RE­VIEW lp ad­justable snare and kevin ri­card ca­jons

From £180 Two new Amer­i­can-made ca­jon mod­els from per­cus­sion giant LP

Rhythm - - DRUM LESSONS - Words: Tom Bradley

Keep­ing up with the con­stant de­mand for the tra­di­tional Peru­vian box drum, LP has added two brand new mod­els to its ca­jon se­lec­tion. To­day we’re tak­ing a look at the Ad­justable Snare ca­jon and the Kevin Ri­card sig­na­ture model.


The Ad­justable Snare ca­jon uses three sets of 16-strand snare wires evenly spaced along a metal beam, po­si­tioned on the back of the play­ing sur­face. A long con­nect­ing rod then ex­tends to the back of the ca­jon where a con­trol knob can, as the name sug­gests, be used to al­ter the wire ten­sion. The snares can also be turned off en­tirely for a more tra­di­tional sound. Fea­tur­ing an MDF shell, the body has a smooth, painted black fin­ish, while the birch front-plate is left in all its nat­u­ral glory. The ca­jon has a small rub­ber foot at each cor­ner, de­signed to pre­vent slid­ing and add to the over­all sta­bil­ity.

The Kevin Ri­card model is the lat­est ad­di­tion to LP’s Amer­i­cana se­ries and comes bear­ing the name of the ses­sion per­cus­sion­ist whose cred­its in­clude The TonightShow and Amer­i­canI­dol bands. Shar­ing fea­tures with some of its sib­lings, the Sig­na­ture model uses 11-ply ‘plan­ta­tion grown baltic birch’ – cho­sen for its dura­bil­ity and res­o­nant qual­i­ties. The Sig­na­ture model uses a heart­wood front-plate and has “an­gled top cor­ners for com­fort­able play­ing”. In­ter­est­ingly, not only are the cor­ners rounded off at the front, but the back edges have been cut-away com­pletely from top to bot­tom. Com­bined with a slightly shal­lower frame, this could mean a lit­tle more com­fort for those who like to hook their feet around the back of the ca­jon whilst play­ing. On the back of the box, above the 5" port is the LP Amer­i­cana Se­ries logo, in­clud­ing the “hand­crafted in the USA” slo­gan.

Other than the ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence in ma­te­ri­als be­tween the two in­stru­ments, the main char­ac­ter­is­tic that sets them apart is the unique tun­ing sys­tem of the Amer­i­cana ca­jon. In­stead of snare wires, the Kevin Ri­card sig­na­ture uses four D’ad­dario gui­tar strings stretched from top to bot­tom along the in­side of the front-plate. Four cor­re­spond­ing di­als (which ap­pear to be ac­tual gui­tar tun­ing pegs) are re­cessed at the front of the seat­ing sur­face, al­low­ing string ten­sion to be al­tered. Not only does this of­fer an al­ter­na­tive tonal char­ac­ter­is­tic, but also al­lows on-the-fly tweaks.

Hands On

At first glance there is a dis­tinct dif­fer­ence be­tween the two mod­els. The Sig­na­ture model, with its nat­u­ral birch body and curved edges, looks dis­cernibly more el­e­gant than the plain black of the Ad­justable Snare model. That said, it would be en­tirely un­fair to pit the two di­rectly against each other con­sid­er­ing the mas­sive price gap. The more ex­pen­sive Kevin Ri­card Sig­na­ture model comes in at a whop­ping £428 while the Ad­justable Snare is a mere £180 in com­par­i­son. There­fore, it may come as lit­tle sur­prise that the Sig­na­ture model comes out on top in terms of sound.

De­spite the slightly shal­lower pro­file of the Sig­na­ture model, the birch shell com­bined with the paler heart­wood front-plate pro­duces a no­tice­ably lower bass note than its sib­ling. The gui­tar string tun­ing sys­tem lends a dryer re­sponse to the higher notes which gives it more of a pa­pery qual­ity. The ten­sion­ing sys­tem it­self is very sub­tle and, de­spite the con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion of the di­als, takes a fair bit of turn­ing to re­sult in any no­tice­able change in sound.

The Ad­justable Snare Ca­jon, with its triple 16-strand snare wires, is far less sub­tle asI dial through the ten­sion set­tings. Over the course of six revo­lu­tions of the rear knob, the wires go from an off po­si­tion to the tight­est the ca­jon will al­low, of­fer­ing a plethora of tonal op­tions. A word of warn­ing though; at the very tight­est set­ting the wires are crushed against the back of the front-plate, re­sult­ing in some prom­i­nent metal­lic spring-like noises.

Although the Sig­na­ture model of­fers more low-end, the Ad­justable Snare ca­jon still pro­duces a pleas­ing thump when struck in the cen­tre. The bass re­sponse was am­pli­fied even fur­ther when com­bined with DW ’s new Ca­jon Pedal (re­viewed in Rhythm 265). I used this ca­jon as part of a mini-kit set up with snare and hi-hats for an acous­tic gig, and was not dis­ap­pointed. A small but use­ful fea­ture is the semi-cir­cu­lar dowel that is placed along the top of the sound port on the in­side. This sim­ple ad­di­tion makes car­ry­ing the ca­jon with one hand much more com­fort­able. The Kevin Ri­card Sig­na­ture model is un­doubt­edly bet­ter suited for the more se­ri­ous ca­jon play­ers out there, but for the hob­by­ist or the lo­cal street mu­si­cian, the Ad­justable Snare Ca­jon is a safer, more af­ford­able bet.

Three 16-strand snare wires are evenly spaced across the front-plate

Curved front cor­ners are de­signed for more com­fort­able play­ing The Sig­na­ture ca­jon’s body is made of 11-ply plan­ta­tion-grown Baltic birch The Kevin Ri­card model uses four D’Ad­dario gui­tar strings in­stead of wires

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