PDP CHAD SMITH SIG­NA­TURE SNARE DRUMS

From £178 A new range of snare drums de­signed with per­sonal in­put from the sta­dium-groov­ing leg­end

Rhythm - - DRUM LESSONS - Words: Adam Jones We say:

The un­veil­ing of Chad Smith as a DW en­dorsee in 2016 had the air of a high-pro­file foot­ball trans­fer deal to it; the Red Hot Chili Pep­pers sticks­man en­joys global recog­ni­tion and is known al­most as much as an in­di­vid­ual as he is a band mem­ber. With their new star sign­ing on board it was there­fore only a mat­ter of time be­fore DW popped the ques­tion to him about mar­ket­ing sig­na­ture in­stru­ments.

Build

In the event, the arena-rock­ing funkbruiser chose DW sub-brand PDP as the ve­hi­cle of his sig­na­ture snares, to keep the re­sults within reach of more – par­tic­u­larly younger – drum­mers. Chad came up with the con­cept, specs and sizes and PDP duly un­veiled not one but three Chad Smith snares at NAM 2018 – 14"x6", 13"x7" and 12"x6" mod­els. Judg­ing by his re­cent kits, Chad is a keen ad­vo­cate of the unique looks and sound of acrylic drums, so it’s prob­a­bly no sur­prise to find the trio of snares are built from clear acrylic. Their trans­par­ent ap­pear­ance is en­hanced by the choice of clear heads top and bot­tom, leav­ing only the shell hard­ware and snare wires in­ter­rupt­ing a vi­sion of ab­so­lute pu­rity. This Chili Pep­per-like de­gree of com­mit­ment to the cause makes the drums vis­ually strik­ing and a light­ing en­gi­neer’s dream.

Like al­most all modern acrylic shells th­ese drums have been cast and so are seam­less, mak­ing for a strong and acous­ti­cally ef­fi­cient shell. A quick check for round­ness finds them well within tol­er­ance but not with­out a lit­tle di­ver­gence. I’m slightly sur­prised as you’d imag­ine that if the moulds in which the shells have been cast were true then the shells would be also. The shells are all 6mm thick, have PDP’s cus­tom­ary – and ac­cu­rately cut – 45 de­gree bear­ing edges with small roundover and well­pro­por­tioned snare beds. Dou­ble-ended PDP dual-tur­ret lugs are found on the 12" and 14" snares (six and 10 re­spec­tively) while the 13" has 16 in­di­vid­ual lugs owing to its greater depth. The lugs have been sourced from PDP’s Con­cept se­ries, which the three snares are nom­i­nally part of. DW ’s chunky MAG throw-off and butt plate are fit­ted as stan­dard, as are finethreaded True-Pitch ten­sion rods. The chrome plated triple-flanged hoops are 2.5mm thick whilst the snare wires are 20 strands apiece.

Hands On

Chad would be the first to ad­mit that he’s not the qui­etest drum­mer on the block and the choice of acrylic is there­fore en­tirely in keep­ing with his ap­proach. Un­like wood, acrylic has no grain, vari­a­tions or im­per­fec­tions to im­bue the shell with per­son­al­ity, What it lacks in sub­tlety, though, it makes up for in charisma; like an ex­tro­vert mak­ing an en­trance to a party, the as­sem­bled know when acrylic is in the room. First up is the 14"x6", which gives a typ­i­cally throaty bark with a no­tice­able – but sym­pa­thetic – ring. A dab of Moon­gel knocks the ring back and lets the note punch through. It’s quite a mid­dly-sound­ing drum with much of its bright­ness sub­sumed within the note, mak­ing it ideal for fat back­beats and tooth-rat­tling fills. As with all drums, dead cen­tre is the dry spot – and no­tice­ably dry

and clipped it is, too, loos­en­ing off as soon as the sticks start to wan­der edge­wise.

Mov­ing onto the 13"x7" brings a dif­fer­ent re­sponse; the at­tack in­creases per­cep­ti­bly with the front end of the note re­ally slic­ing across. Be­hind it there is sim­i­lar amount of grunt to that found in the 14" (thanks to its gen­er­ous 7" depth), mak­ing it a re­ally ballsy cus­tomer. In com­par­i­son with the 14" – a good, solid snare drum – the 13" seems harder, faster and leaner, like a gym-ripped ver­sion of its big brother. It’s tight enough for funk and pow­er­ful enough for rock and, rather like Mr Smith him­self, can jump back and forth be­tween the two ef­fort­lessly. In com­mon with the 14" it’s also won­der­fully playable, cov­er­ing the dy­namic vari­a­tions of ghost notes, buzz rolls and rim shots with equal em­pha­sis. Its re­sponse to cross stick­ing is re­mark­ably strong as well; the woody tap that re­sults car­ries as much def­i­ni­tion as a full stick hit. With a smooth bat­ter head the only brush ac­tion that you could rea­son­ably ex­pect to elicit is a train beat, but this is con­veyed with sim­i­lar clar­ity. I couldn’t quite bring my­self to spoil­ing the aes­thet­ics by fit­ting a coated head…

While the 12"x6" loses an inch in di­am­e­ter and depth its vol­ume gen­er­at­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties don’t seem in any way af­fected; if any­thing, the added fo­cus keeps its pro­jec­tion on a par with its big­ger sib­lings. The note is even brighter and sharper and it snaps at the bar­line like a ter­rier on the trail of a scent.

Though con­ven­tion would dic­tate that this is an ac­cent drum, in re­al­ity it’s more than ro­bust and ex­pres­sive enough to be used as a main snare in any genre – such as hip-hop, dance/elec­tron­ica, nu jazz etc – that re­quires high tun­ing and needle­point pre­ci­sion.

"In com­par­i­son the 13" seems harder, faster and leaner, like a gym-ripped ver­sion of its big brother"

By the way Like the sig­na­ture artist that they’re named af­ter, th­ese drums are far from shy and re­tir­ing Lighten up The trans­par­ent look of the shells is ac­cen­tu­ated by the clear heads and chrome-plated hard­ware The dif­fer­ence is clear An al­ter­na­tive shell ma­te­rial to wood or metal, acrylic has its own dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics

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