Selecting My Pearl Music City Custom Snare Drum: Resolved

SomeBadDrummer

Well-known member
Greetings, ladies and gentlemen:

I'm at the monumental precipice of ordering a Pearl Music City Custom snare drum (a solid-shell work of art handcrafted in Nashville, TN). I've narrowed my options to two wood species: walnut or maple. I'm leaning toward walnut but would like your candid input.

Following are two brief demos. The first features walnut, the second maple. Both drums are 14"x5". Please be so kind as to review these videos and convey your informed impressions. Tell me which shell you like more, and don't be bashful about elaborating. I look forward to receiving your invaluable perspectives.


This is a very difficult dilemma. I have a passion for maple snares so I’ve got a predilection to select the maple. But after listening to both demos I am not 100% sure. The maple has all of the warmth and tonal qualities one would anticipate. However the walnut definitely brings a different edge and sound, a bit surprisingly inviting and yet somehow more biting. Especially tuned high as I do.
Could be the heads, recording, or the stand (not very stable), but despite my love of maple I must admit that I really like the sound that walnut snare produces. And it’s gorgeous.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
Hands down the walnut. I compared each back-to-back at every tuning, and the walnut won every single time. What's more, I really liked the overall tone of the walnut, while I felt the overall tone of the maple seemed a bit off to me, and at all tunings. And the cherry on top is that rich, lush, gorgeous walnut finish.

To me, it's a no brainer.
 

roncadillac

Member
I would go walnut. Maple is a bit 'blah' to me vs other woods. I like my snare sound a bit more direct and pronounced, birch has always been a favorite and walnut is much more in that ballpark.
 

RickP

Gold Member
Walnut is still my favourite wood for steambent shell snare drums . My 6” N&C Walnut SS is my old reliable snare . It sounds great in any situation .
That being said I prefer a walnut in 6” and deeper snares . Maple I prefer in 5” depths to deeper models .
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Maple. The ghost notes sound way better throughout the entire tuning range. Down low I prefer the walnut. The maple comes to life up high. From 3:20 to 3:26 there are lots of rim shots. Those sound way better than the walnut. I like the cross stick better from the maple also.
 

s1212z

Well-known member
The music city custom line is an overseas shell that is assembled in Nashville, I guess that passes for USA ‘made’ nowadays. They don’t specify their single source so one is left to assume the solid snare line is no different with emphasis on the ‘assemble’ that I keep reading. I watched their video, looks like they cut their edges, drill, finish, assemble but I didn’t see one plank get bent.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
The music city custom line is an overseas shell that is assembled in Nashville, I guess that passes for USA ‘made’ nowadays. They don’t specify their single source so one is left to assume the solid snare line is no different with emphasis on the ‘assemble’ that I keep reading. I watched their video, looks like they cut their edges, drill, finish, assemble but I didn’t see one plank get bent.
I can't confirm where the planks get bent, but according to Pearl, each shell is crafted by a single artisan in Nashville. That's good enough to qualify as American made for me.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Maple. The ghost notes sound way better throughout the entire tuning range. Down low I prefer the walnut. The maple comes to life up high. From 3:20 to 3:26 there are lots of rim shots. Those sound way better than the walnut. I like the cross stick better from the maple also.
That pretty much sums up my interpretation of the two. The maple speaks with clarity at high tunings, whereas the walnut excels in the mid and low ranges. The maple seems sharper, the walnut warmer. I'm liking a darker snare sound these days, so the walnut holds the slight edge for me at the moment.
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
Of those two particular drums the maple had much more character and bite. I like the maple.They both sound great. Seemed like the player had and easier time playing the walnut.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
The maple has a little bit of a "honk" that I don't care for until you get to the higher tuning, but I also think that would just translate to a little bit more clarity and projection out in the audience. I think the walnut sounds wonderful at every tuning range and manages to have both smoothness and clarity.

Really, there's no wrong answer here, they're both stunning drums and my favorite out of the four options.

I know you're a 5" depth snare person but I'd be remiss if I didn't try to get you to at least consider joining the 6.5" club. That 6.5" walnut drum is absolutely stunning and has even more of that silky smooth shell tone.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I know you're a 5" depth snare person but I'd be remiss if I didn't try to get you to at least consider joining the 6.5" club. That 6.5" walnut drum is absolutely stunning and has even more of that silky smooth shell tone.
I agree that the 6.5 depth sounds great in walnut. Generally, I shy away from deeper shells because they don't have as much focus as shallower ones, but solid-shell snares are so focused from the outset that extra depth doesn't serve as much of a deficit in that column. Even so, my love for 5" shells is enduring, and I just can't bring myself to betray it. We all have our emotional limits, I suppose.
 
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C.M. Jones

Well-known member
OTOH, after every wood snare I try, I end up back on either brass or aluminum.
I don't think I'll struggle in that regard. I gave up metal shells some time ago, and I've had my eye on Music City Custom snares so long that once I get one, I suspect I'll refuse to play anything else. I'm treating this as my legacy snare, the one I'll be striking when I fall from my throne at age ninety and slip into eternal peace, presuming I can find a way to stay alive for another forty years.
 
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graysonator

Well-known member
I'd go with the walnut too. With your Coated P3/Diplo Hazy combo, that drum would whip at a higher tuning and thud at a lower. Meanwhile retaining its darker qualities.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I'd go with the walnut too. With your Coated P3/Diplo Hazy combo, that drum would whip at a higher tuning and thud at a lower. Meanwhile retaining its darker qualities.
Now you're talking, man. My first order of business will be installing a Coated Powerstroke 3 on top and a Hazy Diplomat on bottom. The operation will give me an immediate opportunity to inspect the bearing edges as well. I'm feeling inspired already.
 
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