Sonor SQ1

EricT43

Senior Member
Hi everyone! I've done some searching through the forum and haven't found a lot of discussion about the SQ1's. I recently ordered a kit (10/12/14/16/22 with the matching 6.5x14 snare) in GT Black and wanted to share some of my excitement while I wait for them to arrive.

For the past 5 years that I've been playing drums somewhat seriously, I've been playing a maple DW Collector's kit (8/10/12/14/16/22). I bought them on impulse after finding a SSC shell pack on clearance at a Guitar Center. I knew DW drums by reputation, and that a lot of my favorite players used them, but that was about the extent of my research. They are great drums, to be sure, and I like the hardware a lot, but I can't say I've ever been really thrilled by their sound. No complaints, just not grin-inducing.

Then a couple of years ago I started playing with a blues trio that did a lot of gigs at restaurant patios and cafes and such, and I wanted a smaller, more vintage-sounding kit for that gig. I once again stumbled on a good deal, this time for a demo Sonor Vintage Series kit (12/14/20). I was really blown away by these drums - the quality, the dynamic range, ease of tuning, and most of all the punchy, open sound and controlled resonance of those beech shells with rounded edges. I started to realize that I don't really like a drum to resonate forever like my DW's do.

Well, I don't do that blues gig anymore, and the vintage sound is not something I like for general playing - I'm a rock'n'roll guy at heart, and not always the classic variety. So I wanted to find a kit that had many of the same sonic properties that I like about the Sonor Vintage, but with a more modern, focused sound. Since I was already impressed as hell with Sonor, I started looking at beech SQ2 kits, but they are very expensive. I also feel that I am still searching for my personal sound, and decided to stick with off-the-shelf kits until I truly know what I want in terms of shell materials, finishes, and sizes. So, I started looking at SQ1's. The SQ1 are birch, not beech, so they don't sound exactly the same, but compared to maple, they have more of the attack, shorter decay, and punch that I'm looking for, but with 45-degree edges for a more contemporary sound.

I watched pretty much every YouTube video featuring SQ1's and read all the reviews. I've played other lower-end birch kits and was pretty happy with the sound. Luckily, a dealer in the next town had a kit in his shop, so we set it up and I was quite impressed. The bass drum is killer. The toms have even less sustain than the Vintage Series, at least to my ears they did. To be honest, I'm a little worried that they might not be resonant enough, but I decided to take a chance. It's hard to gage how a kit will perform after only hearing them in one setting. I calculated that by selling my Vintage Series kit, along with a handful of cymbals and snares that don't get much use, that I could pay for the SQ1 kit, and I got the green light from my wife.

A lot of retailers are pushing the Cruiser Blue color kits - I see them everywhere online. It's a pretty color, but I can see myself getting tired of it after a while. The red and green look very nice too, but they are strong color statements, and again, I feel like I might grow weary of them, so I decided to go with black. The matte black wrap with shiny chrome hardware has a tuxedo-like vibe to it, and I think it will look at home in any situation.

I'm should have the new drums by early next week, and will post some photos then. Thanks for letting me share!
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Congrats! I own a Sonor birch kit, I think you'll like the dynamic range and clarity of these drums. I think it's due to their design and build quality
Not being familiar with this line, I just watched a video produced by Drummers Review and they do sound good.
Happy drumming to you, let us know how you like them.
 

EricT43

Senior Member
Congrats! I own a Sonor birch kit, I think you'll like the dynamic range and clarity of these drums. I think it's due to their design and build quality
Not being familiar with this line, I just watched a video produced by Drummers Review and they do sound good.
Happy drumming to you, let us know how you like them.
Thanks, I sure will. That review from Drummer's Review was what got me interested in the first place.

There was an issue with the rubber gaskets discoloring the finish so watch out for that.
I heard, and I don't know if they got it fixed or not, but that was another one of the reasons I chose black...
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
One last thought, I like the sound of coated Emperor's over clear Ambassadors with my toms.
I also found that using Evans clear EC2's over clear ambassadors gives a punch like George Foreman. So whatever style you play you should dig these drums.
 

EricT43

Senior Member
One last thought, I like the sound of coated Emperor's over clear Ambassadors with my toms.
I also found that using Evans clear EC2's over clear ambassadors gives a punch like George Foreman. So whatever style you play you should dig these drums.
Thanks Jeremy. I know they come with coated over clear Ambassadors, which are not bad, but sound a little too papery for my tastes. I'll probably swap for coated Emperors on top. I have clear EC2's over clear G1's on my DW kit, and I like the sound on those drums. I'll have to spend some time swapping heads to see what sounds best!
 

moxman

Silver Member
I took a close look at the SQ1 and SQ2s. Fantastic drums from all I've heard - made in Germany with superb craftsmanship. They were just waay more than I wanted to spend. MIght have been interested if I could find a single shop that had them in stock to try out - and they rarely come up on 2nd hand sites. If they do.. they are still really expensive.. in the 5-7K range depending on what options etc. But you've got a fantastic kit on the way - enjoy!
 

RickP

Gold Member
I have owned a few different Birch shell kits including two Yamaha Recording Custom kits and IMHO the Sonor SQ1 is the best sounding birch shell kit I have ever heard or played . The bass drums have lots of bottom end and the Toms sustain perfectly . My personal preference is for coated two ply heads for Birch Toms and that would be my first choice for the SQ1 if I was to purchase a kit . The Remo coated Emperor would be my preference , with the Remo Vintage Emperor and Aquarian Super 2 as second and third choices respectively . The stock clear Remo Ambassadors would remain on the resonant side .
For the Bass drum I would go with the coated Remo PS3 and the Dave Weckl muffling pillow .
 

EricT43

Senior Member
I have owned a few different Birch shell kits including two Yamaha Recording Custom kits and IMHO the Sonor SQ1 is the best sounding birch shell kit I have ever heard or played . The bass drums have lots of bottom end and the Toms sustain perfectly . My personal preference is for coated two ply heads for Birch Toms and that would be my first choice for the SQ1 if I was to purchase a kit . The Remo coated Emperor would be my preference , with the Remo Vintage Emperor and Aquarian Super 2 as second and third choices respectively . The stock clear Remo Ambassadors would remain on the resonant side .
For the Bass drum I would go with the coated Remo PS3 and the Dave Weckl muffling pillow .
Do you use the Weckl pillow on both sides, or just the batter?
 
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