's have a crisper high end that cuts a bit more. Sharper attack. Walnuts have a deeper voice, not as sharp. Kind of like the difference between double 45's and a roundover bearing edge. Ply drums have a bit more overtones than solid shell. Nothing excessive. It's subtle. The kind of thing I notice when I'm hearing only the drum.

Solid drums make a more focused tone to my ear. More pure fundamental. The lacquer job on the DW's is pretty bitchin though. Black lugs and hoops with a dark burst finish that kind of downplays the black lugs as they kind of disappear into the dark part of the burst. The middle part of the burst is this amazing deep green color that reminds me of a Tahitian sea on a moonlit night.The exotic grain shows through the middle part, but overall it's a dark drum. The color...I didn't plan on a dark green set. It was an unexpected result of the regal blue paint I spec'd in applied to the (unbeknownst to me) yellowish olive ash burl exotic outer veneer. It's a badass looking color, way better than I had planned. It looks like something Batman would play.

I'll try and put up a pic tomorrow.
 
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Lee-Bro

Senior Member
BTW, I've heard some DW kits that sounded really good but that clip of Sheila E? Ewww, really awful. And versus that Sonor kit of Gavin Harrison's? Sorry but it's more than just tuning and heads.
I don't know who tech'd Sheila's kit, but I DO think it came down to heads and a LACK of tuning (re: the difference between her kit and Gavin's). Sheila's kit sounded as though the heads were tensioned to JUW (just under wrinkle). It seriously reminded me of a friend's Export kit from the 80s that he put Hydraulic heads on, removed the bottom heads and always barely tightened his heads. I doubt he ever got them up to JAW.

So yeah, there's a difference between the two, but I genuinely believe it's a complete lack of tension on Sheila's heads -who knows, perhaps that's her preferred tuning.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Yep, these drums sound horrible!!

Well, at least there's one thing that has become super evident to me after watching the video, aside from the fact that DCP just makes killer videos! The revelation of the day...every one of those sets are different shell layups, "shells stamped with different notes" and with different heads... and damn if they don't all sound so close I wouldn't know the difference without looking at them...albeit, they have a distinct DW sound, especially the kicks and higher toms! It's just got to be the lugs. Swap them out with a boutique brand, spring their logo around to read mp (magic potion) and all would line up to buy them at 2x the price!
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
Well, at least there's one thing that has become super evident to me after watching the video, aside from the fact that DCP just makes killer videos! The revelation of the day...every one of those sets are different shell layups, "shells stamped with different notes" and with different heads... and damn if they don't all sound so close I wouldn't know the difference without looking at them...albeit, they have a distinct DW sound, especially the kicks and higher toms! It's just got to be the lugs. Swap them out with a boutique brand, spring their logo around to read mp (magic potion) and all would line up to buy them at 2x the price!
I liked the sound of the Cherry Spruce DW kit. To me their maple kits are one trick ponies. A drummer buddy of mine used to say. "DW is the only company that can make a maple kit sound like birch." The best description of which was supplied by Aging_Rocker.......

c/p "Sound:
Very focused! You get the attack, then the note and then it's gone. None of the juicy overtones rolling around that jazz guys usually insist on. The ultra focused sound works great on kicks and snares when you want to rock (or country) but the toms are always sort of dead sounding. The toms also don't carry very well in acoustic settings but can sound pretty darn good with a mic on them. You can't really go wrong with a good 100% maple kit but hating DW is more about what they don't do than what they do. You can take a different maple kit at half the price and get it to sound like or even better than (frankly) DW's but you can't make DW's sound like anything but DW's. Once you buy it you're stuck with it. The DW kit I worked on at my last backline company always had problems getting the toms to sound cohesive. Often the 10" would sound like it was from a completely different kit than the 12".

end c/p.

Personally I couldn't care less where a kit is built. Many US jobs are associated with kits manufactured outside the country. Sales, freight, marketing, distribution, shipping etc etc. I did get a kick out of Steady Freddie getting a Covid reference into the conversation. Spare me the whole "nationalist" baloney.

Everything about drums is subjective. For me DW is a hard pass. For others it's the Holy Grail. That's why there's chocolate and vanilla. Buy what you like and play the heck out them.
 

acsunda

Junior Member
I feel like the appeal of DW is the fact that their drums sound "boring", in the sense that to some their sound is "boring" but to others "boring" translates into versatility. Because they lack definite character, they can be used for virtually any type of music. Most other brands have a specific "sound" that is unique to them. For example, Gretsch drums have a unique sound that is different from other brands. Whereas DW's sound seems to be kind of plain and boring to some, but to others it's the perfect middle of the road sound for any situation. I sort of swing back and forth when I hear DW drums. Sometimes, I think "man those sound great" and sometimes I'm like "meh". I can hear both arguments. But personally I prefer Gretsch.
 

NouveauCliche

Senior Member
I don't have anything groundbreaking to add to this thread - but it's been a really funny read for sure.


DW drums pros:
1. Huge Success Story
2. Great American Company
3. Killer Marketing
4. Sound pretty good in general.
5. Quality hardware
6. Concise and clean catalog of offerings
7. Extensive finish options
8. I do appreciate the annual showstopper kits....the timeless timbers, etc. that John produces as benchmark kits for the industry. Those actually do have a "labor of love" feel to them
9. I spent more time than I'd like to admit on the "kit builder" when it first came out forever ago.



