RE­VIEW dw col­lec­tor’s series pur­ple­heart kit

£5,450 Drum Work­shop doesn’t miss a beat with its new­est Col­lec­tor’s kit

Rhythm - - DRUM LESSONS - Words: Tom Bradley

De­spite its po­si­tion as one of the big­gest drum man­u­fac­tur­ers in the world, Drum Work­shop still places the ut­most im­por­tance on rep­re­sent­ing it­self as a cus­tom drum shop. The Amer­i­can com­pany’s flag­ship Col­lec­tor’s Series em­bod­ies this per­fectly, with ev­ery kit be­ing made to or­der via a mind-bog­gling choice of op­tions, from sizes and fin­ishes to shell ma­te­rial and even, if you so choose, spe­cific grain ori­en­ta­tion.

Euro­pean dis­trib­u­tor GEWA takes some of the hard work (and cost) out of this process by bulk or­der­ing pop­u­lar con­fig­u­ra­tions for its cus­tomers, whilst also still deal­ing with more in­di­vid­ual re­quire­ments.

Rhythm was re­cently in­vited to GEWA ’s Ger­man head­quar­ters to check out a se­lec­tion of DW ’s lat­est wares, which in­cludes the brand new Col­lec­tor’s Series Pur­ple­heart kit you see here.


Fol­low­ing on from the suc­cess of the stand-alone Pur­ple­heart series snare drums, DW has added a com­plete Pur­ple­heart kit to its Pure range of Col­lec­tor’s Series shells, which also in­cludes Pure Oak, Cherry, Maple and Birch.

Pur­ple­heart de­rives from the Ama­ranth tree, which is sourced from the rain­forests of South Amer­ica. The heart­wood is favoured due to its colour chang­ing prop­er­ties. When first cut the wood is a light brown colour, but af­ter ex­po­sure to ul­travi­o­let light it be­gins to trans­form into a rich pur­ple hue – hence the name Pur­ple­heart. It is ranked as one of the hard­est woods in the world and has “sonic prop­er­ties that lie some­where be­tween those of hick­ory and bub­inga”.

On the DW shells the wood appears to be more of a bur­gundy colour, although in the right light they do give off more of a bright pur­ple ap­pear­ance. The nat­u­ral gloss fin­ish shows off not only the unique pur­ple hue, but also the beau­ti­ful wood grain. At a glance, one might as­sume the drums have been treated with a light stain, but look­ing un­der the hood at the un-lac­quered in­ner shells it’s clear to see this un­usual and ex­otic ma­te­rial in all its nat­u­ral glory.

The shells have been con­structed us­ing DW ’s ‘HVLT’ grain ori­en­ta­tion. This stands for Hor­i­zon­tal/Ver­ti­cal Low Tim­bre which, by us­ing a mix­ture of hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal wood­grain, cre­ates a spe­cific tim­bre for each shell. This method is de­signed to “of­fer slightly more low-mid range fre­quen­cies”. HVLT can also be found as stan­dard on DW 's Pure Cherry, Pure Oak and De­sign Series drums.

Look­ing un­der the hood at the un-lac­quered in­ner shells, it is clear to see this un­usual and ex­otic ma­te­rial in all its nat­u­ral glory

Our five-piece re­view kit is made up of a 22"x18" bass drum, 10"x8" and 12"x9" rack toms and a 16"x14" floor tom. We also have a match­ing 14"x5½" snare drum, which can be pur­chased sep­a­rately. All shells are 8-ply, ex­cept for the snare, which is 13-ply. As ex­plained above, any of these shells can be made to or­der both in terms of con­fig­u­ra­tion and grain ori­en­ta­tion.

Hard­ware in­cludes DW ’s pro­pri­etary large tur­ret lugs, True Hoops (1.6mm for the 10", 2.3mm for 12" & 16" and 3mm for the snare), True-Pitch 50 ten­sion rods and Sus­pen­sion Tom Mounts (STM ). The snare drum fea­tures 20-strand TrueTone snare wires, plus Mag throw-off and 3P butt-plate. All hard­ware on our re­view kit is fin­ished in classic chrome but it's also avail­able in nickel, black nickel, gold and satin chrome (although these come with a 10 per­cent price in­crease).

The sup­plied Remo heads are the newer AA Smooth va­ri­ety, which are DW ’s first stock dou­ble-ply heads. De­signed to in­crease low-end, the film heads are also de­scribed by DW as “ex­tremely durable and warm sound­ing”. The bass drum has a clear bater head with tone con­trol in­lay rings and an un-ported, gloss black DW branded res­o­nant head. A small cush­ion is po­si­tioned to ap­ply sub­tle damp­en­ing to the bat­ter head.

As with any Col­lec­tor’s Series kit, the shells have been lov­ingly tim­bre matched in the fac­tory, likely by John Good him­self. This process in­volves first batch­ing to­gether shells of sim­i­lar tonal­ity and res­o­nance, then group­ing them into spe­cific kit con­fig­u­ra­tions with nat­u­rally de­scend­ing tones. The res­o­nant pitch of each shell is then de­ter­mined and printed on the in­side.

Hands On

Get­ting up close with the kit, it’s hard to be­lieve that this is the nat­u­ral colour of the wood. The rich red­dish pur­ple is cap­ti­vat­ing to the eye and is en­hanced by the plainly vis­i­ble, rib­bon-like grain. De­spite an ob­vi­ous seam on the in­side, the outer sur­face appears com­pletely uni­form. The 45° bear­ing edges are cut to per­fec­tion and of­fer a pre­cise sur­face to seat the AA Smooth heads. The iconic chrome tur­ret lugs sit atop black rub­ber gas­kets, which are mir­rored some­what by the larger rub­ber discs found on the Sus­pen­sion Tom Mount. This mount­ing style comes in par­tic­u­larly handy when re­mov­ing the head as, un­like many other de­signs, it is not

In terms of sound, the Pur­ple­heart does not dis­app oint. The rea­son­ably thick 8-ply tom and bass drum shells (which are re­port­edly more dense than oak), pro­duce a warm tone with plenty of at­tack and pro­jec­tion

at­tached to the hoop and so stays in po­si­tion. One as­pect that did hin­der head re­moval slightly was the True-Pitch 50 ten­sion rods. With an out­ra­geous 50 threads per inch, the rods take con­sid­er­ably more turns to com­pletely un­screw – although this is a mi­nor draw­back con­sid­er­ing their pur­pose is to en­able more pre­cise tun­ing. The good news is that the sys­tem re­ally does work. With True-Pitch, True-Pitch 50 and reg­u­lar rods tested side-by-side, the dif­fer­ence in just a quar­ter turn is sig­nif­i­cant, although the True-Pitch 50 rods are so fine we’d ad­vise a lit­tle ex­tra caution so as not to risk any cross-thread­ing.

In terms of sound, the Pur­ple­heart does not dis­ap­point. The rea­son­ably thick 8-ply tom and bass drum shells (which are re­port­edly more dense than oak), pro­duce a warm tone with plenty of at­tack and pro­jec­tion – rem­i­nis­cent of bub­inga shells, but less dark with com­plex nat­u­ral over­tones.

The un-drilled bass drum is quick and punchy and loves be­ing tuned su­per low. The sound is com­ple­mented by the in-built tone con­trol in­lay ring on the bat­ter head and the clicky beater on my at­tached pedal.

The toms are fo­cussed and also lend them­selves well to lower tun­ings. With more of a slap in the ini­tial at­ack at the lower ranges, the drums still man­age to hold plenty of tone – fan­tas­tic for play­ing rock styles. The drums tune up well and sound amaz­ing in a funk set­ting too, demon­strat­ing their impressive ver­sa­til­ity. This is helped along con­sid­er­ably by the warm and re­spon­sive crack of the match­ing Pur­ple­heart snare. In­di­vid­u­ally, the toms sing and, re­gard­less of tun­ing, al­ways sound in har­mony with each other – a DW char­ac­ter­is­tic that’s no doubt a re­sult of the metic­u­lous tim­bre match­ing.

De­spite the typ­i­cally high DW price tag, this uniquely stun­ning kit is one to see and hear for your­self. It is un­likely to dis­ap­point.

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