I have a lot of respect for them and what they've built and they've done with Gretsch - despite not ever really wanting to own one of their kits directly. I just saw a DW on here that I have to admit was one of the prettiest kits I've ever seen finish wise and I loved it despite it having those turret lugs - if I can find it again I'll credit the owner here. (EDIT: It was @MusiQmaN and his kit posted here)

Cons:

1. Marketing can be a bit much...I think a part of me always resented DW simply because of how many ads I would see telling me that they were the best all the time in every drum magazine...like every other page was a DW ad.
2. The actual sound - again...I think it's perhaps because of how often we are told that they are the definitive drum sound...but they sound on par with most major drum drum manufacturers at this point - not exceptionally better.
3. Website - that site needs some attention in such a big way. I'd had been on it for years before making this post and it looks the same as it did in like 2002.
4. Pedals - I personally have never found these pedals to feel anything but chunky and heavy. I'm a good friend of Lucas Jacobson - who designed and patented their 9000 series bass drum pedals and 9500 hats and we sat down a few years ago and talked pedals in depth and he let me try all sorts of DW pedals. I found that they could be improved with his quick torque cam - which completely changes how the pedal moves by reducing the tension needed on the downstroke and rocketing the upstroke back with a return spring...but that's a lot of effort to like a pedal. I know I'm the outlier in this feeling for DW pedals for sure.


I don't really have much negative to say - if there was some new lug design I'd likely be a fan ....however if I was being honest I'd probably say that pure sound wise, all marketing and looks, etc. if I had to rank major drum manufacturers it would look like:

1. Gretsch
2. Sonor / Yamaha
3. DW/ Ludwig / Pearl
4. Tama / Mapex
 
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PaisteGuy

Well-known member
I just love when everybody gets all up in arms when their favorite brand gets criticized. You wanna get defensive? Buy a Mapex kit. I was playing my Saturn V Exotic 5 pc kit today for about 2 hours after having swapped the clear Emperors out for clear G2s and they sound terrific. But there's 50+ guys on here that will tell you they suck. Get my point?

BTW, I've heard some DW kits that sounded really good but that clip of Sheila E? Ewww, really awful. And versus that Sonor kit of Gavin Harrison's? Sorry but it's more than just tuning and heads.
Mapex make very good drums, the Saturns especially. Their Hardware is top notch too. For me, it’s the name. For reasons that are trivial and silly, I just can’t get past it. That’s why I passed over them when looking for a kit.
I agree that Sheila’s DW’s sound horrible. Embarrisingyly so. Nick D’Virgilio on the Sweetwater DW Videos does a great job of tuning Drums (all brands) and seems to bring out the best of any DW kit he plays. He also swaps out the stock DW heads for standard Remo Ambassadors. I Like DW, but I’m not a Fanboy. I like Tama equally. The one thing I dislike about DW are the overly large turret lugs, but have come to be accepting of them in the last couple of years.
 

notvinnie

Senior Member
Out of curiosity, which Gretsch kit are you referring to?
Actually, it was ONLY with the USA Custom. Once it was an older Baldwin era set (1982) and the next time it was a newer pre-DW kit (2011). The one Catalina kit I had was totally fine.

I think their quality has gone up a notch or two since DW stepped in.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
Actually, it was ONLY with the USA Custom. Once it was an older Baldwin era set (1982) and the next time it was a newer pre-DW kit (2011). The one Catalina kit I had was totally fine.

I think their quality has gone up a notch or two since DW stepped in.
That 1982 kit doesn't especially surprise me, but the 2011 kit does. I have a 2011/12-ish Renown, which I did have to take apart. No issues whatsoever. But when I was restoring a Catalina from that same time period, several lugs snapped as I was screwing everything back together. But I suppose that was a lug issue, and not the mounting screws.
 

MusiQmaN

Platinum Member
I only have two gripes with DW after playing a few kits, snares and a lot of hardware.

Their chrome plating on the hardware (the lugs and hoops are much better) is really bad, especially in the European/sea environment and their lacquer isn't durable enough.

I have played Yamaha for over 27 years, so that sets the bar for those points really high. But for this money, it really should be better.

And indeed their lock bolts strip quite easy. The hardware is made by Reliance in Asia, like Gibraltar and other bigger companies.

They should outsource it to the Yamaha motor factory instead, but still, I am a more than happy DW player.
 
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J-W

Well-known member
They are an American success story as other US drum companies have failed or are barely hanging on. I would rather support the economy of the country I live in than another.
It's all about marketing and not necessarily a superior product........similar to Harley Davidson.

As for supporting the economy of the country I live in; when I bought my Yamaha Recording Customs years ago, while I didn't support an American company, I did one better and bought them used......supporting not only the economy of the country I live in, but also supported a fellow middle class citizen.
Now I play Ludwig. Again, purchased used.

The DW bashing gets old perpetuated by people who can't afford them...
Not necessarily. I can afford them, and as much as I'd love to support an American company, I just don't buy into the marketing BS. In fact, it's a bit insulting to anyone with any knowledge about how a drum works.
 
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